Wisconsin governor seeks greater trade ties in trip
Updated: 2013-04-16 12:35
By Caroline Berg in New York (China Daily)
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is making his first trade mission to China with a delegation of 42 members, including representatives of such home-state businesses as Harley-Davidson motorcycles and specialty - truck manufacturer Oshkosh Corp.
Walker left on Friday for the 10-day trip that will include meetings in Beijing, Shanghai, Hefei and Harbin.
"One of the aspects of the trade mission is to build on ongoing relationships that we have with some entities in China," said Ben Brancel, secretary of Wisconsin's department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. "It is also to open up doors for some new companies interested in doing business in China."
Wisconsin's exports to China in 2012 amounted to $1.5 billion, which makes it the state's third largest market after Canada and Mexico. Non-electrical machinery is the state's biggest export to China, followed by computers and electronics, waste and scrap materials, fabricated metal products and processed foods.
"I would say the process for building this trade relationship has been slow," Brancel said. "Each government official has to understand the culture of the other government and it takes a while to establish what it is you're really looking for."
Wisconsin businesses that specialize in infrastructure development, healthcare, food production and environmental sustainability are considered by the state's government to hold the greatest opportunities for trade with China.
"(Past trade meetings) have built understandings between the state of Wisconsin and China, so when we're focused on some activities in agricultural trade, for example, it leads over into saying, 'What do you have for water? How do your water systems work? Do you have clean water?'" Brancel said.
Through such dialogues, new trading partnerships are formed, discussions begin about new technologies and word spreads to communities in need of Wisconsin products, he said.
"We're always looking for new markets and new opportunities," Brancel said.
The mission's delegation includes 13 business and 17 state government delegates who will participate in the entire mission, as well as 12 business representatives from the agriculture, biosciences, manufacturing and clean technology sectors who will travel on their own and participate in select meetings.
Delegation members, such as Oshkosh, Harley-Davidson, Solaris and Badger State Ethanol, will have special access to Chinese market information and decision-makers, including customized business appointments reserved for high-level government-sponsored groups, according to Brancel.
The governor will have briefings at the US embassy in Beijing, meetings with industry representatives and an event organized by the National Governors Association, which will include governors from Virginia, Guam and Iowa.
The Wisconsin Center China also will officially be opened on Thursday in Shanghai.
In Hefei, Walker will focus on furthering Wisconsin's reputation as a world leader in environmental and water remediation technologies and services. In Harbin, the delegation will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Wisconsin-Heilongjiang sister-state relationship.
"I enjoy getting to know the Chinese personally and getting to know their culture, their needs and their desires," said Brancel, who will travel to China for his second time.
"What it really comes down to is most Chinese citizens want to make sure that their family is fed and well cared for," he said. "That's the same goal of a US citizen, as well."
(China Daily 04/16/2013 page16)