Michigan governor says China supports trade ties and more

Updated: 2013-09-13 11:44

By Michael Barris in New York (China Daily)

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 Michigan governor says China supports trade ties and more

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder is a proponent of China-US trade. Provided to China Daily

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder said he and Chinese Vice-Premier Wang Yang are in agreement when it comes to his state and China building stronger economic and trade ties.

When Snyder met Wang during his 10-day trade mission to China which ends today, the Chinese official said that China and the US should continue to deepen economic and trade cooperation to contribute to world economic growth, according to Snyder.

Wang's comments fit with Snyder's view that a trade mission is about relationship building. "It's not about just one trip and signing an agreement," Snyder said in an interview with China Daily from Beijing on Thursday. "It's about building a long term relationship where we can find common ground and benefit together."

Snyder said he told Wang that developing economic and trade cooperation with China is very important and he welcomed more Chinese enterprises to invest in Michigan.

The Sept 3-13 trip took the first-term Republican governor to Shanghai, Chongqing and Beijing. It aimed to increase Michigan's already strong exporting relationship with China. Last year, the state sent nearly $3.3 billion in goods to China, a 22 percent jump from 2011, led by $1.6 billion in transportation- and automotive-related items.

Snyder said the trip gave him an opportunity to set the state's Asian trading partners straight about the impact of Detroit's historic bankruptcy filing on trade and exports. In July, the cradle of the automotive industry filed the largest municipal bankruptcy in US history, adding to negative publicity about the struggling city's problems.

"There was a lot of wonder about it," Snyder said. "I was able to turn it from a more negative into a positive. Now they can say yes, we understand, and it looks like this could be an even better opportunity than they thought."

The governor said the trip will help bring more Chinese automotive companies to the Detroit area. More than 100 companies from China have set up shop in the Detroit area in the past decade to have access to the area's engineering talent.

Snyder said his hosts were receptive to the state's first-ever effort to promote Michigan as a destination for Chinese tourists and to be included in US travel packages offered by Chinese tour operators.

"There are more and more Chinese tourists going out all the time but traditionally they've been going to the large cities on the (US) coasts," Snyder said. "After that experience, I think it would be great if they'd come explore Michigan."

Chinese travelers spent $8.8 billion in the United States last year - up 35 percent jump from a year ago, according to the US Department of Commerce. Specific figures for Michigan were not available.

A release from the governor's office said "thousands of Chinese visitors come to Michigan each year for business, to attend universities and to visit family members". The state aims to "encourage those travelers to extend those trips and explore Michigan as a vacation destination as well."

Snyder used speeches to Chinese media and tour operators in Shanghai on Sept 5 and Beijing on Sept 10 to introduce Michigan as a travel destination.

On Sept 6-7, Snyder took his pitch to Chongqing, China's third most-populous city, where a memorandum of understanding between Michigan and the industrial city was signed, pledging to continue exchanges and explore business relationships. Besides meeting with executives from Chongqing Helicopter Co, parent of Michigan-based Enstrom Helicopter Corp, the governor also sat down with Mayor Huang Qifan - both for a formal discussion and a dinner that introduced the Michigan delegation to local business and political leaders.

Following meetings with high-ranking Japanese officials and business executives, the governor spent a week in Beijing meeting with Chinese government officials and corporate executives and delivered the keynote address at the Sept 12-16 Chinese International Auto Parts Expo.

Also joining Snyder on the trip were Jamie Clover Adams, director of the state's Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Michael Finney, president and CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corp and 15 Michigan business executives.

Michigan is one of the top 10 states from direct investment from China, reaching the $1 billion mark in 2012.


(China Daily USA 09/13/2013 page1)