Missouri makes pitch to China

By Yuan Zhang in New York | China Daily USA | Updated: 2017-09-25 10:25

Missouri makes pitch to China

Two Interim Armored Vehicle (IAV) Strykers sit on a US Army equipment train passing by the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri on Tuesday, April. 25, 2017. The Gateway Arch is the tallest man-made monument in the Western Hemisphere and Missouri's tallest accessible building. Provided to China Daily

Missouri makes pitch to China

Show Me State's governor will travel to China to show what Midwest state has to offer economically

Missouri Governor Eric Greitens is making his trip to China his first international trade mission. In this Q&A, he explains why, what his Show Me State offers and why he wants investors and others to call Missouri their American laojia or hometown.

Q: Why visit China now? What are your goals for the trip?

A: This trip to China is my first international trade mission as governor because we believe China is a key economic partner for the state of Missouri. China is one of our top export partners, with exports totaling nearly $1 billion in chemicals, food, and machinery in 2016. Our delegation's goal for this trip is to strengthen our trade relationship and let China's business community know that Missouri is a top state to partner with and invest in.

Q: What are Missouri's advantages in attracting foreign investment?

A: Missouri is rapidly changing its business environment to become a best-in-class state for innovation, investment and entrepreneurship. We have eliminated red tape to simplify and streamline regulations; passed Right to Work legislation to help workers engage directly with employers; and pursued tort reform to improve the legal climate for business growth in Missouri.

As one of the most diverse economies in the US, we have a highly skilled workforce with high labor participation, a stable fiscal climate, and a great location with robust and extensive infrastructure, so that companies here can connect and send goods and services anywhere in the world via river, rail, road and air. These advantages all make Missouri a great place for local, national, and international companies looking to enter the US market or expand throughout North America.

Q: What is the "hometown" concept?

A: Chinese people often greet each other by asking "What is your laojia?" We welcome investors, innovators, entrepreneurs and students to call Missouri your American laojia. Missouri is known as the Show Me State; we want this trip to show the many reasons why businesses, investors and students should call Missouri their American home.

Missouri makes pitch to China

Q: How will Missouri attract foreign investment? Any particular industrial preference or investment-type preference? What sector investment is particularly needed and welcomed now?

A: Missouri has a $4.4 billion trade agreement with China to facilitate expansion of trade and investment. We want to increase that number. We have one of the most diverse economies in the world, and are poised for growth in areas ranging from manufacturing to agriculture and technology. We concentrate on the industry clusters that provide the bulk of good-paying jobs for Missourians: manufacturing, health sciences, health services, technology, transportation and logistics, energy, automotive, financial and professional services, and biotech. I know China is looking to reform its healthcare industry and bolster other industries we are concentrated in growing. These concentrations create great opportunities for Missouri and Chinese firms to grow and invest with each other.

To facilitate that growth and investment, we are rapidly creating a welcoming business environment for international companies to invest and succeed. We are also developing our workforce and launching initiatives to connect companies with workers who have the skills they will need today and tomorrow.

Q: How do you see the future trend that foreign investments are switching from some industries to others, and what are the driving factors?

A: My team recently launched an Innovation Blueprint to make Missouri the top state for innovation in America's heartland. We are the agriculture technology capital of the world, growing food that feeds the world - home to top animal and plant scientists, research institutions and innovative companies. Across many sectors, Missouri will be home to the next big ideas. We invite China to benefit from this agenda by partnering with us and investing in our growing enterprises.

Q: Most international students, including Chinese, choose coastal states. Why Missouri?

A: Missouri is the heartland, the true American experience. We have world-class universities, both public and private, from the University of Missouri to Washington University in St. Louis. Washington University has consistently been ranked nationally in the top 20 best universities by US News and World Report. Washington University has top 10 programs in many areas, including medicine and scientific research. The University of Missouri the system is among the leading public research universities, with world-class programs in agriculture, business and journalism that consistently rank as top programs in the USA. Coupled with a great amount of natural beauty, welcoming communities across our state, and a relatively low cost of living, Missouri offers great educational value to international students.

Missouri also has a number of sister-city relationships in China - with Nanjing, Wuhan, Xi'an, Yan'an and Laoshan, plus a sister-state relationship with Hebei - which provide further opportunities to strengthen our relationships with China at the state and local level. We value our multifaceted relationship with China and look forward to expanding educational and cultural relationships as well as strengthening cooperation on trade and investment.

Q: Do you have any suggestions to Chinese investors or students regarding investing or studying in Missouri and the US?

A: Missouri's fiscal climate stands apart for investors, with more than 50 years of AAA bond ratings. We are home to the second-highest concentration of financial securities brokers among major US financial institutions and a global leader in the reinsurance industry. We want China's business leaders to know that investments made in Missouri will have a solid return.

One of our goals on this trip is to strengthen our educational relationship with China and to invite Chinese students to study in our state. In fact, Missouri's first lady, Sheena Greitens, teaches about China and Asia at the University of Missouri. Several of our top universities have educational partnerships with Chinese universities, and there is growing interest in China and Asia on many of our campuses. We are home to world-class programs in agriculture, business, and journalism, where we welcome Chinese students and visitors to study every year. We value those alumni as ambassadors for Missouri, and when they return home, we hope that they will maintain a lasting, lifelong relationship with their American laojia.

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