“Trade need not be a zero-sum proposition.”

I had the honor of speaking to several hundred Chinese and local businesses, government officials, investors and entrepreneurs about trade policy issues and our state’s long and strong commitment to international cooperation. The Shenzhen China-USA investment Forum, Aug. 28 in Seattle, showcased strong ties, opportunities in technology and innovation.

These were my remarks (as drafted).

Ni Hao!  Welcome to Seattle!  We are thrilled to have you visiting here, and I want to thank BGI for making this happen, especially Kristi Heim, for all the work she and they do to organize these get-togethers.

I would also like to recognize a few of our special guests today:

  1. FU Lin, Commercial Consul of the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in San Francisco
  2. ZUO Jinping, Deputy District Mayor, Shenzhen Luohu (Luo-Who) District Government
  3. ZHANG Feimeng, Deputy Director-General, Invest Shenzhen
  4. LEI Jia, Director, Invest Shenzhen
  5. LIU Chen, Deputy Director-General, Invest Luohu
  6. WEN Xin, Project Manager, Invest Shenzhen
  7. LIU Minjie, Head of Investment Promotion Department, Invest Luohu

Here in Washington State and Seattle, we have much in common with Shenzen, and our economic destinies are connected.  Both regions are see much of their success through innovation and trade.

Like Shenzhen, innovation and technology continue to be key focus areas for Washington state.  We are home to the global headquarters of Amazon and Microsoft, but also to other universally recognized brands like Boeing and Starbucks.

You may know that Seattle leads the world in cloud computing platforms.  But we are also quickly becoming known also as a world leader in artificial intelligence and Internet of things with more and more global companies choosing to locate in and around the Puget Sound region, including many Chinese companies.

In the area of life sciences, Washington is a global leader in cancer research with organizations like the Fred Hutchinson Center, Juno Therapeutics, and of course, BGI.

The University of Washington is the number-one research institution for public schools in the entire USA.

Both Shenzhen and Seattle represent many of the most progressive ideas of our respective nations. Since Shenzhen’s designation as China’s first Special Economic Zone in 1980, it has been an extremely fertile ground for startups and entrepreneurship.

Washington State is also breaking the mold when it comes to economic growth.

We have been told for a long time that we must choose between a strong economy, and a worker prosperity.

Washington has led the nation in gross domestic product growth for the past several years, including the most recent quarter.  While at the same time Washington is a leader in worker income growth, and policies like paid sick leave.  A recent study placed Washington state as one of the best places to work in America.

We are showing that given the right environment and right priorities, Washington state is proving that business owners and workers can both win.

Similarly, when it comes to trade, both sides of the ocean can win.

Seattle and Shenzhen are both hubs of trade and exchange that are the envy of the world.

Trade need not be a zero-sum proposition, and Washington State’s trade relationship with the People’s Republic of China shows that wealth and jobs can be created on both sides.

Like Seattle, Shenzhen has proven that international engagement is good for everyone. It boosts economies and the collaboration that goes hand-in-hand with engagement fosters an environment of growth for ideas that can make the world a better place.

Washington State is the third largest port in North America, and China is Washington State’s largest trading partner.  Also, Washington State has also been China’s largest trading partner amongst US states.

Last year, Washington state exported over $10 billion in aircraft and other aerospace parts to China and another $500 million worth of wood products.

China is our largest export market for medical and pharmaceutical products, and has been since 2010.  Last year, those exports totaled some $769 million. That relationship benefits both of us. For the past decade, China has been one of the top three countries Washington state imports medical and pharmaceutical products from.

We want to continue to build on our similar interests and strengths. Our partnership has already leveraged human ingenuity in so many innovative ways.

Seattle and Shenzhen’s shared challenges are matched by our shared desire to overcome them, which has led to game changing cancer treatments, agreement on a vision for a low-carbon future, advances in agriculture that are helping to feed the world, and collaborative scientific research that is changing the planet for the better in innumerable ways.

The mutual trust we have established on trade and other partnerships is a template that we would like to see others adopt.

Despite global escalation of global tensions around trade, Washington state remains steadfastly committed to building and growing trade relationships with our largest trading partner, China, in a positive manner.

As you know, there is a lot of disagreement in this country over the manner in which the U.S. Administration is going about addressing perceived trade grievances around the world.  Our concern is that this approach is highly risky, potentially exposing Washington State, the United States, and the entire world to the possibility of very negative consequences of an uncontrolled trade war.

However, it is important for Chinese officials to understand that while there is a lot of disagreement over how the current U.S. Administration going about it’s trade policies, it is also safe to say that there is more broad bipartisan agreement on at least SOME of the complaints the Trump administration is expressing about China.

Most specifically, the lack of protection for intellectual property in China, and rules that make it difficult for U.S. companies to invest or operate in China.  These are not new complaints.  But China today is not the same China of 20, 10, or even 5 years ago.  China’s economy had grown and matured greatly, and of course is now the second largest in the world.  China should not be surprised to see the United States and other countries adopt new strategies to address some of these long recognized complaints.

So while the Trump administration appears overly fixated on balances of trade, and is taking a reckless approach at trade policy, it is important to note that some of the grievances reflect very real frustrations of ordinary Americans and many other leaders.

That all said, we very much prefer to see these complaints raised within the appropriate international bodies, working with other countries, and done so in a manner that does not threaten to bring down the world economy.

The answer is that we must continue the dialogue, continue the trade missions, and international engagement so that we can continue to grow in prosperity and find constructive solutions to our problems.

That is why your trip here today is so timely and so important.

We embraced international engagement many years ago and the results have been robust economic expansion and better quality of life for all of us.

Together, Seattle and Shenzhen are forging new paths toward a better future for China and the United states.

We’re looking forward to deepening our trade and idea exchange with Shenzhen and all of China.

Thank you.



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