Washington state trade delegation heads to China
Clean tech, aerospace, capital investment events highlight relationship-building mission to Shanghai and Hangzhou by Department of Commerce officials, Greater Seattle Partners and Washington State China Relations Council
SEATTLE, WA – The Washington State Department of Commerce is leading a state delegation with Greater Seattle Partners, Washington State China Relations Council, Economic Alliance Snohomish County, Paine Field, several Washington businesses and a representative of Gov. Jay Inslee departing Seattle tomorrow and Saturday on a week-long trade mission to China.
Itinerary highlights include a “Washington State Day” at the China International Import Expo, a clean tech and renewable energy conference in Wuxi, an aerospace forum, and a full slate of meetings with Chinese provincial and economic development officials, top venture capital firms and Chinese companies currently doing or interested in doing business in Washington. Commerce Director Dr. Lisa Brown and the Tsinghua Global Innovation Exchange (GIX) will also co-host a Washington reception in Shanghai.
Washington exports more products and services to China than any other U.S. state, last year totaling $14.3 billion. Retaliatory tariffs in the ongoing trade dispute between the U.S. and China have seen the value of Washington exports decline by over $413 million or 17% through August this year, accounting for almost 67% of the total decline in Washington exports to all countries as global trade tensions have taken a toll.
About one in three jobs in Washington is tied to international trade.
“Washington has a rich history of cultural and economic ties with China, dating back to the 1820s when ships from Columbia River ports first sailed to Guangzhou,” said Commerce Director Lisa Brown. “While there continues to be dialogue on a longer-term solution to our trade relationship with China at the national level, we are committed to continue building on important relationships forged over the years that have yielded so many fruitful collaborations in research, education, arts, tourism and all of our key industry sectors, from aerospace and agriculture to life sciences and clean energy technology.”
Clean energy is seen as a particularly strong opportunity for Washington businesses. Gov. Jay Inslee signed several research and technology collaboration agreements during a 2013 trade mission to China. He hosted President Xi Jinping at the third U.S. – China Governor’s Forum in Seattle in 2015, during which six U.S. states and six Chinese provinces signed an agreement to collaborate on energy and carbon reduction strategies. China currently has the largest installed capacity of hydro, solar and wind power and sees renewables as a source of energy security as well as carbon reduction. In 2017, China’s $280-billion investments in renewable energy made up about 45% of global investments in the sector.
During this coming week’s trip, some of the Washington delegation will split off to participate in a renewable energy conference in Wuxi Nov. 7-9 focusing on green buildings, electric vehicles and energy storage technology, among other business opportunities in the clean energy technology sector.
Washington state was the first stop on President Xi’s visit to the U.S. in 2015, when Washington signed a significant memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) to promote sub-national collaborations with several Chinese provinces, and a cooperative agreement with Guangdong Province to collaborate on mutually beneficial economic relations. While in Washington state, President Xi also celebrated the agreement between Tsinghua University in Beijing and the University of Washington creating the GIX, which grants advanced degrees in technology leadership. More than 45 delegations from Chinese ministries, provinces and municipal governments have visited Washington since 2015, and the Chinese Chamber of Commerce here has more than 200 members representing some of China’s largest companies. The last Washington state delegation to visit China was in 2017, promoting bilateral trade and investment.
“Our connection to China is critical to the greater Seattle economy,” said Greater Seattle Partners CEO Brian P. McGowan. “More than two dozen Chinese businesses already have a presence in our region, and China is the second-fastest-growing source of foreign direct investment in the U.S. Much of that focused in the Puget Sound area.”
Commerce will showcase opportunities for partnership and doing business with Washington companies, featuring all of the state’s key industry sectors under the banner of “Choose Washington,” at the second China International Import Expo (CIIE), Nov. 5-10 in Shanghai, with over 150,000 participants from 56 countries expected to participate. MOFCOM has invited Director Brown and three other members of the Washington delegation to attend the International Economic Forum, the highest level forum at CIIE.
Aerospace accounts for about $10 billion in Washington exports to China. Members of the Commerce delegation, including Tacoma-based aerospace supplier Tool Gauge, Economic Alliance Snohomish County and Paine Field officials, will also participate in a slate of business development discussions and attend the International Aviation Supply Chain (IASC) Leadership Summit hosted by Donghao Lansheng Group in Shanghai Nov. 6-8.
“Last year, $4 billion of Snohomish County-made goods were purchased by China, making it our top export market,” said Patrick Pierce, president and CEO of Economic Alliance Snohomish County. “In addition, they are a key supplier to many of medical device, aerospace and other advanced manufacturers in the county. A healthy trade relationship between our two countries benefits all of us.”
“Paine Field Airport is responsible for over $20 billion in economic activity, a significant portion of which is trade with China,” said Paine Field Airport Director Arif Ghouse. “By reaching out to our most important trade partners, including China, we can build on our history of economic success.”
In addition to the business development itinerary, Commerce Director Brown is expected to participate in a number of state-level meetings with Chinese sub-national leaders, including remarks at the opening session of a MOFCOM event Nov. 6 where she will also serve as a panelist with the host organization and Chinese provincial commerce department leaders.
“The Washington State China Relations Council, established 40 years ago at the time of the normalization of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and the Peoples’ Republic of China, has a long tradition of promoting trade and cultural exchanges, “ noted WSCRC’s Executive Director J. Norwell Coquillard. “Washington has been at the forefront of developing business, cultural and educational ties with China, and we look forward to this trip to renew ties with old friends and develop new opportunities for Washington.”
Later this month, the Port of Seattle will lead a second delegation to China celebrating the 40th anniversary of its sister port city relationship with the Port of Shanghai. The two high-level state missions within weeks of each other underscore the strength and importance of this key trade relationship between China and Washington state.
For news and updates from China, follow us on social media @WAStateCommerce, @WAComDirector, @WSCRCWA, @SeattlePartners, @econalliancesc, @PaineField.
Penny Thomas, Commerce Communications, 206-256-6106
Susan Stoltzfus, Greater Seattle Partners, 206-389-8652
Man Wang, Washington State China Relations Council, 206-389-7204