Arkansas’ Asa Hutchinson go­ing to China — again

China Daily (USA) - - Q&A WITH GOVERNOR - By YUAN ZHANG in New York yuanzhang@chi­nadai­

Arkansas Gover­nor Asa Hutchinson will seek more in­vest­ments from China when he makes his third visit to the coun­try in the com­ing weeks. In an in-depth in­ter­view with China Daily, he talked about what he hopes to ac­com­plish on the trip, in­vest­ments by Chi­nese com­pa­nies in his state and how he wants to strengthen re­la­tions with China.

Since tak­ing of­fice in 2015, you have vis­ited China twice. You are go­ing to make a third visit later this year. What did you achieve in the pre­vi­ous two vis­its, and what are you go­ing to do in the com­ing visit?

Over the last two years, four Chi­nese com­pa­nies have an­nounced plans to lo­cate new fa­cil­i­ties in Arkansas. Th­ese com­pa­nies will cre­ate a to­tal of 1,520 new jobs while in­vest­ing $1.4 bil­lion in the state.

Shan­dong Ruyi Tech­nol­ogy Group (Ruyi), re­cently an­nounced the com­pany will in­vest $410 mil­lion in the for­mer Sanyo man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­ity in For­rest City. This is Ruyi’s first fa­cil­ity in North Amer­ica. The 800 jobs be­ing cre­ated by Ruyi is the largest sin­gle job-cre­ation an­nounce­ment in the his­tory of Arkansas’ Delta Re­gion.

Tianyuan Gar­ments Com­pany an­nounced 400 jobs and a $20 mil­lion in­vest­ment in a new Lit­tle Rock fa­cil­ity. I ini­tially an­nounced this project dur­ing my eco­nomic mis­sion to China in Oc­to­ber 2016.

China-based Pet Won Pet Prod­ucts re­cently an­nounced it is lo­cat­ing a new fa­cil­ity in Danville to de­velop pet treats. The com­pany will cre­ate 70 new jobs and in­vest $5 mil­lion in the build­ing prior to the start of pro­duc­tion.

Fi­nally, in April 2016, Sun Pa­per of­fi­cially an­nounced plans to build a $1 bil­lion bio­prod­ucts mill and cre­ate 250 new jobs, which makes it one of the largest pri­vate in­dus­trial in­vest­ments in the state’s his­tory.

In my up­com­ing visit, I in­tend to meet with com­pa­nies and Chi­nese govern­ment of­fi­cials in­ter­ested in do­ing busi­ness in Arkansas.

How do you de­scribe the cur­rent eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion, trade and Chi­nese in­vest­ment between Arkansas and China?

Arkansas’ ex­ports to China to­taled $202 mil­lion in 2015, rank­ing China as the state’s sixth largest des­ti­na­tion. Arkansas’ ex­ports to Hong Kong to­taled $99 mil­lion in 2015, rank­ing Hong Kong as our 13th largest des­ti­na­tion.

Arkansas’ 2015 lead­ing ex­ports to China were plas­tics (27.70 per­cent), elec­tri­cal ma­chin­ery (21.64 per­cent), ma­chin­ery (12.04 per­cent ), or­ganic chem­i­cals (10.61 per­cent) and mis­cel­la­neous chem­i­cal prod­ucts (6.98 per­cent).

In 2015, Arkansas im­ported var­i­ous prod­ucts from China. Th­ese in­cluded ma­chin­ery (22.63 per­cent), toys & games (13.42 per­cent), elec­tri­cal ma­chin­ery (13.4 per­cent), fur­ni­ture (12.12 per­cent) and plas­tics (4.21 per­cent).

What role can provinces­tate-level ties con­trib­ute to fur­ther strengthen bi­lat­eral trade and eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion between China and the US?

In Arkansas, we be­lieve that when com­mu­ni­ties col­lab­o­rate, they can fo­cus col­lec­tively on their strong points while negat­ing their weak­nesses. This same con­cept can be taken to a na­tional level. When Chi­nese prov­inces and US states work to­gether, we can cre­ate a more solid foun­da­tion from which we can work to­gether in other ar­eas.

In July, China an­nounced that it would open its mar­ket to US rice ex­ports. As the largest rice pro­ducer in the US, what prospects do you see for ex­port­ing rice to China?

with Chair­man Yafu Qiu of Shan­dong Ruyi Tech­nol­ogy Group (Ruyi) on May 10, as the com­pany an­nounced that it will in­vest $410 mil­lion in the for­mer Sanyo man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­ity in For­rest City. Ruyi, head­quar­tered in Shan­dong prov­ince, China, will cre­ate up to 800 jobs at the fa­cil­ity, the largest sin­gle job-cre­ation an­nounce­ment in the his­tory of Arkansas’ Delta Re­gion. The plant will spin Arkansas cotton into yarn for tex­tile use. It is Ruyi’s first fa­cil­ity to lo­cate in North Amer­ica.

China is one of the new­est mar­kets for Arkansas rice. Sonny Per­due, sec­re­tary of the US Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture, re­cently signed an agree­ment that al­lows US farm­ers to sell rice to China for the first time in his­tory. In 2015, Arkansas farm­ers raised more than 200 mil­lion bushels (about 4.5 bil­lion pounds)of rice on 1.3 mil­lion acres. The last re­main­ing hur­dle to be­gin ex­ports is for China to send its in­spec­tors to visit US rice mills to cer­tify that the mills meet China’s stan­dards. (The level of food safety in Arkansas mills is con­sid­ered to be ex­tremely high ac­cord­ing to Dr Jar­rod Hardke with the UA Agri­cul­ture Di­vi­sion.)The hope is that Arkansas will be able to ship its first batch of rice to China in early 2018.

Per­due called the agree­ment an “ex­cep­tional op­por­tu­nity with enor­mous po­ten­tial for growth.” He went on to say, “This agree­ment has been in the works for more than a decade and I’m pleased to see it fi­nally come to fruition, es­pe­cially know­ing how it will ben­e­fit our grow­ers and in­dus­try.”

Why did you in­vite Chi­nese com­pa­nies to get in­volved in Arkansas’ rice grow­ing and pro­cess­ing sec­tors?

In 2015, Arkansas farm­ers raised more than 4.5 bil­lion pounds of rice – about as much rice as the other 49 states com­bined. While that sounds like a lot, the fact that China con­sumes about 80 per­cent of the world’s rice means that there are tremen­dous growth op­por­tu­ni­ties for Chi­nese in­vestors to get in­volved in rice pro­duc­tion in Arkansas. The level of food safety in Arkansas’ mills is ex­tremely high.

What ad­van­tage does Arkansas have in ex­port­ing beef to China since Tyson Foods, one of the largest meat-pro­cess­ing com­pa­nies in the US, is head­quar­tered in the state?

The de­ci­sion to lift a ban on im­ported Amer­i­can beef im­posed al­most 15 years ago is good news for Chi­nese con­sumers and Arkansas cat­tle ranch­ers. Arkansas-based Tyson Food’s beef di­vi­sion pro­cesses ap­prox­i­mately 125,000 head of cat­tle each week. The beef is pro­cessed into Tyson’s eight beef-pack­ing fa­cil­i­ties around the coun­try. Cur­rently, Tyson has about one-fourth of the US share in the beef mar­ket.

What mea­sures has your ad­min­is­tra­tion taken to cre­ate a bet­ter en­vi­ron­ment for the de­vel­op­ment of busi­nesses, in­clud­ing for­eign-in­vested busi­nesses?

Arkansas’ China Of­fice in Shang­hai has taken sev­eral steps to in­crease Chi­nese for­eign di­rect in­vest­ment in Arkansas. It has iden­ti­fied tar­geted in­dus­tries, cre­ated pro­mo­tional ma­te­ri­als in Man­darin, pre­sented at con­fer­ences, iden­ti­fied and vis­ited with po­ten­tial sis­ter prov­inces, es­tab­lished co­op­er­a­tive re­la­tion­ships with govern­ment agen­cies and com­mer­cial as­so­ci­a­tions, ar­ranged press brief­ings and helped iden­tify and qual­ify po­ten­tial in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties. We’ve also hosted six del­e­ga­tions from China over the past two years.

What do you see for the fu­ture of tex­tile-in­dus­try in­vest­ment and co­op­er­a­tion between Arkansas and China?

I would like to see a clus­ter of tex­tile fa­cil­i­ties in Arkansas, es­pe­cially in our Delta Re­gion. Ruyi’s fa­cil­ity will have a tremen­dous eco­nomic im­pact on an area that has lagged be­hind in em­ploy­ment sta­tis­tics. But, like many man­u­fac­tur­ing op­er­a­tions, this fa­cil­ity is more high-tech than tex­tile fa­cil­i­ties of past gen­er­a­tions. A tex­tile clus­ter not only brings more man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs to Arkansas, but it also in­creases the value of cotton used in the gar­ments, aid­ing our agri­cul­tural com­mu­ni­ties as well.

What other sec­tors in Arkansas would you rec­om­mend to po­ten­tial Chi­nese in­vestors?

Arkansas has a long his­tory of man­u­fac­tur­ing and main­tains one of the high­est man­u­fac­tur­ing em­ploy­ment lev­els in the South. Some other sec­tors that are thriv­ing in­clude food pro­cess­ing, plas­tics and in­jec­tion mold­ing, au­to­mo­tive parts and sup­pli­ers, pro­cessed met­als, and lo­gis­tics such as ware­hous­ing and dis­tri­bu­tion.”

What spe­cial­ties does Arkansas have to at­tract Chi­nese tourists? What mea­sures will your ad­min­is­tra­tion take to pro­mote Arkansas tourism in China?

Arkansas has sev­eral spe­cial­ties that may be ap­peal­ing to Chi­nese tourists. The state is world renowned for road cy­cling and moun­tain bik­ing. North­west Arkansas re­cently played host to the In­ter­na­tional Moun­tain Bik­ing As­so­ci­a­tion (IMBA) World Sum­mit, at­tract­ing moun­tain bik­ers from around the world to some of the most breath­tak­ing rides in the coun­try.

In ad­di­tion, vis­i­tors can en­joy na­ture along beau­ti­ful mo­tor­cy­cle routes, play some of the finest cham­pi­onship golf cour­ses in the South­ern United States, take in one of Arkansas’ 2,340 lakes or re­lax and en­joy some one-of-a-kind spa ex­pe­ri­ences. The state is also home to out­door adventures such as trap and skeet shoot­ing, horse­back rid­ing, zip lines, di­a­mond digs, and breath­tak­ing kayak­ing and ca­noe­ing ex­pe­ri­ences.

Al­low­ing oth­ers from around the world to ex­pe­ri­ence the nat­u­ral beauty and won­der­ful adventures in Arkansas is, cer­tainly, a great pri­or­ity in my work as gover­nor. I have trav­eled of­ten to Asia, and we will be vis­it­ing China for the third time in as many years in just a few weeks. And while th­ese trips are tra­di­tion­ally re­garded as eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment mis­sions, I see tourism as tremen­dous con­trib­u­tor to our state’s econ­omy and al­ways look for op­por­tu­ni­ties to in­vite the world to come and see for them­selves.

What is the sta­tus of ed­u­ca­tion and cul­tural ex­changes between Arkansas and China? What do you see for fu­ture de­vel­op­ment of such co­op­er­a­tion?

The Univer­sity of Arkansas, our state’s flag­ship in­sti­tu­tion, hosts a fac­ulty-led ap­parel mer­chan­dis­ing and prod­uct de­vel­op­ment study tour in China ev­ery other year. The study tour is an in­ten­sive fifteen-day in­ter­dis­ci­pli­nary ap­parel and busi­ness-fo­cused study tour which in­cludes vis­its to the cities of Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Panyu, Shen­zhen, Bei­jing and Shang­hai. Part­ner­ing with the Wal­ton Col­lege of Busi­ness, the stu­dents min­gle with ap­parel mer­chan­dis­ing, prod­uct de­vel­op­ment and busi­ness or­ga­ni­za­tions in mul­ti­ple as­pects of the ap­parel sup­ply chain and re­tail in­dus­tries.

The Univer­sity of Cen­tral Arkansas (UCA) hosts Arkansas’ Confucius In­sti­tute, es­tab­lished in 2007 with East China Nor­mal Univer­sity – one of the most pres­ti­gious uni­ver­si­ties in China. The mis­sion is to strengthen ties between the state of Arkansas and China, to en­hance the mu­tual un­der­stand­ing of each re­spec­tive cul­ture and to pro­mote Chi­nese lan­guage and cul­ture within the State of Arkansas. Twen­ty­five pro­grams are tar­get­ing this ef­fort, in­clud­ing “Teach­ing Chi­nese in Arkansas”, cul­tural and lan­guage ex­changes, a new Chi­nese lan­guage ma­jor at UCA, busi­ness trans­la­tion and con­sul­ta­tion ser­vices, sem­i­nars, as well as cul­tural per­for­mances, ex­hi­bi­tions and spe­cial events.”

What have been the ma­jor de­vel­op­ments in China (eco­nomic, tech­nol­ogy, cul­tural or other fields) in the past five years?

China has the most de­vel­oped net­work of high-speed rail in the world. I have taken trains in China many times and am amazed by the speed and ef­fi­ciency. Re­gard­ing the econ­omy, the rise of the mid­dle class is one of the big­gest sto­ries of the past five years. China looks Hon­ors: Po­lit­i­cal party: Mar­i­tal sta­tus: Hob­bies:

GDP: Cap­i­tal city: Area:

Ma­jor cities: For­tune 500 firms: dif­fer­ent and more ad­vanced ev­ery time I visit, which seems to be due to lots of in­vest­ment in re­sponse to the grow­ing pur­chas­ing power of the mid­dle class. In trade, Arkansas will ben­e­fit from the re­cent re­moval of trade bar­ri­ers for beef and rice from Amer­ica.

What has been your ex­pe­ri­ence with de­vel­op­ment? per­sonal this

I have been to China five times as a pri­vate cit­i­zen and as gover­nor of Arkansas. I have been im­pressed with the growth of the Chi­nese econ­omy and with the com­mit­ment of China to ex­pand global mar­ket op­por­tu­ni­ties.

What do you ex­pect for the next five years and beyond as China drafts its de­vel­op­ment blue­print for the next five years?

Many peo­ple ex­pect that there will more in­vest­ment by Chi­nese com­pa­nies in the United States. I ex­pect that to bring about an even greater un­der­stand­ing between our two coun­tries. Also, I would ex­pect even greater ac­cess to the Chi­nese mar­ket for Amer­i­can com­pa­nies. In par­tic­u­lar, many peo­ple ex­pect an in­crease in pri­vate air­craft. This would ben­e­fit Arkansas since pri­vate air­craft are one of Arkansas’ big­gest ex­ports to China.

Bach­e­lor's de­gree from Bob Jones Univer­sity in South Carolina in 1972, and J.D. from the Univer­sity of Arkansas School of Law in 1975

Ap­pointed by Pres­i­dent Ron­ald Rea­gan in 1982 as US at­tor­ney for the United States Western District of Arkansas, then the youngest US at­tor­ney in the na­tion; ap­pointed ad­min­is­tra­tor of the Drug En­force­ment Ad­min­is­tra­tion (DEA) in 2001; tapped by Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush to lead the Border and Trans­porta­tion Se­cu­rity Direc­torate, the largest di­vi­sion of the Depart­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity, in 2003. Re­pub­li­can Mar­ried Su­san Bur­rell in 1973; has four chil­dren and six grand­chil­dren Read­ing in­spi­ra­tional sto­ries, play­ing bas­ket­ball, travel 3 mil­lion $109.7 bil­lion (2016) Lit­tle Rock 137,733 square kilo­me­ters

Lit­tle Rock, Fayet­teville-Spring­daleRogers-Ben­tonville Metropoli­tan Area Seven For­tune 500 com­pa­nies head­quar­tered in Arkansas: Wal-Mart, Tyson Foods, Dil­lard’s, J.B. Hunt Trans­port Ser­vices, Mur­phy Oil, Mur­phy USA, Wind­stream Hold­ings

Gover­nor Asa Hutchinson shakes hands


Gover­nor Hutchinson shows a book of scenic pho­tos of Arkansas. The state’s nick­name is “The Nat­u­ral State’’. It was adopted by the leg­is­la­ture in 1995 to em­pha­size Arkansas’ beau­ti­ful land­scape and rel­a­tively un­touched na­ture. The state has three...

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