Cal­i­for­nia del­e­ga­tion at­tends China im­port expo, sends mes­sage to Wash­ing­ton amid trade row

Global Times US Edition - - BIZOVE - By Zhao Juecheng and Wang Cong

Of­fi­cials and busi­ness lead­ers from the US state of Cal­i­for­nia are tak­ing mat­ters into their own hands after the US fed­eral govern­ment launched a trade war with China, send­ing a del­e­ga­tion of dozens of busi­ness lead­ers to China to seek busi­ness and to send a mes­sage to Wash­ing­ton that the state is against the trade war.

Po­si­tion­ing it­self as the only govern­ment en­tity from the US to have a booth at the on­go­ing China In­ter­na­tional Im­port Expo (CIIE) in Shang­hai, the del­e­ga­tion is call­ing for the end of the trade war, which has seen ris­ing bar­ri­ers for busi­nesses.

"Our re­sponse to the trade war has been the fo­cus of the state of Cal­i­for­nia. And the lead­er­ship of Cal­i­for­nia with Gover­nor Jerry Brown has come out and said, you know, we still want to do busi­ness with China. We don't be­lieve the trade war is the best way for­ward," Del Chris­tensen, chief of global busi­ness de­vel­op­ment at the Bay Area Coun­cil, told the Global Times.

Chris­tensen was lead­ing the del­e­ga­tion of nearly 40 Cal­i­for­nian busi­ness lead­ers to Beijing and Shang­hai. The del­e­ga­tion was or­ga­nized by the Bay Area Coun­cil, a busi­ness group rep­re­sent­ing hun­dreds of com­pa­nies in North­ern Cal­i­for­nia's Bay Area, and the Cal­i­for­nia Gover­nor's Of­fice of Busi­ness and Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment.

The del­e­ga­tion at­tended a busi­ness fo­rum in Beijing last week­end be­fore depart­ing for the CIIE in Shang­hai with a mes- sage that Cal­i­for­nia is open for busi­ness with China, de­spite the trade war launched by the US fed­eral govern­ment.

"Our mes­sage is re­ally that at the sub-na­tional level, busi­ness must still con­tinue to grow," Chris­tensen said. "The mar­ket in China is too big and is grow­ing too fast for any global com­pany to ig­nore."

At the CIIE in Shang­hai, a ma­jor ini­tia­tive from China to ex­pand im­ports of goods and ser­vices, the pres­ence of the state of Cal­i­for­nia is send­ing a mes­sage to Wash­ing­ton, ac­cord­ing to Chris­tensen. "We dis­agree with the tar­iffs. We don't like trade wars. That's why we are here," he said.

Cal­i­for­nia has been hit hard by the US-China trade war, as many of its prod­ucts from cars and wine to nuts have been af­fected by Chi­nese tar­iffs im­posed in re­sponse to US tar­iffs on Chi­nese goods.

Cal­i­for­nia has the largest vol­ume of trade with China among all the US states. In 2017, the state's trade with China reached $175.6 bil­lion, ac­count­ing for 27.6 per­cent of the US' to­tal trade with China, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cial data. In the same year, Cal­i­for­nia's ex­ports to China reached $16.43 bil­lion, or 12.6 per­cent of the US to­tal.

"I think com­pa­nies are start­ing to feel the im­pact… they're start­ing to see some sig­nif­i­cant rev­enue losses over that," Chris­tensen said.

John Grubb, chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer at the Bay Area Coun­cil, added that the or­ga­ni­za­tion is ad­vo­cat­ing for the end of the trade war.

"Our mem­bers have told us that they want less bar­ri­ers to trade, not more bar­ri­ers to trade," Grubb told the Global Times dur­ing the in­ter­view. "We would like to see the tar­iffs re­duced and the ten­sion re­duced be­tween the two coun­tries."

Grubb said the group has met with of­fi­cials at the White House and the US Trade Rep­re­sen­ta­tive's Of­fice to ex­press its op­po­si­tion to the trade war.

Cal­i­for­nia passed leg­is­la­tion in Au­gust urg­ing Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and the US Congress to sup­port ac­tions that fur­ther strengthen trade with China.

Cal­i­for­nia del­e­ga­tion signs con­tracts at CIIE

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