CalChamber Joins Governor on Successful Asia Trade Mission

(September 2010) California Chamber of Commerce members joined Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on a six-day trade mission to China, Japan and South Korea to promote trade and investment, market California agriculture, encourage tourism and discuss high speed rail.

“The business and trade mission to Asia led by California Governor Schwarzenegger served to strengthen ties and increase economic opportunities among our major trade and investment partners”, said Susanne Stirling, CalChamber vice president of international affairs and a member of the business delegation.

“In keeping with long-standing policy, the CalChamber supports free trade worldwide. We encourage the expansion of trade and investment, fair and equitable market access for California products aboard and the elimination of disincentives that impede the international competiveness of California businesses.”

There was a 22-member business delegation representing manufacturing, high tech, agriculture, goods movement and tourism— along with members of the Governor’s Cabinet. In selecting this delegation, it was the Governor’s intent to have industry leaders who represent the diversity of California business.

As business leaders with expertise and knowledge of both the complexities and the opportunities of conducting business in Asia, the role of the delegation was to join the Governor in serving as ambassadors of good will for the state and to assist him in informing Asian companies and investors that California is back on track and once again open for business.

This September 9–15 mission had stops in Hangzhou, Shanghai, Tokyo and Seoul to focus on California’s tremendous trade and investment opportunities, unparalleled agricultural and manufactured products, great tourism destinations, and high speed rail opportunities.

The Governor’s schedule included high-level meetings with government officials, meetings with current and potential investors in the California market and several events highlighting the Golden State’s fantastic resources.

usa_china_ca_flagsChina: New Opportunities
The mission built on new opportunities that continue to open in China. China continues to be one of the world’s fastest growing economies, and its efforts to reform and modernize its economy have helped transform the country into a large trading power.

U.S.-China trade has risen rapidly over the past several decades. Total trade between the two nations has increased from $4.8 billion in 1980 to $366 billion in 2009. U.S. exports to China in 2009 were over $69.6 billion, a steady increase from previous years. The Governor and the CalChamber visited China in 2005.

Japan: Long-Standing Relationship
This mission also followed up on the Governor’s 2004 mission to Japan. The United States is a large supplier of nuclear reactors and machinery, medical equipment, electric machinery and commercial aircraft to Japan. Japan is also the largest foreign market for U.S. agricultural products.

U.S. exports to Japan were $51.2 billion in 2009, with imports from Japan to the United States decreasing to $96 billion. California exports to Japan totaled $10.9 billion in 2009. Computers and electronic products accounted for 24 percent of total exports.

usa_japan_ca_flagsIn Japan, the Governor spoke to the American Chamber of Commerce and the CalChamber sponsored a reception for business and government leaders at the U.S. Ambassador’s residence. Further, the Governor indicated support for theU.S. State Department announcement that it has chosen San Francisco to host Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum meetings in the fall of 2011. CalAPEC and the CalChamber have been supportive of this initiative. For further information, see www.calchamber.com/APEC.

Korea: Agreement Important for Future
During the stop in Korea, a main focus was the pending U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which has been negotiated for more than three years, but has yet to be approved by Congress.

Passage of the U.S.-Korea FTA will eliminate tariffs and other barriers to trade in goods and services, promote economic growth, and enhance trade between the United States and Korea. The CalChamber has a long-standing position in support of the FTA.

Korea is a $1 trillion economy and is the United States’ eighth largest goods trading partner. Korea’s commercial relationship with the United States is largely complementary. In 2009, two-way trade between the two countries totaled more than $69 billion. In 2009, U.S. goods exports to Korea were $28.6 billion, a steady increase over the previous five years.

usa_rok_ca_flagsKorea is California’s fifth largest exporting partner. In 2009, California exported $5.9 billion to Korea. The U.S.-Korea FTA will greatly expand market access in Korea for U.S. farmers, manufacturers, service providers and financial services firms.

The Governor spoke to the American Chamber of Commerce in Seoul, focusing on the FTA, among a myriad of other events. In addition, both Korean Air and Hyundai announced plans for expanded operations in California.

The CalChamber worked with the Governor’s Office on this three-country / four-city trade mission. The Bay Area Council put together a China-specific delegation to coordinate with this broader mission and the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commercearranged a Korea-specific delegation.

More Information
For more information on the CalChamber’s positions on international trade issues, please visit www.calchamber.com/international/.