One of the largest trade delegations in Washington history convened in Beijing today to begin a six-day trade mission intended to strengthen educational and business ties between Washington state and the world's most rapidly growing economy.
Gov. Jay Inslee, who delayed his departure due to a special session and efforts to secure the 777X project, said from Olympia that he's impressed by both the depth and breadth of interests represented in the delegation.
"If there's any group of people who can make the case as to why Washington is the best place to invest and do business, it's this group," said Inslee. "We have enormous opportunities to grow and expand markets for Washington products and service in agriculture, aerospace, advanced manufacturing, IT, life sciences, clean tech and more. The more than 100 education and business leaders in China right now represent the best of what Washington has to offer. This trip highlights benefits of trade with Washington state, including a world-class talent pool of innovators and builders, high quality export products, one of the largest and closest deep water ports in North America, and an exceptional standard of living."
Directors of the state departments of Agriculture and Commerce are also participating. Department of Agriculture Director Bud Hover first made a short stop in Japan to meet with Japanese officials regarding a range of agriculture trade issues. Hover and Commerce Director Brian Bonlender will lead many of the trade mission activities. U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke, a former two-term governor of Washington, will also help and has agreed to lead key meetings.
Gov. Inslee hopes to join the delegation once 777X negotiations and votes conclude this week. Delegation activities include meetings with biotech leaders, discussions about sustainability and smart grid technologies and promotions for Washington products such as wine, pears, potatoes and other specialty food items. The delegation will make stops in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen.
"Washington is on track to meet, and possibly exceed, our goals to help more Washington businesses boost export sales by 2015," said Inslee. "China is our largest trading partner and we want to keep it that way. Our mutual interest in growing key industries makes good business sense and the opportunities for us to work together are boundless."
"Over the past five years state exports to China have grown by 72 percent, faster than the 50 percent increase at the national level. We are also natural partners in many ways beyond our fruitful trading relationship. As one of the most diverse and innovative economies in the United States, Washington is a superb match for Chinese companies and capital," said Commerce Director Brian Bonlender. "We're looking forward to using this trade mission to strengthen our ties and promote opportunities here in Washington for business and research partnerships, direct investment and
educational and cultural exchange."
Trade missions like these are key to maintaining a robust export market, Hover said.
"Washington farmers, who grow some of the best tasting, safest and healthiest food of any state in the U.S., rely on the export market," Hover said. "Last year, Washington shipped $8.6 billion worth of food and agricultural products overseas. These trade missions are an important way to demonstrate an appreciation for our overseas customers, boost continued growth and create new opportunities."
Among the delegates on the trade mission are officials from Verasonics, Inc., located in Redmond. "We are engaging Chinese universities and commercial research institutes, with the expectation that China will be our second largest market by the end of 2014," said Michael Pierce, marketing director with Verasonics, Inc. Researchers in startup and established companies throughout North America, Europe and Asia today use Verasonics systems to develop algorithms and products used in diagnostic, interventional, and therapeutic ultrasound. The company was founded in 2002.
Washington's trade delegation returns Tuesday, November 19. Additional information about the mission and list of participating organizations is available here. Gov. Inslee's travel costs are paid for by the Host Fund of Washington, an independent not-for-profit organization administered by the Trade Development Alliance of Seattle.