Calif. Governor Schwarzenegger Leads Asia Trade Mission to Promote California, Boost Economy

SACRAMENTO, Calif. /California Newswire/ — Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger yesterday departed for a six-day trade mission to Asia in order to grow California’s economy and create jobs. Leading multiple delegations of business leaders, the Governor will visit China, Japan and South Korea; California’s fourth, third and fifth largest trading partners, respectively. In the course of the mission, the Governor will engage in activities that will boost competition among countries to help fund and build California’s high-speed rail system; increase access to Asian markets for California’s products and services; improve relations with national and regional dignitaries; and connect California and Asian businesses. As the number one exporting state in the U.S. in agriculture and number two overall, trade plays a vital role in California’s economic success. Maintaining relationships with our trading partners is integral to job creation, economic growth and increased revenues in California.

“California is the world leader in many areas, from agriculture to entertainment, and leads in nearly every industry of the future including high-tech, green-tech and bio-tech. More than any other U.S. state, international trade drives California job growth and economic prosperity,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “With increasing world travel and investment options for foreign tourists and businesspeople, California must take action to remain a top destination for these important job-creating dollars. That is exactly why I am leading this trade mission, to sell California’s world leading goods and encourage increased investment so more jobs, economic growth and increased state revenues can benefit the Golden State.”

Trade is significant to California’s economy. In 2009, California exported $120 billion in goods to over 220 foreign markets; $27 billion of which was to China, Japan and South Korea. It is estimated by the U.S. Department of Commerce that one in seven jobs in the state are related to trade and every million dollar increase in exports supports 11 jobs. California’s top exports include: computer and electronic products; food and agriculture; and transportation equipment.

Tourism also has a positive economic impact on California’s economy, supporting over 880,000 jobs and generating $5.3 billion in tax revenues annually. In 2009, California received $15.6 billion in international visitor spending, with close to $1.3 billion coming from the over one million Chinese, Japanese and Korean tourists that visited California.

“At a time when California’s unemployment rate is more than 12 percent, our relationship with China and its exploding economy has never been more important,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council, an organizer of the China portion of the trade mission. “The best thing to get us out of this recession is to open up more demand for the products and services of the people of California. We now live in a globalized world and big efforts like this show California aims to win in the 21st Century economy. This mission, in effect, is bringing a big fortune cookie that says ‘Buy Californian!’”

The Bay Area Council (Council), California Chamber of Commerce (Cal Chamber) and Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce (L.A. Chamber) have all formed delegations of business, agricultural and tourism leaders that will travel to different locations in Asia in conjunction with the Governor’s trade mission. The Council, led by President and CEO Jim Wunderman has a delegation of over 50 members, including: Lloyd Dean, CEO of Catholic Healthcare West & Chairman of Bay Area Council; Patrick Lo, CEO of Netgear; and Marc Hedrick, CEO of Cytori Therapeutics. Due to their working relationship with Shanghai, the Council delegation will be based in China; joining the Governor on his stops in Hangzhou and Shanghai. Cal Chamber will lead a delegation of 20, including leaders from Marvell Semiconductor, Roll International, E & J Gallo Winery and Mammoth Mountain Resort. Some members from the Cal Chamber delegation will join the Governor on all his stops; others will only join him in portions. The L.A. Chamber delegation will be based in South Korea and will join the Governor on his stops there. The L.A. Chamber is bringing leaders from businesses including Sea World Parks & Entertainment, New Logic Research, the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, Alvarado Manufacturing and 3Plus Logistics. For a full list of delegates, click here.

The Governor will connect these California innovators and entrepreneurs with Asian businesspeople and investors. From discussing jobs and economic growth with Alibaba Group Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jack Ma in Hangzhou, to visiting the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai and joining the American Chamber of Commerce in Tokyo and Seoul to discuss business innovation and trade, the Governor will play an important role in opening doors for California and Asian companies to collaborate.

California agricultural exports to China, Japan and South Korea came in at $3.5 billion in 2009; with lots of room to grow. Opening additional access to these markets for California’s agricultural products is a top priority for the Governor during this trade mission, where he will promote California-grown products in several supermarket visits throughout Asia and specifically in South Korea, where he is expected to make a speech on free trade.

High-speed rail will be a priority for the Governor in Asia. China, Japan and South Korea all have advanced high-speed rail systems. The Governor will ride each of them and meet with top officials from each country’s transportation ministry. California will begin construction on its own high-speed rail system in 2012, and this fact-finding mission will play an important role in providing information and generating international competition for bids to assist with the expertise in building the railway.

The Governor will also meet with national and regional dignitaries, including: Tokyo’s Governor Shintaro Ishihara, South Korea’s Gyeonggi Province Governor Kim Moon-soo and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak. Bolstering the diplomatic relations between California and its trading partners is vital to continued economic openness and cooperation.

Japan is California’s third largest trading partner, with nearly $11 billion in California goods exported in 2009. Between 2002 and 2008, California exports to Japan increased 64 percent. Japan is California’s second largest overseas tourist market, with approximately 462,000 coming to California in 2009; resulting in more than $500 million in spending in California.

China is the second largest economy in the world and is California’s fourth largest trading partner, with nearly $10 billion in California goods exported to China in 2009. Between 2000 and 2009, California exports to China increased 174 percent. Chinese tourism in California has also grown dramatically in the past decade, increasing 82 percent since 2000. In 2009, an estimated 271,000 Chinese tourists visited California, resulting in $435 million in spending in the state.

South Korea is one of the fastest growing economies in the world and is California’s fifth largest trading partner, with nearly $6 billion in California goods exported in 2009. Between 2002 and 2009, California exports to South Korea increased 64 percent. California exports more to South Korea than any other U.S. state. Over 400,000 Koreans live in California, and travel for the purpose of visiting friends and relatives has kept Korea one of the most stable overseas tourism markets over the last 10 years. Approximately 277,000 Koreans visited California in 2009, with combined spending of $326 million.

When Governor Schwarzenegger first took office, he promised to be California’s number one salesman and he has delivered on that promise. He has led trade missions to Canada, China, Mexico, Japan and Germany. These trade missions have led to increased economic activity and vital information sharing agreements. As a direct result of the Governor’s 2005 trade mission to China, the California Strawberry Commission sought Chinese clearance to allow imports of California strawberries. This resulted in Chinese special import waivers to allow California strawberries to be distributed at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. The Governor successfully promoted California’s agricultural products to Mexico during his 2006 trade mission; specifically urging Mexico to lift a ban on the importation of California-grown spinach. In 2007, Mexico lifted the ban. The Governor’s 2007 trade mission to Canada resulted in major strides in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and potentially life-saving research. The Premiers of British Columbia and Ontario both adopted California’s first-in-the-nation Low Carbon Fuel Standards. And the Cancer Stem Cell Consortium was created to facilitate coordination between Canadian and California researchers on cancer stem cell research.

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