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Trade generated more than $97 billion last year overall for Washington state. Washington is the fourth largest exporting state in the U.S. On a per capita basis, we actually have the largest export volume in the country.
For the past week I have been in China and Vietnam, leading a delegation from our state on a trade mission. Our state's delegation includes leaders from government, business, agriculture, technology and education. We are here to promote two-way trade, which is vital to Washington's economy.
China is our third largest export market. We exported more than $2.3 billion in products to China last year, and $3.5 billion in 2002. A recent study by the state Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development ranks China among the top five most-desired future export markets for Washington state companies.
We are honored that the Chinese people are familiar with Boeing airplanes, Microsoft products and services, Starbucks coffee and many other businesses and exceptional agricultural products from our state.
Our trade missions get results. After our most recent trip to China last October, Washington trade mission delegates reported more than $2.5 million in actual sales, with projected sales of more than $40 million.
Vietnam shows great promise as a newly emerging market for Washington state products and services. It was our state’s 13th largest export market last year. Our exports there were more than $735 million. A high percentage of this figure was in aerospace. With aerospace, we exported more to Vietnam than any other state in the U.S. last year. But even without the aerospace sector, our state was the seventh largest exporter to Vietnam.
We see important opportunities in key growth sectors in Vietnam, including information technology, telecommunications, power generation, industrial and packaging machinery, medical equipment, safety and security equipment, and environmental equipment.
It’s been an eventful week, one that should yield significant trade benefits for our state. Last Friday I had the honor of meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao in Beijing to discuss rapidly developing trade opportunities. In China we also publicly introduced our state's new Guangzhou trade representative. I took part in several contract signings between Washington state and Chinese companies, and a signing ceremony for a higher education exchange pact between Pierce College and Beijing Foreign Studies University.
|Quote of the Week
“The people, businesses, and farmers of Washington state will continue to actively support and pursue trade with China and the rest of Asia. Washington state farms grow more than we can consume, or sell domestically. We offer highly valued and desired goods and services. And these goods and services can help meet the enormous needs of Asia.”
—Governor Locke, Hong Kong, September 23, 2004
In Vietnam, our delegation sponsored apple and potato promotions in Ho Chi Minh City. Washington produce drew rave reviews from the Vietnamese people. We also participated in an arrival ceremony to welcome a new Boeing 777 jetliner to Vietnam Airlines in Hanoi. I met with the Prime Minister of Vietnam and other leaders to advance our state’s growing trade opportunities.
The mission concluded in Hong Kong, where I met with the Chief Executive of Hong Kong.
Next week I will share the complete results of the trade mission. I am confident it will be more good news for our state.Sincerely,
Concluding Agreements with State Workers
Governor Locke announced on September 23 that the state has reached tentative contract agreements with all the unions representing state employees in collective bargaining. “All sides worked together and negotiated in good faith to reach these agreements,” the Governor said. “It took a lot of hard work, and we're pleased with the success of the first year of our new labor relations process.” This year's contract negotiations mark the first time in state history that unions have been able to bargain with the state for wages and benefits.
Bargaining unit members must now vote on whether or not to ratify the contracts. If ratified and funded by the Legislature, the contracts would result in a 3.2 percent wage increase starting July 2005, and varying increases in the second year of the contracts. In addition, contracts with unions representing employees whose salaries have lagged more than 25 percent behind market rates for workers in similar jobs would receive varying increases to bring those salaries to within 25 percent of the prevailing rate. All tentative agreements reflect an earlier settlement negotiated with the unions in a coalition agreement in which the state agreed to contribute 88 percent of estimated health benefit costs, leaving employee contributions at 12 percent. The 2005 Legislature will have the role of approving or rejecting the cost of the agreements. For more information on collective bargaining and personnel system reform in Washington state government, go to the Washington Works Web site.
Teaching Students About Hood Canal
Stream banks near Hood Canal will turn into outdoor classrooms this school year with the help of a $25,000 grant from the state Department of Ecology. Students, teachers and community volunteers will collect water samples to be tested for pollution from streams that drain into the canal. The test results will be submitted to experts who are studying the canal's water quality problems. Besides monitoring, the project includes teacher and volunteer training, development of a "Neighbors of Hood Canal" Web site, and a Hood Canal Youth Summit that will be held in the spring of 2005. At the summit, students and experts will convene to understand the results of the monitoring findings. The Hood Canal Watershed Education Network is leading the project, in coordination with state natural resource agencies. Hood Canal suffers from low oxygen levels and is experiencing "dead zones" that trigger fish kills and shellfish deaths. Experts believe the canal's low oxygen may be caused, in part, by polluted runoff from human activities around the canal. To learn more about Hood Canal's water quality problems, log onto the Puget Sound Action Team's Web site.
Promoting Recovery from Addiction
Governor Locke has proclaimed September as Alcoholism and Drug Addiction Recovery Month. Washington communities have planned events to educate people about alcohol and other drug use disorders and the benefits of treatment. The events also celebrate the success of people in recovery. Alcoholism and drug use disorders are a major cause of neglect and abuse within families. For example, an estimated 130,000 children in the state live with parents who need treatment. Yet only one out of four adults who qualify for publicly funded treatment receives it. For free crisis counseling and information about treatment programs in Washington, contact the Alcohol and Drug 24-hour Helpline at 1-800-562-1240 or go to www.adhl.org. To learn more about treatment and recovery, log on to the National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month Web site.
Success Story: L&I Recovering More Unpaid Premiums
The Department of Labor and Industries has dramatically increased the unpaid workers’ compensation premiums it is identifying and collecting. In fiscal year 2004, L&I collected more than $4.5 million in insurance premiums that were not reported and paid by employers. That figure represents a 42 percent increase over the average amount of money the agency collected in each of the previous three years.
9/27: News Conference on Trade Mission, Olympia
9/29: Industrial Health and Safety Conference, Spokane
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