Washington state to open trade office in Shanghai, China

OLYMPIA -- In a ceremony overlooking Puget Sound, Gov. Mike Lowry today announced the opening of the state's first trade office in Shanghai, China. This is the result of an initiative the governor announced in 1993 to assist Washington businesses to find new overseas markets for their products.

Flanked by Mike Fitzgerald, director of the state Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development (CTED), Jim Jesernig, director of the state Department of Agriculture, and state Special Trade Representative Bob Randolph, Lowry spoke about changes in China's recent history that now allow for more open trade among nations.

"As the world's most populous nation , China is also one of the fastest growing economies," Lowry said. "Having a state trade office in Shanghai will elevate Washington's status in the country and open trade opportunities for small, medium and large businesses alike."

Lowry said Shanghai is an ideal location for a trade office. Situated at the mouth of the Yangtze River in China's southeastern region, Shanghai is China's largest city and financial capital. It has a bustling population of 13 million and is a major port city, providing an excellent opportunity for Washington shipping interests, Lowry said.

The area's significant industrial development and production represent great export potential for Washington businesses, he added. As China develops and modernizes, the opportunity to export food and wood products, construction materials, and industrial equipment is expected to grow rapidly.

Fitzgerald said the trade office is designed to help Washington businesses open channels of communication that will build into positive trade partnerships.

"With China's growing dominance in the Asian economy, we must do all we can to strengthen Washington's trade and financial ties with China, as well as our political, educational and cultural relationships," he said.

Jesernig said being one of the first states to have an office in Shanghai will position Washington companies to take advantage of the vast market.

"China is among the fastest growing and potentially the largest market for Washington products," Jesernig said. "Shanghai is the gateway to this market. With the office, we will not only be able to help our companies do business in China, but demonstrate our commitment to fostering trade relations with the people of China."

In 1995, exports from Washington to China exceeded $1.6 billion. Currently, nearly 23,000 Washington residents are directly employed by companies growing and manufacturing products for the Chinese market. This number does not include port, warehouse, transportation or distribution jobs in the state that are tied to imports from China.

During the morning ceremony, Lowry also introduced Renren Zhang, the state's trade representative to China. Zhang, a native of China who has lived in Seattle since 1991, has worked extensively in both Chinese and U.S. economic trade systems, policies and operations. He opened the Seattle office of the Shanghai Chamber of International Commerce in 1994. Zhang studied at the Shanghai Foreign Trade Institute and the University of Washington and in 1991 was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship by the U.S. Congress.

Zhang will return to China next week. Lowry expects the new trade office to be fully open for business by the end of November.

The office will be located within the U.S. Department of Commerce's new Commercial Center in the Shanghai Center/Portman Hotel Complex in the center of the city's business district.

Under Lowry's administration, the state also has opened trade offices in Vladivostok, Russia, and Mexico City. This expands the existing network of trade offices assisting Washington exports in Japan, Taiwan, and Europe.

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For more information, contact the Governor's Communications Office at 360-753-6790.

Washington trade with China 1995*
(in millions of U.S. dollars)

Total exports $1,601
Total imports $6,577
Total two-way trade $8,178

Top ten exports produced in Washington and exported to China in 1995
(in millions of U.S. dollars)

Industrial machinery 30.7
Agricultural crops 30.4
Paper products29.2
Processed food21.1
Lumber and wood products 13.8
Metal ores12.5
Scrap metal12.4
Instruments 11.3
Primary metals10.3

Imports produced in China and shipped through Washington ports in 1995
(in millions of U.S. dollars)

Wearing apparel$1,162
Table games156
Sporting goods126
Artificial flowers 90
Electric power units 89

Source: Washington State Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development