Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
World Affairs Council Speech
December 2, 2004

Thank you, Andrea, for that kind introduction. Thank you all for coming today. I especially want to thank Ambassador Peng and Mr. Gutierrez Fernandez for participating in today’s event.

If I seem a little tired today, I’m sure you’ll understand. As you know, our third child, Madeline, was born three-and-a-half weeks ago. Mona, Emily, Dylan and I are all very excited about our new addition, but it has resulted in some long nights for all of us!

Thank you very much for this special award. I am honored to be recognized by the World Affairs Council.

I thank the Council for everything they do to promote greater understanding of global affairs. If there was ever a more critical time for us to do everything possible to increase our understanding and appreciation of the different cultures and perspectives present around the world, it is now. So much of the ethnic strife around the world could be prevented and the world’s response improved if there were greater understanding of other cultures, religions and perspectives.

I want to congratulate Wendy Ewbank, the recipient of the 2004 World Educator award. Your innovative teaching techniques are definitely worthy of such recognition. I admire your dedication to teaching international issues to your students at the Seattle Girls School. I have always said that we have some of the best teachers in the nation here in Washington, and Wendy is proof of that!

It is critical that we teach our students about global issues. A subject doesn’t need to be on our statewide exams to make it important. Teaching students about global affairs is vital if we want to create good global citizens. I thank all our teachers who work hard to make sure you children understand the interconnectedness we share with the rest of the world.

I also want to congratulate the World Citizen Essay award winners. The diversity of topics covered in the students’ essays is remarkable. I am proud of the great quality of ideas expressed in the papers. The great work of these young people gives us great hope for the future of our nation.

Mona and I have been very honored to serve the great state of Washington the last eight years. The time has flown by so quickly in some ways—and at other times it’s as if we’ve always done this. It reflects how much I have enjoyed being governor. It is the most rewarding, humbling, frustrating, challenging and fulfilling job imaginable.

One of the most rewarding aspects of my job has been building our state’s trade relationships with nations all over the world. We have worked hard to open markets in places like China, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, and Mexico and to encourage foreign investments in Washington state.

And our efforts have resulted in significant success. Our first trip to China in 1997 has resulted in the lifting of longstanding restrictions on the import of Washington wheat. We helped create record sales of cherries in Asia. Since our 1998 mission to Japan and Taiwan, Washington growers have shipped $180 million worth of cherries to Taiwan since 1998, more than all shipments in the previous 20 years combined. We created a great market in Mexico for Washington potatoes and French fries. We had similar success with our potatoes in South Korea with the first-ever shipment in 2003. Washington hops were introduced to Japan, with nearly $1 million in new contracts signed.

Our last two trade missions to China have been very successful. Our business delegates reported actual sales of $3.9 million and approximately $81.4 million in projected new sales during the next 12 months. These sales create new jobs in Washington state.

Our trade with other nations benefits millions of people, both here and abroad. Our state is known for such global companies as Boeing, Microsoft and Starbucks and Weyerhaeuser and we have great research institutions like the University of Washington.

We have many other great companies and universities in Washington state. And other nations have enormous needs—from feeding its people to environmental cleanup to medical equipment to energy production, to technology to education. Washington state businesses and colleges and universities can help meet those needs.

All of our trade missions have been to help all of these businesses and scientific and medical institutions. Our objective is to introduce our delegates to their business counterparts and key government leaders in other nations.

And we’ve seen that to build strong trade partnerships, there is no substitute for in-person visits and meetings with our partners, face-to-face. The benefits of our trade partnerships are a direct result of the investments we’re willing to make. Investments of time and effort and genuine interest in other countries. Healthy trade requires focus on relationships, not just transactions. And we have hosted many delegations from other countries wanting to learn from Washington state government, colleges and universities, hospitals and manufacturing companies on topics as diverse as government efficiency to reforestation.

What can we do to make these relationships better? Since I most recently returned from China, and since they are such a critical trading partner now and will be even more so in the future, let me focus my attention there. U.S. visa policies and processes regarding China simply must improve.

There is far too much uncertainty and delay in the visa application process right now. It can take up to a year to secure the appropriate approvals for travel from China to the U.S. This is unacceptable. It has a very negative impact on business, scientific and cultural exchange, often making it pointless to even try to explore opportunities.

Meanwhile, regions like Europe have streamlined their processes. They are seizing opportunities that we in America would like to pursue.

Our inefficient visa processes are costing American companies billions of dollars every year in lost business. We in Washington state are especially concerned about this issue—we value our trade partnerships with China, and want to expand them.

The problem with visas affects more than just business travel but also scientific and technological advancement in the United States and democratization around the world.

As Harvard President Lawrence Summers wrote in a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, “We risk losing some of our most talented scientists and compromising our country’s position at the forefront of technological innovation. If the next generation of foreign leaders are educated elsewhere, we also will have lost the incalculable benefits derived from their extended exposure to our country.”

China is an enormous country with enormous, urgent needs. China will purchase equipment, machinery and technology from someone. If cumbersome visa policies make it too difficult to engage with the United States to visit our factories and farms before buying our products and services, China will have little choice but to turn to Europe or other parts of the world to meet its needs.

This is about more than economics. Strong trade partnerships lead to strong economic alliances—and ultimately political alliances. China is an economic and growing political force on the global stage. It is in America’s best interests – first and foremost politically and secondarily economically - to continue to nurture our trade relationship, cultural ties and political alignments with China. This is about more than dollars—it’s about the strong global partnerships needed to halt the proliferation of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction; to protect against terrorism; to respond against famine and ethnic wars – in short, to promote world peace, security and international cooperation.

What is true of our relationship with China is true of our relationships around the world. It is in America’s best interests to continue improve our ties with all nations. Only through cooperation and mutual understanding will we improve our economic and political standing and influence in the global community.

This is so necessary to promote world peace, security and international cooperation.

The people, businesses, and farmers of Washington state will continue to actively support and pursue trade opportunities worldwide. One third of our jobs depend directly or indirectly on international trade. Washington state farms grow more than we can consume in the U.S. We offer highly valued and desired goods, services, technology and university level education. And these goods, services, technology and educational opportunities can help meet the enormous needs of the world community.

We deeply value our relationships with our partners other peoples and nations around the globe. We hope those will only grow stronger in the years ahead.

I thank the World Affairs Council for all you do to make these relationships grow even stronger.

Thank you again for this recognition.

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