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Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie keen to build trade ties with China

Governor Abercrombie 1
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US governors called for increased economic cooperation between China and the United States at the China-US Governors Forum on Wednesday.

US governors called for increased economic cooperation between China and the United States at the China-US Governors Forum on Wednesday.

Robert Hormats, US Under-Secretary of State for Economic, Business and Agricultural Affairs, said the governors thought it was very positive to have this kind of engagement.

“During their visit, these states will explore more opportunities for exports, not just to coastal China but central and western China, to identify opportunities for Chinese companies as part of China’s ‘go out’ strategy to invest more in their states,” he said.

“In our view, trade can create jobs in the states, so we welcome any kind of investment from China,” he said.

The state of Georgia signed a memorandum of understanding at the forum with Shandong province to promote cooperation.

“We look forward to building on this relationship. We have been partnered in the organizational structure, and this will be an official recognition of that and a pledge to work mutually to the benefit of Shandong province and the state of Georgia,” said Nathan Deal, Governor of Georgia, adding that the state will set up an office in Shandong.

Hisense, a Shandong-based electronics manufacturer, has invested in Atlanta and Georgia for several years. Its new research and development center became operational there last year.

Charlie Wang, Executive Vice President of the company, said Hisense plans to increase the number of its local employees from 100 to 1,000.

The delegation from Georgia will go to Changsha, Hunan province, on Thursday to visit the private machinery maker Sany and meet local officials. On Friday, they will visit Hisense in Qingdao, Shandong province, and then go to Shanghai.

Apart from attracting investment from China, other states and territories are looking for opportunities to cooperate in culture, education, and tourism.

Eddie Baza Calvo, governor of Guam, said: “We are the nearest community in the United States to China,” adding that Guam has the potential to become the bridge between the US, the largest economy in the world, and China, the world’s second-largest economy.

“We see a strong desire for cooperation in education. Though we are part of America, we are in Asia. So Chinese students can get a western education experience without living far from their parents,” he said.

According to Calvo, Shanghai University approached him earlier this year to discuss an education program which allows students to spend two years in Shanghai and two years in Guam to complete a degree.

“The representatives of the local university of Guam and Shanghai University are talking at the same time while we are having the forum in Beijing,” he said.

Unfortunately, there is currently no direct flight between China and Guam.

“We are talking about four hours by direct flights, if we had one. We have discussed with several airlines, hoping the problems will be solved in the near future,” he said.

In order to attract more visitors from China, his administration is also working with the federal government and homeland security to expand the Visa Waiver Program to Guam, which allows foreigners to visit without a visa.

Neil Abercrombie, Hawaii Governor, has also been working to provide a more efficient and easier visa process for Chinese tourists and business people.

PHOTO: Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie speaks while holding a copy of China Daily during the China-US Governors Forum in Beijing, October 19, 2011.

[Zhao Yanrong in New York contributed to this story.]