Interview: Bourbon, thoroughbreds, FDI - U.S. Kentucky hopes to expand cooperation with China

Source: Xinhua| 2018-05-24 03:01:42|Editor: Liangyu
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U.S. Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin receives an interview with Xinhua in New York, the United States, May 22, 2018. Matt Bevin expects his upcoming first visit to China will help boost the Bluegrass State's cooperation with the rising economic powerhouse. (Xinhua/Zhang Mocheng)

By Xinhua writers Yang Shilong, Zhang Mocheng and Zhou Saang

NEW YORK, May 23 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin expects his upcoming first visit to China will help boost the Bluegrass State's cooperation with the rising economic powerhouse.


"What I'm excited about is the possibility for upside growth, the chance to put seeds in the ground that will grow deep roots and start partnerships that will bear fruit 10, 20, 30, 50 years from now," said Bevin in an interview with Xinhua following his meeting with China General Chamber of Commerce - U.S.A. in New York City on Tuesday.

Bevin is scheduled to attend the Shanghai International Import Expo late this year. This will be his first visit to China since he was elected Kentucky governor in 2015.

"Establishing business relationships, establishing a presence, and a sense of communication, of partnership, these are the types of things that we have already begun to do, and so we want to continue that effort by attending this Expo," he said.

The governor has done a lot of homework on Chinese history and culture for the scheduled trip to the most populous country in the world.

He said he is amazed to know that China had been a global leader more than any other civilizations throughout history.

"I like the fact that people want to have true partnerships. This is what I'm looking for," he said.

"This is the first political job that I've ever had... When I worked in the private sector, I always wanted good partnerships with people, people that you could trust, that you could look at and come to an agreement on how to work together, so that both of you are better off."

"These are the kinds of agreements that China has long prided itself on, and it's the kind of thing that I want to establish more relationship between Kentucky and China, to take advantage of these very things," he said.


The businessman-turned politician said that Kentucky, the logistical hub of North America, welcomes more Chinese direct investment with open arms.

"Kentucky welcomes FDI, welcomes Chinese investors. And I think other Chinese investors will see that based on how we have treated the companies that have come first," Bevin said.

"We have about 9,000 employees in Kentucky who work for Chinese-owned companies, but I would like to see that number go up," he said. "There are some 200 Japanese companies that employ more than 45,000 Kentuckians. China is so much larger, why should there not be an equivalent number of Chinese companies in Kentucky?"

"So, my responsibility is to start that dialogue, and let people know about the competitive advantages that we have," he said, citing his state's prime location for manufacturing and major logistics companies, cheapest electricity rates in the eastern half of the United States and the large workforce of highly trained individuals.

The governor said he has launched a "red tape reduction initiative" since taking office in an effort to spur investment and employment.

"When I was elected, I said I'm going to cut 30 percent of all of the regulations in Kentucky, and we are doing exactly that to make it easier for businesses from China, from America, and everywhere else, to come and do business in Kentucky," he said.

"They might know us from Kentucky fried chicken, or Louisville Slugger baseball bats, or Muhammad Ali, or the Kentucky Derby, but then they come and discover there's a lot more as well," he said.

On the horseracing front in particular, Bevin said, China is "the largest, new and expanding market" for thoroughbred race horses that are bred in Kentucky.

The southeastern U.S. state will also be "more proactive" in attracting Chinese and Asian students, he added. "The key is we just have to make sure they understand we want them, and we need to have programs that welcome them and assimilate them well. We have tremendous public universities."

The governor believes Bourbon whiskey is another new attraction in Kentucky to deep-pocketed Chinese tourists.

"Bourbon, the bourbon trail and people's taste for bourbon, it's not just the spirit itself, it's not just the liquid, it's the story behind it and how its manufactured. These are the kinds of things as well that are very intriguing to people," he said.

(Qiu Junzhou contributed to the story.)