Interview: U.S. Louisiana expects closer collaboration with China: economic official

Source: Xinhua| 2019-03-05 15:41:16|Editor: mingmei
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Cargo ships are anchored on the waters of Mississippi river in Louisiana, the United States, March 2, 2019. The Southeastern U.S. state of Louisiana has benefited from its collaboration with Chinese businesses and expects to see a closer partnership, Don Pierson said. (Xinhua/Wang Ying)

by Xinhua writers Pan Lijun, Zhang Mocheng, Gao Lu

BATON ROUGE, United States, March 5 (Xinhua) -- The Southeastern U.S. state of Louisiana has benefited from its collaboration with Chinese businesses and expects to see a closer partnership, a local economic official said.

"Louisiana enjoys a positive trade balance with China," said Don Pierson, secretary of Louisiana Economic Development (LED), detailing the significance of Chinese businesses to his state in a recent interview with Xinhua.

The Bayou State, Louisiana, imports 1.3 billion U.S. dollars a year in goods while exporting 7.9 billion dollars in goods to China, mainly including chemicals, fuels and agricultural products, he said.

China is Louisiana's top export market and ranks seventh in imports. Chinese commerce has already been a transformative force in Louisiana's economy, with extensive trade and cross-border investment linking the two more strongly than ever, according to the LED website.

Calling the state's economic ties with China "very important," "very strong" and the two sides "good trading partners," Pierson said Chinese direct investment in Louisiana is "a growing segment," which he believes has great potential.

Located along the Mississippi river, Louisiana is one of America's earliest port hubs with a view to the entire world. About one in six local jobs is closely related to foreign commerce, Pierson said.

From 2012 to 2018, Louisiana has taken in about 120 billion dollars, much of which was from foreign direct investment (FDI), with Chinese FDI accounting for some 3 billion dollars, according to LED statistics.

"If Chinese companies can establish their operations in Louisiana and export products that are needed back to China, that's a win-win scenario," said the state economic official.

Pierson spoke highly of the Chinese companies that are represented in his state as they do not only benefit the regional economy by creating jobs and contributing to local communities, but are also responsible participants regarding safety and security around their facilities.

"They're doing a great job and we hope to introduce more Chinese companies to Louisiana," he said, adding that the state's strategic location for logistics, rich natural resources as well as low cost of feedstock and electricity can help create a favorable environment for foreign businesses.

Shandong Yuhuang Chemical, one of the Chinese companies investing in Lousiana, is constructing a 1.85-billion-dollar methanol production facility in St. James Parish, Louisiana.

Also in the same parish, Wanhua Chemical Group from east China's Shandong Province plans to invest 1.25 billion dollars to develop a methylene diphenyl diisocyanate complex. The project is set to start construction in 2019 and is expected to go into operation in 2021, according to the latest statement by the company.

In January, Shandong Yuhuang and LED were presented with the Outstanding FDI Partnership Award by the New York-based Chinese General Chamber of Commerce, the largest and most influential non-profit organization representing Chinese enterprises in the United States, with its members exceeding 1,500.

Pierson has been to China more than 20 times during his over 27 years of economic development experience. He is scheduled to lead a delegation to China for about two weeks this month, during which they plan to cement existing business collaboration and find more opportunities for further cooperation, especially when there are positive signs from the latest U.S.-China trade negotiations.

The economic official hopes that the United States and China could ink some agreements "very soon," so that commerce can grow.

Pierson said he was optimistic about a potential trade deal between the two countries as it's not only desirable from the Chinese side, but also "the desire of the U.S. participants to grow the economy of the U.S., and China is such an important part of that."

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