Interview: Collaboration with China "critical" to Minnesota: economic official

Source: Xinhua| 2019-11-29 16:58:00|Editor: mingmei
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Steve Grove, Minnesota's Department of Employment and Economic Development commissioner, receives an interview with Xinhua in St. Paul, the United States, Aug. 8, 2019. Sustainable collaboration with China is crucial to economic growth in the U.S. state of Minnesota, Steve Grove said. (Xinhua/Zhang Mocheng)

NEW YORK, Nov. 29 (Xinhua) -- Sustainable collaboration with China is crucial to economic growth in the U.S. state of Minnesota, a local economic official has said.

"It's critical ... China is our number two trading partner after Canada (in terms of exports), so we want our businesses to have access to global markets and Chinese businesses to have access to our market ... that kind of trading relationship is really important," Steve Grove, Minnesota's Department of Employment and Economic Development commissioner, told Xinhua in a recent interview.

From manufacturing to agricultural products, "it's a pretty diverse cross section of exports that we (send) to China," said the economic official, adding the state also imports a variety of products from China.

Minnesota exports totaled 23 billion U.S. dollars in 2018, with China accounting for some 2.8 billion dollars, as well as being its second largest market overseas, according to data from Grove's department.

"Some of the top exports for us to China have to do with optics, machinery and medical tech devices," Grove said.

In addition, he said, "We're thrilled by the foreign direct investment here from China and we're also thrilled to have a lot of Minnesota companies doing business in China."

There are several signature projects in the state invested in by Chinese companies, including a Chinese aircraft manufacturer's acquisition of airplane builder Cirrus based in the state's major port of Duluth, according to Grove. Meanwhile, 65 Minnesota companies are operating in over 500 locations across China.

"We are very engaged on the continent and it's that kind of exchange we think is going to strengthen our economy and strengthen our relationship with China," Grove said.

Statistics from his department show exports of goods supported about 118,000 jobs in Minnesota in 2016, while foreign-owned businesses employed about 127,900 people.

"Globalization has provided all kinds of benefits and opportunities to companies," said Grove, who was previously an executive at U.S. tech giant Google for 12 years. He noted that a global perspective and international trade are among the fundamentals of today's economy.

Calling his state's relationship with China "strong and important," the economic official said that "there remains great potential" for collaboration.

Grove also voiced his hope that the U.S. administration's trade spat with China "can be settled soon."

"We obviously would like to see this trade dispute come to a close, (so) that we can have normalized relations. That's critical for a solid trade relationship," he said, adding "uncertainty worries us."

"It takes a while to develop these supply chain relationships, these export relationships, and when they go away, they're hard to rebuild," he noted.

Data shows local exports worth about 2.2 billion dollars to the European Union and China were affected in 2018 by the U.S. administration's trade policy.

"We would like to see trade relations be in a positive place between China and the United States, so that our farmers can retain the great relationship they have had with China and that all of our businesses with China can be successful," said Grove, adding his state is ready to cement cooperation with China in various areas.

"We remain hopeful that this process, this relationship that Minnesota has with China will continue to flourish and not just in business, but in education and tourism and beyond," he said.

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