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Reciprocity on trade highlighted at forum

By RENA LI in Los Angeles | | Updated: 2024-05-24 10:50
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California and China have maintained a strong partnership, marked by a dynamic economic relationship and deep people-to-people ties. This enduring connection was displayed at the recent China-California Business Forum, where speakers explored potential collaboration, highlighting trade reciprocity between the Golden State and the world's second-largest economy.

In his remarks to the gathering of businesspeople from both sides, Bobby Kotick, founder of Activision Blizzard, emphasized the importance of finding common ground, drawing on his company's two-decade partnership with China.

"Now we've had our most talented, productive, capable engineers and programmers working in the studio in Shanghai," he said. "If you look at the experiences that I've witnessed firsthand, there's just nothing but opportunity for growth and continued collaboration."

Of course, the road ahead is not easy for both sides to get caught up in the rhetoric of "division and distrust", he said.

After more than one year off the market due to the expiration of the previous publishing deal between Blizzard and NetEase in January 2023, Blizzard announced that its games are coming back to China in summer 2024.

"We should focus on embracing the power of collaboration and finding common ground," he stressed. "We need to focus on trade reciprocity, ensuring that the benefits of our academic partnerships are shared."

Jeff Leader, the founder of the Hermes Deployment Corp, who has been to China more than 140 times over the past 15 years, said there is a "very, very strong" partnership between California and China.

"We've run into difficulties from time to time from both sides, but we have successfully transferred technologies between the US and China; it's difficult, but it's very meaningful," he told China Daily.

Dee Dee Myers, senior adviser to the California governor and director of the Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development, pointed out that while national governments primarily manage international relations, diplomacy should be practiced at all levels, including cities and states.

"California is the fifth-largest economy in the world. So, we need to continue to find ways to leverage that power and use it to help solve our collective challenges," Myers said. "We're really glad to continue to work with our Chinese partners on some critical issue like climate change."

Stephen Cheung, CEO of the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation, told the audiences that China's economy is strong and will continue to grow in the next few years, and there are a number of different sectors LA wants to collaborate together with China.

"China is the eighth-largest foreign investor in California, primarily in the manufacturing sector. These investments have created 90,000 jobs across the state, with 700 businesses already located throughout California, and have contributed close to $2 billion in wages every single year," Cheung said.

Richard Swanson, senior adviser to the US Department of Commerce's Pacific South Operations of International Trade Administration, passionately promoted the SelectUSA Investment Summit by sharing personal anecdotes and historical context.

"I personally invested in China when I found out that my grandfather studied at Peking (Union) Medical College in Beijing. When I first visited Beijing and toured the Forbidden City in 2005, I didn't realize how close the college was. … Now I am eager to go back and visit my grandfather's college, hopefully very soon," he said, citing the importance of seeing firsthand where one is investing.

In the panel discussion on the Chinese and US market gateway, Jim Doucette, partner and EY Global Retail and Consumer Products leader, indicated a significant trend in both the US and China, with younger consumers particularly interested in ecofriendly products.

"Chinese consumers are consistently across a pretty broad range of goods and services as they want to spend more than the US consumer," he said. "Middle-class growth in China is expected to continue, presenting essentially strong opportunities in both countries over the next five-plus years."

Melissa Hill, an officer from the US Foreign Commercial Service who previously worked in Shanghai to promote American retail brands, expressed her fondness for the city, saying, "I love Shanghai."

Hill shared a story of a promotion program from California to China, which includes seminars on social media branding, online campaigns, a bilingual digital catalog and virtual product displays across various locations in China.

"The program has been highly successful, with a social media campaign garnering about 4.9 million views from potential Chinese consumers. Seventy percent of participating California companies successfully entered the Chinese markets," she said.

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