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It's all business at trade seminar in Seattle

By CHANG JUN and LIA ZHU (China Daily USA)

Updated: 2015-09-23 08:38:58

It's all business at trade seminar in Seattle

Shen Boyang, vice-president of LinkedIn, speaks at a panel discussion on Internet + Commerce held on Sept 22, joining him are senior executives from Baidu, Alibaba, ZTE, HP and Shanghai municipal government official. Chang Jun / China Daily 

China and the US are serious about business, and that was on display Tuesday in Seattle.

About 450 business leaders and government officials from the two nations gathered for the Chinese Provinces-US State Trade and Investment Cooperation Seminar, a key event during President Xi Jinping’s visit to the United States, which started on Tuesday in Seattle.

It was co-hosted by the Ministry of Commerce of China (MOFCOM) and Washington state, and organized by China's Trade Development Bureau (TDB) and Washington state’s Department of Commerce.

The event also witnessed the establishment of the Joint Working Group for Trade and Investment Cooperation Between Chinese Provinces and the US State of Washington, the sixth joint working group on trade and investment promotion between Chinese provinces and a US state or city.

During the seminar, Microsoft Co, based in nearby Redmond, Washington, announced partnerships with China's major smartphone maker Xiaomi Co and Shaanxi province and also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Sichuan province.

By partnering with Xiaomi and Mi Cloud, Windows Azure, operated by 21Vianet based on Microsoft technology, will provide cloud data synchronization and backup services to Xiaomi users.

"Through our cooperation with Xiaomi, we hope to create a first-rate mobile Internet experience for consumers and at the same time use Microsoft Azure's global advantage to help Chinese companies, such as Xiaomi, to enter the global market," Ralph Haupter, corporate vice-president, chairman and chief executive officer of Microsoft Greater China Region said in a release.

Under the MOU signed between Microsoft and Sichuan province, which covers IT training, the incubation of startup companies, cloud computing applications and big data, the two sides will strengthen local economic development through cloud, mobile Internet and innovation.

In 2013, Microsoft invested in Xixian New Area, a development zone in Shaanxi province, to promote technologies and upgrade industries. The two sides on Tuesday pledged to deepen their partnership to build the province into an information hub for China’s "Silk Road Economic Belt" initiative.

The three-hour seminar also covered topics such as investment, e-commerce and agriculture.

Zhang Xiangchen, deputy China international trade representative for MOFCOM, and Joby Shimomura, the Washington governor’s chief of staff, co-signed an MOU that will allow six Chinese provinces and municipalities — Liaoning, Shanghai, Hunan, Guangdong, Sichuan and Shaanxi — to expand trade and investment cooperation with Washington state.

The MOU will cover industries such as advanced manufacturing, aerospace, agriculture and food processing, clean technology, information and communication technology, life sciences and maritime affairs.

Since 2013, MOFCOM, along with 21 Chinese provinces and municipalities, has established joint working groups for trade and investment cooperation with the states of California Iowa, Michigan and Texas, and the city of Chicago.

"These working groups have built new platforms for strengthening trade and economic cooperation in a number of areas, playing a positive role in forging closer people-to-people and commercial ties," Zhang said.

The seminar wasn’t only about technology.

"Agriculture has always been an important part of Sino-US exchanges and cooperation," said Pan Gang, chairman and president of the the Yili Industrial Group, China's diary producer in Inner Mongolia.

Pan recalled that Xi, in a 2012 visit to the US, had agreed with President Barack Obama to deepen cooperation in eight priority areas, including food security, agricultural science and technology.

Pan said Yili Group is eager to learn from its American counterparts. "The Chinese government is promoting the 'going out' strategy among Chinese enterprises, and we believe the China-US cooperation in agriculture will be complementary."

For example, China's per capita milk consumption is only one-tenth that of the US. The diary industry in the US is mature, but the market has become increasingly saturated, while the Chinese market is huge and consumer demand is strong.

"As per capita GDPs of many regions in China exceeds $10,000, diversified and personalized health food will be popular, so there will be large room for Sino-US innovative cooperation in agriculture and food," Pan said.

The seminar, among a series of trade and investment promotion activities under the framework of Chinese provinces-US states cooperation, mirrors the Chinese Province- the State of California Trade and Investment Forum held in San Francisco on Monday by the Chinese Provinces-California Joint Working Group, and the Chinese-Provinces-the State of Iowa Trade and Investment Forum to be held in Des Moines, Iowa, on Thursday by the Chinese Provinces-Iowa Joint Working Group.

The seminar also was boosted by the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Machinery and Electronic Products, the China Chamber of Commerce of Foodstuffs and Native Produce, the Tacoma-Pierce Chamber of Commerce and the Washington State China Relations Council, with the US Department of Commerce being listed as the supporter.

"The Trade Development Bureau will actively promote exchanges and trade between Washington state and the Chinese provinces and cities in ecommerce, high-end manufacturing, renewable energy, aviation and agriculture," said Sun Chenghai, TDB director general.

Sun said the bureau will make timely reports to the governments of both countries, especially about issues and challenges that small- and medium-sized enterprises face.

The Trade Development Bureau is collaborating with Shanghai's commerce department and Internet companies in China and the US to establish a China-US "Internet + Commerce" alliance with the goal of providing better support and service to Chinese and US industrial and commercial sectors through innovation in investment and trade approaches.

Contact the writers at changjun@chinadailyusa.com

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