U.S.-China Governors Forum Promotes Subnational Economic Cooperation

Posted by Reta Jo Lewis
October 28, 2011
View of the U.S.-China Governors Forum in Beijing, China

In conjunction with U.S. Embassy Beijing and the Office of Chinese and Mongolian Affairs, my office facilitated the October 17-21 reciprocal visit to China of a delegation of six U.S. governors representing Georgia, Hawaii, North Carolina, Washington, Guam and Northern Mariana Islands, led by Washington Governor Christine Gregoire. The National Governors Association and the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries co-hosted this successful event which brought together U.S. governors and eight high-level Chinese provincial officials to discuss topics of mutual interest, including trade and investment, job creation, and economic development.

The U.S.-China Governors Forum was established by a U.S.-China Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed during Chinese President Hu's state visit to the United States in January. The MOU serves to strengthen cooperation at the subnational level by encouraging U.S. governors to visit China and Chinese provincial leaders to visit the United States to realize two-way business opportunities, increase people-to-people exchanges, and establish a more enduring relationship overall.

The Beijing forum is a follow-up to one held in Salt Lake City, Utah in July during the U.S. National Governors Association meeting. The Salt Lake City forum resulted in the Utah-Qinghai Ecopartnership, as well as approximately 20 MOUs, including one which outlined this week's forum in Beijing.

In addition to plenary sessions, the Beijing forum provided U.S. governors with the opportunity to engage in direct talks with Chinese governors about topics of mutual interest and to explore opportunities to enhance practical cooperation.

Economic development and job creation were prominent themes at the forum. Under Secretary of State for Economic, Energy, and Agricultural Affairs Robert Hormats attended the Forum and emphasized that the United States is "very open" to Chinese investment and that the U.S. governors and the states they represent are eager for Chinese investments. Pointing out that China is Washington state's largest trading partner, Governor Gregoire said the "U.S.-China Governors Forum provides an invaluable opportunity to discuss job creation and develop new economic opportunities that benefit us all."

As the Special Representative for Global Intergovernmental Affairs, I seek to implement Secretary Clinton's 21st Century Statecraft, a strategy for creating partnerships to achieve modern diplomatic goals. This strategy places a priority on vigorously cultivating subnational partnerships. The U.S.-China Governors forum is one example of our continuing efforts to encourage our states and cities to engage with governors and mayors across the globe.

While in Beijing, I also participated in a meeting with Chinese Vice Premier for Economic, Energy, and Financial Affairs Wang Qishan. In addition, I moderated a panel discussion on "Navigating U.S. Investments," at the American Chamber of Commerce's "Invest USA" seminar.

Overall, the U.S.-China Governors Forum in Beijing served to provide subnational leaders with yet another opportunity to establish exchanges in trade, culture, and education.

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