L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti set to visit Asia on a trade mission

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti to visit Japan, China, South Korea on trade mission

Like the four mayors before him, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti will embark this weekend on a trade mission to China, South Korea and Japan, with an 80-member delegation of local officials and business leaders.

The mayor says the goal of the 12-day visit is to increase tourism and encourage companies to invest in Los Angeles. China, South Korea and Japan are the city's biggest trading partners.

"We must leverage our assets in the global marketplace to create jobs here in Los Angeles," Garcetti said in a statement Thursday. "We have developed strong economic ties with Asia, and we must continue to build on them."

The mayor will begin in China, visiting the cities of Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Shanghai and Beijing, and then travel to Seoul and Tokyo.

Garcetti plans to meet with leaders of a number of companies doing business with the city, as well as potential investors, including the chief executive of Samsung Construction and Trading Corp., executives from Japan Airlines and the chairman of Korean Air, which is already spending $1 billion to build the Wilshire Grand hotel and officer tower downtown.

The mayor also plans to create an alliance with the mayors of Auckland, Australia, and Guangzhou to increase trade and collaboration in entertainment and tourism. He will also sign an agreement between several local hospitals and China Southern Airlines to facilitate medical travel for Chinese patients in need of surgery in L.A. Garcetti will be joined by executives from Cedars-Sinai, Children's Hospital of L.A., Keck Hospital of USC, City of Hope and UCLA Health.

Executives from Panda Restaurant Group, Ernst & Young, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Universal Studios will be in the group but pay their own way, a spokesman for the mayor said.

The tab for public officials in the group is expected to be $570,000. The Port of Los Angeles and Los Angeles World Airports will contribute $214,000 and $198,000 respectively, with the remainder covered by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the Mayor's Fund for Los Angeles and corporate sponsors including Universal Studios Hollywood, DFS, Steinberg Architects, CJ Entertainment and Greenland Holdings Group.

Greenland Holdings Group is a Chinese real estate developer of the Metropolis Los Angeles project, a $1-billion hotel and residential skyscraper planned in downtown. The City Council agreed this year to let Greenland keep $39.2 million in taxes expected from the project over the next 25 years.

Garcetti will also be joined by Councilmen Gil Cedillo; Curren Price; Mike Bonin, whose district includes LAX; and Joe Buscaino, whose district includes the port. Garcetti's father, Gil Garcetti, will also be along, and will pay his own way, officials said.

Garcetti's predecessors Tom Bradley, Richard Riordan, James Hahn and Antonio Villaraigosa all made similar trips to Asia.

The city's police union — locked in contract talks — criticized Garcetti for going on a taxpayer-supported "junket" when more money needs to be devoted to public safety.

soumya.karlamangla@latimes.com
Twitter: @skarlamangla

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