With a little more than four months to go before his term expires, Gov. George Deukmejian said Tuesday that he'd like to be known as the guy who gave California "a foreign policy that can be summarized in one word: trade."
In an interview following his remarks to a trade group in Anaheim, Deukmejian said he is "not looking to be labeled as California's trade governor, but I think we will be recognized for taking a major step in getting California involved in the international competitive marketplace."
During the past eight years, the governor said, the state has created trade programs that have boosted California's exports, maintaining the state's position as the leading exporting state in the nation, with foreign sales of $43.4 billion in 1989.
"We have 700,000 new people coming into the state every year and growing unemployment caused by a cutback in defense spending," Deukmejian said. "In order for us to have jobs, we have to constantly do things to expand the economy. One of the ways to do that is to improve our trade opportunities."
The governor, speaking to the World Affairs Council of Orange County, said this trade-oriented policy has laid the foundation for the state's businesses to be competitive in the world market in the 1990s. He cited the fierce trade struggle that is expected when the economies of Western Europe are united in 1992.
Noting that 1 million Californians "receive a paycheck that directly or indirectly depends on trade," Deukmejian said it is not enough to keep California goods and services competitive overseas. He said the state has also encouraged California business people to travel overseas and seek out new buyers for their products and services.
The governor said his Administration created several programs to expand the state's international trade. Those include providing low-interest loans and export finance insurance to small- and medium-sized businesses, and encouraging companies to participate in foreign trade shows.
To help businesses once they go abroad, the state has opened trade offices in London, Tokyo, Mexico City, Frankfurt and Hong Kong since 1987.
The governor also warned California's businesses about becoming complacent about international trade.
"The danger that exists for us is to take things for granted," he said. "If we start to think that economic expansion and global outlook are luxuries rather than necessities, then we risk sliding back to the days of stagnation and decline."
He criticized opponents of increased foreign investment in the state and offshore oil exploration, describing such attitudes as protectionist and counterproductive to increasing trade.
"We must avoid short-term, easy answers that undercut the solid economic foundation we have built," he said. That means encouraging foreign investment, rejecting fears of foreign control of the local economy and a halt of what he called "mindlessly locking away important resources," he said.
Foreign investment in the state reached more than $42 billion last year, which the governor said created 300,000 jobs.
Deukmejian said he'd like to see his successor continue to build on his trade programs.
"If the next administration holds to a view of involving the state in global trading," he added, "then I'm confident that they will build on what we've started and we'll have more involvement and more jobs created in trade-related activity."