Seeking to strengthen economic ties with China, California is planning to reopen its Shanghai trade office and set up another in Beijing, perhaps as early as this year.
Gov. Jerry Brown made the announcement Friday in Los Angeles following a meeting with Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, China’s leader-in-waiting, who is visiting the U.S. this week.
"The Pacific Rim has become the center of the world economy, presenting California with countless opportunities to grow alongside our neighbors across the ocean,” Brown said.
The move would mark a return to the Middle Kingdom for California. In 2003 the state shuttered its 12 foreign trade offices -- including one in Shanghai -- amid a budget crunch and criticism that the operations were a waste of taxpayer money. The combined budget of those trade offices was about $6 million.
Brown’s office said the new California-China Trade and Investment Office locations would be funded by the state and private-sector business partners. No word on the cost. But a Brown spokesman said state officials were working with Chinese officials to secure approvals needed to get the facilities open by the end of the year.
China is California’s third-largest export market behind Mexico and Canada. Last year the state exported $14.2 billion worth of goods and services to China, which is a major customer for computers, electronics and agricultural products.
China exported nearly $400 billion worth of goods to the U.S. last year, much of which moved through California ports.