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Gov. Jerry Brown announces trade office in China

SACRAMENTO -- Gov. Jerry Brown is reopening a state trade office in China that had been shuttered nine years ago by the Legislature.

The new Shanghai mission is to be paid for with private-sector funds raised by the Bay Area Council, a San Francisco-based business group.

China is California’s third-largest trading partner, buying $14.1 billion in California-produced goods and services in 2011. Total state exports for that year were $159 billion, an amount exceeded only by Texas with $163 billion. 

The office and potentially others around the globe were authorized by a new state law signed by the governor Tuesday at a ceremony at the Redwood City headquarters of software maker Oracle Corp.

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The offices “will be focused on facilitating business-to-business partnerships that will increase exports for California companies and connect foreign investors with financing opportunities in the Golden State,” according to a fact sheet distributed by the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, known as Go-Biz.

The law, AB 2012 by Assembly Speaker John Perez (D-Los Angeles) transfers the authority for creating a state trade strategy and for operating trade offices from the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency to the governor’s office. Go-Biz will use existing state resources and private funds to operate the China office and possible future representations, the governor’s office said.

In the early 1990s, California operated a dozen trade offices. Lawmakers eliminated support for them from the state budget in 2003 during the tenure of Gov. Gray Davis. A number of studies by state agencies criticized the efficiency and economic benefit of the growing network of trade offices.

The last trade office, in Armenia, closed in 2006.

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