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Villaraigosa to lead December trade mission to Asia

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa plans to return to Asia on an 11-day trade mission in December with a contingent of city officials and business leaders.

The delegation, which will include port, airports and tourism officials, will travel to Japan, South Korea and China, the city’s three largest trading partners. The mayor and his cohorts plan to hold dozens of meetings and events with government and business leaders, seeking to encourage firms to set up shop in L.A., invest in local companies and do more business in the city.

Villaraigosa has led two other trade missions, to Asia in 2006 and to Israel in 2008.

“We have had success in expanding investment across our city by Asian business leaders,” Villaraigosa said, “and will use this trip for crucial personal meetings, which we have found are a key tool and best practice in working with our friends in Asia.”

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The group will travel to Beijing, Chongqing and Shanghai in China; Tokyo and Sendai in Japan; and Seoul, South Korea. OnGreen, an environmental firm, will showcase up to 20 Los Angeles businesses involved in clean technologies; clothing retailer Forever 21 will open three stores in China; and architecture firm Gensler, which designed Asia’s tallest skyscraper, will try to expand its business.

On his last trip to Japan, Villaraigosa met with the owners of Famima!!, an upscale convenience store chain. Since then, the mayor’s office said, the company has opened six stores in the city.

Villaraigosa’s administration also takes credit for persuading Chinese firm BYD, which plans to sell electric vehicles, to put its North American headquarters downtown; it had its grand opening Monday. “We have attracted China’s leading green company to our city,” Villaraigosa said. “We see BYD’s Los Angeles opening as a catalyst that will usher in good jobs, global investment and a more sustainable future.”

The mayor plans to travel to Sendai to meet with officials, emergency responders and researchers to learn about how the area responded to the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. The Los Angeles delegation will include earthquake expert Lucy Jones, a seismologist for the U.S. Geological Survey.

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Others on the trip include Mickey Kantor, a lawyer who is a former secretary of Commerce; David Fisher, chairman emeritus of the investment management firm Capital Group International; and Ambassador Jose Villarreal, commissioner general of the U.S. Pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo.

The estimated $295,000 cost to the city will be paid by the port and airport, the mayor’s office said. Business leaders and others will cover their own costs.

john.hoeffel@latimes.com


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