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China Daily Global / 2021-11 / 19 / Page003

Oregon cashes in on China ties

By LIA ZHU in San Francisco | China Daily Global | Updated: 2021-11-19 00:00

US state's exports to nation in 2020 reached $9.5 billion, up 32 percent year-on-year

Despite heightened tensions between the United States and China, the state of Oregon is experiencing record exports and growing imports from China.

China is Oregon's largest trading partner and Oregon is a significant source of imports for China. In 2020, Oregon's exports to China totaled about $9.5 billion, an increase of 32 percent from 2019, according to the Oregon governor's office.

And the state's 1st Congressional District, which covers part of the city of Portland, exported $7.5 billion worth of goods to China in 2020, more than any of the other current 434 congressional districts that elect members to the House of Representatives, according to the 2021 District Export Report recently released by the US-China Business Council.

The district is home to a corridor of high-tech manufacturers, known as the Silicon Forest. Its exports to China have more than doubled in the last decade. The rapid growth, driven mostly by booming exports of semiconductors, helps the district's exports support more than 24,500 jobs, roughly 9,000 more than in 2018, according to the report.

"Our relationship with China allows us to expand Oregon's business and trade partnerships, promote our booming agricultural market, and support jobs for Oregonians throughout the state," said Charles Boyle, spokesman for Democratic Governor Kate Brown.

More than 1,000 businesses in the state-particularly in the computer, agriculture and food products industries-do business with China, according to Boyle.

While China is the top foreign market for Oregon's grass seed-about $45 million in seed went to China in 2020-the state's trade with China is dominated by semiconductors produced in Oregon and shipped to China, where they are assembled into electronic products, said Boyle.

Semiconductors and their components make up the second-largest category of US goods exported to China, and more than half come from Oregon's 1st District.

"The Port of Portland enjoys a strong trade connection with China, with goods flowing in both directions," said Keith Leavitt, chief of the Port of Portland's Trade and Equitable Development Division.

"On the export side, some of our top products include integrated circuits, electronic instruments and footwear parts that travel through our airport, while vehicles, fertilizer, grains and soybeans make their way to China through our seaport," Leavitt said.

"China is an important market, and our businesses value the two-way trade that the Port of Portland's air and marine connections provide," he said.

On average, US exports to China have been growing by 2.4 percent per year for the last decade, which is faster than the rest of the United States' top goods markets. US exports to China increased by roughly 18 percent in 2020, while its exports to the rest of the world fell by 15 percent, according to the US-China Business Council report.

"This disparity is likely the result of China outpacing the rest of the world in its recovery from the pandemic-induced slowdown," said the report. It also attributes the growth to Chinese tariff exclusions in support of commitments in the Phase One trade deal, which "encouraged a more normal flow of goods from the US despite both countries maintaining heightened tariffs on each other's goods".

Despite the uncertainty around the removal of tariffs by both sides, Boyle said Governor Brown believes that increasing business, cultural and educational connections between Oregon and China will help to promote trade.

"We will strive to work with our friends and colleagues in China on issues of shared importance. Climate change is near the top of that list," said Boyle.

"Looking forward, the governor sees a great opportunity for increased trade and investment between Oregon and China in the fields of sustainable development and clean technology."

China has pledged to be completely carbon neutral by 2060.Oregon also has ambitious climate goals to reduce greenhouse gas pollution by at least 45 percent below 1990 levels by 2035 and by 80 percent by 2050.

"The timing is right for Chinese companies to consider coming to Oregon and work together with our businesses to help solve global climate challenges. This will be a win-win for all of us," said Boyle.

Business Oregon, the state's economic development agency, has recently organized an e-commerce event in coordination with the Oregon China Council to help Oregon businesses explore the market opportunities in China.

In 2020, the value of China's domestic consumption reached $6 trillion. With a population of 1.4 billion and a middle-income group of more than 400 million, it is estimated that China's imports of goods will exceed $22 trillion by 2030.

"When COVID-19 is diminished, and as international travel begins to open up again, Oregon looks forward to promoting trade, investment and exchange opportunities with China. We hope that we can continue to engage in more activities to help our businesses find market entry opportunities in China," said Boyle.

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