Utah-China trade and investment forum celebrates history and creates new opportunities

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World Trade Center Utah hosted a delegation of more than 100 high-level Chinese government and business leaders for a trade and investment forum at the Little America Hotel on May 11. The event, coordinated in partnership with the China Chamber of International Commerce, facilitated direct engagement between the delegation and Utah’s business and civic community while promoting bilateral trade and investment opportunities.

More than 250 forum attendees heard remarks from Utah Senate President Stuart Adams; Speaker of the House Brad Wilson; Xu Xueyuan, Minister of the Chinese Embassy in the United States; Zhang Yi, deputy secretary of the CCOIC; Steve Starks, president of Larry H. Miller Sports and Entertainment; as well as many other notable speakers from Utah and China. The speakers discussed opportunities and challenges to expanding trade and investment between Utah and China as well as highlighting Utah and China’s long-standing educational and cultural relations. The forum concluded with a special screening of the film “Helen Foster Snow: Witness to Revolution.”

The Chinese delegation traveled to Utah to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad. An estimated 15,000 Chinese immigrants provided the essential labor that made the railroad possible, often working under harsh and dangerous conditions.

The Forum comes as policymakers in Washington, DC and Beijing continue to work intensively to reach agreement on an updated framework for trade between the United States and China. Recognizing the importance of effective trade policies, forum participants welcomed the continued efforts by the leaders of both countries to build a strong policy foundation upon which expanded U.S.-Chinese trade may be built. “The golden spike is the perfect symbol for the power of robust trade and commerce to overcome divisions and increase prosperity,” said Miles Hansen, president and CEO of WTC Utah. “150 years ago, the transcontinental railroad facilitated an increase in trade and commerce across a divided country shortly after the American Civil War. Strong people-to-people ties are important all the time, but perhaps more so during times of increased tension. Policymakers in national capitals make trade policy, while citizens across countries build the relationships that make it easier for commonsense solutions to be found for the challenges that exist.”

“Correspondence through email, letters and phone conversations are important, but when it comes to diplomatic relationships, meeting face-to-face with foreign representatives is where the rubber meets the road,” said Utah Senate President Stuart Adams. “Engaging in candid discussions with trade partners is beneficial to increase and generate trade, investment, education and innovation opportunities for Utah businesses. Our goal is to expand job creation, support current professions, fuel our economy, increase living standards and help Utahns better provide for their families.”

“In order to deepen the pragmatic cooperation between the United States and China and explore new opportunities for bilateral trade and investment, the China Chamber of International Commerce and the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) U.S. Office arranged for many Chinese companies in various fields, including cultural tourism, manufacturing, education, real estate, etc. to participate in this forum,” said Mr. Zhao Zhenge, the general representative of the CCPIT in the United States.

China is one of Utah’s most important trading partners. Utah’s trade with China totaled nearly $4 billion in 2018. Utah’s business community recognizes the role of Chinese trade. A statement from Nu Skin’s China office said, “The prospects for Chinese-U.S. cooperation are broad. It is expected that the Chinese-U.S. economic and trade exchange activities will enable both sides to strengthen their understanding and further cooperation.”

Chinese tourists bring over $140 million into Utah’s economy each year. “With splendid nature scenes and a characteristic history, Utah, a state of rich resources, is a popular destination among Chinese travelers,” said Ms. Song Yan, general manager of public relations at Ctrip.com, China’s largest online travel agency. “However, travelers have little knowledge of Utah due to long-distance travel from China. We would like to enhance our exchange and communication in the future to increase mutual understanding and bring more Chinese travelers to Utah. Ctrip hopes to play a crucial role in this process.”