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While participating in the National Governors Association Summer Meeting held in Salt Lake City, U.S. ambassador to China Terry Branstad met with WTC Utah as well as local business leaders and legislators with strong ties to China. The luncheon provided a forum for the group to discuss the importance of engaging with China on a state level despite international trade disputes.

As former governor of Iowa, Branstad accepted the nomination from then President-elect Donald Trump to serve as ambassador to China on December 7, 2016. Leveraging his experience as the longest-tenured governor in American history, Branstad has applied a hands-on approach to improving the U.S.–China relationship with a focus on trade. Having visited all but six provinces in China, the ambassador is engaging directly to foster better understanding and collaboration as the administration works to address long-standing concerns over China’s trade policies.

While discussing best practices for engaging with China, Branstad noted that other states would benefit by following Utah’s example. As China is one of Utah’s largest trading partners, Utah government, business and civic leaders have taken a proactive approach to strengthen people-to-people ties with China as an avenue of protecting and advancing Utah’s many interests in China.

“China’s importance as a trading partner will continue to increase over time, which is why it is so important that the United States works closely with our allies to reach an agreement that addresses many of the long-standing challenges Utah businesses have faced in China,” said Miles Hansen, president and CEO of WTC Utah. “These challenges notwithstanding, Ambassador Branstad applauded Utah’s unique relationship with China and encouraged us to redouble our efforts to strengthen Utah’s people-to-people ties with Chinese companies and officials, thereby broadening our avenues to advance Utah’s business interests there.”

Last October, WTC Utah led a trade delegation to Shanghai and Beijing with an objective to promote Utah as a business destination and to increase investment to the state. While in Beijing the Utah delegation joined Ambassador Branstad for a discussion with prominent Chinese investors. As a result of that visit, several Chinese delegations have visited Utah to find ways to grow and expand the trade and investment relationship, particularly in energy, agriculture and the outdoor industry. In May, WTC Utah had the opportunity to host a delegation of more than 100 high-level Chinese government and business leaders for a trade and investment forum. The event, which took place in conjunction with the 150th anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad, facilitated direct engagement between the Chinese delegation and Utah’s business and civic community while promoting bilateral trade and investment opportunities. To read more about this event, visit: https://wtcutah.com/utah-china-forum/

Dan Stephenson, COO and Partner of Economic Bridge International Management, attended the meeting with the Ambassador on July 25 and expressed how these two recent engagements have heightened Utah’s reputation among the business community in China. “As a result, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Commerce in China have declared that they see Utah as a friendlier place to engage with and look at Utah in a different way compared to other U.S. states,” said Stephenson. “Our outreach, which has been widely covered in the Chinese media, is making a big impression that will lead to long-term relationships and growth.”

About World Trade Center Utah wtcutah.com. World Trade Center Utah leads Utah’s international business development and elevates Utah’s global status to promote prosperity and build economic resilience. WTC Utah accomplishes this mission by pursuing three key objectives: 1) Empower Utah businesses to expand international sales to increase revenue and create jobs, 2) Attract foreign investment and facilitate international partnerships to fuel innovation and business development, and 3) Mobilize Team Utah’s international engagement to elevate Utah’s global status.