When I ran for office, I made a commitment to focus on the role of Oregon’s Corporations Division. When most people think of the Corporations Division, they think it’s the place you go just to register a business. But in a diverse and global economy, it’s time to enhance that reputation. My goal in the coming years is to grow the Corporations Division into a strategic ally of Oregon’s entrepreneurs and innovators, and with that goal comes a broader vision for how the Secretary of State’s office can help Oregon’s economy thrive.
In September, I announced I would be participating in a November Trade Mission to China. I’m committed to being the best Secretary of State I can be, and when one quarter of my job description as Secretary of State is dedicated to serving Oregon’s business community, I will work hard to open up opportunities for Oregon’s job creators.
During my many years in the legislature, I was honored to organize 10 legislative delegations to China, which resulted in connecting Oregon businesses to new markets. As Secretary of State, I hope to make an even bigger impact. So, let’s talk trade.
Tianjin, China is Oregon’s “sister-city/state.” It is located south-east of Beijing, has a population of 15.5 million, and is connected to Beijing by a state-of-the-art, 200 mph bullet train.
Oregon has been invited to display Oregon products in the new China-Tianjin International Sister City Pavilion. Tianjin is providing 1,000 square feet of pavilion space at no cost for three years. This e-Commerce platform is the result of years of focused effort by Jin Lan, President of Oregon-China Sister State Relations Council (OCSSRC). The international exposure for Oregon products means our businesses will have a chance to begin exporting or to increase their exports to Chinese consumers via the internet.
China is Oregon’s number one export destination, and there are millions of Chinese consumers who will buy Oregon products if they have the chance to learn about them. For Oregon’s small and medium size businesses, introducing their products at the China-Tianjin International Sister City Pavilion is an opportunity that must not be squandered.
When Oregon companies are successful in the global marketplace, their businesses grow and create new jobs for Oregon workers. Access to the Pavilion puts millions of new customers within reach of Oregon businesses.
Resulting from the Municipal Government of Tianjin’s unique relationship as Oregon’s sister-city/state, Tianjin increasingly has shown an interest in collaborative business partnerships with Oregon. Since it is a sign of respect and mutual friendship for Oregon to attend the opening of Tianjin’s multi-million dollar e-Commerce Pavilion, and since Governor Brown told the Chinese Consul General that she would be unable to travel to China this year, Tianjin sent a letter of invitation to me requesting that I lead an Oregon delegation to Tianjin’s e-Commerce Pavilion celebration. Although it is preferable for a Governor to represent a state at international trade events, when a Governor is unable to attend important events, it is customary for other high-ranking elected officials to participate. In most states, that role is filled by the Lt. Governor—the elected official who is second in line. In states like Oregon that do not have a Lt. Governor, that role is filled by the Secretary of State. Therefore, I will be leading this year’s delegation from Oregon to China. Here is the itinerary for the November 8-20 delegation and the list of the those traveling with me.
In addition to Tianjin and Beijing, the delegation will travel to Fujian, China, our longest-standing sister state dating back to 1984 when Governor Vic Atiyeh signed accords with Fujian’s governor. In Fujian, we will be discussing a proposal for a 2018 Oregon-China International Conference on Culture, Education, Investment, and Tourism. Oregon-based Clear Water Institute will discuss with Fujian's Environmental Department how Oregon expertise and products can benefit this booming Chinese province.
While in Beijing, I’ll be meeting with 1) the Chinese Minister of Culture to discuss the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and 2) the Chinese Minister of Commerce to discuss streamlining Oregon business in China and encouraging Chinese investment in Oregon to create more jobs here at home.
Relationships are an important part of Chinese culture, and having the opportunity to meet face-to-face with their Chinese counterparts will be an invaluable networking and business development opportunity for the small business delegation traveling with me. They will have the chance to meet Chinese consumers, distributors, and government officials. Because our Chinese hosts value family participation, two of my grandsons will accompany me at their own expense.
This trip will be my 12th official delegation to China, and represents another link in a deeply-forged relationship between Oregon and China. Since 2002, more than 40 legislators, both Republicans and Democrats, as well as many of their spouses and children, have invested their own time and money to help build trust and bipartisan support with the Chinese government and to promote the message that Oregon is open for business with China.
As has been the case with all of the delegations since 2002, the host country will cover much of the in-country expenses. Although state funds are often used to pay for flights to and from trade missions, I will be personally paying for my travel to China. In short, no part of this year's delegation expenses will be paid with Oregon tax dollars.
As your Secretary of State, I will do all I can to make Oregon’s finest products attractive and available to consumers around the world. To China’s millions of middle-class consumers who want to buy great American products, our message is to not just “Buy American,” but to “Buy Oregon’s Very Best.” By focusing the Corporations Division on helping develop local businesses and promoting Oregon-made goods to markets at home and abroad, our economy wins!
For more information about the Oregon-China Sister State Relations Council, visit the OCSSRC website.