Southern Economic Development Leaders Seek to Strengthen Business Opportunities for South in China
BEIJING, CHINA – A trade delegation of 39 representatives from nine states and territories representing the American South, including Alabama, began two days of meetings with their Chinese counterparts in Beijing on Thursday.
The trade mission is being coordinated by the Southern Governors’ Association (SGA) and supports the 2010 leadership initiative of SGA chairman Alabama Governor Bob Riley.
While Governor Riley could not participate in the trade mission due to his responsibilities related to the BP oil disaster, his goal in organizing the trade mission is focused on combining the executive leadership of SGA’s 16 member states and two territories to increase Southern states’ exports to China and brand the American South as the primary region when Chinese companies look to expand and invest in the U.S. Thirty-one government and economic development representatives from 11 Chinese provinces are meeting with their Southern counterparts during the two-day event.
The Beijing meetings will be the first of two formal gatherings between officials from the American South and China to begin discussions on the expansion of U.S. exports to China, how to increase Chinese investment in the Southern region and how to identify partnerships between Southern and Chinese companies. In late August, Chinese provincial governors will travel to Birmingham, Alabama, to meet with their American South counterparts during SGA’s 2010 annual meeting to continue the trade discussions.
“SGA member states and territories recognize the tremendous potential for greater growth in economic ties with China,” said Governor Riley. “Through this initial meeting in Beijing and the gathering planned for Birmingham in August, we’re confident that our mutual interests and concerns can be better identified and opportunities maximized.”
The Southern Governors’ Association (SGA), founded in 1934, is the oldest and historically the largest of the regional governors' associations. SGA uses the power of connection, collaboration and communications in a bipartisan manner to solve regional problems, improve quality of life and secure an economically vibrant and prosperous American South.
FACTS ABOUT THE BUSINESS CLIMATE OF THE AMERICAN SOUTH
According to the most recently available data, the GDP of the states that comprise the American South has reached $5 trillion, or more than 35% of total US GDP. When the economies are combined and compared internationally, the American South is the third largest economy in the world, behind the European Union and the United States, but with a larger GDP than even Japan.
The American South is home to nearly 700 world-class colleges and universities, in addition to a plethora of specialized trade schools and two-year academic programs. This vast educational network has produced a skilled workforce that is well prepared to meet the needs of advanced manufacturing and knowledge-based industries.
The American South has the highest concentration of research parks in the United States (25%), and the highest number of research parks affiliated with a university (98% versus the national average of 74%).
The American South also offers valuable transportation advantages in the form of a highly integrated logistics network. With more than 190 commercial airports, 12 deepwater ports, and an extensive network of rail, road and inland waterway transportation options, the American South offers easy access to domestic and international markets alike.
Renowned for its hospitality, diverse landscape and pro-business attitude, the American South is a vast region comprised of nearly 25% of the continental United States landmass. Nearly 40% of the U.S. population resides in the American South, and the region continues to experience a level of growth exceeding the national average.
2010 China-American South Partnership Forum Participants
Neal Wade, Director, Alabama Development Office
David Hutchison, Business Development Director, Alabama Development Office Tate Godfrey, President, North Alabama Industrial Development Association Josh Blades, Deputy Chief of Staff, Office of Governor Bob Riley
Shane Kearney, Economic Development Project Manager, Alabama Power Company Timothy Wang, Attorney at Law, Alston & Bird LLP Jian Han, Principal Investigator, HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology