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Thursday, February 16, 2012

U.S - China Roundtable

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I attended this informative meeting hosted by the Chinese Chamber of Commerce where Lauren Zhou Weinberger, Queen of Miss L.A. Chinatown introduced the four speakers:

1. Fernando Guerra, Associate Economist at Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC) who spoke about attracting investors from China and how to build up existing relationships with China.  Did you know that we have the most Chinese students here in L.A?
Chinese-Americans have played an instrumental role in building California's economy as railroad workers and we have over 150 years of partnership with China. Did you know that China has a 5-year plan to move from export to consumer-based economy while we are trying to do the opposite? Mr. Guerra wants to bring Chinese companies to L.A to create jobs and revenue for this city and the state of California.

2. Patti MacJennett, Senior V.P of L.A Inc. who represents over 1,000 businesses and said that tourism in L.A (an export) generated over $15 billion and was the #1 industry last year. Millions of travelers come to visit, 20% are international tourists who account for one-third of the spending. Did you know that L.A is just behind New York City as the most popular tourist destination? LAX is the gateway to Asia and China is the third largest market with 338 thousand tourists (this number has grown over 200% over the last 3 years). Chinese tourists spend an average of $6,800 per person and L.A Inc. is partnering with LAX in marketing to China. Did you know that Guangzhou, China is one of our sister cities?  The #1 barrier to tourism is the delay in Visa application of up to 120 days. U.S has only 5 consulate offices in China, so many people have no local access to obtain a Visa there. $4.1 billion has been invested in LAX with $1.2 going to (creating more gates) improving the new International Terminal which will open in March. Did you know that the U.S created Brand U.S.A to market tourism?

3. Jim MacLellan, Director of Trade Development in Port of L.A. who is involved with trade promotion program said that our ports have recovered in 2010 and recaptured almost all the lost. We had a record export year from 2010-2011, but 85% of companies in California don't export their products. As 66% of purchasing power is overseas, Mayor Villaraigosa announced a joint effort to increase U.S export to Asian countries and I hope we will have a Free Trade agreement with China soon. Did you know that international trade took over aerospace as one of the 2 major industries in L.A after the Cold War? In 2010, we had a $144 billion trade with China. Hot markets are medical, dental, food/ beverages, health and beauty. Mr. MacLellan wants to bring local companies to Hong Kong in August for the 2012 HKTDC Food Expo. This event was attended by over 740 exhibitors from 22 countries and 12,000 buyers from 60 countries last year. It is one of the premier trade shows in Asia and internationally. Over 370,000 members of the public visited. I hope to go to Hong Kong with this delegation.

4. Charles Woo, CEO of Mega Toys and KCET Local Hero who is a graduate of U.C.L.A  talked about the challenges of being in the toy business due to the increase in the value of Chinese Yan Renminbi and the cost of transportation. There is also the expense of third-party testing because of past toy recalls. Quality control has to increase and that drives up the cost of production. He also worries about protecting intellectual property as there are many "copy-cats" in China. When someone asked him how he got started in the toy business, Mr. Woo replied "I didn't know what was impossible."

Ingrid Cheng
Author of Dream: Creating a Better World

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