The signing of AB 2012 at the Bay Area Council’s annual meeting. (Photo courtesy of Bay Area Council)
Get ready global market, California is ready to do business!
That’s the message from Governor Jerry Brown after signing Assembly Bill 2012. The bill, crafted with help from the Bay Area Council, paves the way for California to have a presence in the foreign market once again.
“This is a significant step in the right direction for our economy and for businesses in the state,” said Sean Randolph, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute. “It won’t get us all the way there, but it is significant.”
Governor Brown announced California will open a trade office in China and the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) will partner up with the Bay Area Council to manage it.
To top it off, Randolph said the state will not have to spend a dime to reopen the foreign trade office, as it will be funded privately with private public partnerships.
China is the world’s fastest growing economy and, despite the importance of foreign markets to the state, California’s foreign trade offices and the Technology, Trade and Commerce Agency closed in 2003 due to budget constraints.
“The offices were actively involved. It was the largest network in the country. Since then California has been unrepresented overseas for trade and investments,” said Randolph.
Access to China’s markets will be critical to the recovery and success of California’s economy. The state is a leader in foreign exports and China is a key partner. In 2011, California exported nearly $160 billion to 227 foreign economies, supporting more than 440,000 jobs.
And California exports to China have grown 300 percent, from $3.5 billion in 2000 to more than $14 billion in 2011. Reopening the trade office doors will only help boost these numbers more.
“This means for the first time in nearly a decade, we will have a clear place where California businesses can go for a support on business and economic development overseas,” added Randolph. “The complaint for years, from the business community, has always been there has been no support. Well, now here’s the support for California businesses looking to expand into the Chinese market. It’ll also give businesses a chance to look for Chinese investors looking to come to California.”
The partnership will have a governing board of advisors from members of other business organizations and non-profits throughout the state.
“Right now this is our best option available,” said Randolph. “The Council will be very involved in developing a strategy and to build long term relationship with China. The Governor is very focused on China. He proved that he’s willing to get California business back in China through private public partnerships.”