China-California ‘trade’ deal is signed

150 150 Ed Coghlan

Californians’ mindsets are changing, such as their new willingness to pay tolls to travel faster on freeways (Photo Credit: miggslives)

It sounds like the California delegation’s trip to China may be paying dividends already.  Governor Brown and the Minister of Commerce signed an agreement that will strengthen economic ties between the Golden State and China.

“Today’s global economy makes strong international partnerships necessary. By strengthening California’s relationships with foreign countries and those countries regions and economic sectors   California’s economy stands to benefit greatly, “said Paul Granillo, CEO of the Inland Empire Economic Partnership.

Granillo is also co-chair of the Steering Committee for the California Economic Summit which will reconvene in November in Los Angeles.

The China-California agreement underscores the huge international component of the state’s economy. California is number one for Foreign Direct Investment. In fact, one out of 20 California workers in the private sector, work for a foreign controlled company.

Regarding China, here’s a story in the China Daily News that speaks to Chinese investment in the California economy. 

The memo of understanding the Governor signed with the Minister of Commerce outlines nine areas agriculture, bio-tech, information technology, infrastructure, energy, manufacturing, tourism and environmental protection.

One sector of agriculture is already taking advantage of the trip. The California wine industry hosts a banquet during this week’s China trip and is preparing for vintner delegations from California to visit China later this spring.

The topic of Chinese investment in California’s infrastructure is also intriguing. China has a significant presence in the ports of California, given its large number of imports into the state.

LA Times reported this weekGovernor Brown was talking about infrastructure in Beijing, in particular his efforts to get the high speed rail project going and expressed his frustration at the “Lilliputian obstacles thrown in my way at every turn.” (Hat tip to John Myers of KXTV)

California’s pressing infrastructure needs demand more investment, but voters appear increasingly ready to kick their old habit of passing bonds and paying for them out of general funds. Thus there is much more discussion going on about new ways of financing projects, like using public-private partnerships which could include user fees or tolls in order to pay back private groups. Being able to generate that kind of revenue might make companies—in China and elsewhere–more willing to pay some upfront costs of the projects.

An example of a changing mindset among some Californians is an increasing willingness to pay to save time on the freeways. The LA Times reported today on toll lanes recently added to Interstate 110 that will now let you to drive alone in the car pool lanes.

Of course that means that they aren’t “free” ways. But officials say the funds collected will be re-invested back into the transportation corridor.

What do you think? Would you be willing to pay to drive certain roads the way you pay tolls on a bridge?

If you are interested in taking a short poll about infrastructure in California, head to our new Infrastructure Survey and let us know what you think should be the state’s priority.


Ed Coghlan

All stories by: Ed Coghlan