Virginia Continues to Deepen Trade and Cultural Ties with China

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by Damien Tomkins
Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe has emphasized the importance of growing his state's trade with China. Image: Flickr user Kate Wellington

A new administration with no change in trade policy toward China; such is the narrative for Virginia with newly inaugurated Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe. His predecessor, Republican Governor Bob McDonnell, led a trade delegation to China in early 2013 where he opened an agricultural trade office in Shanghai. Today, China is the one of the top export markets for Virginia's goods exports with agricultural and forestry products top of that list. Last year, the pork producer Smithfield Foods Inc. based in Virginia was purchased by the Chinese company Shuanghui International Holdings Ltd. for $7 billion (including debt), a record foreign direct purchase in the United States by a Chinese company. It is estimated that this purchase will further increase exports of Smithfield food products to China.

Speaking at the State Capitol in Richmond on March 19, Governor McAuliffe announced that Richmond Ballet--the State Ballet of Virginia--will partake in the 2015 Beijing Arts Festival, marking the ballet’s first trip to Asia. “The Commonwealth of Virginia has a long-standing, productive, and mutually beneficial relationship with China, one built solidly on the economic pillars of trade and investment,” explained Governor McAuliffe. “China is already the largest customer of Virginia’s agricultural and forestry products and one of our state’s largest trade partners. The country also is a top 15 global investor in Virginia. The Ballet’s Road to China initiative provides an opportunity to continue an open and collaborative dialogue that could set the stage for future partnerships between our two countries. This is exciting and promising for citizens of the Commonwealth and my administration.” 

The US edition of the China Daily reported that McAuliffe will lead a trade mission to Asia in October that will also include a stop in China. "I hope this trade mission will offer an opportunity to increase Chinese investment but also more cultural ties, open up more trade and more personal visits between China and Virginia," he said. "This is a win-win situation for the Commonwealth of Virginia and China."