On August 1, 2018, Los Angeles, CA, Mayor Eric Garcetti completed a 10-day trade mission to Asia. While visiting Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, and China, Mayor Garcetti brought together private and public sector leaders to partner around tourism and sustainable growth.
Like Los Angeles, many Asian cities hope to curb climate change by exploring renewable energy solutions. Last year, Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam committed to climate action by investing in solar electricity infrastructure programs. As part of the trade mission, the L.A. Business Council and the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce & Industry signed a Memorandum of Understanding to collaborate on sustainable economic development, increasing the exchange of solar technology and knowledge. While visiting Tokyo the delegation participated in a special signing ceremony to mark a joint project with an L.A.-based clean technology company to bring biomass energy — a more sustainable wood-based fuel — to Kumamoto, Japan. Using locally-sourced wood can help Japan improve its energy security.
In addition to greening cities, these shared efforts to expand renewable energy help maintain California’s strong trade ties with Asia. California exports the most to Asia of any state, with over $100 billion in goods and services exported to the region in 2016, supporting over 600,000 jobs statewide. The countries visited are very important to Los Angeles businesses. Of California cities, Los Angeles leads in trade between Japan, South Korea, and Vietnam at over $84 billion, and alone accounts for 27% of all US-Hong Kong trade.
In South Korea, Mayor Garcetti and Seoul Mayor Won-soon Park signed a Memorandum of Understanding to enhance tourism marketing between the two cities. Seoul is one of 24 Asian cities with direct flights to Los Angeles, helping it welcome over 300,000 Korean visitors last year. Tourism enhances Los Angeles’s strong cultural ties with Asia, and L.A. County has the largest Asian-American population of any county in the United States.
These local relations bring people together and promote sustainable living. City-led initiatives to improve sustainability have already benefited from collaboration between local governments in the United States and South Korea. Connections on the city-to-city level lay the foundation for technological and cultural exchange between the United States and Asia into the future.
Rivvy Eisenberg is a Research Intern with the East-West Center in Washington and a Master’s candidate in International Environmental Policy at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey.
[Image: Flicker - Eric Garcetti]