Secretary of State Grimes leads symposium on doing business with China

04/27/2017 02:51 PM

COVINGTON – Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes led a regional symposium on Thursday in Northern Kentucky regarding the economic partnership between the Commonwealth of Kentucky and China.

Grimes traveled to China back in 2015 to meet with Chinese companies to encourage investment in the state. In January 2017, Grimes met with Chinese Embassy officials to promote Kentucky.

According to the Kentucky Center for Economic Development, Kentucky’s exports broke an all-time record in 2016 with $29.24 billion in goods and services shipped abroad from the commonwealth, a 5.8-percent increase from 2015, of goods and services which were sold abroad.

In 2016, Kentucky’s exports to China totaled $1.8 billion. China is Kentucky’s sixth largest export market accounting for 5.9 percent of Kentucky’s exports.

One roadblock is to overcome the history of China’s economy growing on the backs of many U.S. workers who have lost jobs because of businesses relocating jobs to China.

Grimes says that Kentucky and China should work to build an economic partnership that is mutually advantageous.

“There’s much that’s been written about China’s rise to one of the world’s top economies, and what we’ve lost here in the commonwealth and more importantly the nation by way of jobs, manufacturing industries, but I do think that, while we can’t change history, we’ve got to work to build a better future,” Grimes said.

Grimes feels that Kentucky has an advantage over other states in doing business with the nation. She said businesses from the commonwealth already have its footprint in thousands of locations across the country, citing Yum Brands Kentucky Fried Chicken.

“When I went to China, Kentucky is a rock star when you talk about Yum Brands KFC,” Grimes said. “Over 7,000 retail locations in a thousand cities in China. Its blueprint money corporations small and large follow to try to emulate and succeed. Kentucky is well known.”

One Chinese company which has already made an impact in the commonwealth is the Birtley Industrial Equipment Corporation headquartered in Lexington, which makes advanced coal preparation products. Birtley was the first Chinese manufacturer to locate in Kentucky, investing approximately $10 million and creating as many as 50 new full-time jobs.

“We have many Kentucky based companies that are having a global impact in China and abroad and we need to make sure that we continue to build relationships for their success,” Grimes said. “Their success is Kentucky’s success.”

Looking to the future, Grimes says that there are two words which must be remembered in evaluating a potential business relationship with any foreign business.

“Mutually beneficial, those are the two words that I would say that we have to keep in mind as we press forward with relationships with China or with any foreign government for that matter,” Grimes said. “We want to make sure that we are looking out for our American workers, our Kentucky workers, Kentucky products.”

The “Doing Business with China Regional Symposium” was sponsored by the Greater Cincinnati Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Northern Kentucky International Trade Association, and the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.

Don Weber

Don Weber is a Video Journalist for Spectrum News and covers politics and education on Pure Politics, Kentucky’s only nightly program dedicated to state politics. Don is a lifelong Kentuckian and a graduate of Northern Kentucky University. He spent many years covering sports in the Northern Kentucky area before shifting primarily to politics. You can watch Don’s work weeknights at 7:00 and 11:30 on Pure Politics, available exclusively on Spectrum News, HD Channels 403 and 715. If you have a story idea you can reach Don at donald.weber@charter.com.

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