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California businesses upbeat on China market

By LIA ZHU in Los Angeles | China Daily Global | Updated: 2023-05-24 10:00

Against the headwinds of US-China tensions and the impact of COVID-19, businesses in California are faring well in the Chinese market thanks to continuing engagement and a sound friendship between the two sides.

"I just came back from the Canton Fair last month. We have been buying auto parts from Chinese suppliers and we wanted to meet more suppliers," Jaspreet Singh, executive vice-president of KalPartz, a company based in Fontana, told China Daily at the 2023 China-California Business Forum in Los Angeles on Monday.

Singh took a booth at the forum in the hope of meeting potential business partners from China. He said his company established relationships with Chinese partners during the pandemic, and they introduced him to more suppliers in China.

Singh said his business has not suffered from the geopolitical tensions. "It's all about business," he said. "We have maintained a very good relationship." He was also pleased with his experience at the Canton Fair and said he planned to attend the fair again later this year.

The China-California Business Forum was created in 2016 to promote trade and investment cooperation between California and Chinese provinces. This year's forum was the first after the pandemic and it attracted a delegation of more than 100 trade representatives and officials from China along with hundreds of local businesspeople.

Emily Desai, deputy director of international affairs and trade at Go-Biz, gave the audience of an example of the cooperation — a program led by her office to support 12 California companies, all small businesses, to participate in the Greater China clean beauty products showcase this February.

"China is currently the second largest cosmetics market in the world, and the top destination for US cosmetics exports. It is estimated that the Chinese beauty and personal care market will be worth more than $78 billion by 2025," said Desai.

"Sophisticated consumers, and increasing awareness of things like pollution on skin are driving more Chinese consumers and shoppers to opt for natural and organic skin care products. In California, companies have their products and services to deliver," she continued.

She said the participating companies, through the program, met with more than 320 Chinese distributors and buyers while looking to successfully enter the market.

"These types of programs are very important. They deepen our trade ties, particularly for our small businesses. They provide new revenue and business opportunities as companies look to expand overseas," said Desai.

"And importantly, they also further promote organic and clean beauty products for more consumers helping to facilitate healthier lifestyle opportunities. We look forward to continuing this type of work together and all of this important engagement."

Despite some difficulties and challenges, economic cooperation remains one of the strongest foundations underpinning China-US relations, said Chinese Consul General in Los Angeles Guo Shaochun.

Last year, bilateral trade reached a record high of $760 billion. The US agricultural exports to China also hit a new record of $40.9 billion, he said.

"California leads all the other states of America in economic cooperation with China and it's the top state in attracting Chinese investment, while China stays California's largest trading partner," said Guo. "There are broad prospects for cooperation between us in agriculture, trade, cultural and entertainment industries, logistics and transportation, clean energy and many other sectors."

"Furthermore, we have most recently seen positive signs of improvement of China-US relations. … People both have the desire and need to stabilize our relationship," he added.

California Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis agreed, calling the trade relationship between California and China "crucial".

She said the relationship also is driven by both peoples and history.

"Since the founding of our state, Chinese immigrants have played a critical role in this story. During the Gold Rush and in the years that followed, Chinese immigrants came to California in search of opportunity. Tens of thousands of them came to build America's transcontinental railway," she said.

"Today, 150 years later, nearly 1.5 million Californians are of Chinese descent. Prior to the global shutdown, there were 148 nonstop flights between China and California every week. And we were pleased to welcome over 1.6 million visitors from China every year," Kounalakis said.

"More than 25,000 Chinese students are enrolled at the University of California alone … making up more than half the international student body. The person-to-person ties that developed through all this robust activity form a foundation of mutual understanding and friendship," said the lieutenant governor.

She told the audience that California presents "important business opportunities" in climate change and environmental protection.

"We encourage foreign investment in all aspects of combating climate change. We have companies from around the world, especially from China, both taking part in the incredible green wave happening in our state," she said.

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