I Found Wisconsin All Over ChinaFriday, December 19, 2014 - Press Release
Perhaps you've had this same experience: You're traveling far from home and you spot a Green Bay Packers hat, a Badgers sweatshirt, or an "America's Dairyland" license plate. Seeing that slice of home instantly brings a smile to your face.
I had that moment half a world away in China at the American Chamber of Commerce in Beijing when I met Edward Tung, a business executive for Oshkosh Corp. It happened in Chengdu, when I ran into an employee who worked for a Brookfield-based financial services company. I had it in Shanghai, meeting Angel Yang, a vice president with Kohler Corp. In fact, my meeting with Angel took place at the Wisconsin Center in downtown Shanghai, across the street from a Kohler showroom. And everywhere I went, people knew Wisconsin ginseng, grown right here in Marathon County.It's amazing what our hosts packed into 10 days in China. We started in Beijing, the national capital, meeting with the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Agriculture. Meeting with the ag officials, it became clear that we can make a real dent in the US-China trade deficit with an aggressive food export strategy. This would be great for Wisconsin, when dairy and beef on top of ginseng are real strengths.
Also in Beijing, we met with the American Chamber of Commerce, which represents US-based companies doing business in China, and the All-China Federation of Industry & Commerce, which is the national organization for Chinese business interests. We had a really interesting conversation about sister-chamber relationships modeled on sister-city relationships.Then we headed to Chengdu, which resembles Wisconsin in that it's China's agriculture and manufacturing heartland. I gave a speech to mayors and local officials from across the province on international agricultural cooperation, like the Chinese university students who I met at the World Dairy Expo earlier this year; they were studying ag science at University of Wisconsin-River Falls. And just this week, our Wisconsin Department of Agriculture announced it would again sponsor a state pavilion at China's World Dairy Expo in Heilongjiang. These sorts of partnerships not only advance the science of agriculture, but also create relationships that lead to trade as the Chinese see the equipment and technology operating on our farms.
Our mission ended in Shanghai, which is the dynamic commercial and financial center of China. There I met with executives from a number of great Wisconsin institutions, including UW-Madison, Rockwell Automation and Promega. These companies are proving every day what we already know: It is possible to engage in a mutually beneficial commercial relationship with China that involves more than just U.S. debt, consumer electronics and household goods. Indeed, there are American advances in science and biotechnology, equipment manufacturing and food products that the Chinese want and need for their people and their economy.
As I return to Wisconsin, I'm excited about the doors opened on this mission. I am convinced now more than ever that one of the best ways to grow jobs in our state is to increase our exports abroad. There are 1.3 billion potential customers in China — let's go get them.