Gov. Dannel Malloy projects that Connecticut will soon double its current $983 million in exports to China as a result of his trip there this week.
“It’s going to double,” Malloy told reporters on a conference call from the major port city of Tianjin on Wednesday. “It’s probably going to triple. The question is when that is going to happen.”
The prediction comes amid Malloy’s eight-day trip to China, a mission that is focused on increasing exports, attracting foreign direct investment in Connecticut and reestablishing strong personal and economic ties first established more than two decades ago.
Malloy said biotechnology and aerospace opportunities are at the top of his agenda.
"The shift of manufacturing to China is dying out and they realize that. Government officials talk about investments in foreign countries and to spread investment. To borrow a word from Connecticut, it is ‘revolutionary’ for China to be thinking of investing in foreign countries. …. I've been asked to prepare a list of public and private transactions that might be of interest," Malloy said.
Until Malloy’s trip this week, no Connecticut governor had traveled to China since Gov. Bill O’Neill in 1987. China is currently Connecticut’s fifth largest export destination.
“Connecticut is finally raising its flag in China after a 25-year absence,” Malloy declared.
Within two months of Malloy’s visit to China, at least six other U.S. governors will conduct major trade missions in the country. Last year, at least 14 U.S. governors led major trade missions to China. In 2010, at least eight governors traveled to China, including former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
“I’ve made a decision that we have to renew our relations here in China, rebuild our relationship with our sister province and, quite frankly, go after a relationship here that has been long absent in Connecticut,” Malloy said by phone. “We have not competed on equal footing with other states.”
Accompanying Malloy is a small delegation that includes Catherine Smith, commissioner of the Department of Economic Community and Development, Anne Evans, a Connecticut-based trade representative for the U.S. Department of Commerce, and Matthew Nemerson, president of the Connecticut Technology Council. Staffer Michael Mandell is also traveling with Malloy.
When asked how much Chinese officials and business leaders know about Connecticut, Malloy said, “They know Yale. They know people and they recognize certain brands like United Technologies … and Pratt-Whitney. They know that we’re a comparatively wealthy state.”
Malloy also mentioned Cigna.
On Thursday, Malloy travels to Connecticut’s sister province, Shandong, where he plans to build on basic relations that were established under O’Neill.
After meeting Shandong’s governor and visiting a statue of Samuel Clemens, Malloy and his delegation continue on to Guangdong province in southern China before returning home.
The trip is estimated to cost taxpayers approximately $20,000, according to a press release by Malloy’s office.