SHANGHAI - Gov. Rick Snyder arrived in the world's largest city Thursday as he continues his Michigan trade mission, meeting with Chinese government officials and business executives to strengthen relationships and attract new job-creating investments.
"Here we are in a single city - Shanghai - that has more than double the population of Michigan, and the opportunities for business partnerships are tremendous," Snyder said. "Our meetings have been about strengthening ties with Chinese companies, and the responses we've received have been overwhelmingly positive about the potential for doing business in Michigan."
In his first trip to China as governor, Snyder and his delegation of state, university and local officials as well as economic developers were in Beijing on Wednesday and in Shanghai Thursday. They are meeting with senior government officials and executives of some of China's largest companies, as well as a number of Michigan companies that operate there.
State business leaders and economists say the potential growth opportunities for Michigan are enormous:
Between 2000 and 2010 exports from Michigan to China increased by 930 percent.
China is already Michigan's third largest export market, behind Canada and Mexico, recently surpassing Germany for the third spot.
Michigan exports to China in 2010 totaled $2.2 billion, 4.9 percent of all of state's exports. Michigan exports globally increased by 26 percent during the same time frame.
Just this week, the Brookings Institute reported that Michigan is recovering much more strongly from the last recession than Sun Belt states that are still struggling economically. The report cited the speed at which Michigan's unemployment numbers have dropped as well as the state's extremely affordable housing costs.
Following Thursday's meetings, Gov. Snyder will leave for South Korea, where he and Michigan business owners and local economic developers will meet with executives from South Korean companies before returning to Michigan on Saturday.
A traditional practice when visiting foreign government officials is the exchange of gifts that represent each other's homelands. While in Asia, Gov. Snyder has presented gifts of Michigan-made artwork including handmade pottery, clocks, glass sculpture, leather boxes, wood pens, cedar fans, and wearable art.
The Michigan-based artisans included: Paperworks Studio, Jon Whitney ceramic ware, Lynn Westbrook Designs, Michigan Birdseye maple boxes and clocks, Pewabic Pottery tiles, Ryan Forrey pottery, Craig Mitchell Smith glassware, Glenn Van Antwerp hand carved cedar fans and birds, handmade wood pens by Richard Monroe, and handmade leather boxes by Mike Barnes.
Snyder began his eight-day investment mission on Sunday in Tokyo, where he met with executives from several other companies and addressed business and government leaders attending the 43rd annual Japan-Midwest United States conference.
Follow the governor and MEDC on twitter and Facebook for periodic updates on the Asia visits. Twitter accounts: @onetoughnerd and @MIAdvantage with the hash tag #MiAsiaBiz. Facebook accounts: www.facebook.com/rickformichigan and www.facebook.com/MIAdvantage.