Tim Truman is the supervisory public affairs specialist in the International Trade Administration’s Office of Public Affairs.
The next time someone asks me to name my favorite city in China, I won’t say Beijing or Shanghai. I will immediately say “Guangzhou”! Known as Canton in 1784, Guangzhou, the beautiful capital city of the Guangdong Province, is the original hub of international business between the United States and China. The city was recently recognized for a second time as the No. 1 city for business in China by Forbes China. It was also the final stop on the Smart Cities – Smart Growth Trade Mission jointly led by Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and Deputy Secretary of Energy Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall in April.
I was honored to help our Commercial Service Guangzhou (CS Guangzhou) team welcome representatives from 24 U.S. companies to Guangzhou. CS Guangzhou secured meetings with an unprecedented roster of provincial and municipal government officials—including the Guangdong Party Secretary, Guangdong Governor, Guangzhou Party Secretary and the Guangzhou Mayor—for the visit. The team also arranged a full day of matchmaking meetings with potential clients for the delegation. In all, the U.S. companies held 162 important matchmaking meetings with Chinese businesses from six provinces in China seeking their world-class products and services.
The delegation’s full schedule during their short visit to Guangzhou kept everyone busy and brought with it some early results that offer a glimpse of future growth in the Pearl River Delta region. A few immediate successes include:
- Commerce Secretary Pritzker and Energy Deputy Secretary Sherwood-Randall witnessed Cummins, Inc., sign a long-term Cooperation Memorandum with Guangzhou No. 1 Public Transit Co., Ltd., (GZPT) the primary municipal bus company of Guangzhou. The agreement includes GZPT purchasing Cummins natural gas engines to promote clean public transportation in Guangzhou City and Guangdong Province.
- The Digit Group, Inc., announced that it will open a four-person office in Guangzhou as a direct result of the interest it received in preparation for the stop in Guangzhou. The company provides Smart City solutions in the form of Master Architectural Design Services and the development of cloud-based software and hardware.
- The Guangdong Development and Reform Commission (GD DRC) invited Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., to join the Guangdong Governor’s Economic Advisory Conference. Later this year, Qualcomm will be one of 10 companies to participate in an exclusive, high-level international consultancy conference to solicit ideas, suggestions, and proposals on the Guangdong province’s economic development and modernization plans.
In addition, there was a special signing ceremony to finalize a major investment by a Chinese firm in the United States. Amer International Group, a leading Chinese multinational non-ferrous metals company, signed a contract with General Moly International – its U.S. counterpart – that finalized an initial $700 million investment in a mining deal in Nevada. This investment – the first of what will eventually be a multi-billion dollar deal – will create 1,200 jobs in the United States.
These early successes only scratch the surface of potential exports to south China. Opportunities abound for U.S. companies in a variety of industry sectors—from energy and aviation, to information and communications technology, and travel and tourism—in this region that covers a significant part of China’s manufacturing heartland.
Guangzhou and the Guangdong Province have a great deal to offer U.S. companies. Guangdong is China’s largest province by population (106.44 million) and GDP ($1.10 trillion). If Guangdong were a country, its GDP would rank 16th in the world just behind Mexico in 2014. It would also, on its own, be the sixth largest trading partner of the United States, with last year’s total trade volume totaling $121.76 billion.
While Guangzhou may not immediately come to mind as the place to do business in China, there are at least 24 U.S. firms that will not soon forget this city on the Pearl River. It might just become their favorite city in China, too.