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Spotlight: U.S. governors long for win-win trade deal with China

by Xinhua writer Xiong Maoling

LEXINGTON, the United States, May 25 (Xinhua) -- Several U.S. governors have expressed their hope that the United States and China could soon reach a win-win trade deal to reduce uncertainty in business and bring bilateral cooperation back on track.

"Of all the 50 states, more exports go to China from Washington state than any other state. And then similarly, China is our number one export destination of all the countries," Cyrus Habib, lieutenant governor of the U.S. state of Washington, told Xinhua on the sidelines of the just-concluded Fifth China-U.S. Governors Forum.

"Our relationship with China is absolutely key, central to the success that we have had," Habib said. "It's important for all different sectors of our economy."

When asked how he views the decline in bilateral trade volume since the trade dispute, Habib said "it's a concern in both directions," adding that additional tariffs are definitely "a source of stress" for both Chinese and U.S. companies.

"What businesses want and what workers need is predictability and an environment that reduces barriers," said the lieutenant governor.

Former Missouri Governor Bob Holden also highlighted the disruption, saying that America's heartland, where the U.S. agricultural economy grows out of, has been severely hit by the trade dispute.

Holden, currently chairman and CEO of the United States Heartland China Association, told Xinhua that 18 out of the 20 U.S. states located between the Great Lakes and the Gulf of Mexico are "the hardest hit" by tariffs stemming from U.S.-China trade friction.

Holden said "there's a great deal of concern, (and) uneasiness" on the part of lots of soybean producers in Missouri, as well as some other agricultural areas. The former governor urged the two sides to resolve the issue so that things could go back to normal.

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin, whose state hosted the three-day forum, said "there's no governor in America, not myself or any other governor that does not want these agreements to be done and done soon," adding that the trade dispute is hurting companies because of the uncertainty.

"When you consider that the U.S. economy and the Chinese economy together comprise 40 percent of the world's GDP ... it is critical that we resolve at the national level anything that separates our nations," Bevin said.

"We have 9,000 people in Kentucky working for Chinese-owned companies and hundreds have been added just in recent months. This is good. I want more. I want thousands more," he said.

In order to reach a trade deal, Holden said, the two sides are "going to have to feel like they both gave something and they both gained something from it."

"I think they've got to look at it from the standpoint that what can we do and what can they do to both serve our self-interest and not undermine the credibility of the other," said Holden.

The former Missouri governor's remarks were echoed by Habib, who believes a possible trade deal should be beneficial to both sides.

"What do we need to be doing? ... That's a conversation (which) needs to go in both directions," Habib said, stressing the importance of mutual respect which is needed "at the heart of any negotiation."

A trade deal, Habib said, should help both sides have a good long-term understanding about trade dynamics, renew and refresh the rules of engagement, and make sure that "to the best of our abilities, we facilitate imports and exports."

Bevin said that the two governments need to make sure that the trade agreement is "proper" and "solid," and that both sides "get something and give something."

The trade deal needs to be capable of lasting for years to come, Bevin added, saying that he is confident the trade dispute will eventually be settled.

"At the national level, there'll be solutions," said Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, adding that he believes negotiations will be beneficial to both countries and his role is to enhance and develop those relationships in sub-national way.

"I'm very optimistic about it," Habib said, "because I've seen it work and I know that there's a strong desire in both national governments to resolve this."

"We can't let something that happens in one day or one week determine how we view one another. We have to have a long term view," Habib said.

[ Editor: Zhang Zhou ]