Lt. Gov. discusses business possibilities with Chinese Embassy minister
Around one o’clock on Thursday afternoon, December 17, S.C. Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer was host in his State House office for a small entourage of Chinese diplomats, to include Embassy Minister Guan-gyuan Liu, the second most powerful man in the Chinese embassy in Washington, D.C.
The Chinese Ambassador sent Minister Liu to visit Bauer at the State House. The two discussed potential trade possibilities and the advantages of locating Chinese commercial and manufacturing branches in South Carolina.
Bauer reviewed the expansion coming to the Port of Charleston to accommodate the larger container ships expected in five years after the completion of the new locks and the deeper water at the Panama Canal. Columbia–headquartered UTi Integrated Logistics takes the goods arriving from China at the Port of Charleston and delivers across the country. Sam’s Club, for instance, gets its Chinese– made goods through the UTi Integrated Logistics compound on Daniel Island.
Liu reminded Bauer this year for the first time the Chinese will buy more cars than Americans. Automakers expect to sell 12.8 million cars and light trucks in China this year compared with 10.3 million in the United States. China is surpassing the United States as the world’s biggest market in desktop computers, washing machines, and refrigerators besides cars.
In China, the average new car sells for about $17,000, while in the United States, the average price is almost $30,000, which means the American market is still about two–thirds larger in dollar terms even though the Chinese market is one–quarter larger in the number of cars sold.
Chinese car purchases soared 96 percent in November compared with the same month a year ago, but the American market fell 37 percent last month on the same basis.
On the other hand, total consumer spending in China is actually less than a sixth of American consumer spending due mostly to China’s relatively few restaurants, hotels and other service businesses. Annual incomes in China average $2,775 per person in the urban areas and about $840 in the rural areas.
In each of the next two years, though, the Chinese economy can be expected to expand by 12 percent. The Chinese lucre, the renminbi, can’t stay artificially down in value for much longer. As the renminbi appreciates, assuming the American dollar stays down, American– made goods in China will drop in price and thereby gain in sales.
Beyond trade and commerce, Liu expressed his positive impressions with the American system of higher education. The discussions included the awareness of the worldclass standing of the international master’s of business administration degree at USC’s Moore School of Business.
Dean Hildy Teegen recently announced a new graduate program in cooperation with the University of Hong Kong. The IMBA students should take half their course loads in Hong Kong, about one year, and the other year can be at the USC Columbia campus.
Interestingly enough with curious timing, the Hong Kong Commissioner for Economic and Trade Affairs, the most senior representative of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government in the United States, spoke to a Moore School auditorium classroom full of local business, academic, and government leaders in the first week of December.
Commissioner Tong oversees the work of the three Hong Kong economic and trade offices in the United States: Washington, D.C.; New York City; and San Francisco.
According to Bauer, China ranks in South Carolina’s top five export markets, with $790 million shipped there in 2008. Capital investment from China has brought $283,000,000 and about 2,500 jobs to South Carolina since 1994. China’s Haier America plant at the Steeplechase Industrial Park in Camden employs 225 people in the manufacture of refrigeration equipment and other home appliances.