Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson is sending the state’s economic development director, Mike Preston, to China to address concerns about deteriorating U.S.-China trade relations.
Hutchinson says Arkansas has attracted a significant amount of foreign investment over the past couple of years, and the governor wants to “keep it on target.”
The expedition to China would take place before the end of the year. It would be at least the second trip this year by Preston to China to follow up on investment commitments.
The announcement came Thursday, as Hutchinson spoke to reporters on the sidelines of the National Governors Association meeting in New Mexico.
“It’s important that we look for a solution very quickly so that we don’t have an increase in tariffs and escalate the tariff war, as some would describe it,” said Hutchinson.
The initial discussion at the conference has been dominated by threats to international commerce by a Chinese emissary, who warned governors that a trade war with his country would not be easily won.
China Consul General to Los Angeles Zhang Ping said Thursday that advocates of a trade war should “know that a trade war is not something that can easily be won,” adding that ordinary people would bear the brunt of the dispute.
There are several Chinese investments in Arkansas that are waiting in the wings, primarily from the Shandong region of China.
Earlier this year, Shandong Sun Paper announced plans to increase its investment by $500 million in a planned paper mill in south Arkansas. New plans for the project would also increase estimated employment from 250 to 350 jobs.
Shandong Ruyi Technology Group, a textile manufacturing giant from the same Chinese province as Sun Paper, was expected to begin work on their new cotton processing facility in Forrest City this summer, with an investment of more than $400 million.
Earlier this week, Hutchinson gave reassurance that Shandong Ruyi had not backed off their commitment.
“They’re continuing to develop the plans to get the renovation work done,” he said. “It’s on a target, even though it’s just a slower pace than what we hoped for at the beginning.”