Studying History – Looking Forward

October 24, 2011

Ten years ago few economic development groups had their eyes on China as a place to develop business. Now nearly all states and many U.S. metros are in China on a regular basis to develop business and open markets for their companies. Prior to China’s entry into the WTO, entire sectors of the Chinese economy were closed to U.S. companies and few Chinese companies were mature enough to invest and build in other countries. Things have changed! There is now a proposal to provide visas for foreigners (led by wealthy Chinese investors) who will buy homes in the U.S. to save our lagging housing sector. Just think how laughable that proposal would have been in 2001.

The implications of China’s market development, upward advancement and re-engagement with the world community impact our daily lives whether we work in retail, manufacturing, healthcare, or finance. 2011 marks the 10th anniversary of the WTO’s decision to allow entry by China. The decision has stirred controversy since its inception and continues today, but one thing is not debatable – the decision has impacted our daily lives as U.S. citizens and Ohioans.

Just last Wednesday seven U.S. solar manufacturers filed a complaint with the Obama administration to impose duties of more than 100 percent on Chinese imports, which they said were unfairly undercutting prices and destroying jobs in the US. This is but one of the implications of China’s business prowess and is not just an issue for the solar industry, but many other products. On the other hand, U.S. exports to China have increased rapidly since China’s WTO entry, jumping from more than $19 billion in 2001 to nearly $92 billion in 2010. Entire sectors of the Chinese economy were opened to U.S. companies through the agreement and we have benefited from China’s emerging middle class.

Last week President Obama signed into law the long-awaited free trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Colombia. What impacts will these agreements have upon the U.S. economy and our daily lives 10 years on? What assumptions are we making that we should question?

The Intelligent Community Forum has announced that the Columbus Region is being Recognized as a Smart21 Intelligent Community of 2012.

Columbus2020! Update
Our Columbus2020! team will be in the Dallas-Ft. Worth this week to call upon businesses and we are actively preparing for another visit to Germany and another trip to Southern California. We hosted three clients last week and are quickly building out our capacity to call upon local businesses through development of the ColumbUS Chamber’s Existing Business Services Team led by Patty Huddle.