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Snyder talks autos, tourism on first part of China trip

Ian Thibodeau
The Detroit News

Officials are seeking to boost communication and cooperation between Michigan and China in the automotive industry.

Gov. Rick Snyder presided over the signing of a memorandum of understanding Monday between the Michigan Economic Development Corp.’s Automotive Office and the Shanghai International Automobile City during the first full day on the governor’s week-long business trip to China.

The memorandum “aims to further the communication and cooperation within the auto industry and encourage cooperation between the universities, research institutions and companies in Michigan and Shanghai,” according to a news release.

Snyder is in China until Nov. 19 on his sixth investment mission to the country. This year’s mission seeks to increase exports from Michigan to China.

The Shanghai International Automobile City is an automotive production base on the outskirts of Shanghai.

“Michigan and China are in unique positions as we each pursue business and opportunities in the interconnected autonomous vehicle space,” Snyder said in a news release. “This memorandum of understanding is an important accomplishment that builds on our mutual commitment to strengthen our friendship and further promote the automotive industry in Michigan and China.”

Snyder also talked about Michigan’s positioning itself as a “global leader” in autonomous vehicle technology through the Planet M campaign, designed to leverage the state’s automotive industry and be a consortium to support the development of mobility innovations in the Great Lakes State.

The business trip continues through the week. Snyder has already attended a breakfast hosted by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in China on Saturday, and met with representatives from Chinese travel media to talk about tourism in Michigan.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan will join Snyder on Wednesday in China to make the pitch for businesses and jobs in Detroit. Duggan will attend a high tech fair and meet in Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Beijing with local officials to discuss opportunities for business and job growth in Detroit.

Duggan will be joined by Tom Lewand, the mayor’s executive for jobs and economy, and Peter Chapman, executive vice president for business attraction for the Detroit Economic Development Corporation. Their wives are joining them on the trip. No taxpayer dollars are being used to pay for the Detroit officials’ or their wives’ trip, according to a news release.

Snyder will visit Shanghai, Hangzhou, Chongqing, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Beijing and Nanchang, making company visits and meeting with government leaders along the way.

In 2011, Snyder took his first mission to Asia.

Since then, Michigan has received nearly $650 million in new business investment from China in different automotive companies. Among these investments are new manufacturing facility in Cadillac from Zhongding, a subsidiary of Anhui Zhongding Sealing Parts, and new U.S. headquarters for CW Bearing, a subsidiary of Ningbo, China-based Cixing Group Co. Ltd., in Northville Township.

The governor or Lt. Gov. Brian Calley have also visited Japan, South Korea, Canada, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Brazil, Mexico, Israel, Chile, Colombia, Switzerland, Ireland and Great Britain on similar missions.

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Twitter: @Ian_Thibodeau