Snyder heads to China to woo investment amid trade war

Keith Laing
The Detroit News
Gov. Rick Snyder and Michigan Chamber of Commerce CEO Rich Studley talk fee proposal on Aug. 30, 2018.

Gov. Rick Snyder will travel to China this week to seek foreign investment at a time when the Trump administration is engaging in an expanding trade war with the country.

Snyder's office said the governor will lead a delegation to China to meet with high-level elected officials and business leaders about manufacturing, mobility technology, agriculture exports and tourism. It's the Snyder administration's eighth investment mission to China and the 29th foreign investment mission. 

The governor said in a statement that the state has benefited from partnerships that have been established and strengthened: "Incredible advancements in manufacturing, mobility and agricultural technology are taking shape not just here in Michigan but all over the world, and by matching with foreign companies that have similar goals, we ensure we are partners rather than competitors, creating new jobs for Michiganders and increasing our exports to nations all over the world.”

The trip comes as the Trump administration has waged a trade war with China that has resulted in nearly $11 billion, or 8 percent, of the $135 billion worth of goods imported through Michigan facing tariffs that have either been implemented or proposed, according to a recent Associated Press analysis. 

Three percent, or $3.8 billion, worth of the state’s $108 billion export business, including iron and steel, ships and boats and glassware, are also at risk. The biggest impact has already been enforced on aluminum, iron and steel products, affecting nearly $6.6 billion worth or 71 percent of the total volume coming into Michigan's main ports of entry, according to U.S. Census Bureau data from 2017. 

Snyder's office said Michigan ranked third among U.S. states for the number of investment projects from China. Michigan also ranked first in the Midwest for number of jobs created by Chinese investment, according to the governor's office. 

"Since Snyder’s first visit to China in 2011, Michigan received $1.21 billion in new investment from China, resulting in 6,304 jobs for Michigan residents," Snyder's office said. 

The U.S. has applied new tariffs of up to 25 percent on nearly $85 billion worth of steel and aluminum and various Chinese products, mostly goods used in manufacturing. The Trump administration is also now investigating the possibility of placing tariffs on imported cars under a section of federal law that allows the president to do so if a national security threat is deemed to exist. 

“Tariffs are working big time,” Trump wrote in a recent tweet. 

The president has argued that the tariffs will help protect American workers and force U.S. trading partners to change rules that the president insists are unfair to the United States.

Snyder's office touted investments made in Michigan by Chinese companies such Guangzhou Automobile Group, which is establishing a research and design facility in Farmington Hills that the company says will result in $4.4 million worth of investment and create 62 jobs. Snyder's office also touted a December 2017 announcement from Chinese SUV manufacturer American Haval Motor Technology of plans to establish an research and design center in Farmington Hills that will result in $982.4 million worth of investment and create 241 jobs.

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Twitter: @Keith_Laing