While the U.S. and Chinese federal governments trade tariffs and threats, the Long Beach-Qingdao Association is forging business alliances.
President Mary E. Barton, Ph.D, said she was surprised when she received an email inviting the association to bring a trade delegation of business owners to Qingdao in October.
"But there it was — full of promises and a vision of doing business together,” Barton said.
The occasion is Qingdao's Import-Export Expo on Oct. 17-20. Barton said the invitation includes promises of business-to-business introductions, product demonstration opportunities, VIP treatment and more.
In response, the LBQA is organizing a local delegation to visit and show their wares to a new audience in Qingdao and the surrounding Shandong Province, population approximately 100 million. The association has sponsored many trips to China over the years, but this is the first specifically for business and trade.
Barton said that the national trade tensions take second place to personal relationships between business owners.
“I am happy they are optimistic about our bilateral trade,” she said. "Given the importance of personal relationships in doing business in China, this opportunity has extra value. “In China, there is nothing better than a personal introduction by someone you can trust.”
LBQA is one of Long Beach's oldest sister city organizations, forming in 1985. Over the years, it has focused on reciprocal cultural exchanges, including student exchanges. It currently is involved in international robotic competitions in partnership with Makersville Long Beach, which includes students.
Qingdao is a seaport city, and has many other parallels with Long Beach. The exception is that Qingdao is about 20 times larger, with a population of 10 million.
It is home to a number of familiar brands, including Tsingtao Beer and Haier Appliances. It also boasts a number of higher education institutions, and is relatively close to South Korea, and trades there as well.
“Qingdao is an exceptionally promising market for American products, due to their modern manufacturing and savvy consumer population,” Barton said.
She added that the association will be in touch with the Commerce Department and other trade experts to provide advice and guidance about the fluid trade environment.
LBQA will host an information session from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 20. Business owners interested in participating should email email@example.com for an invitation. For more information about the association, go to www.lbqa.org.
NOTE: This story was updated to correct the date of the information session to Aug. 20.