China leader’s visit highlights economic ties; Washington exports more to Beijing than any other state

SEATTLE -- The visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping highlights the strong economic ties between the country and Washington state.

Washington is the largest exporter to China of any U.S. state.  Those goods, including Boeing planes and Microsoft software, amount to more than $33 billion annually.

“It’s a great opportunity to showcase U.S. companies,” said former Gov. Gary Locke, who served as ambassador to China from 2011-14.

If the state of Washington lost China as a customer for our products, it would deal a huge blow to our economy.  Unemployment would skyrocket, since an estimated 90,000 jobs here are dependent on the relationship being strong.

And it’s not just planes and software.  It’s apples and cherries, nuclear technology, medical equipment, wood products, lattes and lots of other goods and services.

Leaders here want to make sure that China buys even more goods in the future.  With billions in trade between our state and China, we have more at stake than any other state in the country.

“This is a great opportunity to advance the interests of Washington state companies,” said Locke.

Something high on list for Gov. Jay Inslee and business leaders here is to get a piece of the lucrative energy market in China.  The country is making huge investments in renewable energy, including wind and solar, and nuclear.  Washington companies are leaders in infrastructure for those industries.