On November 3, 2017, the Washington State China Relations Council launched the Skagit County China Seminar series at the Washington State University Skagit Extension in Burlington, Washington. Marc Berger, director of China Practice for Nyhus Communications, addressed key issues in US-China relations.
Through over a decade of direct engagement with China, including five years with the National Committee on US-China Relations, Marc Berger has developed a keen understanding of the “rich and multifaceted layers of the bilateral relationship we have today.” Marc outlined three key elements that define the relationship at the current juncture. He identified the first factor as the current Chinese leadership, which seeks to elevate its prominence on the global stage through military strength, centralized decision-making, and a wave of soft power campaigns.
Second is the Trump administration, which up to this point has remained “uncoordinated” in its approach to China relations. Berger noted that many key mid-level State Department positions which require Senate approval have yet to be confirmed, leaving the department understaffed and unable to strategize effectively.
Marc then shifted focused on to Washington State-China relations, citing the large number of jobs within the state linked to foreign export. Chinese companies are investing in the United States and globalizing their brands, prompting Berger to recommend that Washington, “create thoughtful, targeted strategies to attract investment.” Berger is confident that with patience, commitment, and a clearly defined agenda, Washington state has the power to become a trusted and preferred trade partner for China.
Representatives from Skagit County’s key sectors including government, economic development, agri-business consulting, and farming attended this inaugural session of the seminar series.
Special thanks to Sean Connell of the Economic Development Alliance of Skagit County and WSCRC Government Affairs Committee chair for facilitating Q&A and to Don McMoran of WSU Skagit Extension for collaboration on this series.
The Skagit County China Seminar is an ongoing series of workshops for the Skagit County and northwest Washington business communities and broader regional audiences to introduce the fundamentals of doing business in China and key issues in the Washington State-China relationship. The Skagit County China Seminar Series is slated to resume in February 2018.
Summary author: Trudy Boothman