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Minnesota, China ink deal to cooperate on investments chances

Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota state officials and Chinese government representatives signed an agreement this week promising they’ll cooperate on investment opportunities — a move that Minnesota officials hope will be beneficial to the state.

"What we hope is to at least establish a framework, putting Minnesota on the map with potential investors," said Tony Lorusso, executive director of the Minnesota Trade Office.

The letter of understanding signed Wednesday in St. Paul calls for Chinese and state officials to meet annually to discuss ways to enhance investment in Minnesota. The two governments plan to collaborate on ways to promote Minnesota at trade fairs and other events in China, Lorusso said.

Last year, China spent over $1.2 billion on Minnesota-manufactured goods. But the Minnesota Trade Office knows of only two direct investments by Chinese firms in Minnesota — a taconite plant on the Iron Range and a sales office in Eden Prairie for a Chinese company that makes water fountains.

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The Chinese government and private firms have billions to invest. So far, most investments in the United States have been in U.S. Treasury bonds.

Kent Kedl, a Shanghai-based business consultant, said attempts to woo Chinese investment are worth it.

Private efforts are also boosting Minnesota’s name in China, he said. A "Minnesota Shanghai Club" has more than 250 members from both countries, who discuss trade and investment issues.

"Minnesota is way out ahead of the pack in doing this," Kedl said. "I wouldn’t say that Minnesota is ’broadly’ known in China because this (China) is a pretty big place, but the delegations that Minnesota has been sending over the years and the long connections that Minnesota has is making the state more well-known."

Chinese officials have similar investment agreements with Ohio, Virginia, South Carolina and New Mexico, Lorusso said.

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