HOUSTON, Oct. 13 (Xinhua) -- The upcoming import expo in China will help Houston increase its trade ties with China, a senior trade official of Houston, U.S. state of Texas, said in a recent interview with Xinhua.
Horacio Licon, vice president of the Greater Houston Partnership, an economic development organization serving the Greater Houston area, told Xinhua that the expo is a great opportunity for Houston to continue developing its trade relationship with China.
"This is a great opportunity to work with a very important market," Licon said. "China is the second largest economy in the world. It's the second largest trading partner for Houston. So anything that is helping us increase that relationship is very important to us."
The first China International Import Expo (CIIE) will be held from Nov. 5 to 10 in Shanghai, one of the largest cities in China by population and a financial hub in the world.
As the first state-level Import Expo in the world, CIIE marks the shift in China's economic development model from export-oriented to balancing import and export. It is expected to give firm support to trade liberalization and economic globalization, and actively open the Chinese market to the world.
Analysts believe that against the global backdrop of trade protectionism, the expo is consistent with China's long-time efforts to seek mutual benefits and advocate free trade.
Licon said this kind of platform is really important right now, especially at a time when China and the United States have rising trade frictions.
"There's a need to remain aware of the latest changes that we need to follow in order to make the products reach their customers," Licon said. "So instead of losing value, I think this type of event is even more important now."
Next month, Licon will head to Shanghai, leading a team of 15 delegates representing 12 companies, which cover diverse industries such as technology, manufacturing, energy and logistics.
Licon said he wants to explore and understand more the business environment in China via this platform.
"We have expectations in terms of understanding and hearing directly from our Chinese counterparts on the private sector and on the government side, the messages about the future of Chinese trade, how the government is seeing the future of Chinese trade and how Houston will play a role in that relationship," Licon said.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening-up policy, thanks to which the relationship between Houston and China started, Licon said.
"That's really when the relationship between Houston and China started historically speaking," Licon said. "So it's a brand-new relationship and that is an important economic driver for our companies and for our trading infrastructure, operators or ports or airports."
According to Licon, the total trade between Houston and China last year was 18.8 billion U.S. dollars. And for the first six months of 2018, the bilateral trade has hit almost 13 billion dollars.
He said he expects the number to continue growing. "We are expecting further growth in 2018 in total," Licon said. "It's a new story. We have something to offer. Therefore, this recent story will continue to develop and at least the statistics are showing a positive story."
Licon hopes to strength the cooperation between Houston and China. He said Houston has a much more balanced trade with China as a city. He hopes more Chinese companies could come and make use of all the resources available.
"We're trying to find ways to continue collaboration and grow trade in a way that works for all parties," Licon said.