LEXINGTON, Ky. - Governor Matt Bevin is leading a group this week charged with a tough task: How do regional U.S. and Chinese leaders work toward economic prosperity together, while President Donald Trump and China’s Xi Jinping square off in another trade dispute?
"The President listens to governors, I’m not unique," Bevin said, addressing media during a break in the all-day meetings Thursday. "I probably have a closer relationship with him than most."
Bevin and other leaders speaking at the annual Governors Collaboration Summit, held this year at the Lexington Convention Center, and featuring 21 U.S. governors and numerous governors and mayors from China. Both ambassadors to and from China spoke about sub-national relationships being crucial in this time of uncertainty.
"We’ve brought US and Chinese businesspeople together who have formed business partnerships," said Terry Branstad, US Ambassador to China. "Together we’ve boosted bilateral trade and supported American exports to China." Branstad's Chinese counterpart agreed on the importance of trade talks at a state and regional level.
"Given the current circumstances it is more important than ever that sub-national representatives of China and the United States gather to explore how to advance cooperation and identify win-win opportunities that benefit us all," said Ambassador Cui Tiankai
As for Kentucky-specific industries hit hard by tariffs this year as well as last? Bevin encourages Kentuckians to stay the course.
"Even with this tariff people still buy bourbon, they will still buy cars, they will still buy soybeans," explained Bevin. "But we want there to be no tariffs because they will buy more of them if we have equal and fair trading relationships. So, we’ve not had a detrimental effect at this time, we haven’t. We’ve had uncertainty, and uncertainty costs money as we described earlier. We need the uncertainty to be removed by modernizing our trading relationships."
Bevin says he speaks with President Trump regularly, and that it will take months, but not years to solve the trade issue. By his own admission, that time living in uncertainty could very well equal money lost.