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FRIDAY, APRIL 20, 2007

Riley, Chinese delegation seek to expand trade relationship

MONTGOMERY (AP) — Gov. Bob Riley told a Chinese delegation Thursday that he will lead a second trade mission to the country later this year and would like to open a trade office in the growing market for Alabama products.

Riley led a trade mission last July to three provinces, including Hubei. A seven-member delegation from the Hubei Province's Congress arrived in Alabama on Tuesday for a reciprocal visit and will depart Friday.

In a meeting with the delegation Thursday in his Capitol office, Riley said Alabama with its 4.5 million people and Hubei with about 60 million people are similar.

"We have both gone through dramatic transformations of our economies in the last 15 years," Riley said.

Riley noted that Alabama's growing trade with China includes everything from medical supplies to swimming pool liners. The delegation's leader, Deng Daokun, vice chairman of the Hubei Provincial People's Congress, said the province is interested in developing more relationships with Alabama, particularly the state's automotive manufacturing businesses and its high-tech firms.

Riley said he will lead another trade delegation to China in late summer or early fall and plans another visit to Hubei. Riley also said Alabama would like to open a trade office in China this year.

The vice chairman immediately put in an invitation to have the office in his province.

"None of the other provinces have asked and that is important to Alabama that you want us there," Riley said.

Alabama and Hubei have had a "sister state" agreement since Gov. George C. Wallace visited the province in 1984. Riley renewed that agreement during his visit last year.

The governor said national trade policies will determine how much trade develops between Alabama and Hubei, but a close relationship between the people of Alabama and Hubei "will benefit both our citizens."

The delegation leader joked with Riley about how much television coverage his visit generated last July and how so many people said "what a handsome governor you are."

"I want to make sure the press makes note of that observation," Riley said.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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