South Carolina Talks Cars in China

April 19, 2017

Recently, the Charleston Regional Development Alliance was invited to join a five-day automotive industry trip to the Chinese coastal city of Ningbo in the Zhejiang province. Ningbo is home to 3,000+ automotive suppliers, including one of the production facilities for Geely Holding Group Co., the Chinese owner of Volvo Cars.

The trip was organized by Clemson University’s Center for China Studies and the Ningbo Municipal Administration with the goal of further developing relationships between the state of South Carolina and China’s automotive cluster.

I was joined by Fred Cartwright, the Executive Director of Clemson’s Center for Automotive Research (CUICAR)’s, Scott Whetchel, the Area Director of South Carolina’s Small Business Development Center, and Dr. Xiaobo Hu, the Executive Director of the Center for China Studies.

The Ningbo Municipal Administration organized a comprehensive itinerary for our visit, which included:

  • A tour and meeting with a multinational Tier 1 automotive supplier, headquartered in Zhejiang province
  • Overview presentation on local workforce and talent initiatives from the with Ningbo’s Ministry of Education Bureau
  • Ningbo regional overview discussion with Vice Mayor Li Guanding and Ningbo Municipal People’s Government
  • A tour through the Geely’s Automotive Institute and R&D facility in one of Ningbo’s major industrial parks
  • Presentations and a cooperation plan roundtable discussion with 4 multinational automotive companies, Geely R&D, government officials, Ningbo Automotive Suppliers Association, and the Ningbo International Marine Ecology Tech-City

Our delegation also had an opportunity to tell the story of the automotive industry in South Carolina, including the two most recent automotive announcements in the Charleston region, and describe the strong existing trade relationship between Ningbo and our state.

Throughout the exchange, we discussed the global cooperation which will be necessary for the industrial transformation and new wave of upgrading in the automotive industry.

As Charleston’s automotive cluster continues to grow and expand, it is important for our region to understand the global orientation on the automotive industry and to build relationships beyond our borders.

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