In what officials think would be a first for Sacramento, the city is on its way toward opening a trade consulate in a business and manufacturing hub in China.
The city of Sacramento signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) this week with Chongqing, China, in an attempt to develop strong business and education ties with the municipality of 28 million people.
City Councilman Rob Fong spearheaded the effort and said the MOU could lead to Sacramento opening a trade office in Chongqing. "We're going to have a portal in Chongqing for business," Fong said. "I think this will be a great benefit to the region."
Fong said Sacramento officials will begin by showcasing their city's clean technology sector, higher education centers and work in food and agriculture.
City officials will find Sacramento companies and universities that are interested in doing business in Chongqing. Fong said the city's plan is to then promote that work during an expo that coincides with the opening of a Sacramento trade office in Chongqing.
Similar festivals would take place in Sacramento, spearheaded by a nonprofit organization that Fong plans to launch.
"I think the opportunity is immense," Fong said.
Chongqing is a growing economic center in southwestern China, located at the confluence of the Yangtze and Jialing rivers. It is a center of manufacturing for computers and motorcycles and is home to more than 60 universities.
The MOU was signed by Sacramento City Manager John Shirey and Wang Yi, the president of the Chongqing Foreign Trade and Economic Relations Commission.
"Together, we will work diligently to build a solid foundation that will be mutually beneficial to both cities, its people, its businesses and its educational institutions," Yi said in a statement.
Local businessman Tony Yung helped broker the partnership. Yung was born in Hong Kong and has lived in Sacramento for 40 years, graduating from Jesuit High School and California State University, Sacramento.
Yung works with UC Davis and Sacramento State, helping the schools recruit students in China. He also has helped Chongqing develop its Internet infrastructure and approached Fong with the idea of linking that city with Sacramento.
"We have many things locally in Sacramento that we can package," Yung said. "The endgame of this is definitely more trade and more jobs."