A Maersk Line container ship prepares to depart port in Long Beach, California, U.S. July 16, 2018. (REUTERS Photo)
SAN FRANCISCO, July 18 (Xinhua) -- California Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis on Wednesday said the state of California is paying the price for U.S.-China trade frictions.
Appearing here before a hearing called by two California Assembly committees on the influence of U.S.-China trade disputes on the California economy, Kounalakis said that rapidly changing federal trade policies are impacting California disproportionately "because of the size of the California economy and our inter-dependence on foreign trade."
She said the high U.S. tariffs imposed by Washington on Chinese products have had serious effects on the California economy, and "they are not likely to go away anytime soon."
"All of this is especially worrisome for the state of California," she said, adding that California is deeply integrated into the global markets and supply chains.
She also called Washington's trade policy toward China "deeply disruptive to stakeholders across the country."
Kounalakis said about 20 percent of employment in California is dependent on international trade and investment, equivalent to about 5.4 million jobs.
California is already feeling the impact of the U.S.-China trade frictions, she said, citing the figure of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce which showed that over 13 billion U.S. dollars of Californian exports are threatened by the tariffs.
"Exports to China from California ports were down nine percent year to date in 2019 compared to the first five months of 2018," she said.
According to the City Board of Long Beach in Southern California, container trade with China, both imports and exports, fell by 18 percent year on year in May, she said.
Kounalakis listed the agricultural sector as an example, saying that the almond industry, which generates about 104,000 jobs in California, has seen a significant impact since last year with about a decrease of one third in American almond exports to China.
Although the White House has promised to grant relief packages to farmers impacted by the trade tensions, Kounalakis said the best assistance to farmers and ranchers would be to resolve the trade disputes and reopen markets for California farm products.
Kounalakis called on the U.S. administration to remain at the negotiating table and find a meaningful solution to the trade disputes with China.
In 2018, China was California's third largest trading partner, following Mexico and Canada, and Chinese investors are a leading source of foreign direct investment to California, according to a report of the assembly committee.