The state is sending a delegation of more than two dozen officials and business executives to China next week, a long-planned trip that happens to coincide with President Donald Trump’s escalating trade dispute with Beijing.
The trip aims to build closer economic, tourism and education ties between Georgia and Chinese cities, but it comes at a delicate time.
The Trump administration threatened this week to impose tariffs on about $200 billion worth of Chinese products - days after the president imposed levies on about $34 billion of goods.
The delegation takes off July 20 as part of a celebration of the new Delta Air Lines route from Atlanta to Shanghai, a prized nonstop connection between the two cities.
Gov. Nathan Deal is not joining the trip, but his top aide Chris Riley and several deputies are going. So is chief Delta lobbyist David Werner, Georgia Power executive Walt Farrell and PruittHealth chairman Neil Pruitt.
Board of Regents chancellor Steve Wrigley will be there, too, as will state Sens. Butch Miller and Jeff Mullis.
The agenda is a busy one: The group will meet with four potential business prospects, attend the signing of a pact between Atlanta’s airport and its counterpart in Shanghai and participate in a series of trade meetings and roundtable discussions with Chinese officials.
Deal has defended U.S. trade policies. He said after a recent event that other nations shouldn’t “complain too much” about U.S. tariffs.
“These countries that are now complaining still have tariffs that are higher than ours,” he said. “So if we want to have free trade, then we both have got to resume the posture of reducing tariffs.”