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Steve Chiotakis: Well, the president’s been burned twice with his picks for Commerce Secretary. One pulled out under cloud of investigation, the other cited ideology. Today, we hear about choice number three: Gary Locke. The former governor of Washington is Chinese-American. That may come in handy in his new job promoting business ties with that giant consumer market known as China. From Shanghai, here’s Marketplace’s Scott Tong.
Scott Tong: Part of the Commerce Secretary’s job is to sell corporate America abroad. Gary Locke should be all warmed up. As governor of Washington, he came to China often to promote firms like Boeing, Microsoft, and Starbucks. If Starbucks’ ubiquity in Shanghai is any indicator, Locke succeeded.
Jack Marr teaches business at New York University. He says Locke’s resume and his Chinese ethnicity give him a cultural credibility that will open doors in China.
Jack Marr: It makes the beginning of a negotiation much smoother, because you have a common cultural ground. I mean this is not to say that the two sides are going to agree about everything or anything at all. But it facilitates dialogue.
If confirmed, Locke will keep coming to China; it’s the U.S’s second-biggest trading partner after Canada. And despite this recession, U.S. multinationals want in — so they can hook the emerging middle class here on American Buicks and Barbies and Big Macs.
In Shanghai, I’m Scott Tong for Marketplace.
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