Norris Leads Sino-Southern Summit

September 18, 2009

Norris Leads Sino-Southern Summit

     NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville) will chair a trade delegation to China at the end of September. Seven presiding officers representing six states belonging to The Council of State Governments’ Southern Office, the Southern Legislative Conference (SLC), will participate.  The
primary focus of the delegation’s visit will be to explore and expand the burgeoning trade relationships between China and the SLC states of Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana, Missouri, and Virginia.

Norris recently became Chairman-elect of the 16-state SLC. In that role, he and other southern legislative leaders have been invited by the Chinese government to visit Beijing and Shanghai.

Norris, who also chairs the Council of State Governments’ Transportation Task Force, is coordinating his preparations with the Memphis Regional Chamber.  In China, the delegation is scheduled to meet with Ministers of Commerce, Agriculture, Foreign Affairs, and others.

The visit comes on the heels of President Obama’s imposition of tariffs on Chinese tire imports. China has announced an investigation of U.S. imports in return.  Norris acknowledges the important timing of his delegation’s visit.  “Tire tariffs hurt Tennessee consumers – particularly here in Memphis. Much of our distribution here in the mid-south involves imports of tires. We don’t want this to spiral out of control,” says Norris.

Preparing for the Sino-Southern Summit, Norris is also coordinating with the University of Memphis and a number of companies in West Tennessee doing business in China.  Norris will meet in China with several of West Tennessee’s major employers, including International Paper and Medtronic, which have major operations in China.

“International trade is fundamental to Tennessee. China is our third largest trading partner behind Canada and Mexico.  Our economic growth demands attention in Asia, and anything we can do to foster better understanding and strengthen trade relations there is important,” says Norris.

First elected to the General Assembly in 2000, Senator Norris represents the West Tennessee Counties of Shelby, Tipton, Lauderdale, and Dyer.

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