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Supervisor Ron Roberts isn’t the only Southern California official headed to China this month. L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is there now, looking to boost trade in L.A.

This story from the Los Angeles Times offers some insight into why Villaraigosa is in China on a trip that will cost $500,000.

Traveling with several dozen of Los Angeles’ most powerful business and labor leaders, Villaraigosa was eager to pitch the city as a mecca of unbridled opportunity for the expanding markets of China, South Korea and Japan – the city’s top three trading partners, accounting for nearly $170 billion in annual trade. … Those traveling with the mayor, as well as economists in Los Angeles, said the $500,000 price tag for Villaraigosa’s trip is worth the investment. (The cost for the mayor and city staffers is being borne by the city’s port, airport agency and the Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau; businesspeople and others are paying their own way.) The experts point out that international trade accounts for the largest number of jobs – about 450,000 – in Los Angeles County, followed by tourism and film and television production.

Roberts and his chief of staff leave in mid-October for a 26-day trade mission to Japan, China and Singapore. Roberts will meet with the Singapore Economic Development Board and municipal government officials in seven Chinese cities. In Japan, he’ll meet with officials from Kyocera, a technology firm with San Diego ties.

Roberts’ $19,541 trip is being paid for by the San Diego World Trade Center – a group that has received $530,000 from Roberts’ discretionary budget since 2002. In the current budget year, Roberts allocated $20,000 in taxpayer funds to the local trade group. Background on that is here.

ROB DAVIS

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