W.Va. signs agreements with China’s Shanxi Province

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — There are West Virginians “that will have jobs tomorrow” due to the export of various mining equipment between the state and China’s Shanxi Province, according to state Commerce Secretary Keith Burdette.

“They are China’s largest coal-producing region, so they kind of understand us and we kind of understand what they’re going through,” Burdette told MetroNews Thursday at a signing ceremony to establish a partnership between the two regions. “We think there are real opportunities for us.”

The ceremony, held at the state Culture Center, brought Burdette, West Virginia leaders and delegates from the Shanxi Province together to sign a series of agreements aimed at promoting exchanges and cooperation in economy, trade, science, technology, education and culture.

Burdette and Zhang Wendong, director of the Shanxi Provincial Education Department, signed a friendship agreement to “consolidate and develop friendly cooperation” between the state and province.

Officials from two private companies, including Petitto Mine Equipment, based in Morgantown, and Shanxi’s Datong Mining Group also signed a document that allows equipment purchases and business collaboration.

“Our coal market right now is a little depressed. There’s an opportunity there for coal equipment manufacturers to see overseas, so it’s very important,” Burdette said.

Among other documents included a Memorandum of Understanding that promotes educational and academic exchanges among higher education institutions throughout the Mountain State and Shanxi Province, signed by Zhang and Paul Hill, chancellor of the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission.

“This agreement we signed has a lot of opportunity for us for global exchange of our student learning experiences and also for research between faculty in China and faculty here at West Virginia University, Marshall University and all the other schools in the system,” said Hill.

Hill said the Shanxi government has already begun to set aside funds for West Virginia students to travel there on scholarships and certain stipends, in which the state will do the same for Shanxi students.

In 2014, China was the state’s second largest international market with the export of $500 million of different West Virginia products.