OUR VIEW: Sister city act needs cautious exploration

“Trust, but verify” is a signature phrase by which Ronald Reagan will always be remembered.

Working to establish a safe and productive relationship with the then-Soviet Union, Reagan used those three words to describe his relationship approach with the communist nation, in language his counterpart, Soviet leader Mikhial Gorbachev, would understand.

Trust, but verify is a rough translation of the phrase “doveryai, no proveryai” which was used by Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin 62 years before the U.S. President adopted it.

By stating these three words, Reagan was able to present his hard stance to the American people, while making his intentions clear for Gorbachev, who was familiar with the phrase.

The Terrebonne Economic Development Authority has been given approval to explore and establish an industrial sister city relationship with business leaders from Weihai, China.

TEDA explained its intentions with a positive tone. However, the agency has faced a hard sale to catch support from the shrimp industry.

Shrimpers and processors support Terrebonne Parish entering into international business relations, but question the idea of making deals with a communist power. Particularly one that participated in shrimp dumping and placed inferior product at cut rate prices in direct competition to domestic seafood producers. That ended when federal tariffs blocked the practice, but not before the damage was done.

In addition to the shrimp industry’s hard feelings, many Terrebonne residents question conducting business to benefit a nation repeatedly faulted internationally for its dismal record on human rights and worker conditions.

China is also known for flooding competing world markets with low quality products that undercut hosting country operations.

We appreciate the work TEDA has done to explain how international forecasts project Chinese revenue investment reaching $17 trillion during the next five years.

According to TEDA, China is the No. 1 importer of Louisiana products, followed by Japan. Weihai, China is said to have much in common with Terrebonne Parish such as having a strong seafood and petroleum industry.

We encourage TEDA to attempt to build a viable commercial relationship with Weihai, China. We also encourage area business leaders planning to visit the Far East to orchestrate arrangements that clearly benefit our region.

Above all, while building business plans, we remind TEDA to not let enthusiasm overshadow economic scrutiny.

We encourage TEDA to trust, but verify.

According to one story, after using the phrase “trust, but verify” on several occasions, Gorbachev commented to Reagan, ”You repeat that at every meeting.” Reagan’s response was said to have been, “I like it.”

So do we.