After a week-long trip to six cities in Asia, Atlanta business leaders feel confident about the city’s trade and investment relationships in Korea, Japan and Taiwan.

“The trip was super. It met all of our expectations,” said Jorge Fernandez, vice president of global commerce at the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce.

Mr. Fernandez was one of some 20 public and private sector officials who visited the three Asian nations April 23-30. Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin led the delegation, which left here in two groups April 21 and 22.

The trip aimed to solidify relationships with existing Atlanta-area investors, court potential investors, leverage Atlanta’s Sister City relationships for economic development and heighten the city’s visibility abroad.

In Korea, the delegation was particularly well received since the United States and Korea recently negotiated a free trade agreement that is expected to be ratified by both countries’ governments in the coming months.

“The general perception in the market was that this was a very timely visit for us. We were seen as getting ourselves in on the leading edge of the free trade agreement,” Mr. Fernandez told GlobalAtlanta.

In Japan, which is Georgia’s top foreign investor, the delegation thanked companies for opening subsidiaries in metro Atlanta. They met with executives from Hoshizaki Electric Co., Nichiha Corp. and Rinnai Corp. in Nagoya, Japan, and Sekisui Chemicals in Tokyo, which have all invested in metro Atlanta.

“This was very well received,” Mr. Fernandez said, adding that the delegation had done the same in Korea and that such gestures were often highly respected by Asian cultures.
On April 26, Mr. Fernandez and some members of the delegation went to Taipei, Taiwan, where they visited companies that are rapidly developing wireless technologies.

Taipei was one of three Atlanta Sister Cities that the delegation visited during the trip. Atlanta representatives also went to Fukuoka, Japan, and Daegu, Korea, extending formal invitations to those Sister Cities’ government and business officials to visit Atlanta.

Moving Atlanta’s Sister City relationships beyond cultural connections to encourage economic development opportunities is a clear objective for Atlanta, said Mr. Fernandez.

“In each of the Sister Cities that we visited, representatives from the private sector were there as well,” he said of the trip.

He noted that Atlanta had been focused on building its business relationships with Sister Cities since welcoming representatives from 13 of its 18 international Sister Cities here for a conference last October.

In addition to the city of Atlanta and the metro chamber, other delegates on the drip represented Bentley Investments Inc., China Professional Tours, Delta Air Lines Inc., Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, Fayette County Development Authority, Galaxy Partners Inc., Georgia Department of Economic Development, Georgia Marble, Georgia Power Co., Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce, Han Capital Partners LLC, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Haskell Slaughter & Young LLC, Jones Day, Korea-Southeast U.S. Chamber of Commerce, MHR International Inc., Panasonic Automotive Systems, Reece & Associates, Sachi Koto Communications Inc., Sekisui SPR Americas Inc. and SunTrust Bank.

Story Contacts, Links and Related Stories
Asia Trip Overview

Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce –
Tanya Dunne, communications manager (404) 586-8471