Georgia Commissioner of Economic Development Ken Stewart’s recent trip to India and China underscored the state’s strategy of partnering with growing economies that offer the best return in terms of buying Georgia products or investing here.
Mr. Stewart traveled with Georgia Department of Economic Development Director of International Offices Kevin Langston to Bangalore, Mumbai and New Delhi in India, as well as Shanghai and Beijing in China, for a 12-day exploration of those markets.
“The win-win situation for Georgia is to establish relationships with countries that have the ability to be as totally bilateral economically as we can be with our partners,” Mr. Stewart told GlobalAtlanta following the Feb. 23-March 7 trip.
“We are going to continue to be very careful that we spend state resources in the highest return locations we can find. It took several years to decide on [opening a representative office in] China. We haven’t made the decision yet, but India looks like it might be a good choice,” he said.
Still, existing trading partners, such as Canada and countries in Europe, offer long-term benefits to Georgia for trade and investment opportunities, he added.
“We’ll continue to look around the world to find more efficient uses of our resources for long-term benefit, whether this means opening new offices or investing additional dollars in existing ones,” Mr. Langston said, referring to the state’s 11 offices abroad.
Georgia is scheduled to open an office in Beijing this spring. One purpose of Mr. Stewart’s trip to China was to check on plans for this new office, which is on track to open in April after a local contractor is hired to manage it, he said.
Mr. Stewart’s meetings in China aimed to reinforce relationships Georgia has been building there and to “let the Chinese know we’re interested in doing business with them,” Mr. Stewart said.
In India, Mr. Stewart talked to business and government leaders about the Indian economy and about locating an Indian consulate in Atlanta. He also called on key companies for potential recruitment of their business and explored locations for a future Georgia office in India if the state were to decide to open one in that country.
In Bangalore, Mr. Stewart and Mr. Langston visited Wipro Limited, an Indian business information technology and software development firm, and took a tour of the Wipro campus at Electronic City, a business cluster development for electronics industry companies.
They also went with a University of Georgia delegation to General Electric Co.’s research and development center, the John F. Welch Technology Centre. They attended a lunch with Indian company representatives organized by Fulton County’s representatives in India, Prathap Singh and Pundi Narasimham, and a breakfast hosted by the Bangalore Chamber of Industry & Commerce.
In Mumbai, Mr. Stewart and Mr. Langston met with executives of Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd., a major manufacturer of multi-utility vehicles and tractors.
In New Delhi, they met with Deepak Jolly, vice president of public affairs for Coca-Cola India, as well as economic counselors at the U.S. Embassy, Indian Joint Secretary for the Americas Gaitri Kumar, Secretary of Commerce Gopal K. Pillai and regional directors of the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce.
Once in Shanghai, Mr. Stewart and Mr. Langston met with directors of the Maryland Center China, the U.S. Commercial Service at the U.S. Consulate General and the Shanghai Foreign Affairs Ministry.
They visited the future site of the Georgia office location in Beijing, met with Deputy Director General Jin Xu at the Chinese Department of Commerce, the China Council for Promotion of International Trade and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
On his first visit to China and India, Mr. Stewart said he found the amount of trade the two countries conduct with each other to be impressive. Both countries have more than 1 billion people, but while India’s strategic approach has focused on developing intellectual capital, China has developed its manufacturing capacity. Thus, China relies on India for design work, and India buys many Chinese-made products, Mr. Stewart noted.
A surprise to him in China was that the economy was growing “more robustly than I could imagine,” Mr. Stewart said. He was also surprised at India’s efforts in growing its infrastructure.
Both countries have close to 10 percent gross domestic product growth rates.
Beijing is almost ready for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games, Mr. Stewart said, referring to progress he saw on various Olympic venues there.
The Olympics was a topic that many Chinese identified with Georgia and Atlanta, he added. “Everyone we talked to knows about Georgia because the Olympics moved us substantially ahead on the world stage,” he said. Chinese he met also knew about Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, and while many had passed through, Mr. Stewart said the state aims to encourage them to “get off the plane and stay here for tourism.”re for tourism.”
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Contact Alison Tyrer for more information about Mr. Stewart’s trip at (404) 962-4078 or visit www.georgia.org.