Georgia-Pacific Corp. expects to sell $130 million worth of U.S. forest cording to Clint Kennedy, group vice president, making Korea its second largest foreign market topped only by Japan. 

Speaking at a meeting sponsored by the Association of Foreign Trade Agents of Korea (AFTAK), Mr. Kennedy traced the relationship between G-P and South Korea back to the early 1970s.

“The Korean market came to us,” he admitted candidly when G-P was first approached in the early 1970s to deliver woodpulp and corrugated liner board.  “Even then I could feel that business was in the air,” he recalled of his initial trips there as Korea was beginning to stir economically.

AFTAK is composed of Korean trading agents who represent non-Korean manufacturers and suppliers and handle more than 82% of Korea’s total imports.  Established in 1970 with the approval of the Korean government, AFTAK has more than 8,500 members.

Every year AFTAK trade missions visit countries with which Korea has trade surpluses in an effort to increase imports as well as to diversify the sources of its imports.  They traveled to Toronto and Newark in addition to Atlanta on this mid-October trip.

Mr. Kennedy, who also is the president of the Korea-Southeast United States Chamber of Commerce and is responsible for all of G-P’s export business, claimed that the company’s success in Korea was derived from “choosing the right partner.”  “Without the right partner you won’t get to first base,” he told the audience primarily made up of representatives of Georgia companies.

“We had to make our way through an intricate network of trading companies and to align ourselves with someone who understood the market,” he added.  G-P started slowly, limiting its exports in 1974 to only $50,000, he said, when it first teamed up with a one-man company.

By 1991, however, G-P’s exports to Korea exceeded $100 million in sales, and it is now rapidly raising its exporting goals.  The company also is expanding its horizons in Asia, Mr. Kennedy said, looking to the potential of the China market which it may enter from a Korean base.

Mr. Kennedy also said that through the efforts of James T. Laney, former president of Emory University and  current U.S. ambassador to South Korea, he was able to meet with President Kim Young-Sam, who was inaugurated last year and is the first head of government in more than 30 years who is not a career military officer.

“Our experience with President Kim so far is positive,” he said.   President Kim has amended the country’s protectionist policies and is in the process of deregulating the economy.