Gov. Sonny Perdue and other Georgia officials will visit Asia Oct. 14-19 to maintain existing business relationships with Japan and to continue to extend Georgia’s interests in South Korea.

Along with representatives from seven other Southeastern states, Mr. Perdue and other delegates will attend the 31st annual SEUS-Japan conference, a yearly summit stemming from a program established in 1975 by former Georgia Gov. George Busbee to encourage economic and educational cooperation between the region and Japan.

The Georgia delegation will include Tommie Williams, State Senate majority leader; Ken Stewart, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development and Doug Marchand, executive director of the Georgia Ports Authority.

The conference, which is expected to draw almost 600 business and political leaders from the Southeast, will focus on the highly emphasized themes of energy efficiency, alternative fuels and logistics.

Mr. Perdue said in a press release that the conference highlights the strategic importance of Japan and that the benefits of continuing relations between Japan and the Southeast will trickle down to Georgia’s economy.

“Sharing knowledge and strengthening our partnership with one of the world’s biggest economies benefits the entire region as well as our state,” Mr. Perdue said in the release.

Japan is a $1.1 billion export market for Georgia goods, and seven sister city relationships exist between Japan and Georgia, which have been firm economic partners for the almost 35 years since Georgia established an international office there in 1973.

After the conference and a few interspersed business calls, Mr. Perdue’s delegation will visit South Korea, one of Georgia’s more emergent but substantially strategic trading partners.

The trip to Korea will be Mr. Perdue’s first in more than a year, and the governor will meet with officials from Kia Motors Corp. and its suppliers, some of whom have already decided to establish operations in conjunction with Kia’s manufacturing facility soon to be built in West Point.

Kia has become somewhat of an iconic symbol for Georgia-Korea business relations. The governor played a role in drawing Kia here and has spent considerable time nurturing that relationship since the announcement that the automaker’s $1.2 billion plant would locate in Georgia.

Although Georgia’s trade deficit with Korea is still substantial, the bilateral relationship is growing increasingly important, and a pending free trade agreement, if passed, could further boost the trade relationship.

Georgia imported $3 billion from Korea last year, and the state exported $382 million there, making it the state’s 12th largest export destination.

This trip marks the governor’s 12th international mission since he took office in 2002 and his fourth time to East Asia.

Story Contacts, Links and Related Stories
Governor Perdue’s trip Web site – periodic updates form Governor Perdue’s international trips