When doing business internationally, knowing the right people can be critical. This article is part of a series introducing GlobalAtlanta readers to the state of Georgia’s economic representatives in 10 countries. Click the links below to see short profiles and videos of those on the front lines of the state’s worldwide economic development.
Peter Underwood, director of Georgia’s office in Seoul, Korea, told GlobalAtlanta in a 2008 interview that Korea’s economy had seen some positive growth in the past couple of years, even as the world economy worsened.
The country is one of few that had a trade surplus with China, which serves as a manufacturing base for Korean products. Korea’s current recession is deepening because of a dependence on exports, which account for more than 60 percent of gross domestic product, but Mr. Underwood was optimistic about Korean President Lee Myung-bak’s pro-business policies and overall future relations with Georgia.
He said the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement, which was signed in 2007 but is still awaiting ratification by both countries’ legislatures, is an important step for Georgia companies to gain opportunities in Korean industrial electronics and consumer goods markets.
Korean supporters of the pact argue that it is necessary to stimulate the economy, but the opposition wants the United States to ratify it first. President Obama has called for a reworking of the agreement, alleging that it does not remedy Korea’s large advantage in auto industry trade, yet Korea has thus far rejected requests for renegotiation.
Georgia’s Korea office opened in 1985. Mr. Underwood is a senior partner at IRC Limited, a business development consulting firm assisting foreign companies entering the Korean market.