The “GeorgiaChina Future” initiative, a government and private sector effort to increase business ties between the two regions, will be the focus of a three-part conference series to begin next month in Atlanta aimed at investigating Georgia-China trade and investment opportunities.

            Spearheaded by Sen. Sam Zamarripa (D-Atlanta), the program grew out of a resolution, authored by Mr. Zamarripa and adopted by the state Senate in May, which created an official body to examine Georgia’s economic relationship with China, the world’s fastest-growing economy.

            The Georgia-China Future committee is coordinated by Mr. Zamarripa and Steven Sprinkle, a principal at the Atlanta office of Deloitte Consulting, who has been involved in the development of Deloitte’s operations in China over the last five years.

            Mary Brown Bullock, president of Agnes Scott College and a noted China expert, is to deliver the keynote speech at the first conference, to be held, Wednesday, Oct. 1, at Georgia State University.

            The current status of Georgia-China trade and education links is to be the focus of the initial meeting, Mr. Zamarripa told GlobalFax.  A second meeting, planned for November in Savannah, will look at what other U.S. states are doing to improve their political and economic relationships with China and how Georgia fares in comparison.

            A framework for Georgia-China economic development is then to be compiled into recommendations for Gov. Sonny Perdue and presented at a final meeting in Athens in December.

            “We are living in the ‘century of China’ as an economic, political and cultural force,” said Mr. Zamarripa.  “And we need to examine how we can improve our chances of expanding opportunities with that economy.”

            He highlighted the presence of major Georgia corporations already in China, including Coca-Cola Co., GE Power and United Parcel Service Inc., as a major point in the state’s favor in developing further business relationships with China.  Atlanta-based Home Depot Corp., he added, is the second largest importer in the U.S. of Chinese goods.

            According to recent U.S. Census Bureau figures, Georgia currently ranks 16th in the United States in per capita trade with China.  The port of Savannah ranks sixth nationwide in volume of imports from China processed.

            “This shows the magnitude of what we already do with China and now we need to look at other steps we can through the public-private partnership to increase the relationship,” said Mr. Zamarripa.

            He said he also plans to present a resolution in the fall to the Chinese government from the state of Georgia, encouraging the establishment of a Chinese consular office here.

            Building on the committee’s efforts over the long-term, Mr. Zamarripa said he’d like to see a permanent public-private program put in place to promote economic development between Georgia and China, through companies and universities.

            For conference information and registration, visit the Georgia-China Future initiative Web site, slated for launch this week, at Contact Mr. Zamarripa via email at