Taipei Economic and Cultural Office officials in Atlanta hope last week’s trade mission to Taiwan by House Speaker Terry Coleman and eight other influential Georgia legislators will help build support for a state trade office in Taiwan, said Benjamin Hong, a TECO director who organized the delegation’s trip.

TECO’s Atlanta office is one of 13 in the United States and the equivalent of a Taiwanese consulate general for the Southeast region.

“We hope to see this happen in the near future,” Mr. Hong told GlobalAtlanta, stating that many states already have trade offices in Taiwan’s capital, Taipei.

Mr. Hong said the trip was simply an “orientation tour” for most of the legislators, but that it laid a good foundation for mutual understanding of issues.

Mr. Coleman said in a statement prior to the group’s departure, “Georgia is eager to increase our participation in global economic development and in order to bring that growth home to our communities, we must go out and encourage businesses all over the world to invest in our state.”

According to Mr. Hong, the delegation met with Ho Mei-Yueh, the minister of economic affairs, to explore trade and investment opportunities and visited prominent Taiwanese businesses with a presence in Georgia.

Legislators visited Formosa Plastic Corp., which is one of Taiwan’s largest firms and the parent company of J.M. Manufacturing Co. Inc. in Adel, and Wei-Chuan Foods Corp., which has a distribution warehouse in Atlanta, said Mr. Hong.

With $212.6 million in Georgia imports, Taiwan ranks among the top 20 export destinations for state products, according to a TECO statement. There are 17 Taiwanese companies in Georgia, employing 530 people and representing $119.7 million in foreign investment.

Under the administration of former Gov. George Busbee, and before the United States’ diplomatic recognition of mainland China, Taiwan had an official consulate general office in Atlanta.

According to Kevin Langston, communications director for the Georgia Economic Development Department, then Consul General Steve Chen was known as a great ambassador for Georgia as well as for Taiwan.

When U.S. ties to China forced diminished official recognition of Taiwan, a special diplomatic license plate for foreign representatives was approved by the state legislature in honor of Mr. Chen’s service to Georgia, said Mr. Langston.

Mr. Chen went on to become the ambassador equivalent for Taiwan, and then later deputy foreign minister, said Mr. Langston.

Mr. Coleman was joined on the trip by state representatives Kathy Ashe, treasurer of the House Democratic Caucus; Mark Burkhalter, a House floor leader for Gov. Sonny Perdue; Gerald Greene, chair of the State Institutions and Property Committee; Jo Ann McClinton, chair of the Arts and Humanities Committee; Larry O’Neal, also one of the governor’s floor leaders; Larry Parrish, chair of the House Economic Development and Tourism Committee; Jay Shaw, vice chair of the House Majority Caucus and Calvin Smyre, chair of the House Majority Caucus and chair of the House Rules Committee. Robert Hobbs, director of the Legislative Budget Office, also attended.

For more information, contact TECO at (404) 870-9375 or at