Summit National Bank will inform Chinese businesses about Atlanta’s strategic position in the Southeast as it focuses on building a base of international trade transactions in Shanghai, China, and throughout the region, said Pin Pin Chau, the bank’s president and CEO.
The bank, which opened a representative office in Shanghai last month, was Georgia’s first to specifically provide services to Atlanta’s ethnic communities.
Ms. Chau told GlobalAtlanta during an interview in the bank’s headquarters in Chamblee that the opening of the representative office is the first step in building business relationships in China. Because of Shanghai’s commercial importance in the region, the bank also should be able to make contacts with companies operating throughout China, she said.
“Atlanta’s strategic importance in the Southeast is not being sufficiently appreciated by people outside of the United States, especially in Asia,” she said.
Summit Bank plans to be in the forefront of telling Asians about Atlanta’s strategic position in the Southeast for manufacturing and distribution, she said.
She commended Georgia’s development of the Port of Savannah with distribution centers and the creation of the Savannah Maritime Logistics Innovation Center, which could compete with the ports of entry such as New York, Los Angeles and Charleston in moving trade traffic in the Southeast.
According to Ms. Chau, many people outside of the U.S., especially in Asia, confuse Atlanta with Atlantic City, N.J., as well as the state of Georgia with the former Soviet Socialist Republic of Georgia.
International awareness in Atlanta has improved since the 1996 Olympics, but Asians need to be reminded about the region, she said.
“Asians have always been living in such crowded environments,” she said. “Georgia may be seen as a haven where the price of housing is affordable and the prospects for manufacturing and distribution are so good they may even want to bring a business here.”
After fulfilling Chinese regulations requiring a physical presence in China for several years, Summit Bank will apply to become a full-service branch, she said.
In the meantime, Summit hopes to generate revenue by asking correspondent banks to advise letters of credit through Summit instead of sending transactions through banking institutions, she added.
Ms. Chau said the bank has no immediate plans to open any other overseas offices, but that if the Shanghai office proves to be successful then the bank may consider expanding to other cities in China.
Asked if she would open an office in Latin America, Ms. Chau said that this option may be considered if Atlanta succeeds in becoming the host city for the Secretariat of the Free Trade Area of the Americas.
Summit has five branches in metro Atlanta and two in the South Bay area of San Francisco that primarily serve east and south Asian communities. Through its network of more than 400 correspondent banking relationships around the world, the bank can serve their international clients.
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