Georgia universities used the occasion of a Georgia Department of Economic Development trade mission to China last month to shore up educational exchange programs in the country.

Georgia State University leaders finalized an agreement with the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing to launch a number of dual-degree programs between the schools. 

Signed by Provost Risa Palm, the pact was the outcome of several months of negotiations that sprung out of an initial program launched through an en Qingdao municipal government.

“This outreach to China is a central part of our university strategic plan,” Dr. Palm said. “The university benefits in many ways by having collaborative teaching and research with Chinese institutions.”

For the University of Georgia, the mission helped further the university’s connection with its longtime educational partner, Tsinghua University

UGA Provost Pamela Whitten, who said that the trip reaffirmed her belief that the university “can play an even greater role in strengthening Georgia’s economy,” met with Zhang Yi, vice-provost for international affairs at Tsinghua, to discuss future research efforts.

“UGA has partnered with Tsinghua University on educational programs for the past several years, and I am confident that we can strengthen our research collaborations, as well,” Ms. Whitten wrote in a blog post about the trip for UGA’s Office of Academic Affairs.

The broader trade delegation centered around the 2014 Qingdao International Horticultural Exposition, which featured a state-themed garden designed by UGA students in the College of Environment and Design

Also in attendance were representatives from Kennesaw State University, University of North Georgia and the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia.

In addition to helping foster academic relations, the mission focused Georgia’s economic ties with China in key industries such as agriculture, tourism and trade. Marketing seminars and networking events promoted the state as an ideal place for investment and a hospitable destination for foreign visitors.

Georgia Department of Economic Development Commissioner Chris Carr led the initiative, calling China “a critically important market” for the state in terms of trade and investment. 

Kathe Falls, director of international trade with the Georgia Department of Economic Development, said the mission was successful in “branding” Georgia as a location for foreign investment. 

Ms. Falls also observed that the department’s events during the mission attracted overflow crowds and facilitated deals that would normally take up to a year to materialize.  

“This mission was about increasing export opportunities for Georgia companies, attracting additional investment from China to Georgia and engaging in opportunities for collaboration with Georgia’s institutions of higher education,” Ms. Falls told Global Atlanta in an email. “We were able to deliver a message that ‘Georgia is a destination for global success.’”

The mission visited the cities of Weifang, Qingdao, Beijing and Shanghai.