State group to keep Georgia on their minds

Updated: 2014-07-09 05:34

By AMY HE in New York(China Daily USA)

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State group to keep Georgia on their minds
Kathe Fall, deputy commissioner of international trade at the Georgia Department of Economic Development, will head a trade mission to China with 16 other representatives from Georgia to talk to Chinese officials and business leaders on trade, education, agriculture, and tourism opportunities.[Photo/Provided to China Daily]

Georgia is sending a trade mission to China to explore increasing business ties with its second-biggest export country.

The 17-person delegation from the state's economic development department will leave Thursday and visit Qingdao, Beijing and Shanghai from July 10 to July 17.

"China is a critically important market for our state, and Georgia's second-largest export market," said Chris Carr, commissioner of the department in a statement. "This mission is an opportunity to increase investment opportunities by showcasing some of Georgia's great assets, including agriculture, education, trade and tourism."

The delegation will include representatives from the Georgia Board of Regents, Georgia State University, the Georgia Institute of Technology and the state's labor department.

The trade mission is anchored around the 2014 Qingdao International Horticultural Exposition, a global exhibition hosted by the Chinese government to promote economic and technological exchange between countries in horticulture.

The exposition, which began in April and runs to the end of October, has traditionally been held in European countries. This year's is expected to include participation from more than 100 countries and attract more than 6,000 visitors, according to its website.

"It's an excellent opportunity for our political, education, trade, tourism and agriculture delegation to cultivate existing relationships and develop new partnerships," Kathe Falls, deputy commissioner of international trade at the economic development department, told China Daily.

"The Qingdao International Horticultural Exposition gives us an opportunity to promote Georgia in China as a top place for investment opportunities, a destination for Chinese visitors with unique tourism product and activities, and higher education institutes," she said.

Georgia has been ramping up efforts to foster business ties with China, where the state exported $3.73 billion worth of goods in 2013, a $45 million increase from the year before. Its main export products include cotton, aluminum, civilian aircraft engines and parts, and meat products. China was Georgia's No 1 import nation last year with $17.6 billion in furniture, plastics, medical equipment and toys, according to the economic development department.

The state's tourism industry, a growing driver for the local economy, saw a 16.4 percent increase in Chinese visitors last year compared to the year before, with the Chinese ranking second in international spending in the state, up 20.7 percent over 2012.

The state has had a representative in China since 2007, with an international investment office in Qingdao. Georgia hired a Shanghai-based international trade consultancy earlier this year to complement its efforts from Qingdao.

Georgia has seen its relationship with China grow, boosted by machinery-manufacturing company SANY America's 2007 $60 million investment to build a 400,000-square-foot office and manufacturing complex in Peachtree, Georgia. SANY was the first Chinese company to invest in Georgia, and has created 120 jobs since opening and hopes to add 300 more jobs in the next few years.

There are 31 Chinese facilities operating in Georgia, five of them manufacturing plants. Chinese companies employ more than 300 people. Conversely, there are 64 Georgia companies that have operations in China, including Delta Air Lines, Newell Rubbermaid, Home Depot, and the Coca-Cola Co.