Sen. Ossoff Spearheads Effort to Expand Opportunities for Georgia Companies, Increase Trade to the Republic of Korea

Staff Report

Wednesday, August 31st, 2022

Yesterday, Sen. Ossoff hosted a webinar aimed at expanding economic opportunity for Georgia companies to increase trade with the Republic of Korea.

Sen. Ossoff led a discussion with U.S. trade officials, and members of the Korean Government, and Georgia and Korea business communities to provide resources to Georgia’s small and medium businesses and help them navigate barriers to doing business in Korea. 

The discussion featured expert advice and remarks by:

  • Korean Consul General in Atlanta Yoonjoo Park;

  • American Chamber of Commerce in Korea Chairman and CEO James Kim;

  • U.S. Commercial Service Senior International Trade Specialist Dina Molaison;

  • U.S. Small Business Administration Export Finance Manager David Leonard;

  • Export-Import Bank of the United States Regional Director Susan Kintanar;

  • Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce Vice President for Global Commerce, John Woodward; and

  • Southeast U.S. Korean Chamber of Commerce, Jae Kim. 

South Korea is Georgia’s 12th largest export market and the 4th largest source of imports. Georgia is also a major destination for South Korean foreign direct investment, including major employers in strategic industries such as batteries, renewable energy, and cars, employing thousands of Georgians and representing billions of dollars of investment in the United States.

Sen. Ossoff remains a leader in the U.S. Senate pursuing stronger relations with South Korea, maintaining frequent contact with senior South Korean diplomatic and economic officials.

Sen. Ossoff traveled to the Republic of Korea in November 2021 to meet with businesses interested in investing in the United States, including Kia Motors, SK Innovation, and Hanwha Qcells. Many have since made announcements about further investment in the state of Georgia.

Please find a transcript of Sen. Ossoff’s opening remarks below:

SEN. OSSOFF: “Thank you and welcome all. It’s an honor to welcome so many Georgia businesses here tonight. And to have the honor to introduce you to economic leaders who are dedicated to serving you. The idea for this webinar arose during the economic delegation to Korea that I led last November when I had the chance to sit down with economic and government leaders like my friend, James Kim, who is here today. 

“Georgia’s economy is intertwined with Korea’s. In 1985, Georgia became the first state to open a trade office in Korea. Georgia imports more than $7 billion worth of goods and services from Korea each year, which is the fourth highest among our state’s trading partners.

“More than 100,000 Korean Americans live in Georgia, representing one of our fastest growing populations, and more than 40,000 Georgians speak Korean at home. Korean Americans in Georgia operate more than 2,000 businesses. And in the last 15 years alone, Korean companies like Kia Motors, SK Innovation and Hanwha Qcells had been among those who decided to make new investments in Georgia. Those three companies alone represent more than 17,000 jobs and four and a half billion dollars of capital investment. And that doesn’t even take into account the supply chains that those companies bring with them, and the vendors who arise alongside them.

“Overall, more than 100 Korea-affiliated companies operate in Georgia. These are massive numbers. But of course, I continue to urge the leaders of these companies and other business groups to invest even more in our state. 

“Likewise, Georgia companies have of course made their way to Korea. I met with the Korea-based leadership of Coca-Cola, Lockheed Martin, Netflix, and Delta Airlines while I was in Korea last year. And our exports to Korea —Georgia’s exports to Korea— are now more than $700 million per year –12th highest among Georgia’s export markets. So, I’m constantly telling my Korean friends about the quality of our products, as Georgians. And I’ve learned from both Georgians and Koreans that many Georgia businesses encounter barriers to enter the Korean market or just don’t know where to begin.

“I used to run a small business that operated internationally, I know it can be a challenge to see a foreign market, know there’s potential there, know there’s a market there, but not quite know how to open the door. So, that’s why James Kim, myself, and others agreed it made sense to present this resource to you, to Georgia businesses and chambers of commerce. To introduce you to experts and resources, who can help you decide as Georgia businesspeople, if Korea is a new market where you can grow your business and how we can help you to do so. And this isn’t just about consumer products, we’re talking also about services, about technology, and about research partnerships.

“I want to thank Consul General Park for joining us tonight, as well as all of our friends who will give us tremendous insight from three different perspectives.

“We will hear the view from Seoul with AMCHAM Korea President James Kim, who will also tell us about AMCHAM’s American Business Center to serve U.S. businesses who want to operate in Korea. We’ll hear from Federal experts—resources within the Federal government located right here in Atlanta, with Dina Molaison from the U.S. Commercial Service, David Leonard from the Small Business Administration, and Susan Kintanar from the EXIM Bank. And we’ll hear perspectives from two of our local business chambers, John Woodward from the Metro-Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, and Jae Kim from the Southeast U.S-Korea Chamber of Commerce.

“Everybody, thank you for joining us. For my part, I’m going to continue to champion trade between Georgia and the Republic of Korea. I thank to our experts for sharing their insight tonight and want to remind everybody that my staff and I are here to serve you Georgians–Georgia businesses– to help open all of the markets in the world to the extraordinary products, services, and technologies that we make right here in Georgia.

“Whenever and however, I can help you, please feel free to give my office a call. And I humbly ask you at the conclusion of this event, to respond to the survey that my office will send you asking how it went, what was valuable, what wasn’t, and how we can improve these moving forward. Thank you all so much and enjoy this opportunity. I hope it’s useful for you.”