Korea’s $1 trillion economy makes it the most commercially significant U.S. free trade agreement in years. Since March of last year, Georgia’s leaders and businesses have been expanding partnerships and outreach efforts, establishing new Georgia-Korea connections and nurturing existing ones. We have long known that Korea is a market with especially strong promise for Georgia businesses. Thanks to the KORUS FTA, much of that promise is being fulfilled.
Indeed, The Peach State hosts 39 Korean companies in 55 facilities, employing over 10,000 Georgians, 36% of which are in the manufacturing industry. Korea is the second largest Asian investor in our state.
Investments made by Korean companies touch our lives every day. That’s why I was pleased but not surprised to see companies from Georgia featured in US Korea Connect’s Trade Works book. The collection of success stories shows that trade has a role in economic success at the local, state and national levels.
Mirroring Korea’s enthusiasm for trade with our state, in 2011 Georgia ranked among the top four states in terms of two-way trade volume. With benefits to U.S. businesses expanding under the KORUS FTA, I’m confident Georgia will continue its economic leadership for the future. Consider that before KORUS, U.S. exporters paid an average of 6.2 percent in tariffs on industrial goods while Korea exporters to the U.S. paid an average tariff of 2.8 percent. Nearly 80 percent of U.S. industrial and consumer goods exported will be duty-free in Korea within three years (2015) and 95 percent within five years.
Significant as these reductions are, they barely scratch the surface. Georgia businesses in industries from food to transportation are benefiting from tariff reductions and will continue to do so as we enter the second year of implementation next month. For businesses interested in expanding, resources abound. You can start by taking advantage of the information here on USKoreaConnect.org. Also be sure to visit Georgia.org, where you’ll find all the resources you need to start or grow your business.
Kathe Falls is the Director of International Trade for the Georgia Department of Economic Development