As part of a 10-day economic development mission to China, South Korea and Vietnam, Governor Martin O'Malley today met with South Korea President Lee Myung-bak at the President's official residence Cheong Wa Dae, also known as the "Blue House." Joined by Maryland Secretary of State John McDonough and Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development Secretary Christian S. Johansson, Governor O'Malley and President Lee met to discuss ways to increase trade and investment between South Korea and Maryland, as both regions have strong life sciences and technology industries. President Lee is the former mayor of Seoul and former CEO of Hyundai Engineering and Construction, and is credited with effectively leading his county through the global financial downturn and emerging as a major international player by hosting the 2010 G-20 Seoul Summit.
"Meeting with President Lee was a great privilege and a highlight of our Asia mission," said Governor O'Malley. "Given his long and successful business career -- including 27 years with Hyundai -- President Lee fully understands the importance of reaching across borders to build relationships and form partnerships to open markets to international trade and benefit the global economy. We look forward to an ongoing relationship and further strengthening Maryland's ties to South Korea."
"Governor O'Malley's meeting with President Lee highlights the growing importance of the U.S.-Korea bilateral relationship in regional security, commerce and culture," said Dr. Jae Ku, Director of the U.S.-Korea Institute at SAIS.
Tomorrow, Governor O'Malley will meet with senior executives of Samsung Group, South Korea's largest conglomerate. The Governor and several delegation members will tour the company's Biologics Division, which was created as a partnership in early 2011 with North Carolina-based Quintiles Transnational Corp. to help the company expand into the biopharmaceutical industry.
Earlier this week, Governor O'Malley met with South Korea's National Minister of Knowledge Economy Choi Joong-kyung and signed a first of its kind Memorandum of Understanding between Maryland and South Korea's Ministry of Knowledge Economy that seeks to encourage trade and investment, particularly in science and technology, between the two regions. The Governor was the guest of honor at the Maryland-Seoul Banquet, attended by more than 200 guests, including delegation members and potential business prospects, and hosted by Seoul's Mayor Se-Hoon Oh, whom the Governor met with in Annapolis in late April. Earlier today, the Governor addressed the Global Bio & Medical Forum, which attracted more than 600 attendees and is one of South Korea's top biopharmaceutical events.
Maryland is continuing to increase ties with South Korea, which is the State's 6th largest export market with $481 million in exports in 2010, a 133 percent increase from the previous year. In turn, Maryland imported more than $525 million from South Korea in 2010, with automobiles, machinery and electrical equipment as the top import products. The State opened its first office in South Korea in 2008, which works to attract South Korean companies to Maryland and assists Maryland companies in marketing products and services overseas. Currently, Maryland is home to six South Korea-headquartered companies, including Daewoong, the country's largest prescription drug company and Hanjin, one of the world's 10 largest container shipping lines and parent of Korean Air.
Last year, the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development's Office of International Trade and Investment engaged more than 250 Asian companies, helping to attract six new foreign firms from China and Korea to Maryland. In addition, the Office assisted 75 Maryland companies export their products to Asia, helping to generate $65 million in sales.
Maryland's Office of International Investment and Trade works to stimulate foreign direct investment in the State, offers export assistance for small and mid-sized Maryland companies, and coordinates international trade and investment missions and trade show opportunities for Maryland companies. For more information on resources available to business that want to market their products or services globally, visit www.choosemaryland.org