Gov. Deal to spearhead mission with state business and government leaders
Gov. Nathan Deal will lead a high-level delegation of state of Georgia officials and business leaders to Turkey May 28-June 1. The mission will visit the cities of Istanbul, Ankara and Mersin and meet with prominent members of the Turkish government and corporate community to explore business and trade opportunities in this strategically located market.
"Turkey has opened its doors to Georgia by naming our state as one of just six U.S. states with whom it intends to increase trade, and this delegation will introduce Turkish leaders to our tremendous capabilities for business," said Deal. "This mission will ensure our message will resonate at the highest levels of commerce."
The Georgia delegation's itinerary includes "Discover Georgia" presentations hosted by the state in Istanbul and Mersin, which will target prospects for business and trade with Georgia. In Istanbul, the delegation will learn about opportunities for doing business with Turkey from ISPAT, the Investment Support and Promotion Agency of Turkey. Deal and members of the delegation will also meet with a number of Turkish ministers in Istanbul and in Ankara, as well as with the U.S. Ambassador to Turkey, Francis Ricciardone. The Istanbul leg of the mission will also include a tour of Koc University, a visit to UPS's Turkey operations and a bilateral exchange dinner hosted by Coca-Cola Chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent.
Following meetings in Ankara, Deal will lunch with Georgia airmen and women serving at Incirlik Air Force Base. In Mersin, Turkey's sixth-largest city, Deal and delegation will meet with the governor and the mayor of Mersin, tour the port and visit the city's Chamber of Shipping and the Mersin Free Trade Zone. The Mersin International Seaport is the primary supplier to the Middle East and the gateway to the rest of Turkey, including the Mediterranean.
Turkey and the state of Georgia already have a strong foundation for business. The Turkey market shares many characteristics with Georgia, especially in agriculture, Georgia's largest industry. In 2011, Georgia was the seventh-leading exporter to Turkey among U.S. states, with around $600 million exported. Leading exports such as cotton/fabric, machinery and vehicles all grew by triple digits in the last quarter. Both imports and exports between Georgia and Turkey increased in 2011.
The Port of Savannah, the fourth-largest and fastest-growing deepwater port in the United States, offers weekly service to Istanbul, Gemlik, Izmir and Mersin. Delta Air Lines partners with several other airlines to offer flights between Atlanta and Istanbul.
In addition to the Honorary Consulate, the Turkish American Chamber of Commerce of the Southeast U.S. and the Istanbul Center are located in Georgia. The University System of Georgia, including Georgia State, Kennesaw State and the University of Georgia have developed a number of educational ties to Turkey, as has Emory University.
The delegation includes the U.S. Department of State Special Representative for Global Intergovernmental Affairs, Reta Jo Lewis. Delegates from the State of Georgia include Department of Economic Development Commissioner Chris Cummiskey, Secretary of State Brian Kemp, Secretary of Agriculture Gary Black, Georgia Ports Authority CEO Curtis Foltz, University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby, Technical College System of Georgia Commissioner Ron Jackson and Georgia World Congress Center Executive Director Frank Poe.
Representatives of Georgia's business community include Chris Clark, President & CEO of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce; Paul Bowers, President & CEO of Georgia Power; Mike Giles, President of the Georgia Poultry Foundation; Ken Fountain, President of Southeastern Gin and Peanut; and Jeff Worn, Vice President of South Georgia Pecan Company. Representatives of Coca-Cola, Gulfstream, Delta Air Lines and the Georgia Centers of Innovation will join the delegation, as will Mona Diamond, the honorary consul general for Turkey in Georgia.
First Lady Deal will accompany the delegation as well leading official visits to a number of educational and cultural institutions during the mission.