MONTGOMERY, Alabama – A team from the Alabama Department of Commerce led a business development mission to South Korea and Taiwan that sought to strengthen the state’s commercial ties with the Asian economic powerhouses.
The Commerce team was headed by Secretary Greg Canfield and included Hollie Pegg, assistant director of business development for the department, and Hilda Lockhart, director of the International trade division. They departed April 5 and began their return April 11.
Leaders and economic development officials from communities across Alabama joined the team in Seoul, South Korea, for an “Invest in Alabama” presentation at the U.S. Embassy. The community officials also had private meetings with Korean companies as part of the business development mission.
South Korea is a key trading partner for Alabama, with two-way trade in 2013 measured at $2.5 billion. Alabama also has been a magnet for investment by South Korean companies such as HS Automotive, Taesung and others that have recently announced projects in the state.
“With Hyundai’s only U.S. plant based in Montgomery, Alabama has developed a close relationship with dozens of South Korean businesses, which have made significant investments to open facilities in the state,” Secretary Canfield said. “We intend to expand our relationships with South Korean companies and encourage them to become our partners. We have a similar approach when it comes to companies operating in Taiwan’s dynamic economy.”
TARGETING TRADE IN TAIWAN
The Commerce team traveled to Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, for talks with Chun-Fu Chang, director general of the Bureau of Foreign Trade, that focused on expanding opportunities for investment and trade. The meeting included a presentation from Secretary Canfield on the state’s business climate. The Alabama team also met with leaders at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Taiwan External Trade Development Council.
In Taichung, an industrial city of more than 2.6 million people in western Taiwan, the Commerce group visited the headquarters of Mobiletron Electronics Co., which operates Regitar, a maker of auto components that has had a facility in Montgomery for nearly three decades. In addition, the Commerce team attended the Taipei International Auto Parts and Accessories Show, where Mobiletron was among the more than 180 exhibitors.
While in Taichung, Commerce officials also visited the Aerospace Industrial Development Corp. and the Automotive Research & Testing Center.
Two-way trade between Alabama and Taiwan topped $165 million in 2013, with $127 million of that figure representing exports from Alabama companies, according to figures from the Department of Commerce.