November 09, 1998

Lila White
(804) 692-3110

Windy Campbell
Martin Public Relations
(804) 698-8824
Jill Lawrence
(804) 371-0049
Southeast U.S. Strengthens Business and Cultural Ties with Korea
-SEUS-Korea conference provides forum for promoting international trade and investment opportunities -

Williamsburg - Representatives from seven southeastern states and the Republic of Korea reaffirmed their commitment to promoting international trade and mutual investment today at the 13th Southeast U.S. (SEUS)-Korea Economic Conference, held November 7-9 in Williamsburg.

"We open these proceedings with the expectation of continued progress and the building of stronger cultural and economic ties," said Joseph C. Farrell, co-chair of the SEUS-Korea Economic Committee and chairman emeritus of The Pittston Company, a Fortune 500 company headquartered in Virginia. "While previous conferences have perhaps occurred amid more buoyant financial conditions, difficult economic times lead to the opening of a door of opportunity."

The annual Southeast U.S.-Korea Economic Conference is held jointly by the Southeast U.S.-Korea Economic Committee of the U.S. and the Korea-U.S. Economic Council of Korea (KUSEC) to foster economic cooperation between the seven member southeastern states and Korea. The states include Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

The SEUS member states enjoy healthy business relationships with Korea. Leading exports to Korea from the Southeast U.S. states include transportation and infrastructure equipment, electronics and agriculture products; merchandise exports to Korea from the SEUS states totaled $9.8 billion in 1997. The Southeast U.S. is also home to a number of Korean manufacturing firms, including Daewoo Equipment Corp. (Georgia), Dongsung America (Virginia), LG Electronics (Alabama), Peace Textile (South Carolina) and Hyundai Furniture (North Carolina).

"Citizens of the Republic of Korea and the United States share many values including strong family relationships and work ethic. Land and water may separate our countries, but our core belief in providing high-quality education for our children, a stable job market, and safe neighborhoods for our families makes us part of the same global community," said Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore, who delivered the welcoming remarks to a room of 250 business and government officials of the seven states and Korea. Virginia served as host for this year's conference.

"Since our beginnings as a trading enterprise, Virginia has continued as a major marketer to the world," said Governor Gilmore. "Today, Korea is Virginia's fourth largest trading partner. We currently export more than $750 million of Virginia's products to the Republic of Korea. We are proud of this warm business relationship and look forward to lasting prosperity in trade with Korea."

"This year's conference has been very special since it was held in the midst of the economic difficulties in Korea," said Dr. U.S. Park, SEUS-Korea co-chair and president of Samsung Petrochemical Company. "I am sure that all of the participants from Korea have been reassured of the strong commitment, friendship and support from our American friends."

The conference's panel sessions featured numerous business and government officials from southeastern U.S. and Korean companies. Mr. Marvin Goodfriend, director of research for the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, delivered the morning keynote address. Mr. Hong-koo Lee, Korean Ambassador to the United States, spoke at lunch.

"It has been exactly 10 years since Williamsburg hosted the joint conference back in 1988," said Mr. Kwang-won Rhim, executive vice chairman of the Korea-U.S. Economic Council. "A popular saying in Korea is that even mountains and rivers will change in 10 years time. Over the past decade, the amicable partnership between the Southeast U.S. and Korea has fostered steady growth in the areas of trade, investment, technology transfers and tourism."

The joint conference of the two organizations is held annually. Next year's conference, hosted by KUSEC, will be held in Korea in Fall 1999. The conference returns to the United States in 2000 with Alabama as the host state.

In Fall 2000, Virginia will host a similar conference, the SEUS-Japan Economic conference, in Norfolk.

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