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(Yonhap Interview) Georgia Gov. hopes more Korean firms invest in state
By Kim Boram
SEOUL, Oct. 19 (Yonhap) -- Governor of Georgia Nathan Deal said on Wednesday that he hopes more South Korean firms invest in his state, adding that the U.S. state is a good place for doing business due to its quality workforce and tax benefits.

   "As the governor of Georgia, my purpose here is to promote economic development for my state, to encourage those businesses that are already in our state and in Korea, to continue to stay there and to expand it," Deal said in an interview with Yonhap News Agency.

   Deal is on a business trip to Seoul this week to tour South Korean companies that have invested in his state.

Nathan Deal, governor of Georgia. (Yonhap)

He said Georgia's strengths lie in its geography, quality workforce and tax benefits.

   "(The Port of Savannah) is a good opportunity for businesses who want to use the ports as an entryway to the United States, especially to the Southeast," Deal said.

   He said Georgia also offers tax credits for businesses who create jobs in his state and has a special vocational training system to train employees in the skills businesses need.

   "We think we are just a good place to do business and we believe the experience of the more than 50 Korean companies that are currently located in our state proves that Georgia is a good place to do business," the former Republican congressman said.

   Deal said the South Korean companies are economic heavyweights in Georgia where many people still engage in agriculture, as they have pumped more than US$2 billion into Georgia's economy and hired thousands of people.

   South Korea's No. 2 carmaker Kia Motors Corp. opened a plant in West Point, Georgia in 2009, its first production facility in the U.S., with an annual production capacity of around 300,000 vehicles and employing some 3,000 Georgians.

   Deal visited headquarters of Hyundai Motor Group, which owns Kia, on Tuesday to pay a courtesy call on Chairman Chung Mong-koo.

   "We think what the Korean companies bring is their strength of their products, or their knowledge and their understanding of manufacturing processes," Deal said. "They bring those skills and they match those with their work force and with our opportunities for distribution of products. It makes a very good partnership."

   Deal said the free trade agreement (FTA) between Seoul and Washington, which the U.S. Congress ratified last week, would benefit both sides.

   "I have been a supporter of the FTA with Korea. I think it will be good for both countries," he said. "We think it will provide opportunities for Korean companies who are not trading with the U.S. and not with our state. We likewise believe it will open up markets here in Korea for product that are coming out from our state as well."