Moderated by Rick Badie
A business leader speaks to Georgia’s exports and ways to boost same. And a Georgia congressman writes on U.S. ties with Morocco.
Challenge for local companies on exports
By Jen Yun
When people think of exports, they often think of tangible products – perhaps luxury items like cars or agricultural items like peanuts. What they do not often consider are services. Services such as legal, financial, architectural, IT and healthcare are exports, and metro Atlanta, known for its strong services sectors, is home to many companies that provide these types of services.
The importance of exports is that they add jobs to the regional economy. In 2014, metro Atlanta generated $26.6 billion in exports. The International Trade Administration reports that every additional $1 billion in exports can create as many as 5,800 new jobs to a metro region. With 95 percent of the world’s consumers living outside the U.S., and global middle class consumption expected to reach $35 trillion by 2030, the potential for exports is tremendous.
However, very few companies realize this untapped potential. Further, many companies do not know how to get started.
The reality is that metro Atlanta is under-exporting. Out of the top 100 U.S. metros, metro Atlanta ranked No.14 by volume of exports in 2014, but metro Atlanta’s export intensity – the export share of our overall economy – ranked No. 64, with exports making up only nine percent of the region’s economy.
The good news is that regional economic development partners, elected officials and business leaders are working to change this trend.
In June, regional leaders launched the Atlanta Metro Export Plan (MEP), a regional export strategy to stimulate economic growth and create quality jobs through exports. The Atlanta MEP is a collaborative effort between the Metro Atlanta Chamber, Georgia Department of Economic Development and other regional public and private organizations.
A key component of the Metro Export Plan is the Metro Export Challenge powered by Chase Bank. The Metro Export Challenge encourages area companies to increase international sales of local products and services and compels companies to think about, and execute, their exporting strategies and find ways to build their export capacity and activity. An example of export activity is attending trade shows or trade missions to find new clients. An example of export capacity is translating websites and marketing materials into foreign languages.
Companies that have been in business for at least one year are encouraged to apply for the Metro Export Challenge. The two main criteria are that companies must be registered to do business in the state of Georgia and be in good standing with the Office of the Georgia Secretary of State. A complete list of criteria can be found at AtlantaExportPortal.com. Foreign companies located in Georgia are also urged to apply, as long as they manufacture or produce their product or service in Georgia.
To apply, interested companies should visit AtlantaExportPortal.com and complete the company assessment to determine program eligibility. Applicants will then be asked to fill out a grant application, which is due Dec. 15.
The Metro Export Challenge is a two-stage competition for companies to win reimbursable grant money. In stage one, the top 35 qualified companies selected will receive reimbursement grants of up to $5,000 in January 2016.
Companies must use these grant funds by May 31, 2016, to participate in Stage Two, a pitch-day competition held in summer 2016.
On pitch day, companies will present their exportable product or service to a panel of judges, share their export success with the stage one grant and present their business plan if they were to win an additional grant. The top prize is an additional grant of $20,000, with $10,000 awarded to the first runner-up and $5,000 to the second runner-up.
The Metro Export Challenge is one aspect of a regional strategy to help companies grow through exports, increase Atlanta’s export intensity, and bring attention to the available resources and experts to help companies export.
These initiatives will ultimately make metro Atlanta a more globally competitive place to do international business.
Jen Yun is program manager of the Global Cities Initiative for the Metro Atlanta Chamber.
Morocco helps Ga. grow, create jobs
By Hank Johnson
The U.S.-Morocco Trade and Investment Forum, held recently at Coca-Cola’s Atlanta headquarters, allowed business leaders and government officials from our two nations to explore mutual trade and investment opportunities.
In 2014, Georgia exported more than $71 million worth of goods and services to Morocco – with the total U.S. figure at more than $2.1 billion. Since 2010, Georgia has been the seventh-largest U.S. exporter to Morocco, averaging more than $88 million in exports annually since 2010.
Georgia companies such as AGCO, Georgia-Pacific and Newell Rubbermaid have a presence in Morocco, through distribution channels that cover the entire country. Coca-Cola’s operations in the North African nation have, on their own, resulted in 70,000 related jobs.
Georgia’s exports to Morocco include everything from paper and agricultural products to machinery, plastics and rubber products, computer and electronic products, appliances, chemicals, minerals and ores and more. All support Georgia’s economy and create jobs.
In 2011, Morocco joined the United States in signing the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), which raises the standard for intellectual property rights enforcement internationally. In doing so, it protects Georgia businesses’ and inventors’ ingenuity and competitiveness.
Last year, I visited Morocco on a Congressional delegation that was focused on fostering and solidifying political, economic, technical and cultural cooperation between the two countries and followed a recent visit by a Moroccan delegation to the United States.
During the trip, I was impressed by the country’s modernity, openness and its bustling businesses.
There, I learned that Morocco was the first country to recognize the newly independent United States in 1777 and that we share our oldest commercial treaty with Morocco, as well.
This strong trade relationship is almost as old as the U.S. itself. The 1786 U.S. Treaty of Friendship and Commerce with Morocco remains in force today and is the longest unbroken treaty in American history.
I also was impressed with the fact our countries collaborate in a number of areas beyond business, including counterterrorism and security.
As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I knew Morocco hosts the U.S.’s largest military exercises every year on the African continent, called the African Lion. But I did not know Morocco was among the first Arab and Islamic states to denounce the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and declare solidarity with the American people in fighting terrorism.
Today, it is one of our most important allies in the fight against the Islamic State and remains one of our closest allies, as affirmed by their zero-tolerance policy towards al-Qaeda and their affiliated groups.
In 2012, under the leadership of President Barack Obama and King Mohammed VI, Morocco became the first Arab and African country to enter into a strategic dialogue with the U.S.
Morocco continues to work with the U.S. and the international community on key shared issues, providing leadership in international efforts to counter violent extremism, hosting global conferences on the environment and climate change and offering support to eliminate racism and human trafficking.
In 2016, Morocco takes its next step in its commitment to fighting extremism by co-hosting with the U.S. the Global Counter-terrorism Forum.
Morocco has also shown sustained, incremental progress toward democracy and shares many of our democratic values as significant reforms have taken place in the areas of migrant rights, women’s rights, and civil justice.
I hope and fully expect that the recent forum in Atlanta will result in even stronger connections between Georgia and Morocco.
I not only stand by this crucial bilateral relationship that continues to support local jobs, but I plan to continue the dialogue and foster the close relationship with Morocco as an important trading partner to the U.S. — and more specifically Georgia.
Congressman Hank Johnson represents Georgia’s Fourth Congressional District.