HONOLULU—Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui’s week-long trip to discuss economic cooperation and the Hawaii Sports Development Initiative in Korea was a success. He met with representatives from the Korea International Trade Association and Economic Council as well as other government officials and industry representatives to discuss how to maintain and foster economic relations between Hawaii and Korea. The Lieutenant Governor also met with the Korea Baseball Association to discuss its participation in the Hawaii Sports Development Initiative.
“Hawaii and Korea have shared a long and positive relationship that’s rooted in friendship,” said Tsutsui. “This year marks the 110th anniversary of Korean immigration to Hawaii and this trip enabled the state to strengthen our economic ties and ensure jobs for our residents through the continuation of import and export and growing our visitor industry between Hawaii and Korea.”
While meeting with Korea Baseball Association President Byungsuk Lee, Tsutsui discussed his Hawaii Sports Development Initiative and fostering a relationship with Korea through an amateur youth baseball exchange, possibly in the summer of 2014.
Launched in October, the initiative will help expand sports entertainment and participation opportunities in Hawaii, while also strengthening our visitor economy – particularly during the shoulder seasons when visitor arrivals are less robust.
The Lieutenant Governor, along with Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) officials, also discussed avenues to increase South Korean visitors to our State with officials from Korean Air, Asiana and Hana Tour International. Korea, which is among the emerging markets the HTA is targeting, possess a high growth potential for outbound travel to Hawaii. Additionally, Incheon serves as a hub for passengers from other Asian countries, including China and Japan to Hawaii and the mainland U.S., making Korea a prime market for continued growth. In 2013, it is anticipated that close to 200,000 Korean tourists will have visited our State, according to the HTA.
Tsutsui also met with the Mayor of Incheon, Song Young Gil, to express appreciation for Incheon’s commitment to budget funds for the construction of the Mitchuhol Museum & International Center in Honolulu, as well as to reaffirm Hawaii’s commitment to supporting the construction of the museum, a project involving collaboration between the City & County of Honolulu and the State. This gesture further strengthens cultural ties to Honolulu’s sister-city. Korea Times Hawaii reports about 45,000 Koreans living in Hawaii.
Currently, nearly $118 million are being exchanged between Hawaii and Korea in import and export. With the implementation of the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA), Hawaii has been able to capitalize on expanded opportunities created by the reduction of tariffs, elimination of trade barriers, and the free flow of products, services and ideas between Hawaii and Korea.
According to U.S. Korea Connect:
• The only state to grow cocoa or coffee beans, Hawaii exported nearly $4 million in cocoa products and $347,500 in coffee to Korea in 2012.
• Hawaii, one of the world’s largest producers of macadamia nuts, exported nearly $356,000 of the delicacy to Korea in 2012, surpassing its 2011 total by more than $126,000.
KORUS FTA promotes President Obama’s initiative to further the integration of the U.S. and Korean economies and enhances the competitiveness of U.S. businesses in the world’s 12th largest economy, according to the International Trade Association.