When companies expand their markets outside domestic borders they can expect more job creation, more job sustainability and more zeros on the bottom line.
And in today's global economy, the potential power for growth in international markets is endless.
Last month, former prime minister of South Korea, Han Duck-Soo, came to Frankfort to meet with international trade representatives from across the commonwealth.
The event, hosted by the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, focused on the expanded opportunities for trade with Korea under the recently implemented U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA).
Han, now chairman of the Korea International Trade Association (KITA), chose Kentucky as one of four states to visit on his recent trade mission to the United States. That kind of attention shows just how highly Korea regards Kentucky's products. Now, thanks to the KORUS FTA, the door is wide open for Kentucky to capitalize on the opportunities for trade with Korea, its $1.5 trillion economy and its 73-million person customer base.
In addition to bourbon and Thoroughbreds, both of which continue to grow in popularity in Korea, U.S. industries from agriculture to machinery are already thriving in the Korean market.
The chemical industry alone accounted for more than $200 million in two-way trade in 2011.
There is demand for Kentucky's work force too. There are currently four Korean-owned companies with a physical presence in Kentucky.
As mutual trade grows and trust builds, more opportunities are created for direct foreign investment and Korean companies bringing jobs to Kentucky.
Thanks to a worldwide movement toward free trade, all Kentucky companies, regardless of size, have the power to expand into international markets, create sustainable jobs and grow their businesses. There are resources to help every business harness the power of international trade. The World Trade Center Kentucky holds frequent seminars with topics ranging from free trade agreements to export compliance.
World Trade Day 2012, for example, in August will host the largest gathering of international trade and business professionals in Kentucky. Businesses will meet with trade representatives to discuss international commerce and share stories of success in different markets throughout the world.
Furthermore, the Korean Embassy's Web site, uskoreaconnect.org, offers tools and resources designed to help small and medium-sized businesses interested in taking advantage of the KORUS FTA.
Through the Web site's Business Connect network, companies can stay up-to-date with news related to the free trade agreement and connect with other businesses in the United States and Korea to expand their trade opportunities.
Korea's growing middle class represents a strong customer base for Kentucky's high-quality goods. The KORUS FTA presents a unique opportunity for Kentucky businesses to thrive overseas. This is the time for Kentucky to harness the power of trade.
J. Edwin Webb is president and CEO and Darren Srebnick is international trade specialist of World Trade Center Kentucky.