Kemp kicks off Georgia Foreign Trade Conference


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Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp touted the deepwater ports of Savannah and Brunswick as magnets for economic development in his address Monday to the Georgia Foreign Trade Conference. The Georgia Ports Authority handled 4.6 million twenty-foot equivalent container units and 38.5 million tons of cargo in Calendar Year 2019. Find print quality photos here. (Georgia Ports Authority/Emily Goldman)

Logistics industry ‘a strong economic driver’

SEA ISLAND, Ga., Feb. 3, 2020– Gov. Brian Kemp kicked off the Georgia Foreign Trade Conference Monday, highlighting the state and nation’s continued strength in global trade.

“With low unemployment, strong consumer confidence and a new trade deal with China that has already resulted in new poultry exports, Georgia is poised to be a bright spot for the nation in the coming year,” Kemp said. “In 2020, we expect port activity, and the logistics industry in general, to remain a strong economic driver, and an important support network for farms and factories across the state.”

Prior to a 2015 Chinese ban on U.S. poultry, the market represented $500 million in annual sales for U.S. producers. According to the USA Poultry and Egg Export Council, today the market for chicken feet alone amounts to $835 million per year for U.S. companies.

“As the nation’s largest poultry producer, Georgia stands to recapture a substantial portion of the Chinese market,” Kemp said. “Forty percent of all frozen poultry that leaves the United States does so through the Port of Savannah.”

The first shipment of poultry – 50,000 pounds of Georgia-produced chicken feet – arrived in China in January. The governor added that cotton, animal feed, grain, peanuts and pecans, among other Georgia exports also stand to benefit from the Phase I trade deal with China, signed Jan. 15.

“Strong negotiations with China have paid off and present a substantial opportunity for producers in Georgia,” he said.

Farm products are not the only promising export commodity for Georgia.  Kemp recounted his April visit to the Port of Savannah to announce the decision by Plastic Express to build two 1 million square-foot facilities to handle plastic resin exports via Garden City Terminal.

“Construction is complete on the first building for Plastic Express at the Port Logistics Center in Pooler,” Kemp said. “That one company is bringing 166 new jobs and $172 million in investment to our state.”

Along with resin packager A&R Logistics’ decision to establish its global logistics center at the Savannah Gateway Industrial Hub, resins represent a promising market opportunity for Georgia.

“The outlook for growth through our deepwater terminals in Savannah and Brunswick remains strong,” said GPA Board Chairman Will McKnight. “In just two projects announced last year, resin handlers Plastic Express and A&R Logistics will add hundreds of jobs to the Savannah area, nearly 3 million square feet of warehousing, and more than 90,000 TEUs of cargo annually through Garden City Terminal.”

McKnight also noted the Georgia Ports Authority wrapped up a strong Calendar Year 2019, moving a record 4.6 million twenty-foot equivalent container units and 38.5 million tons of cargo.

The 52nd annual Georgia Foreign Trade Conference runs through Feb. 4. The conference showcases Georgia’s benefits to hundreds of attendees from senior level shippers to maritime executives, senior managers and decision-makers representing maritime logistics, railroads, motor carriers, warehousing, cargo owners and other stakeholders critical to the movement of international freight.

“Presenters at this year’s event include some of the top minds in global logistics today, addressing the key challenges and market opportunities our industry will face over the next decade,” said GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch. “Through networking and formal sessions, the GFTC gives logistics professionals a chance to learn from the best in the business.”

Georgia’s deepwater ports and inland barge terminals support more than 439,000 jobs throughout the state annually and contribute $25 billion in income, $106 billion in revenue and $2.9 billion in state and local taxes to Georgia’s economy. The Port of Savannah handled 8.5 percent of U.S. containerized cargo volume and 10 percent of all U.S. containerized exports in FY2017.

For more information, visit, or contact GPA Chief Communications Officer Robert Morris at (912) 964-3855