Macon attorney Christopher Smith, the Honorary Consul to Denmark, offered a glimpse into the importance of one of Georgia’s long bilateral multinational relationships during a presentation to the Rome Rotary Club.
Denmark has had a consular office in Georgia since 1802, one year after the first Danish ambassador to the United States arrived in Philadelphia. The initial consular office in Georgia was located in Savannah. William Scarbrough was the first Danish consul and his home in Savannah is now the Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum in Savannah.
The office was relocated to Atlanta around the turn of the 20th century as Atlanta grew in significance after Reconstruction.
Foreign direct investment in the U.S. is close to $15 billion. Each year the U.S. has close to $9 billion in direct exports to Denmark and 123,000 Americans have jobs tied to export activity to the Scandinavian kingdom.
Denmark has huge ties to the Georgia economy. Maersk Shipping is the number one customer of the Georgia Ports Authority. In Georgia, 3,332 people have jobs supported by Danish industry. Georgia ranks 12th among U.S. states in export activity to Denmark, the top export being transportation equipment, largely aircraft.
“Each time one of these new Gulfstream rolls off the factory line in Savannah at about $55 million apiece they add up pretty quickly,” Smith said. Aside from transport, mineral products, machinery and food are the other top exports from Georgia to Denmark.
Referring back to the bilateral relationship between the two countries, Smith said there are 760 Danish companies with facilities in the U.S. and 711 American companies with a base in Denmark.
“It seems to be a wonderful, mutually beneficial relationship,” he said.
Smith, who is a Georgia native, got his appointment as Honorary Consul to Denmark by virtue of a long-term business relationship with the Danish Trade Commissioner.
“I had a Danish client and then I had five and then ten and then the government was hiring me to come over there to speak on American law,” Smith said. “One day out of the blue I got an e-mail that I didn’t know was coming and I said I’d be delighted. I had no idea what I was getting into.”