Rawlings to tout city on Asia trip
Visit next week to include time in China and Korean DMZ
The last time Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings visited Seoul, South Korea, some faulty currency conversion math led him to believe a $1,500 bottle of wine was only $150 — leading to some unwanted local news attention.
Rawlings on Wednesday laughed about the mistake — he reimbursed DFW International Airport — and vowed not to repeat it during next week’s trip to South Korea and China, which was officially announced Thursday.
The mayor and represen- tatives from major North Texas businesses and trade groups will visit the two countries amid escalating tensions between their neighbor North Korea and the U.S.
Rawlings plans to visit the demilitarized zone that divides North and South Korea while he’s in the country. He joked that he won’t tweet while there because of the looming threat of a nuclear war — a dig at President Donald Trump’s attention-grabbing 140-character-or-less social media missives aimed at North Korean President Kim Jong Un.
Trump also plans to visit South Korea and China next month. The mayor said Trump has increased the attention he’s received on recent trade trips to Canada and Mexico. Rawlings expects much of the same in Asia.
“With the Trump world that’s happening, people are fascinated by Americans,” he said. “They say, ‘Are you buying what Trump’s doing or do you have a different attitude about things?’ And so telling the story about a pro-business, inclusive, protrade city is a good story there.”
The mayor said the main goals of his trip are to close the deal on a North American headquarters for a Chinese company and promote the city, the airport and North Texas among major global trade partners. This time, he won’t be joined by his usual travel buddy, Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price.
In Shanghai, Rawlings will try to promote tourism to Dallas. And in Seoul, Rawlings will speak at an international mayors conference about “leveling the playing field for small and medium-sized enterprises in cities.” He said he will also talk about his poverty task force — the city is trying to tackle its high rate of poverty, especially among children — and his Growsouth initiative.
Rawlings has increasingly touted the idea of “economic inclusion” and small business growth. He recently hailed a Goldman Sachs initiative for small businesses in Dallas.
But Rawlings said the most important part of the trip is raising the city’s profile internationally.
“There is no question it’s going up every time,” he said. “Just the amount of press we get, the amount of curiosity, the level of heads of state that want to talk to us. You can close a business deal here or there or learn something, but fundamentally, it’s all about getting out of our shell and telling our story.”