Dutch king and queen visit Georgia's oldest city and trade powerhouse during US visit


SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — The king and queen of the Netherlands spent the second day of their U.S. tour Tuesday visiting Savannah, Georgia's oldest city that is both a historic gem and a growing powerhouse in global trade.

King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima stepped out of their motorcade Tuesday morning and onto a red carpet that had been rolled across the sidewalk outside Savannah's gold-domed City Hall, where Mayor Van Johnson greeted them.

“We are so honored today to have his majesty the king and her majesty the queen here in our beautiful city,” Johnson said to kick off a roundtable discussion between city staff and Dutch dignitaries. “Today is a day for us that creates and speaks of opportunities — opportunities that we can explore and opportunities that we can expand.”

The Dutch royals' trip to Georgia has featured a mixture of stops at cultural sites and meetings focused on strengthening economic ties.

In Savannah, the king and queen were scheduled to get a crash course from local academics about the preservation of historic sites and buildings in a city founded by British colonists in 1733. They were also meeting with students at Savannah State University, Georgia's oldest historically Black public college.

Afterward the royal couple were to tour the Port of Savannah, the fourth-busiest U.S. seaport for cargo shipped in containers. The giant metal boxes are used to transport goods ranging from consumer electronics to frozen chickens. Savannah handled 4.9 million container units in 2023, more than any U.S. port other than New York, Los Angeles and Long Beach, California.

Total trade between Georgia and the Netherlands totaled $2.9 billion last year, according to the Georgia Department of Economic Development.

Georgia sent $1.8 billion in exports, including medical instruments and automatic data processing machines, to the Netherlands in 2023. The state imported $1.2 billion in goods from the Netherlands, including aircraft parts and malt beer.

The Dutch royals' four-day U.S. trip began Monday in Atlanta, where the king and queen met with Gov. Brian Kemp at Georgia's state Capitol, toured the burial site of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and visited a recording studio in a city known for hip-hop artists.

The king and queen were scheduled to spend Wednesday and Thursday in New York to wrap up their U.S. tour.