Atlanta snags pre-FTAA meeting of five Andean ministers
By Susan Stabley
Miami's US rival for a free-trade headquarters has snagged a ministerial meeting of five South American countries.
Trade officials from the five Andean countries - Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela - will meet Friday in Atlanta to prep for next month's Free Trade Area of the Americas negotiations in Miami.
"The fact that they have chosen Atlanta as the site for the trade meeting gives the Gateway to the Americas team an opportunity to showcase what Atlanta has to offer," Rose Raus, spokeswoman for Atlanta, GA: Gateway to the Americas, wrote in an e-mail.
Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue also created the Office of Protocol Services. Ms. Raus said the new post coincides with Atlanta's bid for the trade headquarters.
Georgia officials have been increasing their state's visibility in international affairs. In June, President George W. Bush will host the 30th Summit of G-8 nations in Sea Island, GA.
Officials from Florida FTAA Inc. warn that Miami may lose its reputation as the gateway to the Americas if local businesses do not act to support the FTAA headquarters. The FTAA, if approved, would create a Western Hemispheric market, minus Cuba.
Atlanta offered to host this weekend's Andean meeting during a June meeting of the Organization of American States, said Barry Featherman, of the Inter-American Economic Council. Atlanta was the only city that asked.
If the FTAA is approved, Miami and Atlanta are competing to permanently host the secretariat as are Mexico, Panama and Trinidad and Tobago.
Delegates are to arrive in Atlanta today (10/16) and will hear about corporations based there, including Delta Air Lines, BellSouth, Home Depot, CNN and Coca-Cola, Mr. Featherman said. The ministers plan to dine with former President Jimmy Carter.