Atlanta, GA - Governor Sonny Perdue addressed the keynote luncheon of the fourth annual Americas Competitiveness Forum (ACF) today in Atlanta, hailing the robust partnership among Western Hemisphere nations in an increasingly competitive global marketplace.
“It’s an honor to once again to welcome the Americas Competitiveness Forum to Georgia, where international commerce is a way of life,” said Governor Perdue. “We look forward to making new friends, welcoming old ones, and participating in the lively dialogues that take place at the forum.”
More than 1,000 participants have gathered at this year’s forum to discuss strategies for strengthening the Western Hemisphere’s competitive edge. Public and private sector dignitaries from 34 countries, including U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez, will lead the discussion on the forum’s theme, “Building a Prosperous and Sustainable Future for the Americas.” Roundtables and discussions will primarily focus on innovation, green technologies, education, workforce development, entrepreneurship, small business development and trade facilitation.
“As our economy continues to grow, events like the ACF provide excellent opportunities for the business community to showcase new ideas, technologies, explore new markets and uncover future opportunities for economic growth and job creation,” Secretary Locke said.
The forum attracts senior government officials as well as top representatives from the business, government and academic sectors. This year’s attendees include the President of El Salvador; the vice presidents of Colombia, Dominican Republic and Panama; and numerous ministers, mayors, directors and other dignitaries. Companies will have the opportunity to learn about trade and investment opportunities as well as new strategies in the forum’s focus areas. The ACF, which runs Nov. 14-16 at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis Hotel, was launched in Georgia in 2007 and has returned twice since then.
Georgia has made other significant inroads in establishing ties with the Americas the last few years. In 2007, the state chartered the Southeastern United States-Canada Alliance (SEUS//CP) to promote trade, investment, tourism, educational and friendship ties between Canadian provinces and Southeastern states. More than 1,000 Latin American academic and business leaders attended two SUMAQ conferences hosted by the state, and more than 300 Western Hemisphere business leaders attended the first annual Business of the Americas Summit, also held in Georgia.
Governor Perdue established an international office in 2005 to promote trade, investment and tourism with Brazil. That office, together with similar locations in Chile, Mexico and Canada, are part of a group of 10 offices that give Georgia a presence around the world. During his administration, Governor Perdue has led multiple business missions to the Americas, including Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico, Panama and Uruguay. The Governor also welcomed new consulates from the Bahamas, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Peru. More than 20 nations from the Americas are currently represented in Georgia’s consular and business corps.
Georgia exports to the Americas have grown by 33.9 percent between 2002 and 2009. From 2005 to 2009, the state’s total trade with NAFTA countries has grown by 26.9 percent and with CAFTA countries by 283 percent.
Governor Perdue served on the President’s Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations (ACTPN), a panel that advises the president and U.S. Trade Representative on issues related to national trade policy. In 2007, Georgia’s International Trade division won the President’s E-Star, award, the nation’s highest award for excellence in exporting.
Georgia has also hosted the bi-lateral free trade negotiations between the U.S. and Chile and between the U.S. and Andean countries, on behalf of the U.S. Trade Representative. Hemisphere, Inc., established in 2003 to pursue the Secretariat of the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), established CIFAL Atlanta, the only North American location for a United Nations Institute for Training and Research Center. The center focuses on relationship-building between Atlanta and FTAA member countries by providing a forum for the exchange of strategies, tools and best practices.
The forum’s focus topics also parallel Georgia’s areas of interest. During his administration, Governor Perdue has instituted comprehensive programs to support innovation, facilitate small business and entrepreneurial growth, improve education and workforce development, encourage the development of green technologies, and promote trade.