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Governor Perdue Welcomes Canadian Ambassador to Georgia

Monday, June 20, 2005  Contact: Office of Communications 404-651-7774


Governor to Lead July Trade Mission to Canada, Georgia's No. 1 Trade Partner

ATLANTA– Governor Sonny Perdue will continue his commitment to develop international business partnerships tonight as he hosts Frank McKenna, Canadian Ambassador to the United States, for dinner at the Governor’s Mansion.

“Georgia is continuing to strengthen its ties with Canada, a valued partner and constant ally,” said Governor Sonny Perdue. “Canada is taking a more prominent role in our economic development efforts as Georgia emerges as a global trading partner. To that end, the Georgia Department of Economic Development has named a team to develop new business relationships with Canada.”

Ambassador McKenna was named to his current position in March 2005, after a successful legal and political career. This will be his first visit to Georgia as the Canadian Ambassador to the United States.

“This visit clearly demonstrates the importance we attach to our relationship with Georgia,” said Ambassador McKenna. “Our commercial ties alone continue to grow with no signs of slowing down.”

Governor Sonny Perdue will lead a delegation of Georgia economic development and business executives to Canada for meetings with government officials and business leaders July 26-28, 2005. The trip will explore new opportunities for increasing trade, investment and tourism and will provide an update on Georgia’s candidacy to become the headquarters of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA).

“Georgia has always enjoyed a special relationship with Canada and our visits there are always profitable and enjoyable,” said Governor Perdue. “More than 100 Canadian companies have established operations in Georgia, and products made and grown in our state are very popular in Canada. This is just another way we can make sure Canadians continue to think of Georgia for trade and investment, tourism and business.”

Georgia’s long-standing relationship with Canada since 1972 has placed it as the state’s top trading partner with $4.2 billion in exports in 2004, approximately one-fifth of the state’s total exports. There are 117 Canadian-owned companies currently operating in Georgia with products ranging from biotechnology to forest products’ machinery. Business opportunities continue to grow with new initiatives like the FTAA giving Georgia increased exposure in the hemisphere. The most recent company to establish headquarters in Georgia was Novelis, a Canadian aluminum-maker, which opened in Atlanta on March 11, 2005.

In addition to Governor Perdue, the Georgia delegation to Canada will include GDEcD Commissioner Craig Lesser, Hemisphere, Inc. Executive Director José Ignacio González, and other civic, government and business leaders. Consul General of Canada Malcolm McKechnie will also accompany the mission.

“Georgia’s bid for the FTAA Secretariat provides an opportunity to highlight our strong global corporate base, ideal geographic positioning within the hemisphere, and our superior transportation, convention and tourism infrastructures,” said Commissioner Lesser.“ This trip will remind our Canadian neighbors about Georgia’s vast amount of resources and vibrant corporate structure, which will help to facilitate increased trade and investment between Georgia and Canada.”

The largest free-trade zone ever proposed the FTAA will eliminate trade barriers from Alaska and Canada to Tierra del Fuego. Georgia officially submitted its FTAA bid in March 2004. Once implemented, the FTAA with its 34 member countries will have a combined population of 800 million and an aggregate gross domestic product of nearly $14 trillion. The FTAA Secretariat headquarters will be the crossroads for trade and business connections for the entire Western Hemisphere, providing its host city with approximately 11,000 new jobs and $500 million in annual investment.