Argentina is negotiating regional free trade pacts as groundwork for the Free Trade Area of the Americas, and Atlanta is still its No. 1 choice for the FTAA’s headquarters, according to the director for Latin-American economic integration in Argentina’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Commerce, Gustavo Moreno.

“Everything sums up – what the United States is doing in Central America, what we’re doing in South America – it’s important to keep on working,” said Mr. Moreno. “Argentina is very interested to see how Atlanta can be the capital of the FTAA.”

Mr. Moreno spoke during a seminar on business opportunities with Argentina held June 24 at the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and attended by the vice president of Argentina and an Argentine trade delegation.

“We’re enthusiastic about the FTAA because we know the enthusiasm you have,” Argentine Vice President Daniel Scioli said of Atlanta’s efforts to house the FTAA secretariat. “We have to integrate the Americas,” he added.

Mr. Moreno explained that Argentina is involved in various regional economic integration projects, including the creation of the South American Community of Nations that was announced on Dec. 8. This continent-wide free trade zone, which is expected to be completed by 2007, will be a merger of Mercosur, the trading zone of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay, with the Andean Community, a trade bloc comprised of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela, plus Chile, Guyana and Suriname.

The community would eliminate tariffs for non-sensitive products by 2014 and sensitive products by 2019 and would be modeled after the European Union, Mr. Moreno said. The community’s first summit was held in March, and Brasilia, Brazil, will host the next summit in September. A constitution is expected to be drafted this year, he added.

Argentina has also been involved in the Initiative for South American Regional Infrastructure Integration that aims to improve the region’s competitiveness and participation in the global economy by promoting sustainable development and integrating participating countries’ energy, telecommunications and transportation infrastructure and logistics.

A July 18 combined Andean Community-Mercosur summit in Lima, Peru, is scheduled to discuss the creation of a South American gas pipeline that would run from Chile to the integrated Mercosur pipeline.

Argentina’s industrial sectors, which are bouncing back from deep recession in the past several years, can contribute to the country’s participation in regional trade, said another speaker during the June 24 seminar, Gustavo Martino, the director for export promotion in Argentina’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Argentine sectors most attractive for Georgia investment include mining, forestry, leather, petrochemicals, wine and tourism, Mr. Martino said.

Available to help Georgia companies take advantage of trade opportunities is the Argentine Chamber of Commerce of Georgia, founded in December and headed up by Paula Holfeld.

“We can help you find the best business partners in Argentina,” Ms. Holfeld said, noting that her group can host videoconferences with Argentina-based companies through cooperation with the American Chamber of Commerce in Argentina.

Contact the Argentine chamber at (404) 929-9998 or visit