The Georgia Allies’ investment mission to France in March and April drew better attendance than expected and underlined the opportunities for developing new business ties, Jim Blair, managing director of Europe for the Georgia Department of Industry, Trade and Tourism, told GlobalFax.

Mr. Blair said that the war in Iraq unleashed severe criticism of the Bush administration in France and underscored “the cultural divide in the way that we deal with things.”

“There are mixed feelings at many levels and many don’t disagree with what we are doing,” he said during a telephone interview from his office in Brussels. “What was surprising was that the Iraqi situation encouraged people to attend with some saying, ‘I thought I understood the United States, but obviously I don’t, maybe I should attend.’”

He said that the Paris seminar held on April 4 drew more than 160 participants. Seminars also were held in the French cities of Lyon and Toulouse with the March 20 seminar in Lyon drawing some 90 participants and the March 18 in Toulouse, more than 70.

The trip was part of economic development of the Georgia Allies program, supported by private companies and the state of Georgia to attract investment here.

The following French companies with Georgia operations were represented at the seminars:  Coface, Dickson Saint Clair, Ingenico SA, Merial Ltd., NetraSystems SA. and Saint-Gobain Dejonqueres S.A.

Contact Mr. Blair at