The Belgian American Chamber of Commerce of the United States Inc. – Southern Chapter’s new president, Filip Ferrante, is backing legislation in the Georgia General Assembly that would allow the sale of beers with an alcohol content of more than 6 percent.

      “The new legislation might help attract Belgian companies to Georgia and many people are used to having these beers available elsewhere,” he told GlobalFax during an interview last week. For instance, he cited Interbrew, a Belgian company that owns Labbatt’s beer and has introduced a variety of specialty beers in California that may not be sold here.

California and 37 other states have broader or no limitations on the alcohol content of beer while a state law dating to the 1930s restricts beer brewed, distributed or sold in Georgia to 6 percent.

The definition of beer recently approved by the Georgia House adds a category for specialty beers with alcohol content between 6 and 14 percent.  Supporters of this legislation claim that Georgia would benefit economically from a change in the law as distributors, retailers, and brewers could expand their product lines and generate new business.

Mr. Ferrante, an assistant vice president in the Atlanta office of the Brussels-based KBC Bank, views the chamber’s primary responsibility as promoting trade between Belgium and the U.S., and the beer issue is far from being his primary concern.

“We’re famous for our beer, chocolate and diamonds,” he said, “but there’s a lot more to Belgium than just those things.”

The chamber has 120 members including some of the world’s largest chemical and textile companies.  New Belgian technology and biotech companies are moving here, and he hopes that they along with local companies interested in Europe will join the chamber.

As an indication of the chamber’s interest in new technologies, Mr. Ferrante pointed to its upcoming breakfast on Friday, March 10, at the Buckhead Club in the Atlanta Financial Center featuring e-commerce security.

Mr. Ferrante may be reached by calling (404) 584-5466 or send a fax to (404) 584-5465. The chamber may be reached by calling (404) 870-8085; fax, (404) 885-6665.