Atlanta’s bid for the secretariat of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) received the blessing of Herve Goyens, Belgium’s consul general here, during an interview with GlobalFax at his office downtown last week.

            Mr. Goyens, who has served in Atlanta for four years, encouraged city leaders to actively pursue the secretariat and said that it would provide benefits as the selection of Brussels, Belgium, for the European Union has benefited that city.

            Mr. Goyens has been reassigned to Brussels and is expected to leave Atlanta in early August.

While the benefit of having representatives from all the European governments as well as NATO and U.N. officials based in Brussels, he cited the less well-known economic benefit of having representatives from more than a 1,000 lobbying organizations.

Brussels may have seemed to be an unlikely location for the EU headquarters when it was selected in 1958 because Belgium is a country of only some 10 million people.

But, he said, it became a logical political as well as geographic choice for the headquarters in view of the post-World War II economic and political rivalries the EU members endured.

Located in the middle of Europe and sandwiched between its continental superpowers, France and Germany, it emerged as an ideal compromise candidate.

Mr. Goyens said that Atlanta also has a geographic advantage over other competitors for the FTAA headquarters such as Miami because of its strategic location between Canada and Latin America.

He also said that Atlanta would provide “a vibrant community” for the headquarters with growing high-tech businesses that provide new jobs.

The city’s universities, the substantial amount of foreign investment and the affordable housing market as advantages for its bid.

He encouraged the city’s leadership, however, to increase the number of bilingual schools for children to provide a more multicultural foundation for it.

Mr. Goyens may be reached at (404) 659-2150 prior to Aug. 7.