A potential clash between U.S. and Brazil over primacy of Nafta or Mercosur as the leading bloc in the Western Hemisphere emerged at the Business Forum of the Americas in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, according to Stuart Sutherland, partner in the Atlanta law firm Troutman Sanders.

      “The clear dichotomy that emerged is between Nafta, and Mercosur and their competition to become the most important trading bloc in the hemisphere,” Mr. Sutherland said in a statement. prepared for GlobalFax. “The United States would like to expand Nafta and Brazil seems more interested in consolidating its position within Mercosur.”

      Mr. Sutherland is also director of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce’s volunteer Americas Subcommittee, which organized the delegation to Belo Horizonte the week of May 12 with the purpose of promoting Atlanta as a good destination for promoting business between North America and Latin America.

      The Business Forum of the Americas is an annual two-day event at which executives form all 34 countries in the Western Hemisphere, and across many different industries, gather to help

influence the political process of achieving a Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) by 2005.

      Brazil’s president, Fernando Henrique Cardozo, spoke to the forum regarding his country’s interest in FTAA, and expressed his commitment to Mercosur even after FTAA is adopted.

      Roberto PeÛn, president of Bell South International’s Latin American division,  formally led the delegation.  Eduardo DiLascio, president of the Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce of Georgia, also was a delegate.

      Fifteen other delegates attended the meeting representing a variety of law firms, telecommunications companies, software developers, consultants, food companies,  and Delta Air Lines.

      According to Mr. Sutherland, the only other group known to have presented an organized front at the forum was the state of Florida.