The Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce, Georgia is leading the drive to keep Brazil’s consulate general here from being closed. Brazil’s foreign ministry announced two weeks ago the closing of three embassies, seven consulates general, including Atlanta’s, and five vice consulates as a cost cutting measure.
“All around Atlanta there has been an outpouring of concern that this would be a major loss for Brazil and for those here with ties to Brazil,” David Bruce, chairman of the chamber, said in a letter that he sent last week to Luiz Felipe Lampreia, Brazil’s minister of foreign affairs.
Copies of the letter have been circulated among city and state officials as well as officials of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and companies with operations in Brazil.
Dr. Bruce told GlobalFax in a telephone interview he is concerned that closing of the consulate general would have a negative impact on the growing momentum of Georgia business development with Latin America generally and Brazil in particular.
The latest figures from the Georgia Department of Industry, Trade and Tourism (GDITT) show that last year more than $544 million worth of exports were sent from Georgia to Brazil. Brazil ranks sixth among countries importing Georgia products.
He also said he was surprised by the ministry’s decision now that Brazil’s economic crisis seems to be abating.
The consulate general was closed once before in 1990, but was reopened in June 1996 in conjunction with the Summer Olympic Games. It now has some 15 people who handle a variety of diplomatic and cultural activities including issuing both tourist and business visas requested from Alabama, North and South Carolina, Mississippi, Tennessee and Georgia
Business between Georgia and Brazil have remained strong despite Brazil’s recent currency devaluation. Some of Atlanta’s best known companies such as BellSouth, Coca-Cola, Equifax, HBOC, and UPS have operations in Brazil.
Dr. Bruce noted that GDITT maintains an office in Sao Paulo and that the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta has regulatory oversight of the U.S. operations of Latin American banks.
He also pointed to the cultural and social linkages tying the two regions together through the Pernambuco-Georgia sister state and the Rio de Janeiro-Atlanta sister city relationships.
Dr. Bruce may be contacted by calling (404) 894-4453 or send an E-mail to email@example.com