Gregory Goldhawk, the new Canadian deputy consul general and senior trade commissioner, told GlobalFax he sees a proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas as beneficial to Canada-Georgia trade.

Mr. Goldhawk was a panelist at the Southern Center for International Studies’ seminar on Latin America’s economic future at the Swissôtel last week.

“The Canadian government’s commitment to the FTAA is solid because, as seen in the past, free trade eventually yields economic prosperity for everyone involved,” he said, referring to Canada’s bilateral free trade agreement signed with the United States in 1989 and the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994.

“But free trade must also include two necessary ingredients: transparency and rules-bound dispute settlement,” he added. Transparency means inclusive dialog with civil society, involving workers, environmental groups and other citizens affected by the agreement, Mr. Goldhawk said.

Aerospace, ground transportation equipment and telecommunications sectors in Canada and Georgia would benefit from more robust access to each others’ markets, as well as other markets in the hemisphere, he said. But adjustment programs to help workers in disadvantaged industries pursue new careers would also be essential, he added.

Mr. Goldhawk said Canada can empathize with some of the concerns Latin American countries have about an FTAA, mainly that their key industries could be undercut by foreign exports entering the countries duty-free.

Canada’s carpet manufacturing industry, for example, disappeared after implementation of the free trade agreement with the U.S. because it could not compete with more efficient U.S. producers, he said.

Other Canadian industries benefited, however, he added, noting that Canada’s textile and clothing sectors did well with free trade because they adapted to the new arrangement by employing more efficient manufacturing methods and a more flexible workforce.

Generally, an FTAA would be a step forward for Canada and Georgia because the hemisphere is a market of 800 million consumers, he noted.

Mr. Goldhawk was a Canadian consul and senior trade commissioner in Australia before coming to Atlanta in August. He was previously the deputy director for U.S. trade and development in the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade in Ottawa.

Contact Mr. Goldhawk at (404) 532-2010 or visit www.atlanta.gc.ca for more information.