Chilean Minister of Economy and Energy Jorge Rodriguez-Grossi, who visited Atlanta for the first time last week, praised the increase in Chile-Georgia trade due, in part, to Chile’s new free trade agreement with the United States. Increased trade could lead to the opening of a Chilean trade office here, he said.

Mr. Rodriguez-Grossi met with members of Hemisphere Inc., the nonprofit organization orchestrating Atlanta’s campaign to win the Free Trade Area of the Americas Secretariat, at the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce.

He told GlobalAtlanta that the Chilean government’s export promotion bureau, ProChile, has offices in Los Angeles, Miami, New York and Washington, but that Atlanta is an increasingly good port of entry for Chilean products into the United States, potentially warranting a ProChile office here in the future.

“Atlanta is becoming a rival for Miami as a point of entrance into the U.S. for Chilean products, including Pacific salmon,” Mr. Rodriguez-Grossi said, referring to the 10,000 kilograms of salmon that are imported each day through the Atlanta Perishables Center at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

He said that the Chilean government aims to expand Chilean exports to the U.S. but also to increase bilateral trade and investment, especially since the U.S.-Chile free trade agreement went into effect on Jan. 1, eliminating tariffs on 85 percent of goods traded between the two countries.

Georgia exported an estimated $18.5 million in goods and services to Chile in first quarter 2004, up from $10.7 million during the same period in 2003. Electric machinery, plastics, paper and textiles are some of Georgia’s strongest exports to Chile, Mr. Rodriguez-Grossi said.

He encouraged Georgia companies to consider setting up offices in Chile to take advantage of the country’s free trade agreements with the European Union, India, New Zealand, Singapore and South Korea, as well as a potential future agreement with China.

Mr. Rodriguez-Grossi was appointed Minister of Economy and Energy on June 20, 2001, after four years as CEO of Empresa Electrica Guacolda S.A., a private power company in Chile. He served as Under-Secretary of Regional Development from 1994-97 during Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle’s presidency and Under-Secretary of Finance from 1991-94 during Patricio Aylwin’s government.

Contact Susan Bruce, vice president of marketing and communications at Hemisphere Inc., at (404) 885-8539 for more information.Chile Government May Set Up Trade Office in Atlanta