In anticipation of the Jan. 1 implementation of the Central American Free Trade Agreement, a Georgia trade delegation is going to El Salvador, Sept. 18-20, to investigate business opportunities and promote Georgia as a logistics hub for the Americas.

The mission, which is being led by Georgia Department of Economic Development Commissioner Craig Lesser and Hemisphere Inc. Executive Director Jose Ignacio Gonzalez, will also serve as an opportunity to reinforce Atlanta’s bid to house the secretariat of the future Free Trade Area of the Americas.

“This is another mission in a continuing series of marketing Georgia throughout the Western Hemisphere,” Mr. Lesser told GlobalAtlanta following the department’s Sept. 7-9 business mission to Mexico.

“Business people in El Salvador and Central America are clearly looking for investment and expansion in the United States in the form of distribution businesses here. And Georgia is a great hub for distribution and logistics,” he said.

While in San Salvador, El Salvador’s capital city, the Georgia delegation is to attend a business seminar in which Mr. Lesser, the president of the El Salvadoran chamber of commerce, Chief El Salvadoran Cafta Negotiator Eduardo Ayala Grimaldi and El Salvadoran Minister of Economy Yolanda de Gavidia, are to give presentations.

The Georgia group is also to attend a business luncheon with El Salvador’s vice president, Ana Vilma de Escobar.

Georgia delegates on the trip are to include Mr. Lesser, Mr. Gonzalez, Georgia Chamber of Commerce President George Israel, AmericasMart Inc. International Business Development Managing Director George Lancaster, Diaz Foods Inc.’s Fernando Sobrino, McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP attorney Luis Aguilar and representatives of Delta Air Lines Inc., Georgia Ports Authority, Merial Select Inc. and Softee Supreme Diaper Corp.

The El Salvador mission follows the department’s recent mission to Mexico City, which proved successful, according to Mr. Lesser. He said that heads of the Mexico City Chamber of Commerce and the National Confederation of Chambers of Commerce, as well as Mexican Secretary of External Relations Geronimo Guiterrez, are “very likely to come here,” after Mr. Lesser invited them during the mission.

He added that the two chambers were interested in visiting Atlanta to explore logistics opportunities for distributing Mexican products to Hispanic and non-Hispanic consumers in the Southeast.

One Georgia company that attended the Mexico trip found it to be tailored to its particular needs. “We’ll need to go back to follow up, but it was a great preliminary trip. It was focused on pre-screened prospects the department set up for us,” said John Shiarella, Latin American sales manager at Gainco Inc., who attended the mission.

A Gainesville-based manufacturer of scales and online electronic weighing, sizing and distribution systems for the poultry, red meat and food processing industries, Gainco had already been doing business in Mexico for one year but went on this mission seeking alliances to distribute their products throughout Mexico.

For more information about the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s trade missions, contact Alison Tyrer at (404) 962-4078 or For more information about Gainco, visit