Georgia companies interested in exploring business opportunities arising from the Central American Free Trade Agreement are invited to attend a trade mission to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador with U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos M. Gutierrez, Oct. 16-22.

The U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Commercial Service are to organize government and business appointments with local officials in the region and provide in-depth market briefings for each country, as well as personalized counseling sessions for participants.

All logistical support, including interpreters, reduced hotel rates and in-country transportation, will be provided, along with in-country promotion of each company’s products or services.

The Cafta region, which includes Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, is the second-largest export market in Latin America and the 10th largest market in the world for U.S. exports. Last year, U.S. exports to the region totaled more than $15 billion. Almost half of the region’s imports were from the United States.

Under Cafta, which is expected to go into effect on Jan. 1, more than 80 percent of U.S. industrial, consumer and agricultural exports to Central America would become duty-free immediately, and remaining tariffs are to be phased out over 10 years.

Small and medium-sized businesses, in particular, should benefit from tariff cuts provided by Cafta, according to the U.S. Commercial Service.

The application deadline to attend the mission is Friday, Sept. 16. Each company’s principal participant will be charged a fee of $7,700. Additional company representatives pay $2,000. The participation fees exclude travel and lodging costs.

To register, contact Rob Leach, international trade specialist at the U.S. Commercial Service office in Atlanta, at (404) 897-6082 or