Officials from Hemisphere Inc., the agency charged with securing Atlanta as headquarters for the Free Trade of the Americas, visited Belize last week to promote Atlanta’s bid, Jose Gonzalez, executive director of the organization, told GlobalAtlanta last week.

The trip to Belize was part of Hemisphere’s new marketing campaign, which will build upon existing political and economic relationships in each country, Mr. Gonzalez said.

“We intend to visit every country in the Hemisphere again, but we will be targeting certain countries that are leaders in their region more intensely,” Mr. Gonzalez said. “We want to gain new trade partners and strengthen the relationships we have.”

Belize, which lies along the Caribbean coast of Central America, is a member of the Caribbean Community Secretariat.

Mr. Gonzalez said meetings were held with Godfrey Smith, Belize’s minister of foreign affairs, tourism and information, and Jose Alpuche, director of foreign trade.

While Hemisphere will be the initiator in developing economic relationships in the Americas, partners in the FTAA effort, such as the Georgia Department of Economic Development, the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau, will provide follow-up, he said.

In strengthening relationships with regional leaders, Mr. Gonzalez stressed the importance of the United States’ Nafta partners, Canada and Mexico. Earlier this month Mr. Gonzalez met with officials in Mexico, and Gov. Sonny Perdue is expected to visit Canada after this year’s legislative session concludes.

Hemisphere will also focus on strengthening economic ties with Panama, Mr. Gonzalez said, because of the potential economic benefit to Georgia ports.

Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala and Peru will also receive attention in this effort, he said.

For more information, contact Kevin Langston at (404) 962-4006.