Atlanta companies buying ceramics or high-end home decor from Italy should consider sourcing from Portugal instead, according to Victor Marques, president of the Portuguese-American Chamber of Commerce of the Southeast Inc.

      “We are very proud to say our products are as good, if not better, than Italian, and half the price,” Mr. Marques told GlobalFax. “I highly recommend that people who are involved in importing or retail businesses, like Dekor, the Federated Merchandising Group and Home Depot to check the sources of Portuguese products. They will be pleasantly surprised with the prices and the quality.”

Portugal’s ceramics and glassware, cutlery, port wine and wood products are world-renowned, noted Mr. Marques, and the European country is the world’s leading manufacturer of cork. He said each of these products should be of interest to Georgia companies.

He also noted that there are many untapped markets for Georgia products in Portugal, namely carpet and agricultural products.

The chamber here organizes participation in trade shows, like an international houseware show in Chicago, a gourmet show that will be in New Orleans next year and the Table Top ceramics and home decor exhibition which will be held in New York in April and in Atlanta in 2002.

Mr. Marques said the chamber is interested in sponsoring joint events with other Atlanta chambers of commerce or other organizations, such as the European Union Center or Brazilian groups, because “Portugal can be the gateway to Europe,” and a common language links Portugal to the largest South American country.

Mr. Marques is the U.S. representative for Gresval ceramic bakeware and dinnerware manufacturer based in Portugal.

Contact Mr. Marques at (404) 299-3953 or and see the chamber’s Web site at