Atlanta is already home to 63 consulates and honorary consulates, but the Metro Atlanta Chamber‘s president believes the city can’t get enough.
“I have to ask for the order. I’m a salesman. We want your consulate in Atlanta,” Mr. Williams told more than 30 ambassadors during a breakfast meeting at the chamber Wednesday.
The envoys, who hail mostly from smaller countries in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean, are visiting Atlanta this week on the Experience America tour, a State Department program that helps the diplomatic corps learn about cities outside Washington.
Some countries represented on the tour, like the Bahamas, Ecuador and Ireland, already have full consulates general in Atlanta staffed by career diplomats serving the entire Southeast. Others, like Liberia, Monaco and the Philippines, have appointed honorary consuls, whose jurisdictions are sometimes limited to one state. Of the 63 Atlanta consulates, only 23 are run by career diplomats, but honorary consulates are seen as precursors to full-fledged missions.
Mr. Williams wasn’t just preaching to the choir.
South Africa, the continent’s largest economy and a nation of nearly 50 million people, has no government representation here. Panama had a consulate general in Atlanta during the 1990s, but not anymore. Ambassadors from both countries were among Mr. Williams’s audience.
“We want to be your partner. We want you to open an honorary consulate office here, to work with us on bilateral chambers and to join our consular corps which is very active and very, very robust here,” Mr. Williams said.
Lutz Görgens, consul general of Germany and the dean of the consular corps, said consulates serve their citizens’ needs in the Southeast while improving economic ties between their countries and the region.
“What we do here is try to put our country on the map and to tell citizens all over the district that cooperating with the world enhances the living standards and the outreach of the American citizen,” he said.
Dr. Görgens added that Atlanta’s diverse population, including strong communities from India, South Korea and elsewhere, give the city its international vibrancy.
“Atlanta is a truly international city, not only because of the consular corps, but we try to contribute,” he said.