Commissioner Craig Lesser of the Georgia Department of Economic Development leads a delegation to Canada to meet with senior government officials to promote Atlanta’s candidacy for the Free Trade Area of the Americas secretariat, Kevin Langston, communications director for the department, told GlobalAtlanta.

The delegation left on Dec. 12 for Canada, which is the United States’ largest trading partner. The last time that economic development officials visited Canada was during the administration of former Gov. Roy Barnes, said Mr. Langston.

Besides promoting Atlanta’s bid for the FTAA secretariat, the three-day mission to Montreal, Ottawa, Canada and Toronto presents an opportunity to highlight Georgia’s trade and tourism, Mr. Langston said.

While in Ottawa, officials will meet with James Scott Peterson, minister of international trade and chief negotiator for trade, as well as with members of Canadian Council of Chief Executives and Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, he added.

The delegation will also attend a reception hosted by U.S. Ambassador Paul Cellucci at his residence, said Greg Goldhawk, senior trade commissioner at the consulate general of Canada in Atlanta.

“Even though Georgia is Canada’s largest customer, we want to increase international trade and business,” he said.

In Montreal, a luncheon will be hosted by Quebec Ministry of Economic Development, the Ministry of International Affairs and Montreal International, said Louise Fortin, director of international marketing for the Quebec Trade Office in Atlanta and a participate in the mission.

Commissioner Lesser will discuss business opportunities in Georgia during a presentation to the American Chamber of Commerce in Toronto and will meet with the David Miller, mayor of Toronto and senior policy adviser for the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Trade.

Other delegates include Malcolm Mckechnie, Canada’s consul general in Atlanta; former U.S. Ambassador to Canada, Gordon Giffin, partner at McKenna, Long and Aldridge LLP;

Axel Leblois, executive director of CIFAL Atlanta; Carlos Martel, deputy commissioner of the department;

Hans Gant, senior vice president of economic development at the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce; Alex Majia, vice president of government relations at Hemisphere Inc., Lynn Pitts, senior vice president of the Savannah Economic Development Authority;

Marie Arbula, Georgia’s trade representative in Canada; Bill Dobbs, senior program manager for business recruitment at the Georgia Department of Economic Development;

Al Hansen, president and CEO of EMS Technologies Inc.; Mack Reese, president of Gateway Development Services Inc. and Andres Villegas, vice president of international business, government affairs and marketing at Langdale Industries Inc.

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