A trade forum and art exposition to be held in Charleston, S.C., June 7-8, aims to rejuvenate the historic trade relationship between the Southeast, including Georgia, and the Caribbean, said Lucy Duncan, president of the Washington-based conference sponsor, the Museum of the Americas.

“The Caribbean is a natural trading partner for the Southeast,” Ms. Duncan told GlobalFax, citing opportunities in import-export activities and the region’s increasing popularity as a location for call centers.

Caribbean Realities: Bridge to the Future 2002 will mirror a similar trade forum, organized by Charleston business owners in 1902, which also sought to revitalize the strong trade ties that preceded the Civil War, she said.

Ms. Duncan noted that Charleston and Savannah, both port cities, and Atlanta, with Hartsfield International Airport as a gateway, have an important role to play in the future of the Southeast-Caribbean trade relationship.

Such potential economic ties, she said, will be the focus of the conference business forum, entitled “Caribbean Realities: Bridge to the Future 2002,” including case studies on Caribbean investment from Chevron Texaco and AOL Time Warner Inc. The Inter-American Development and World Banks will also present on available projects for U.S. firms in the region.

Several Caribbean leaders, including Lester Bird, prime minister of Antigua, and Ralph Gonsalves, prime minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, will discuss their perspectives for growth in the areas of energy, communications and technology.

And Richard Bernal, former U.S. ambassador to Jamaica and now the director general for the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery, a regional trade organization of 14 Caribbean nations, will speak on the region’s development and the impact of a Free Trade Area of the Americas.

A book, art and crafts fair, exhibiting Caribbean artists and cultures, will also take place during the conference alongside Charleston’s annual Spoleto Arts Festival.

According to the U.S. Office of Trade and Economic Analysis, Georgia exported approximately $275,641 worth of goods and services to the Caribbean last year, down from $336,616 in 1998.

Contact the South Carolina World Trade Center, the third co-sponsor for Caribbean Realities at (843) 577-4080 for more information.  Visit Museum of the Americas on-line at www.museamericas.org. Visit www.spoletousa.com for information on the annual arts festival.