As the "Crossroads of the West," Utah stands to benefit handsomely from the increased north-south trade anticipated under the North American Free Trade Agreement.

"I think what you've got to look at is Utah is located in a corridor between Canada and Mexico. In the long run, as Canada starts to trade more with Mexico, Utah stands to benefit," said Larry Bernaski, director of Salt Lake County's export assistance program.Utah companies that export or import can learn more about the opportunities and new trade rules brought about under NAFTA at a seminar Tuesday, Feb. 15, at the Marriott Hotel. Titled "Doing Business Under NAFTA: Customs Regulations for Importers and Exporter," the seminar will be conducted from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Commerce and Federal Express.

Cost is $35. To register or obtain a detailed brochure, call 524-5116.

Speakers include customs officials and trade specialists from the Department of Commerce. Rep. Karen Shepherd, D-Utah, will be the keynote luncheon speaker.

NAFTA created the largest world trading area, totaling 360 million consumers.

The agreement enfolds Mexico into an existing free-trade zone with the United States and Canada. It eliminates tariffs over 15 years, phases in access to markets, provides protection of intellectual property and sets environmental standards for participating countries.

Bernaski, formerly a customs broker, said the seminar is intended to teach business owners and executives the "nitty, gritty details. One way or another, people have to deal with these regulations. As a broker, you realize real quick these regulations have to be met or your product is not exportable or not importable."

The conference will cover tariff removal, rules of origin, certificates of origin, duty drawback, marking and labeling regulations and import documentation.