Jobs Diplomacy

February 25, 2012 By Steven Leiser-Mitchell

On Monday, the State Department hosted the inaugural Global Business Conference, bringing together U.S. government leaders and executives from American companies with an international focus, as well as support organizations from over 100 countries, to discuss the promotion of American business abroad, increasing U.S. exports, and creating new jobs at home.  The conference built upon the President’s agenda to accelerate American growth, and his promise to double U.S. exports over the next five years.

Representatives from U.S. global businesses met with government officials to explore ways the U.S. Government can improve on existing methods and programs to promote American business interests abroad.  Officials from the White House, Departments of Commerce, Energy, and Treasury, Export-Import Bank, OPIC, USTDA, U.S. Trade Representative, and the President’s Council on Jobs and Competiveness attended to conference.  Small group activities and panel discussions covered a wide range of topics, targeting new market opportunities, examining regulatory frameworks, and developing regional partnerships with local governments and businesses.

In her keynote address on Tuesday, Secretary Clinton addressed the importance of strengthening the relationship between diplomacy and business.  “We gather today to discuss how America’s foreign policy can champion U.S. businesses abroad and drive recovery here at home,” Clinton stated, “and also help provide a strong foundation and effective economic tools that can strengthen and sustain America’s global leadership.”  She stressed the need to create jobs, and emphasized that America’s economic strength is inextricably tied to our engagement around the world.  “Every $1 billion of goods we export supports more than 5,000 jobs here at home – even more in industries like telecommunications and aerospace,” Clinton said.  American companies must see their government as an ally, and the State Department as an entity that is looking to promote American business interests.

In keeping with the conference, Secretary Clinton announced a new focus on “Jobs Diplomacy,” which will be a series of efforts focused on promoting American business, pursuing policy priorities for U.S competitiveness, and equipping State Department personnel with the skills and tools they need to advocate for America’s economic interests abroad.  Combined with the new appointment of Heidi Crebo-Rediker as the first-ever Chief Economist, Secretary Clinton is re-vamping the State Department’s focus on using diplomacy and outreach to promote domestic job growth.  “Just as our companies are ready to out-work, out-innovate, and out-compete their rivals,” Clinton stated, “so we intend to be the most effective diplomatic champions for prosperity and growth.”

Under Jobs Diplomacy, State Department diplomats will begin to conduct business outreach and advocacy when they travel overseas.  Striving to create a level playing field for American products, U.S. embassies will act as “gateways” for American businesses searching to export their products and services.  Within the new Office of the Chief Economist, Crebo-Rediker will advise Secretary Clinton on strategies to increase American competitiveness.  U.S. engagement abroad will not only continue to provide prosperity for Americans, but also for those people within a foreign nation.

Secretary Clinton concluded her remarks by urging American businesses to invest in overseas markets.  “We can’t help you if you’re not hungry enough to get out there and compete for the business that is going to be available.  We need to recapture America’s dynamism and sustain our global leadership.”