About the Author: Jose W. Fernandez serves as Assistant Secretary of State for Economic, Energy and Business Affairs.
Last Thursday, I participated in my first meeting of the Advisory Committee on International Economic Policy (ACIEP). ACIEP is an advisory body for the State Department on matters related to international economic policy, and it helps keep the Department in touch with current international economic issues and challenges of concern to the private sector. I was excited to host the meeting, because it was a great opportunity to interact with representatives from the business, labor and academic communities and have them serve as a sounding board as we plan and develop our economic priorities and initiatives.
We had a lively discussion about current international economic and commercial priorities including the National Export Initiative (NEI), the promotion of U.S. businesses and the intersection of the private sector and development. My bureau's primary mission is to promote U.S. business, trade, and create jobs. I pointed out that the scope of the NEI is ambitious -- President Obama has instructed all federal agencies, including the Departments of State and Commerce, to forge a government-wide export-promotion strategy. We will be applying all available resources to reach the goal of getting people into jobs that provide security and prospects for increased earnings. With government and businesses working together, I am confident that the NEI goals are achievable.
The participants raised a number of other issues related to their view of current priorities and challenges in international economic policy, including the need to address U.S.-China trade relations, encouraging a reduction in consumption spending in U.S. households and using this opportunity to address concerns in labor and environmental practices.
Finally, the highlight of the meeting came when Secretary Clinton stopped by to engage in discussion with ACIEP members. Secretary Clinton made it clear that international economic issues are central to the work of the State Department, and her presence at the ACIEP meeting underscored this commitment.
Secretary Clinton and I both envision the State Department as a leader in establishing and sustaining new patterns of international economic cooperation, and ACIEP is vital in providing an on-the-ground perspective for our work. Ultimately, we all agree that supporting open markets and generating economic opportunities is a vital way to support political and social freedom around the world.