Economic Growth and Security in 2011: My New Year's Resolutions

January 3, 2011
Windmills Generate Electricity in South Africa

About the Author: Jose W. Fernandez serves as Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Economic, Energy, and Business Affairs.

2010 was my first year with the State Department. And a full year it was. As I started in late 2009, the economic and financial crisis was ongoing, resulting in job losses in this country and around the globe. In early 2010, it was clear we were in for another economic rollercoaster of a year, as the financial crisis intensified in Europe. Meanwhile, at the State Department and across the U.S. government, we took steps to grow our own domestic economy. In a time of limited resources, I have asked everyone in the Economic Bureau to think creatively to encourage economic growth at home and abroad for the coming year. And so here's a look back at the year that was and a look forward to my resolutions for 2011.

Resolution 1: Keep Building U.S. Jobs The economy grew very slowly in 2010, but we are nonetheless seeing more growth, and we will keep fighting to expand the U.S. economy in 2011. In January 2010, President Obama announced the National Export Initiative in his State of the Union address. This ambitious, government-wide effort aims to double U.S. exports in five years and support millions of U.S. jobs. I went to Miami's U.S. Export Assistance Center to talk about the NEI, and we will continue our advocacy, trade missions, and assistance to U.S. business as they look to expand outside our borders.

Speaking of trade, we celebrated World Trade Week in May 2010. All of our U.S. embassies and consulates abroad are working hard to open markets and support U.S. businesses -- in places like Singapore, Sweden, and the United Arab Emirates. We also celebrated the conclusion of negotiations for the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement, a landmark agreement that if passed is expected to increase annual exports of American goods by up to $11 billion and support at least 70,000 American jobs. We will work toward the passage of the Colombia and Panama agreements in the coming year.

We also helped open international markets in 2010 through our Open Skies agreements. We just negotiated our 100th Open Skies agreement. These agreements eliminate government interference in airlines' decisions about things like routes and pricing, help lower prices for consumers and increase opportunities for U.S. carriers. We will further expand Open Skies agreements in key markets as we move into 2011.

Resolution 2: Build Alliances As Secretary Clinton recently said at the ACE Awards, “Government knows that we cannot imagine solving global challenges alone…We're in partnerships that can push the envelope for social innovation, unleash markets to solve problems, create opportunities that transform lives.”

In 2011, we will implement and expand the Building Remittance Investment for Development, Growth, and Entrepreneurship (BRIDGE) Initiative. This multi-agency effort aims to create sustainable economic growth in developing countries by harnessing the power of billions of dollars that workers abroad send home -- without disrupting their use by the workers' families. We are also rapidly expanding the Global Entrepreneurship Program to promote economic growth and free and prosperous societies. After launching the North Africa Partnership for Economic Opportunity in Algiers, aimed at supporting entrepreneurs and fostering job creation, we look forward to the second annual U.S.-Maghreb Entrepreneurship Conference in Morocco in late 2011.

When it comes to agriculture, we are focusing on biotechnology as a way to literally do more with less, as biotech crops need less water, less land, less fertilizer and pesticide, yet provide more food. Biotech products are a key way to accelerate agricultural sector growth, reduce global hunger, and mitigate climate change. On the energy front, a priority in 2011 will be achieving greater energy security in environmentally sound ways, like our efforts with the Global Shale Gas Initiative to help countries better utilize their unconventional natural gas resources by developing them safely and economically.

Resolution 3: Keep Us Safe This year we saw the UN, the EU, the United States and others enact the most comprehensive sanctions against Iran yet. The results of the State Department's efforts in this coalition-building are clear: companies are recognizing the increased risks of doing business in Iran and are terminating their operations or committing not to engage in any new activities in Iran. The price of Iran's continuing pursuit of nuclear weaponry and support for terrorism has been clearly brought home to the Iranian leadership.

We also worked with multilateral organizations like the WTO and OECD to come to consensus on important economic issues. In 2011 Secretary Clinton will lead the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the OECD in recognition of international organizations' role as effective proponents of open, competitive, innovative market economies.

Resolution 4: Keep the Faith Our work is not always easy, and the payoff is not always immediate. But we believe in what we do, and we will keep working to sustain a more democratic, secure and prosperous world. We will do our best, and then we will do some more. My best to you and yours in 2011!

You can follow Assistant Secretary Fernandez on Facebook and @EconEngage on Twitter.



West Virginia, USA
January 3, 2011

Pamela G. in West Virginia writes:

It is imperative we correct our trade deficits. We cannot continue to be the nice guys.

West Virginia, USA
January 4, 2011

Dr. G. in West Virginia writes:

The BRIDGE Initiative seems awkward or very complicated. I'll look up more about it.

West Virginia, USA
January 4, 2011

Dr. G. in West Virginia writes:

BRIDGE Initiative goes back to my comment last year that aid to Pakistani flood victims should only be dropped from Marine helicopters to the people below so that interlopers ( corrupt government officials or organized criminal elements ) don't steal the goods from those that need it.
BRIDGE money apparently goes almost directly to poor individuals from USA migrant workers with only Western Union getting a piece of it, and not corrupt government workers. Right?

New Mexico, USA
January 4, 2011

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@Jose W. Fernandez, Asist. Secretary of State

As the leading exporter of peace and stability, development, and democracy on this planet, how is it possible that America even has a national deficit on record of any kind?

There seems to be a fundemental disconect in who owes who what?

How would you resolve this conundrum?

Thanks for taking this question and posting your thoughts on the matter.

Best regards and Happy New Year!


Miguel R.
July 26, 2011

Miguel R. in Spain writes:

Hello, fantastic article!! tanks!!

Greetings from Spain


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