Around the world, economic forces are shaping global politics, from Arab youth demanding economic opportunity to financial crises toppling governments. And while our friends in Europe face their most severe economic test since World War II, we continue to have our own economic challenges here at home. As Harry Truman wisely said, "Our relations, foreign and economic, are indivisible."
That's why Secretary Clinton has placed economic statecraft at the center of our foreign policy. As she put it: "America's economic strength and our global leadership are a package deal. A strong economy…gives us the leverage we need to exert influence and advance our interests. It gives other countries the confidence in our leadership and a greater stake in partnering with us."
At the same time, our global leadership -- from the allure of our values to the network of American diplomatic posts to our unmatched ability to marshal international cooperation -- is essential to our economic renewal. In these tough times, we must not forget that our presence in the world's most dynamic regions supports job creation at home.
Every day, our ambassadors and civil and Foreign Service officers advocate on behalf of U.S. businesses, small and large, to find new customers, compete for contracts, navigate foreign regulations, protect intellectual property rights, and resolve investment disputes. Working to build an open, fair, and transparent global economic order, we negotiate international treaties and agreements that open new markets for U.S. goods and services and lay the foundation for sustainable growth. Around the world, we work to create the stability that underpins our national security and our economic prosperity.
Here are just a few of the ways that the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) are working to support job creation and economic growth here in America:
We advocate on behalf of American businesses: Each day, the State Department helps American firms of all sizes win contracts abroad to create jobs here at home -- from helping Boeing sell airplanes to Russia, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates to supporting Los Angeles-based Solar Reserve in its successful $650 million bid to build a solar power plant in Spain. We also help American businesses navigate foreign regulations and, when issues arise, help them resolve payment and investment disputes. Our economic officers and the Commerce Department's Commercial Service Officers wake up every day thinking of new, creative ways to assist American businesses and create American jobs.
We help bring foreign investment to the United States: The State Department leads negotiations of Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs), which facilitate foreign investment in the United States and open new markets for U.S. goods and services in emerging economies. Our ambassadors lead foreign investors on trips to the United States, introducing foreign business executives to potential opportunities and commercial partnerships. We negotiate these treaties, organize these delegations, and make the case for economic opportunities in America for one simple reason: foreign investment directly supports over three million American jobs and over $400 billion in wages per year.
We help eliminate obstacles to selling in foreign markets: The State Department helps U.S. companies tear down barriers to trade, investment, and fair competition. Too often, American companies don't get a fair shake when they compete abroad, so we try to level the playing field. From protecting intellectual property to fighting corruption and "red tape," American diplomats are working every day to make foreign markets more accessible to American companies.
We help cultivate the next generation of markets: The State Department and USAID work together to accelerate economic development in countries that can become new markets for U.S. goods and services in the future. We help the people of other nations to build -- and rebuild -- their economies because it's the right thing to do and because it's an investment in our shared prosperity and security. South Korea, Eastern Europe, Germany, and Japan were major recipients of U.S. development assistance over the last 60 years -- they are now among our most important trading partners and allies. Today, we're working to ensure that the Arab political awakening is also an economic awakening. We're helping countries liberalize once-closed economies, engaging youth in civil society, and encouraging entrepreneurship because we understand that open markets and free societies contribute to regional stability and provide opportunities for American businesses. Just this week, the State Department brought together U.S. and Tunisian business leaders to help facilitate deals that will accelerate job creation and economic growth in both countries.
We facilitate legitimate international travel and bring tourists to the United States: Making travel safer and easier is a priority for the State Department, because it's one of our core missions -- and because getting foreign businesspeople and tourists into the United States is great for the economy. The travel and tourism industry supports more than seven million U.S. jobs. One American job is created for every 87 foreign visitors to our country -- and we need those jobs. Last month, we granted almost 375,000 visas to tourists and businesspeople so they could come to the United States to shop in our stores, eat in our restaurants, and invest in our communities. International students attending American colleges and universities injected more than $21 billion into the U.S. economy last year. In addition to issuing passports and visas, the State Department negotiates agreements which make it easier for airlines to fly between American and foreign cities. The U.S.-European Union Open Skies agreement was estimated to result in 75 million new passengers, the creation of 35,000 American jobs, and $16 billion in direct economic benefits to the United States and EU.
These are just a few examples of the ways the people of the Department of State and USAID enhance economic growth at home and protect our national security.
This was first posted at TheHill.com.