Spotlighting the President's National Export Initiative With Visiting Ambassadors

March 15, 2012
Container Ships Docked at Terminals in Port Elizabeth, New Jersey

This is a busy week at the State Department. We are hosting British Prime Minister David Cameron. And all of our Ambassadors from around the world are in town for the Global Chief of Mission Conference. Following up on Secretary Clinton's very successful Global Business Conference, I took the opportunity of inviting several of our Ambassadors visiting us here in Washington to a breakfast to discuss the President's National Export Initiative (NEI) -- which featured prominently in the Global Business Conference.

Even with a 7:30 a.m. start time, 14 U.S. Ambassadors from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Germany, India, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, and United Arab Emirates attended, together with Fred Hochberg (Ex-Im), Francisco Sanchez (Department of Commerce), Elizabeth Littlefield (OPIC), and Geoff Johnson (USTDA).

Our goal was to help those of us working on these issues in Washington to learn from the experiences of the Ambassadors and to have them learn from the experiences of one another. The lively discussion consisted primarily of the Ambassadors' sharing best practices and exchanging views on challenges in their countries.

Several Ambassadors described their efforts to look beyond major economic centers in their countries to other large cities that are increasingly serving as drivers for business and economic growth. Many also explained the importance they attached to supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). A number of Ambassadors explained the methods they were using to help new-to-market or new-to-export small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) gain a foothold in their countries.

Some of the suggestions focused on internal changes, such as setting up a "one team" approach at the embassy that breaks down interagency stovepipes ensuring that all economic officers at our missions are targeting our economic priorities. We also discussed how our Embassies could work more closely with business support organizations, such as local Chambers of Commerce, to further our economic objectives overseas -- including export promotion and attracting investment to the United States. One Ambassador pointed out that our coordination with these associations should go behind finalizing deals, but should also include jointly seeking policy reforms that would make it easier for U.S. companies to compete.

This conversation was just one of several we are having on how we move the President's National Export Initiative forward as a key part of Secretary Clinton's overall "Jobs Diplomacy" agenda. This was one more step in implementing a State Department and whole-of-government effort to boost exports, support high quality jobs for Americans, and broaden economic opportunities for larger and larger numbers of people throughout our country.

Related Content: White House Blog -- Celebrating Two Years of the President's National Export Initiative

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