The State Department's Jobs Agenda

September 9, 2011
New York at Rush Hour

Tonight, President Barack Obama addressed a joint session of the U.S. Congress to share a plan to create jobs and grow our economy: the American Jobs Act. The purpose of this jobs plan is simple: put more people back to work, including teachers, first responders, and construction workers, and to put more money in the pockets of working Americans. This will lead to new American jobs, and it won't add a dime to the deficit.

The President is rebuilding the economy the American way -- based on balance, fairness, and the same set of rules for everyone from Wall Street to Main Street -- where hard work and responsibility pay and gaming the system is penalized.

It's an American economic plan that creates the jobs of the future, by forcing Washington to live within its means so we can invest in small businesses, entrepreneurs, education, and making goods and services that the world will buy-- not by outsourcing, loopholes, and reckless financial deals that put middle class security at risk.

The American Jobs Act, part of the President's strategy to rebuild the economy, is something that Congress can do to create more jobs and put more money in people's pockets right now.

With Secretary Clinton's leadership, the State Department is focusing fully on aggressively promoting the American Jobs agenda outlined by President Obama earlier tonight. We are committed to enhancing competitiveness by advancing an international policy that promotes opportunity and job growth for Americans.

Indeed, a primary task of the State Department is to promote American economic success in the global economy. That means crafting policies that help create -- and sustain the growth of -- well-paying, productive American private sector jobs. We do this by using a wide range of tools, from promoting exports and protecting intellectual property rights, to expanding trade opportunities and attracting increased foreign investment, to supporting a fair business environment abroad and building new markets and securing the global economy through development and diplomatic investments, to drawing on the successful experiences of the United States and other countries. In all that we do, our entire Department is working hard to drive economic growth at home and create American jobs.

Secretary Clinton has made our jobs agenda a top priority and is leading our efforts to ensure that our diplomacy supports American workers. As the Under Secretary for Economic, Energy and Agricultural Affairs, this is my central focus -- as it is for our entire team here at the State Department. We also recognize that a strong domestic economy, with high levels of employment and growth, is the fundamental base for a strong foreign and national security policy.

Our overriding aim is to connect with the concerns and aspirations of the American people. While many of us in the Department actively engage with representatives of other countries to promote American interests abroad, we are engaging at least as actively on the home front with leaders of businesses -- large and small -- as well as labor and farm groups. Our international economic policy must earn the support of these groups by delivering tangible benefits to them, or it will not be sustainable -- especially at a time when so many Americans are feeling economic pain. And the most tangible benefit we can deliver is to demonstrate that what we are doing abroad increases the ability of American companies to generate good jobs at home.

To achieve this, we are taking action in several key areas.

Implementing the President's National Export Initiative

The President has set the goal of doubling American exports over five years to support two million new U.S. jobs. To achieve this goal, we have mobilized senior officials here in the Department and in our embassies abroad. As Secretary Clinton has noted, "Other businesses from other countries have a strong partnership with their government; whether it's state-owned enterprises from China or private companies from Europe, they often have much more support from their governments than we have in recent years given to our businesses."

The Obama Administration is stepping up its efforts to support U.S. companies competing in global markets -- and the State Department is actively supporting this effort. We believe that American businesses should receive the same enthusiastic and forceful support from the top levels of our government as foreign competitors receive from theirs. This is vital to creating jobs at home. Exports currently support 10 million American jobs. We know that by helping more companies, particularly small and medium sized companies, to export and tap new markets, we can substantially boost that figure. But we also know that many of the largest American companies are our biggest exporters. They frequently must compete against national champions abroad supported by foreign governments. So we work closely with them to actively advocate for their export sales.

Here are just a few examples of success stories that the Department of State, through its diplomacy of its embassies abroad, have helped to secure for American companies:

U.S. Embassy London conducted a successful campaign that helped avoid $400 million per year in new costs on the air freight industry, including on U.S. companies. In Russia, advocacy by the U.S. Mission directly contributed to Boeing sales of new aircraft totaling $4 billion since March 16. In China, the State Department's high-level advocacy resulted, during Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to Washington in January 2011, the finalization of sales of $200 billion previously contracted. The U.S. Embassy in Quito, Ecuador and the Taipei Office of the American Institute in Taiwan both increased U.S. exports to their respective host countries by over 35 percent, and reported over 1,000 export success stories combined.

The profits our companies make from sales abroad play a key role in funding more research and investment at home. And that will lead to new hiring and additional well-paying jobs for Americans.

Secretary Clinton has mobilized her team here in this Department and all of our embassies to ensure that our businesses are being fully supported overseas. And she personally has been a strong advocate on her trips abroad. Day-in and day-out, we work alongside colleagues in the Department of Commerce and across the federal government to advocate for the needs of Americans. Our embassies provide enormous support to American businesses in foreign markets. Our diplomats are also travelling across this nation to help American companies learn how our embassies can provide information and contacts for the development of business opportunities in other countries. In fact, a group of our ambassadors to Middle Eastern nations visited several American cities in the fall of 2010. And we have similar plans for our Asian, Latin American and Central European ambassadors.

Opening Markets Abroad -- and Keeping Them Open

Trade is a contact sport. As President Obama has said, “We have to seek new markets aggressively, just as our competitors are. If America sits on the sidelines while other nations sign trade deals, we will lose the chance to create jobs on our shores."

The President is exactly right. With 95 percent of all the world's consumers living abroad, expanding trade must be a central component of any job creation strategy.

Ambassador Ron Kirk and his team at the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) are leading the effort to further open markets abroad. We at the State Department provide strong support. The Administration's key priorities include the pending Free Trade Agreements with Korea, Columbia, and Panama, as well as Trade Adjustment Assistance for U.S. workers, and the Trans Pacific Partnership -- which will provide new opportunities in the Pacific for American workers and companies. We are also using forums like Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and the Trans-Atlantic Economic Council (TEC), where State plays a central role, to achieve more open markets.

The State Department also supports the efforts of USTR and the Commerce Department to enforce the rights of American companies under the World Trade Organization (WTO) and other agreements. Together, we press governments in myriad ways to end discrimination against American goods, farm products and services. The strong alliance between USTR, Commerce and the State Department on these matters demonstrates to other nations our resolve to defend our interests whenever violations occur.

Protecting American Intellectual Property

Our greatest asset in today's knowledge-based economy is the ingenuity and creativity of the American people.

President Obama has declared the Administration's commitment to "aggressively protect our intellectual property… It is essential to our prosperity and it will only become more so in this century." Led by Vice President Biden and a top White House team, senior officials of the State Department in Washington and abroad are carrying out the President's commitment to ensure that intellectual property is being protected around the world. My colleagues and I meet regularly with business leaders, union officials, and leaders of the technology, entertainment and pharmaceutical industries to identify problems in this area and forge effective responses.

Protecting our intellectual property -- the patents, copyrights, trademarks, innovative technologies, and creative products that drive our economic growth -- against piracy, counterfeiting, forced transfer, and discriminatory procurement practices is a core interest of the United States. The stakes for American jobs are high. The information and telecommunications sector alone -- one of the many sectors in our country that depend on intellectual property and constant innovation -- employs five million people. And we want to enable American workers and businesses to continue innovating, creating, and designing the products that will ensure our prosperity for years to come. Ensuring that their innovative products are protected against counterfeiting and various other techniques that jeopardize their intellectual property is essential to doing this.

Ensuring a Welcoming Environment for Foreign Investment in the United States

As President Obama emphasized in his recent statement reaffirming the United States' commitment to an open investment policy, foreign investment has long made an important contribution to American economic growth and job creation. Indeed, the strength of the foreign investment we attract -- the United States receives more foreign direct investment than any other country in the world -- is testimony to the strength of our economy and the skills of our workers.

Investments by foreign-based companies in the United States employ a great many Americans. Currently, foreign direct investment in the United States supports roughly 5.5 million American jobs -- in highly unionized and largely non-unionized states alike. About 4.6 percent of all American private sector workers are employed by foreign-based multinational companies that invest here; two million of these are in manufacturing jobs. Indeed, more than 37 percent of jobs created as a result of foreign direct investment were in manufacturing -- a share far higher than manufacturing‘s 10.7 percent share of all jobs in the overall U.S. private sector. Additionally, foreign investments account for nearly 15 percent of the research and development in the United States and 18.5 percent of our goods exports.

As the President emphasized, this Administration is committed to ensuring that the United States continues to be the most attractive place for businesses to locate, invest, grow, and create jobs. In a newly competitive world, it is vital that we work as a government to make sure that America remains a destination of choice for foreign investors. That's why agencies across the government -- including the State Department -- are making attracting foreign investment to the United States a key priority. The Commerce Department will now be home to SelectUSA -- a new coordinated federal effort to aggressively pursue and win new business investment in the United States. The State Department, through our embassies and consulates around the world, as well as through our officers in Washington, D.C., will be playing a vital role in contributing to this effort to increase foreign investment in the United States. At the same time, we are also increasing capacity to issue visas in high-demand countries, helping to attract the tourists and business travelers who support jobs across America.

In pursuing foreign investment, the State Department will engage in creative ways both with business communities -- at home and abroad -- and with government at all levels. For example, the State Department has brought together the National Governors Association and their Chinese counterparts to build greater trade and investment ties at the sub-national level, between governors and Chinese provincial officials. After all, the governors and local officials know the best ways to create jobs through investment from overseas and understand firsthand the local impact these investments can have. The first U.S.-China Governors Forum was held the sidelines of the National Governors Association summer meetings in Salt Lake City this July.

We must and will firmly enforce American laws that require the careful review of investments that could have adverse national security implications. But the vast majority of foreign investment does not come under that heading. And through visits by U.S. officials abroad and the work of our embassies and missions we seek to demonstrate that we -- along with governors and mayors throughout the country -- welcome that investment. The State Department, utilizing our embassies abroad, helps foreign investors better understand American laws and regulations. We also emphasize the great opportunities foreign investors have to succeed in our country's very open business environment, highlight the security of investments here, and communicate the benefits of our first-class workforce.

Fairness and Transparency in International Business Practices

In an effort to achieve a truly level playing field for American businesses overseas and in so doing to sustain and increase the jobs these companies support at home, the State Department and others in the Administration are working to build an effective international anti-corruption regime. We aim to galvanize the world's leading economies to support a clean business environment. Both bilaterally and through multilateral fora, we are encouraging other countries to step up and enforce strong anticorruption measures. We have also strengthened our enforcement actions under the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act; this includes taking measures against foreign companies for actions falling within the scope of U.S. jurisdiction.

In addition, we have pressed for international commitment to a robust peer review of implementation of the UN Convention Against Corruption. With our G-20 partners, we have formed a G-20 Anticorruption Working Group, which will make comprehensive recommendations on international efforts to combat corruption. We have called for enactment and enforcement of transnational anti-bribery legislation among the world's leading economies, in concert with the Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions.

In addition to our work on anti-bribery, we have focused over the past year on how we ensure that American business can compete fairly -- either in the United States, abroad, or in third countries in situations when state-owned or state-supported companies receive preferential treatment which gives them a competitive advantage over private sector firms.

It is not up to the United States to question the wisdom of other nations in establishing state enterprises. But it is very much a U.S. concern if the playing field is not level between them and their American competitors. And many in our industry have told U.S. government officials it is. SOEs and SSEs (State-Supported Enterprises) in several cases have gained domestic and international market share in large part because they are enjoying financial support, tax preferences, regulatory privileges and immunities not generally available to their privately-owned competitors. These privileges are often reinforced with discriminatory government market access or purchasing policies. Together, they give SOEs and SSEs a competitive advantage over their private sector rivals -- advantages that are not necessarily based on better performance or innovation, but on government policies and practices that distort competition in the market.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is beginning work on a set of principles for "competitive neutrality" which, will be drafted not only by OECD member country experts, but with participation of emerging economic powers such as China, Russia, Brazil and others. The State Department, in coordination with other agencies will work to ensure these are a set of high-standards set of principles that emerging economies, as well as developed economies can adhere to.

We are working to enhance our trade and investment agreement negotiating texts. And we support USTR's negotiation of Free Trade Agreements and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that create binding trade and investment competition commitments. And in the area of bilateral investment treaties (BITs) and free trade agreements (FTAs) the aim is to strengthen the rules-based system on national treatment, dispute resolution, and market access for trade and investment.

Finally, the OECD recently endorsed revised guidelines for multinational enterprises. These guidelines, developed in close consultation with both business and labor, set a new higher standard for how our companies should operate, including an important new chapter on human rights. The State Department led an interagency team to successful conclusion of these negotiations with our OECD member state partners.

Forging New Partnerships

The international economic geography has changed dramatically over the last decade. New economic powers have become important players in global finance, trade, investment and technological innovation. A key part of our jobs agenda is working with them to expand exports, encourage more investment in the United States, and strengthen cooperation to promote growth, balance and stability in the global economy. Increased engagement in such forums as the G-20 and in bilateral arrangements such as the Strategic and Economic Dialogue with China, the U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue, the U.S.-Russian Bilateral Presidential Commission, and similar dialogues with Brazil, South Africa and other nations, will be important instruments to establish a more solid framework for our bilateral and multilateral economic relationships.

In many of these dialogues, parallel business-to-business commissions meet to strengthen private sector commercial collaboration. These forums also provide vehicles for encouraging the newly rising economic powers to assume responsibilities for the international economic system, and international norms and rules, consistent with their commercial and financial strength and their shared interest in the openness and stability of the international economy. Progress in such areas will significantly improve prospects for American firms and job growth.

As we place new emphasis on these strategic new powers, the State Department will also continue its critical work to enhance development and promote security across the entire global community. Indeed, through the development and diplomatic investments that we make, the State Department is working hard to build new markets for American goods and services, and promote economic opportunities for the mutual benefit of Americans and all people, while enhancing the security upon which the global economy ultimately depends.

Learning from Other Nations

As in so many other nations these days, many Americans are unemployed and large numbers have been so for a long time. Several nations are currently struggling with average unemployment of even greater duration than ours -- and some of them have drawn on past experience to craft new policies to address these problems.

Our embassies abroad carefully track the economic problems and policies of other nations. And we work closely with experts in the OECD to share experiences. Working with the Department of Labor -- and using our international outreach -- we in the State Department can inform the U.S. economic debate by distilling the practices and programs of other nations to reduce their levels of unemployment, particularly long-term unemployment, and by convening experts from other nations to identify policies that could be applied here.

We will continue to bolster American efforts and policies to support jobs and prosperity at home. The State Department and the entire Obama Administration are dedicated to promoting, protecting, and enhancing American prosperity in this rapidly changing world.



Alexander D.
September 9, 2011

Alexander in Switzerland writes:

The presidents effort's to build more jobs in renewing America's infrastructure (streets, electricity pylons, waterpipes) are a very good idea.

My thoughts are with all the americans that gave their lives on 9/11.

Virginia, USA
September 9, 2011

Donald M. in Virginia writes:

What I notice is the Obama team is very intelligent, Book Smarts, Very Educated, but the problems we have are branched in a lower structure. Sure you can have wonderful ideas being smart and be educated, but when a Trade agreement is taking our jobs, allowing Mexicans to take the jobs in this country, send money home to their families without following the law, Americans who they claim wouldn't do those kind of jobs, is ridicious. How many Chicken Ranches in the United States worth Millions of dollars hires illegal aliens to do the dirty work? The US Government talks about how ICE and State Governments will take action, but I see is the problem still exist. NOT one American job should be given to an illegal who broke the law coming into America. We as Americans have to abide by the law to obtain US Passports and work Visas to have access into another country, the same should apply to Mexicans. When a Department in our Government allowed weapons to freely move into Mexico, cost an American life. Instead of spending trillions of dollars fighting wars, we should have our forces home in the United States protecting our country. We should be preventing weapons getting into Mexico and Illegal drugs entering the United States. I believe our country lost the Manufacturing Base when the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement was signed into Law. The common worker in the United States if faced with having to replace parts in his/her vehicles, replace home appliances, or have major repairs done, ontop of paying high prices at the fuel pumps, while only earning a paycheck that only lasts payday to payday if lucky. The store prices when a few years ago, you could get a grocery kart filled with food for around 100 US Dollars, now try and fill it and its around 350 dollars for the same food. The point is look and focus on the problems, find solutions. I see the problems of not having Manufacturing in the United States, we give up the ability to manufacture goods, sell them overseas, and try to reduce our National Deficit. In the end it always seems the rich will always prosper, the poor people always have to find ways to survive the storm. I tried writing to the US Postal General to bring foward a new idea that could help them out with the situation there in, I got an email back saying, "you contacted the wrong office" its amazing, you offer some kind of solution to help one of the oldest agencies in our Federal Government and you get feedback, let me foward you to another deaprtment. If I am trying to help you out, I don't see why I should be playing this game.

United States
September 9, 2011

Zharkov in the U.S.A. writes:

In a global market, the countries with the lowest tax rates win, and that isn't us.

So far, nothing Mr. Obama has proposed will make that happen.

With our obsolete tax structure, excessive environmental regulation, and deluxe minimum wage laws, and wasteful zoning regulations, a policy of free trade with Asia is economic suicide.

A federal flat tax rate of 10% to 13% would help America compete with China and Asia.

A higher tax rate takes us out of the game. Even Russia has far lower tax rates than we do.

And our structural employment problem is more than tax rates; it's massive bureaucracy problem complete with multiple state and federal agencies issuing conflicting orders, state and federal OSHA regulations, environmental agencies gone wild, insane reporting requirements - a control freak's dream come true.

It will require a major overhaul of the federal government to free the private sector to begin production again, not a minor tuneup with cosmetic improvements.

One might say that the Obama jobs plan is BOA - bankrupt on arrival.

Virginia, USA
September 10, 2011

Donald M. in Virginia writes:

I think Tractor Trailers should be outfitted with a design like a trolly service. Using the electric grid on the highways to move this big rigs. If we can use Nuclear Power Energy to power the big rigs on the highways, we reduce the cost of delivering food, goods, across our Nation. The same should appy to trains moving, we rely on Diesel engines, which require diesel fuel. We cut down on the demand of Diesel fuel needed, cutting the cost of moving Payloads across our Nation, the costs should come down on Food, and Goods at the stores. Imagine a future of electric runned Tractor Trailers on the highways. Then having batteries to backup the load power if they go in areas they cannot have access to the electric grid. This all could be runned and operated using Nuclear Power Energy. If we cut down the need for diesel, and expand the use of Nuclear Power, our country saves big money, and our costs get low. The same system could be used for all vehicles on the road, by adding an electrical grid. Running and operating electric powered vehicles with batteries.

New Mexico, USA
September 10, 2011

Eric in New Mexico writes:

I may be no economics major in a school of foreign affairs tryin' to write some thesis, but as a blue collar worker who has done his fair share of envioronmental remediation and can give a work-ste testimony into nation building here at home...who's joining the lines of unemployment's political, beaurocratic and end user implications; The question of unemployment insurance as a redistribution of wealth as a social liberalist manifestation of providing for folks with "no skin in the game" as one notable Senator described a lot of hard pressed , hard working Americans, is utterly without merit, and insulting to the very spirit of pulling one's self up by their bootstraps that built this nation in the first place.

If I had to sit in the same chambers with Orin Hatch I'd have called for his statement to be censured, and called to the carpet to issue his peers and the American public a heartfelt apology.

And I'd add that what USAID does to help folks pull themselves up by their bare feet and a shoe-string budget overseas, is also indicitive of who we are and what we do as a nation for the same reasons.

If folks wish to think not funding USAID fully and not living up to potential is a good thing for the overall economic future of America's job growth, then you've just denied your fellow citizens a market place for American goods and services.

Conflicts kill the market place as "investment is a coward" as one Sec. of State put it. Stability breeds peace and prosperity, but the "stability" of dictatorships maintained by a machinegun at the heads of the people is only an illusion of what ethical infants would call "stability"; and work to maintain that through diplomatic means or even in public commentary, upon the applied means to an alternative when all necessary measures are called for to protect populations.


New Mexico, USA
September 10, 2011

Eric in New Mexico writes:

I get this gut feeling sometimes...whenever I visit the East coast in a large city...that folks are feeding on and off each other, living en mass in such a confined area built up into the sky. When the truth is folks get by with the help of their freinds in such an evironment and generally in common crisis folks are not diferentiating a stranger from a friend in the moment of need, everyone's helping each other...But both be true economicly...and folks have a hard time looking each other in the eye on the street.

This 9/11, being a decade out from the nightmare, I hope folks in New York and DC can capture in renual; the feeling of solidarity with each other and the strength that flowed from that , and hang on to it come hell or high every day tempts folks generally to curse the traffic.


September 12, 2011

John in Canada writes:

Funny I sent an email to - don't know if Mr. Reese will ever read what I sent but it deals with the sorts of issue America faces and the goals America wishes to achieve - at least with what is stated above.

I personally believe America is sitting on a number of goldmines and the CEOs need to get their minds working again.

@ Eric - "This 9/11, being a decade out from the nightmare, I hope folks in New York and DC can capture in renual; the feeling of solidarity with each other and the strength that flowed from that , and hang on to it come hell or high every day tempts folks generally to curse the traffic."

I have been to many parts of the world and the general perception of Americans is in my view wrong (for some reason, everywhere where Ive been people think of me as an American - heck even in Canada, I have had people asking me if I'm an American - strange but anyhow I have not had much love (chuckle) from people that have thought this - I real eye opener for me - Im not sure if its the way I sound , my Ideas or a combination of both).

With that - I have met more Americans that are open, friendly, welcoming and decent people as a whole, more so than in any other culture (it used to be more like this in Canada but even up here things have changed - people are just a bit more nasty and out of touch with the wider world)

In the end like in America and in every country it is up to the people to make it a little bit better world.

Take care

New Mexico, USA
September 12, 2011

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ John in Canada,

Yeah perceptions being what they are... well I'm sure folks in London, Moscow, and other cities beset by terrorists have a lot in common with us in the application of solidarity in crisis, I wasn't thinking of that as an American thing exclusively.

And the country mouse's perceptions of the envioronmental aspects of the city mouse's existance are purely from this country mouse's experiental data base, as observed.

But it's so day-to-day folks tend to "forgettaboutit" as being a rather bizare way of living, crammed one on top on another like sardines, and the only space one really gets is inside a cubicle at work, and the box they live in folks call home.

And only when folks escape and move to big sky country do they generally get what I'm talking about, having a fresh perspective.

There's a vast differenmce between the population of a town roughly the size of the island of Manhattan with about a hundred thousand, and millions living in the same ammount of physical area.

Stand on a sidewalk on Wall St. @ 4:59 pm and just wait 3 minutes, in 5 you'll understand completely why it's called a "rat race" , but when folks get off work and pour out of those buildings it's more like someone took a giant stick and disturbed a huge ant colony.

I suppose it may be true that in crisis there exists a "collective mind" among that many folks so closely living and working together, and separately as individuals.

Call it the glue that holds civilization together..."solidarity" if you will.

I think the very coping method folks do to create a bubble of detatchment formed to insulate from such high human density environments leads folks to become out of touch with the world outside the city as being subject to nature, not man made.

Nice place to vist, but wouldn't want to live around so many folks.

And most of them would get bored to death out here in the sticks.., each to his own...never mind the traffic.

(or stuff that's in the way and needs moving aside.)




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