#SmallBizSat: Commercial Diplomacy and Tools for U.S. Businesses

Posted by Ziad Haider
November 25, 2016
#ShopSmall street art celebrates Small Business Saturday. [AP File Photo]

On the Saturday following the Thanksgiving holiday, the United States recognizes the contributions of small businesses to our economy and communities.  On this Small Business Saturday, we want to let you know about some of the ways the U.S. Department of State helps support small businesses through commercial diplomacy. If you are a small business owner, we hope you take a moment to learn more about these tools!

  • Office of Commercial and Business Affairs (CBA): CBA coordinates State Department advocacy on behalf of American businesses. The office provides assistance in opening markets, leveling the playing field, protecting intellectual property rights, resolving trade and investment disputes, providing commercial information and identifying market opportunities for American firms, advocating on their behalf, engaging them via teleconference with U.S. Ambassadors overseas, and encouraging corporate social responsibility.
     
  • Direct Line for American Business:  The Direct Line program provides a unique opportunity for American businesses, particularly small- and medium-sized enterprises, to engage directly via webcast with U.S. Ambassadors overseas. The program is open to U.S. companies – whether they are already in the country where the Ambassador serves or if they are interested in expanding their businesses there. Webcasts will vary in topic according to the specific needs for business in a given country. Upcoming Direct Line events include the Developing Smart Cities in Western India on Novermber 29, 2016, and Doing Business in French-Speaking Quebec on December 15, 2016.
     
  • BIDS: The Business Information Database System (BIDS) gives U.S. businesses up to the minute information about significant foreign government and multilateral development bank procurements. Through an interactive map interface, businesses can find new export opportunities, validated by U.S. government economic and commercial experts overseas. Public and private partners can link to or download BIDS data for matchmaking, analysis, or other purposes.
     
  • Business Visa Center (BVC): The Business Visa Center (BVC) is part of the Department of State’s ongoing effort to better facilitate the issuance of visas for legitimate business travelers worldwide. The Business Visa Center is available to assist businesses in the United States and their partners, customers and colleagues around the world.
     
  • Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC): OSAC promotes effective cooperation by working to assist the U.S. private sector to better anticipate security issues, including identifying and tracking threats, particularly those targeting private sector personnel, facilities, investments, interests, and intellectual property.
     
  • Overseas Business Insights: The Overseas Business Insights is a monthly newsletter with five to six unique articles spotlighting the business environment in an assortment of countries throughout the western hemisphere.  The newsletter serves as an information entry point for small businesses considering exports or investments abroad and, more broadly, as an easy to digest, periodic awareness resource for all U.S. business.  This is currently a Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs (WHA) pilot program.  Archived copies can be found here.

This weekend, as we take a moment to give thanks for our families and invest in small businesses within in our communities, we at the State Department look forward to continuing to provide resources and advance policies that support small- and medium-sized businesses through commercial diplomacy. 

About the Author: Ziad Haider serves as the Special Representative for Commercial and Business Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.

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