The Foreign Service Journal, January-February 2019

34 JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2019 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL As American companies compete to grow, prosper and win, they will need support from the government across a much wider agenda. in reach, effectiveness and interagency participation. State and U.S. embassies overseas are vital partners. The interagency team moves quickly to review potential advocacy cases, then sort out and implement a coordinated, often escalating, plan of letters, phone calls and travel by senior Commerce, State or other sub- cabinet officials, Cabinet members, the ambassador and/or the vice president and president. This high-level personal advocacy is delivering results: In Fiscal Year 2017, the Advocacy Center confirmed $42 billion in wins for U.S. companies, supporting hundreds of thousands of American jobs. 4. But it’s not just a State/Commerce effort. It’s not enough for just State and Commerce to be all-in on economic/commercial diplomacy. America and American business need a well-coordi- nated, all-of-government effort. For agricultural sales, investment and technical issues, the Department of Agriculture needs to take the lead; and they do. Similarly, senior Treasury Department offi- cials are integral when American banking, insurance and financial services companies need support. When foreign governments are pursuing defense products and services, senior Department of Defense and military officials, combatant commanders and resident defense attachés play a vital role. As noted above, on infrastructure and other capital-intensive projects, agencies like the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the Export-Import Bank, TDA and the newly created U.S. International Development Finance Corpora- tion can play important roles. At posts overseas, sometimes the key information an American potential exporter or investor needs at a critical moment may best come from the embassy labor attaché, the regional security officer or a political or administrative officer. Political officers weigh in on cases moving through the local courts, and Department of Home- land Security officials have a role in foreign customs and ports contracts. They have the local contacts, expertise and insights that help U.S. companies win on a level and transparent playing field. The basic point is that the entire embassy staff needs to be on the economic/commercial team for U.S. business. As noted above, hands-on ambassadorial leadership can be the key to effective embassy support for American business. At post, members of the ambassador’s country team need to check their agency equities at the door and deliver a coordinated strategy that serves U.S. national interests. 5. Don’t forget the states and cities. Often, especially in the effort to attract FDI into the United States, partnerships with U.S. states and cities are critical in winning a deal. For potential inves- tors, issues like the local workforce, infrastructure and taxes can be determining factors. And those are generally state and local responsibilities in our unique federal system. Here Commerce’s SelectUSA team can play a vital coordinating role, and is increas- ingly providing data-driven analysis of such factors for every post that is promoting inward investment. 6. American business has a broad agenda in today’s and tomorrow’s global econom y. While export of goods, old- fashionedmanufactured goods, is in some ways the easiest sort of business to address, the U.S. government needs to recognize the realities of today’s global economy. As American companies compete to grow, prosper and win, they will need support from the government across a much wider agenda: services, regulatory coherence, license arrangements, international joint ventures, sup- ply chain relationships, inward investment to the United States and outward investment by U.S companies to foreignmarkets. A truly supportive, comprehensive “TeamUSG” approach to support our companies will have to be able to address that full range of issues. Consolidating, deepening and strengthening a U.S. govern- ment support program for our businesses led by Commerce and State is not easy. The issues are complicated and fast-changing; the competition is fierce and ever-intensifying. We’re optimistic that with strong Commerce and State Department leadership, the U.S. government is up to the task. But it will take an aggressive “all- hands, all-levels, all-agencies” approach. Although it was completed more than a year ago, we would refer readers to a set of two reports on economic/commercial diplomacy, “Support for American Jobs, ” from the American Academy of Diplomacy. These reports contain some detailed analysis and recommendations for effective action (full disclosure: one of this article’s authors is also co-author of those reports), and they suggest areas for work, including Commerce/State personnel exchanges, increased industry involvement in training of commer- cial and economic officers, and targeted trade missions. But the central point is that while more can, and will, remain to be done, America is well-positioned to compete and win in today’s global economy. And strong U.S. government support for our businesses and workers must be a bedrock element of our national economic security strategy. n