The Foreign Service Journal, May 2024

78 MAY 2024 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL FCS VP VOICE | BY JOSHUA BURKE AFSA NEWS Contact: Do the Math: FCS Makes Sense This May several notable centennial celebrations memorialize the signing of the Rogers Act of 1924 and the establishment of AFSA. Over the past 100 years, AFSA has helped tens of thousands of its members and has positively impacted U.S. foreign policy and national security. As a nonpartisan association and union, AFSA also strives to collaborate with the leadership of all foreign affairs agencies to advocate for the well-being of members of the U.S. Foreign Service. May is also recognized as World Trade Month in the U.S., and we use this month to celebrate the importance of international trade to the U.S. economy. When policymakers seek to grow the economy, they often revisit the formula for GDP: Y=C+I+G+(X-M). My macroeconomic professor would be pleased to know that I frequently use this formula to describe the importance and impact that the Foreign Commercial Service (FCS) has in supporting the creation of American jobs and economic growth. Two of the components of GDP and key drivers of economic growth are baked into the charter of FCS: attracting foreign direct investment (I) and supporting U.S. exports (X). Strategically located with a presence in 122 international and 106 domestic locations, FCS attracts and retains foreign investment from global companies through its award-winning SelectUSA program. Our colleagues around the world support the onshoring of American jobs through foreign direct investment in everything from scalable startups to vital silicon chip manufacturers. The 2023 SelectUSA Investment Summit broke records, with more than 4,900 participants, investors from 83 international markets, representatives from 55 U.S. states and territories, 21 U.S. ambassadorled foreign delegations, and 230+ speakers, including six Cabinet members and 16 governors. Since its inception, SelectUSA has facilitated more than $200 billion in investment, creating and/or retaining more than 200,000 U.S. jobs! In Fiscal Year 2023, FCS supported 32,573 U.S. companies looking to export products and services abroad. Through our advocacy efforts, we helped U.S. companies win foreign contracts worth over $53 billion supporting more than 250,000 U.S. jobs. FCS also plays an active role in advancing U.S. policy by co-leading multilateral and bilateral dialogues that strengthen national economic security, supply chain resiliency, and commercial cooperation. We’re partnering with the Department of Defense and the interagency on securing America’s future in critical and emerging technologies that help our nation outcompete strategic adversaries. No other agency in the U.S. government can boast about such meaningful and direct impact on our economy or greater return on investment to taxpayers. Despite our stellar performance record, however, some in Congress, the interagency, and even in our own department do not understand the value that FCS provides. Our budget has been slashed, leading to post closures, professional burnout, early retirements, and ever-worsening morale. Still, in this season of spring and rebirth, I am hopeful that the sizable impact we have on the economy in general and on U.S. companies in particular will be recognized with a refreshed mission and greater appropriations that recognize this impact. FCS has only around 1,500 high-performing, loyal public servants who help return more than $360 to the U.S. economy for every $1 received in appropriations. Even the nuttiest of professors can understand that that type of ROI needs more funding, not less. n In Memoriam AFSA mourns the passing of Esther Coopersmith, one of our centennial honorary committee members, on March 26, 2024. Coopersmith served as a public member of the U.S. delegation to the United Nations General Assembly during the Jimmy Carter administration. She received a U.N. peace medal in 1984. She was also named as a UNESCO goodwill ambassador in 2009. Coopersmith truly was a “citizen diplomat.” The Washington Post called her Esther Coopersmith. “in effect a member of the diplomatic service, her home a ritual stop for envoys newly arrived in Washington.” n NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AMERICAN DIPLOMACY