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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Remarks to the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation

Reta Jo Lewis
Special Representative for Global Intergovernmental Affairs 
San Diego, California
August 5, 2010


Good Morning. Thank you very much, Julie, for not only that kind introduction but for you and your colleagues’ leadership of the San Diego Regional Economic Corporation. I would also like to thank your new board member, my dear friend, Janice Brown for working with Deborah Reed and the San Diego team for inviting me to be here today.

I am grateful for this opportunity to discuss my new role as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Special Representative for Global Intergovernmental Affairs. I hope to share some of the Department of State’s efforts to use “smart power” to open new markets and promote economic development around the globe.

Smart power uses all the tools—and all our partnerships—to serve the nation’s interests. We know that in this shared and seamless world, our relationships with foreign governments are important—but so are our partnerships with state and local officials because you keep us grounded with the needs and aspirations of our communities.

So today, I would also like to share with you the work my office – the Office of Global Intergovernmental Affairs – is doing to build and enhance relationships between you and your counterparts worldwide. Our commercial diplomacy—including on behalf of your small-and-medium enterprises (SMEs)—have played an important role in this Administration’s efforts to define an international economic agenda that works for Americans—one that can drive the kind of economic growth that provides good jobs and good wages.

Let me begin with two of the most recent examples of our efforts which happen to involve our engagement with Africa: the African Growth and Opportunities Act Forum and the Africa Women’s Entrepreneurship Program. I have just come from the 9th Annual African Growth and Opportunity Forum (called AGOA). AGOA allowed American firms to meet directly with African Trade and Commerce leaders to discuss potential markets for U.S. exports and to create linkages between U.S. and African businesses.

This year for the first time, we moved a portion of the meeting from the nation’s capital to the nation’s heartland—in Kansas City. In Kansas City, the forum focused on agribusiness and more than 20 African delegations participated.

And because we know that no nation can power its economy without empowering its women, we have highlighted the importance of women throughout our programs. In addition, this year we worked closely with our Africa Bureau and our economic team to create an opportunity for U.S. state and local leaders to engage with women entrepreneurs and African leaders.

The President, Vice President, and Secretary of State are committed to incorporating women’s issues into all aspects of our foreign policy. The unprecedented creation of the “Ambassador-at-Large” position to head the State Department’s Office of Global Women’s Issues, led by Melanne VerVeer, demonstrates the Administration’s deep commitment to women’s issues. As the Secretary has said, “empowering women is one of the most effective and positive forces for improving conditions around the globe.”

So this year, as part of the AGOA forum we created the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (which we call AWEP), and it was conducted as a two-week event held in both Washington, D.C. and Kansas City as a means to provide tools to better integrate Africa’s women into the global economy. Coming from each of the 38 eligible AGOA countries, the women of AWEP interacted with American businesses, including many that trade in their region and in the goods they market. The African delegation gained an understanding of how American businesses build their own market capacity on an ongoing basis.

Women entrepreneurs are a driving force in Africa’s economic growth, yet they still face formidable obstacles in trading their goods and growing their businesses. Thus, we worked with the Africa Bureau on a local government advisory session that brought together state and local leaders to dialogue with the African women entrepreneurs. It provided them with valuable recognition that will assist them in furthering their own success and provided them with tools and strategies to help educate other aspiring women entrepreneurs in their respective countries. The sessions also provided them with key aspects of local level government advocacy, discussing how local economies can be more financially involved and provide more opportunities to improve women’s empowerment. We will continue to support their efforts to advocate for change to increase opportunities for women in African business.

Also in conjunction with the AGOA Forum in Kansas City, the Millennium Challenge Corporation delivered a presentation about the work it does investing in developing nations. MCC provided a workshop to the private sector, regional commerce and agricultural offices on how they can connect U.S. businesses with key stakeholders in those nations. MCC is presently working with 38 countries from almost every continent thereby providing an excellent opportunity for businesses looking to expand into emerging markets. Since its founding in 2004, MCC has approved 7.4 billion dollars in threshold compacts. If you are interested, I would be happy to talk to my colleagues at MCC to arrange for a similar presentation with you here in San Diego.

Organizations like MCC help cities overcome obstacles and Secretary Clinton understands that communities the world over, are grappling with similar issues: how to create jobs; how to create a climate for doing business, thus strengthening the local economic climate; how to promote sustainable and inclusive economic growth, improve education and public health, and ensure accountable governance that delivers results that make a difference in people’s lives.

The method for assisting sub-national communities to achieve these ends is through engagement, and President Obama and Secretary Clinton have so often said that this administration would usher in a new era of engagement. In this new era of 21st century diplomacy, our office at the Department of State is a connector, bringing elected leaders together from across regions to work together on issues of common interest.

As a result, we are seeking in the State Department to build partnerships that will allow mayors and local officials to exchange ideas globally; and one of our main missions is:

To build and enhance global relationships between state and local officials so that they can collaborate not just on trade and investment and economic issues but also on other international issues such as urbanization, city planning, food security, global health, clean energy, and climate change; all of which require effective intergovernmental collaboration.

We know that for many countries, our economic relationship comprises the majority of our bilateral cooperation—meaning trade is an important part of intergovernmental collaboration. In this realm, we applaud the work that you are doing in San Diego and the greater Cali-Baja Bi-National Mega-Region as it relates to trade and development.

San Diego’s commercial benefits have been reinforced with the creation of Foreign Trade Zones and Subzones, and San Diego has an impressive 1,651 acres of land designated as such thereby providing greater access to goods, more efficient manufacturing, cheaper prices, and more competitive economic structure globally.

In support of San Diego’s Foreign Trade Zones, the Department of State issued a Presidential Permit to create a Cross Border Facility (CBF) between San Diego and Tijuana. By creating a separate pedestrian bridge and customs unit with commercial passenger capability, the CBF is intended to provide U.S. originating or destined air travelers quick, secure, and reliable access to flights at the Tijuana Airport, reduce congestion at neighboring border crossings, and curb economic losses associated with border delays, thereby solidifying San Diego’s role as an important city economically and globally.

And while San Diego is a model city globally, it is also significant strategically as it is the largest city on the U.S. – Mexico border and as a vital entryway on the Pacific Coast. All of these elements factor into San Diego’s success as an economic engine and as a Gateway to the Western Hemisphere and the Asia-Pacific region.

As such a Gateway, the Department of State announced its plans to open the San Diego Passport Agency in downtown San Diego in the Spring of 2011. The new agency will be capable of issuing U.S. passport books and passport cards onsite for U.S. citizens who plan to travel within 14 days. The San Diego Passport Agency’s proximity to San Diego International Airport and the U.S.-Mexico border will help facilitate the travel needs of local residents affected by the new border-crossing requirements.

Serving as a Gateway, San Diego is a hub for international trade as it is one of three customs locations in California. In fact, goods come and go into and out of San Diego’s ports throughout the Pacific region, importantly including China. As you may know, China is one of the biggest manufacturing bases in the world and Secretary Clinton is leading our nation’s strategic engagement with them. Known as “the S&ED”, the U.S. – China Strategic and Economic Dialogue represents a high-level bilateral forum led by Secretary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Geithner to discuss a broad range of issues between the two nations. The S&ED is the premier vehicle for engaging China to build a positive, cooperative, and comprehensive relationship between the United States and China.

Recognizing the importance of the U.S.-China relationship, the State Department is leading an interagency effort to work with our Chinese counterparts to increase sub-national cooperation on high-priority issues like trade and investment, climate change, and educational exchanges. In order to encourage greater sub-national cooperation, I have been working closely with Ambassador Huntsman and his team, as well as various other key stakeholders from the United States and China. We recently met with National Governors Association leaders and senior staff at the NGA annual meeting in July to discuss how to strengthen cooperation between U.S. governors and Chinese provincial leaders.

By encouraging sub-national cooperation, we are engaging state and local leaders to play an essential role in expanding trade and investment and creating jobs for Americans.

Another major project my office and the State Department are working on in the Asia region is the U.S. hosting, in Hawai’i, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders Meeting in 2011, commonly known as APEC. APEC is the premier forum for facilitating economic growth, cooperation, trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region. APEC has 21 members including the United States, Mexico, and China.

In fact, APEC’s 21 members make up 41% of the World’s population, 54% of world GDP, and 44% of World Trade.

To advance these opportunities Montana will host APEC’s Trade ministerial in Big Sky in May 2011. We view this as a unique opportunity to work with our Asia-Pacific partners to address issues related to U.S. objectives to grow jobs, expand exports, and stimulate the trade-driven growth of small- and medium-sized businesses.

Also I want to highlight another vehicle supported by the Department of State for sub-national exchange that over the years has been incredibly successful and durable. California has two National Guard State Partnership Programs. One with Ukraine which began in 1993, and one with Nigeria which began in 2006.

The SPP allows an unprecedented level of long-term citizen diplomacy and sub-national exchanges through various means. Oftentimes the personal relationships that are created through the SPP have a stronger, more intimate connection than those we establish at the official diplomatic level.

In developing that bond, the SPP works with their partner nations to help establish military command and control, search and rescue operations, and integrating national, state, and local levels of security to mitigate the effects of natural and manmade disasters.

California’s National Guard through the SPP has been actively engaged with their SPP partners. Of specific interest to San Diego, the California National Guard has assisted both Ukraine and Nigeria to develop security around national points of entry, particularly those points involving ocean ports and international borders.

All of these examples illustrate how the growing networks of state and local leaders are centers of influence that allow us to create durable partnerships that can assist the Department of State and anchor enduring international intergovernmental relationships, especially at the sub-national level.

Ultimately, by implementing these various types of partnerships and acting in a collective, concerted manner, we add value to both our individual and shared goals, while also promoting the strategic interests of our nation, states, and cities, and enhancing what we can achieve together.

As San Diego, now the United States’ 8th largest city, continues to play a bigger and more important role in the world today at the international, national, and sub-national levels, both in the public and private sector, California and San Diego are both ideally situated to trade, work, and develop relationships with people from every continent. It is thus important to keep in mind what makes California so great: the wide variety of people from all walks of life who live here.

In conclusion, engaging with our friends and allies at the national and sub-national level will allow us to meet the international challenges we are presently facing. We will also tackle the Department priorities that Secretary Clinton has laid out such as climate change, global health and food security. Moreover, by engaging local and state elected officials we will be able to share our ideas and promote methods for fixing the array of complex challenges local communities face today.

On behalf of Secretary Clinton, I want to thank you for inviting me out here to speak with you today.

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