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Special Representative Syed stands outside with Tesla reps at the Tesla/Panasonic Gigafactory outside of Reno, Nevada.

President Biden has championed Foreign Policy for the Middle Class – a call to action for diplomatic efforts abroad to address the needs of communities at home.  Americans want to know how foreign policy translates into jobs and economic opportunity, and we have a story to tell.  To promote the President’s Foreign Policy for the priority, over the past year, my team and I have led and supported interagency efforts that advanced commercial deals in strategically competitive sectors valued at close to $90 billion that will support over 450,000 American jobs.

To connect these successes with the public we serve, I went on the road, bridging our efforts to America’s emerging business centers and underserved communities in Maryland, Idaho, Michigan, Nevada, Texas, California, and Colorado.  Over the past few months, I have had the privilege of engaging with mayors, business and community leaders, and entrepreneurs in town halls and public events that were attended by thousands of Americans.  Local audiences overwhelmingly lauded the visits as unique opportunities to understand – and provide feedback on – President Biden’s historic industrial and foreign policy initiatives.

As the Department’s Special Representative for Commercial and Business Affairs (CBA), I am committed to advancing the U.S.  global competitiveness and ensuring inclusive access to U.S. government commercial diplomacy resources.  In the process of identifying and selecting communities for this “Commercial Diplomacy USA” tour, we intentionally focused on cities that rarely connect with the State Department, with the goal of putting local stakeholders at the forefront of conversations that advance our nation’s global competitiveness.

Championing Entrepreneurship and Supply Chain Diversification in Boise

Special Representative Dilawar Syed with Boise Mayor Lauren McLean at Boise Entrepreneur Week
With Boise Mayor Lauren McLean at Boise Entrepreneur Week. [State Department photo/Public Domain]

Boise, Idaho is the most isolated metropolitan area in the United States.  Despite its remoteness, the city has nurtured a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem.  I had the honor of headlining Boise Entrepreneur Week with a fireside chat with Boise Mayor McLean under the theme of “Local Solutions to Global Challenges.”  This televised event shone a spotlight on State Department initiatives that advance international opportunities for American entrepreneurs – including our Direct Line program that connects our Ambassadors with U.S. businesses on market opportunities across the globe. 

Special Representative Syed speaking to a room full of students at Boise State University
Special Representative Syed speaking to students at Boise State University. [State Department Photo/Public Domain]

Also in Boise, I visited the global headquarters of Micron Technology.  The company’s representatives credited the passing of the CHIPS and Science Act with enabling Micron to invest $15 billion, tripling its Boise cleanroom capacity and adding 15,000 local jobs.  Through the ITSI fund under the CHIPS act, the State Department is leading the way in providing the global connections for U.S. semiconductor fabs that will service an international chip market expected to double by 2030.  

Promoting Clean Energy Transition in Reno

My visit to Reno highlighted how the “Biggest Little City in the World” is part of a regional ecosystem transforming our energy future.  Northern Nevada’s unique location positions it as the only place in the world that captures the entire lithium lifecycle within 300 miles – from extracting, to processing, to manufacturing cells and developing battery packs, and recycling.  Local industry representatives lauded federal support from programs like CHIPS and the Inflation Reduction Act that provide the policy certainty to invest in battery manufacturing.  This is a critical step that will advance our nation’s strategic competitiveness and reduce our dependence on foreign suppliers of battery materials.  The State Department’s Minerals Security Partnership is already delivering at the federal level, including through agreements with key U.S. allies that will help bridge supply chain gaps. 

Driving Awareness of Global Resources in Irvine

Special Representative Syed with Irvine Community Leaders and Business Representatives in a large room.
With Irvine Community Leaders and Business Representatives. [State Department photo/Public Domain]

Nearly 90 languages are spoken within the City of Irvine.  Deep international ties and unmatched diversity are propelling Irvine’s economic growth and sustaining its entrepreneurial tradition.  During my visit, I held 11 engagements focused on the strategic imperative of America’s competitiveness in the industries of the future and highlighted federal resources for U.S. companies, including the Department of Commerce’s Export Assistance Centers, and interagency initiatives aimed at leveling the playing field for U.S. companies, such as U.S. government Official Commercial Advocacy and Deal Teams. 

Please follow us on Twitter for updates on our ongoing efforts to democratize access to commercial diplomacy programs and tools, and to ensure a level playing field for U.S. companies to compete and win across the globe. 

About the Author: Dilawar Syed is the Special Representative for Commercial and Business Affairs at the State Department. 

U.S. Department of State

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