Keynote Address at Global Business Conference
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Benjamin Franklin Room
February 21, 2012
Well, thank you and welcome to the State Department. I want to thank Bob Hormats for his leadership here in implementing the agenda that he just briefly described, and I also want to thank Tom Nides for his work pulling the conference together, and to all of our friends and colleagues from not only the State Department but across our government and the private sector who have been participating over these past two days, coming together on behalf of our common objective. I particularly want to acknowledge Secretary Bryson from the Commerce Department, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, Mike Froman from the White House, Tom Donohue from the Chamber, of course our friends from Boeing who you’ll hear from in a minute, and so many more.
And I am particularly pleased that this luncheon is being held in the Ben Franklin Room with Ben staring over us, because it is named for a man who was both one of America’s first diplomats and also one of our earliest innovators and entrepreneurs. He understood that our country’s greatness would depend on both public excellence and private enterprise.
And it is in that spirit that we gather today to discuss how America’s foreign policy can champion U.S. businesses abroad and drive recovery here at home, and also help provide a strong foundation and effective economic tools that can strengthen and sustain America’s global leadership.
Now, here at the State Department, we call this Economic Statecraft. And we have worked to position ourselves to lead in a changing world where security is shaped in financial markets and on factory floors, as well as in diplomatic negotiations and on the battlefield. That’s why more than 1,000 economic officers on six continents are working with American companies, chambers of commerce, local businesses and local and national governments to open markets and find new customers. At the same time, we’re forming new partnerships with companies, universities, NGOs, and philanthropies to put private sector ingenuity to work solving some of our most difficult global challenges and driving sustainable development
Now, I think it is fair to say, and I see a lot of my very experienced diplomatic colleagues here in the room, this has not always been a traditional focus for us. So why, you might ask, is the Secretary of State now spending as much time thinking about market swings as missile silos?
Well, to put it very plainly, Americans need jobs. And every $1 billion of goods we export supports more than 5,000 jobs here at home – even more in industries like telecommunications and aerospace. That’s why President Obama set a goal of doubling America’s exports over five years. And I’m very proud that we now expect to hit that target ahead of schedule, thanks in large measure to the passage of the free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama; the tireless efforts of our diplomats, trade representatives, and commercial service officers around the world; and, of course and most importantly, the resilience of America’s business community.
We also understand that America’s economic strength and our global leadership are a package deal. You’re not going to have one without the other. Our power in the 21st century depends not just on the size of our military but also on what we grow, how well we innovate, what we make, and how effectively we sell. Rising powers like China, India, and Brazil understand this as well, and we can’t sit on the sidelines while they put economics at the center of their foreign policies.
Finally, we fundamentally believe that increasing trade and growing prosperity will benefit not just our own people, but people everywhere. Our economies are interdependent as never before, and so are our fates. America’s economic renewal depends to a large degree on the strength of the global economy, and the global economy depends on the strength of America.
Now, I will be the first to admit that in some ways we are playing catch-up here. Let’s be honest. We had fallen behind some other countries—some of them our friends and allies—when it came to using diplomacy to promote economic interests. American companies haven’t always seen the federal government as an ally, and I know the State Department has not always been the first call when you’re looking for help. So we can and we will, and in fact we are doing better.
That’s what this conference is all about. We do want to hear your concrete suggestions based on your experiences about how we can be better partners. And we want to share with you the steps we are taking here in Washington and around the world.
I have made “Jobs Diplomacy” a priority mission at the State Department, with a clear goal: Just as our companies are ready to out-work, out-innovate, and out-compete their rivals, so we intend to be the most effective diplomatic champions for prosperity and growth.
What’s our plan?
Well, it begins with good people and good partners.
We’re changing the way we do business to better advance and support the way you do business. We need to see the world like you do, crisscrossed not just by national borders but by global supply chains.
So we are improving training for diplomats in economics, finance, and markets, and working more closely with colleagues across our government to leverage the best possible skills and resources.
I’ve directed all our senior diplomats to conduct business outreach and advocacy when they travel overseas.
We have created a new, unified under secretariat for economic growth, energy, and environment under Bob Hormats’s leadership.
And I am also proud to announce that we will name Heidi Rediker as the first-ever chief economist at the State Department. She has a deep knowledge of financial and other markets and extensive experience in both the private and public sectors, and I look forward to her contributions to our team.
Effective Jobs Diplomacy also requires partners on the ground with deep knowledge and extensive networks – and that’s where all of you come in. American chambers of commerce and other bilateral trade associations are at the heart of our effort.
When I was in Zambia last summer, I met members of the local Chamber – some of whom are here today. One woman told me about her job as a local manager for Citibank. Yes, she is helping an American firm navigate a growing market, but she’s also helping her fellow citizens start their own businesses or buy their first homes. That’s the kind of win-win that American business-support organizations deliver all over the world.
So we train our people, we find our partners, but the real question is: Can Jobs Diplomacy deliver results that make a difference to Americans throughout the country, to the bottom line of companies and to the daily lives of our citizens?
We are pursuing three lines of action to do just that: first, promoting U.S. businesses; second, attracting investment back to the United States; and third, leveling the playing field for fair competition.
Let’s start with how we advocate for U.S. companies trying to win contracts and make sales. Let me start by saying this is not about picking winners and losers. It’s about helping all American companies put the best foot forward overseas to get a fair shot in every market.
When we think about this, of course we think about our very large multinational corporations. As you’ll hear in a minute from Jim, he can offer a firsthand experience about how this works. The Obama Administration has gone to bat for Boeing and its workers – and many others – all over the world. And as a result, they have hired thousands of new engineers, machinists, and factory workers right here at home. And as Jim likes to point out, every Boeing jet comes with millions of parts produced by more than 10,000 suppliers, many of them American small- and medium-sized businesses.
That’s Jobs Diplomacy in action. Consider Russia. From our first days in office, we started talking with Jim and others at Boeing about their interest in doing more business in Russia. In October 2009, I toured Boeing’s design center in Moscow and pressed the case with Russian officials. Our Embassy kept at it, arguing that Boeing is the global gold standard. And it worked. In late 2010, the Russians agreed to buy fifty 737s, for almost $4 billion. To build those planes, Boeing is creating tens of thousands of well-paying American jobs.
Now, this story has been repeated again and again and again around the world, from Turkey to Brazil to Vietnam, with our advocacy. In fact, just this month, an Indonesian airline officially signed a contract for more than 200 planes – a deal that President Obama helped seal on his trip in November.
Now, I think the truth is that Jobs Diplomacy, though, is not just about giants like Boeing or GE or Caterpillar. We are just as committed – and I want you to be as well – to helping small- and medium-sized businesses. Because after all, that is where most of the jobs are in the United States. For example, when Iceland began looking for help converting its vehicles to electric power, our Embassy championed a dynamic startup from Loveland, Ohio that does this work as well as anyone in the world. And in the end, they won a contract worth $100 million and sold 1,000 electric SUVs.
Now, because international trade has to be a two-way street, we’re also working to attract direct foreign investment – we call it “Global Investment” – into American communities. And this is the second focus of our Jobs Diplomacy.
To make this a priority across our government, President Obama launched the SelectUSA Initiative last summer, which I’m sure you’ll hear more from Secretary Bryson about later today. The Departments of State and Commerce are actually working hand-in-hand on this program and we are already seeing results. For example, last year we brought together American and Chinese governors and other state and local officials to discuss investment opportunities. And not long afterwards, one of the largest heavy equipment manufacturers in China announced a $60 million investment in Peachtree City, Georgia, with plans to add an additional $25 million across the state and hire 300 engineers in the next five years.
We’re working with local leaders to help them replicate this success.
Now, these are important and worthwhile efforts. But signing one-off deals – even for dozens of airplanes or hundreds of SUVs – will only get us so far. We need to think bigger and broader. And that’s why the third focus of Jobs Diplomacy is leveling that playing field for all, so American companies can compete and succeed everywhere.
We recognize that for all the tantalizing opportunities of foreign markets, there are still significant obstacles that make it harder for American businesses. Some of these are familiar hurdles: corruption, red tape, outdated protectionist policies. But we are also confronting new challenges, like the so-called tollbooths that force unfair terms on companies just to enter or expand in a market, like forced technology transfers, government-abetted piracy of intellectual property, and preferential treatment for state-owned or state-supported enterprises.
The United States is committed to a global economic system that is open, free, transparent, and fair. And we’re working to institutionalize those norms in regional and global trade agreements and institutions. We’re pushing for reforms that allow more people in more places to participate in the formal economy – especially women, who represent enormous untapped economic potential but are still marginalized in many markets. And as President Obama said in the State of the Union, and as Vice President Biden reinforced at our recent lunch with Chinese Vice President Xi, we will not stand by when our competitors don’t play by the same rules.
This Administration has already brought trade cases against China at nearly twice the rate of our predecessors – and now a special new Trade Enforcement Unit is being established to go after unfair trading practices. Last Friday, the President announced that when other nations provide unfair financing for their exports, we will offer matching support to competing U.S. firms. Every day, all over the world, our diplomats are pressing governments to comply with international standards and to treat our companies fairly.
And we stand up for entire industries, like when our team in Australia helped beat back unwarranted legal action against American pork producers, leading to a significant increase in exports last year.
And we stand up for small companies, like the bedding producer in Washington state that faced a crisis when Canadian regulators hit their products with a higher tariff. After the State Department, working closely with the Canadian Embassy, intervened, the Canadian regulators realized they had made a mistake and reversed their decision.
Big or small, we’re standing up for an economic system that benefits everyone, like when our Embassy in Manila worked with Filipino authorities on new intellectual property protections or when our negotiators ensure that the new Trans-Pacific Partnership requires that state-owned enterprises compete under the same rules as private companies.
So my message is, I hope, clear: We’re here, actually, to help. We want to come with you as we open new markets and create new opportunities for jobs and investments. So when you confront unfair regulations, when you need help cutting through red tape, or if you just want advice on local customs, come to us. To make this even easier, in key markets across the world, our ambassadors are now holding monthly conference calls with the U.S. business community. We’re standardizing commercial information on all of our embassy websites so U.S. companies can find the answers they need in one place, which will complement the newly launched BusinessUSA website, a virtual one-stop shop for the services and information companies need to help them grow, hire, and export.
So these are all the ways in which Jobs Diplomacy is helping deliver results. And in the days and months ahead, we’re going to push even harder. We will not rest until the U.S. Government is the most effective champion of business and trade anywhere.
And I want to close by asking you to consider how you can help us help you.
American companies today have the best, most productive workers in the world. They have the best technology, the most talented innovators. And many, many are sitting on large cash reserves. Foreign leaders often say to me, “Where are the American businesses? How come they’re not here competing for this construction contract or that mining deal? What are they waiting for?” As I’ve described today, this Administration is doing everything we can to help American companies, large and small, compete and succeed. But ultimately, we know it’s up to you We can’t help you if you’re not hungry enough to get out there and compete for the business that is going to be available. So it’s up to American business leaders to hire, to train, retrain your employees, to invest, to support education in America - all of which are key factors in our future success, our innovation, the kind of economy we’re creating for the 21st century. But we also need you to take informed risks that have always been the key to success. We need to recapture America’s dynamism and sustain our global leadership.
So we appreciate greatly your traveling from everywhere on the globe to be part of this important work and joining us here today. We really believe that our best years are ahead of us if we’re willing to do what it takes to grow our own economy and compete for opportunities that may be challenging but which I have no doubt we can win and succeed in doing
Now it’s my pleasure to introduce Jim McNerney of Boeing. Under his leadership, Boeing is soaring, which is only appropriate. Last year, orders for commercial aircraft rose by more than 50 percent and the company hired 13,000 workers. Now, we talk a lot about Boeing because we still lead in the aerospace industry, and despite some competition from our European friends, we have the best planes and we can produce the best products. And as President Obama said on Friday at Boeing’s plant in Everett, Washington, “This company is a great example of what American manufacturing can do in a way that nobody else in the world can do.”
So we asked Jim to come here to talk not only about Boeing but about his leadership of the Export Council, because we want to send a clear, unmistakable message that we are open for business and we can together achieve the results we are seeking. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)