WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the nation’s top diplomat, said Tuesday that promoting U.S. businesses abroad and attracting foreign investment are key components of the State Department’s national security strategy.
“We have worked to position ourselves to lead in a changing world where security is shaped by financial markets and on factory floors, as well as in diplomatic negotiations and on the battlefield,” Clinton told the audience in the State Department’s Benjamin Franklin Room.
Clinton spoke to the first-ever State Department Global Business Conference, which included both government officials and business leaders. She acknowledged that while taking an active role in financial markets may not seem to be a State Department function, it is essential for the agency to achieve its mission. The administration estimates every $1 billion of exported American goods supports more than 5,000 jobs back home.
In 2010, President Obama declared his intentions to double America’s exports over five years; Clinton confirmed Tuesday that the administration expects to reach that goal well ahead of schedule.
“We also understand that America’s economic strength and our global leadership are a package deal,” Clinton said. “Our power in the 21st century depends not just on the size of our military but also on how we grow, how well we innovate, what we make and on how effectively we sell.”
Clinton used the meeting to announce the nomination of Heidi Crebo-Rediker as the first chief economist of the State Department. Crebo-Rediker most recently served as the Chief of International Finance and Economics for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and as an aide to committee chairman Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.
Along with the naming of a chief economist, Clinton touted a three-pronged strategy to support American businesses. The plan calls promoting American businesses, attracting investments in the U.S. and leveling the playing field with international markets.
“We fundamentally believe that increasing trade and growing prosperity will benefit not just our own people, but people everywhere,” she said. “Our economies are interdependent as never before, and so are our fates.”
Speaking slowly and with emphasis, Clinton’s said the Obama administration is determined to “level the playing field” with international trading partners. She noted that the government under President Obama has “brought trade cases against China at nearly twice the rate of our predecessors [in the Bush administration].”
Clinton also echoed the president’s announcement Friday that the U.S. would provide monetary support for U.S. companies competing in countries with restrictive economies. These policies were applauded by Boeing CEO W. James McNerney Jr., who spoke immediately after Clinton to provide a business perspective to the government’s policies.
“The president’s backing of the Office of U.S. Trade Representative…is a great example of engagement that will help level the playing field for all US companies,” McNerney said. “We can compete, but we can’t compete very effectively with one hand tied behind our back.”
The remarks by Clinton and McNerney served as the keynote to the conference, which continues through Wednesday. During the second day, assistant secretaries of state will lead business leaders in sessions aimed at fostering regional cooperation between businesses.