Francisco Sánchez serves as the Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade. Follow him on Twitter @UnderSecSanchez.
Walter Bastian embodies the best of public service. He doesn’t measure success by how well he does, but by how well he can help others. And during his decades at the Department of Commerce, he has indeed helped others and made great contributions to the global community.
In recognition of his accomplishments, last week, Walter was one of nine recipients of the 2012 Americas Award for his lifetime of achievement. Having had the chance to work with him closely in recent years, I must tell you: he is very deserving of this honor.
As Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Western Hemisphere, Walter has developed programs, policies and strategies to strengthen the United States’ commercial position in the region — the destination for roughly 40 percent of U.S. exports. And in doing so, he’s also committed himself to expanding opportunity and prosperity throughout the Americas.
One of Walter’s greatest accomplishments was playing a central role in founding the Americas Competitiveness Forum (ACF). The initial idea for a meeting of Western Hemisphere commerce ministers was offered by President George W. Bush at the 2005 Summit of the Americas. Walter helped make that idea a reality.
Walter saw beyond what was being asked and instead focused on what more could be accomplished. He understood that competitiveness is not just a national issue, but a hemispheric one.
For that reason, he set about creating a forum to motivate the region’s government leaders to work in partnership with the private sector, academia, and civil society to improve the economic prosperity of their own countries, and ensure a brighter future for the people of the region.
Since its inauguration in 2007, the ACF has become the preeminent economic and commercial event in the Americas, attracting hundreds of participants from the Western Hemisphere’s public and private sectors. It has helped to create and strengthen the kinds of partnerships that are necessary for regional integration and future growth.
Bottom line: progress is achieved by people who want to make a difference. And Walter Bastian has made a difference. He has dedicated his time, talent and passion to bringing the Americas closer together through commerce. And we have all benefited.
On behalf of the International Trade Administration, the U.S. Department of Commerce, and our partners throughout the region — thank you, Walter.