Serving the U.S. Business Community in South AfricaOctober 5, 2009
Jed Diemond has been with the Market Access and Compliance (MAC) division of ITA for almost eight years. He serves as the Senior International Economist covering the five Southern African Customs Union (SACU) countries – Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, and Swaziland.
Last month I got to do the most interesting and fun part of my job: I staffed Stephen Jacobs, the acting assistant secretary for MAC, during his trip to Johannesburg and Pretoria, South Africa. I worked very closely with the Senior Commercial Officer in South Africa, Craig Allen, and his staff on the trip. Over an intense two days, we had a series of meetings with U.S. companies based in South Africa, South African business and trade promotion organizations, and South African government trade officials. Our goal was to explore ways to expand the U.S.-South Africa trade and investment relationship. Some of the themes of the meetings included cooperation on intellectual property rights protection and advancing trade and investment promotion cooperation in the context of a U.S.-SACU trade and investment dialogue that we are trying to jump-start. As the South Africa desk officer, I had the unique opportunity to work with Acting Assistant Secretary Jacobs to shape our message in the meetings and expand my own working relationships in South Africa, which allows me be more effective in my job.