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The Benjamin Joy Award: State and Commerce Collaboration

October 5, 2016

Arun Kumar is the Assistant Secretary for the International Trade Administration

Ambassador Charles H. Rivkin, Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs, and I had the great pleasure last week to present the first Benjamin Joy Award to the State-Commerce teams at U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The Benjamin Joy Award was created by the International Trade Administration’s Global Markets unit and the State Department’s Economic Bureau (EB) to highlight and promote interagency collaboration and excellence in commercial diplomacy. The Award is named for Benjamin Joy, an early exemplar of U.S. commercial and economic diplomacy, who was appointed in 1792 by President George Washington as the first American Consul and Commercial Agent to India.

Group

Kumar with the winners of the Benjamin Joy Award

There were 43 nominations from 34 different countries, a testament to robust State Commerce collaboration – and to the premium our people put on working together to assist American businesses. From our very first meeting, Ambassador Rivkin and I have shared the conviction that closer State and Commerce collaboration can create even greater success in advancing our country’s commercial and economic interests. Following the ceremony, we also signed a memorandum to further expand the interagency cooperation under the U.S. & Foreign Commercial Service-State Partner Post Program.

The joint State-Commerce team in Ethiopia was led by Ambassador Patricia Haslach, and made up of Tanya Cole, Teddy Tefera and Nnaji Campbell from Commerce and Peter Vrooman and Gaia Self from State. The team worked tirelessly over 19 months, through many ups and downs, to ensure a level playing field for a U.S. company, Gates Air in a government tender to upgrade and digitalize Ethiopia’s television infrastructure.

The runners-up were teams from Embassy New Delhi and Embassy Jakarta. Those teams too exemplified outstanding State-Commerce collaboration – which is all the more important to increase America’s influence in today’s increasingly complex and uncertain world,  when competition overseas is stiffer and does not always play by the same rules.

Congratulations to the winners!

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