Posts Tagged ‘Western Hemisphere’


Americas Competitiveness Forum: Enhancing Prosperity of the Western Hemisphere

July 26, 2013

Calynn Jenkins is an intern in the International Trade Administration’s Office of Public Affairs. She is studying political science at American University. 

For the United States, the Western Hemisphere has provided a fertile ground for export opportunity. It is the destination for approximately 42 percent of U.S. exports, more than any other region across the globe. Since 2009, U.S. goods exports to the Western Hemisphere increased by more than $200 billion to nearly $650 billion, supporting almost four million U.S. jobs in 2011.

Specifically, exports to Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Panama, and Colombia are at an all-time high. The United States’ relationship with these Western Hemisphere partners is a top priority for global development.

That’s why the America’s Competitiveness Forum (ACF) is such a key event for the region.

Since 2007, the ACF has provided Western Hemisphere nations a chance to come together to share priorities, successes, and lessons learned to support sustainable growth in the region. It has attracted thousands of participants from the region’s public and private sectors, including heads of state and economic ministers, as well as leaders from business, academia, and civil society.

This year’s forum will take place in Panama City, Panama from Oct. 2-4. It will be an important step toward furthering the relationships that exist within the hemisphere. It will also provide U.S. companies access to high-level officials and potential clients to explore new export opportunities.

For more information about the ACF or to register for the Forum, visit:


A Note of Thanks: Celebrating Walter Bastian’s Lifetime of Achievement

November 2, 2012

Francisco Sánchez serves as the Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade. Follow him on Twitter @UnderSecSanchez.

Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Western Hemisphere Walter M. Bastian

Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Western Hemisphere Walter M. Bastian

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.


World Trade Month 2012: Celebrating Progress, Building for the Future

May 8, 2012

Francisco Sánchez is the Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade

It’s that time of year again.

May is World Trade Month, a time to reaffirm the important role that international trade plays in U.S. economic growth. 

Francisco Sanchez (center) with the members of the Travel and Tourism Advisory Board at Pow Wow in Los Angeles, CA

Francisco Sanchez (center) with the members of the Travel and Tourism Advisory Board at Pow Wow in Los Angeles, CA

In today’s global economy, it is more important than ever for American businesses to tap into the abundance of opportunities overseas.  95 percent of the world’s consumers are located outside our borders; helping companies reach them is key to our nation’s economic success and future.   

At the Department of Commerce, we are providing this kind of help in a variety of forms — from raising awareness, to offering unique insight into markets and sectors, to providing counsel that helps companies navigate through all the regulatory red tape when doing business abroad. 

As a result of these kinds of efforts, American businesses are finding new opportunities in the global marketplace.  In 2011, American businesses sold $2.1 trillion dollars worth of goods and services to overseas customers — an all-time record.  These sales made an impact far beyond financial statements: they also benefited people and families. 

Last year, U.S. exports supported roughly 10 million jobs, helping Americans — from all corners of the country — stimulate their local economies, while paying their rents, buying their groceries, taking care of their children’s tuition bills and much more. 

So the formula is clear: whenever U.S. exports increase, the American people benefit.  This is why the Department of Commerce is firmly committed to helping more U.S. businesses succeed in the global markets.

We are doing this work in a number of ways. 

Last month, for example, I was proud to participate in the Western Hemisphere Business Opportunities Forum, where U.S. businesses engaged with our Commercial Officers to talk about the wide-range of opportunities across the region. 

We now export more to the Western Hemisphere than to any other region in the world, and there are great possibilities to do more, especially after the U.S. – Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement takes effect on May 15th.  Through this business forum and other efforts, we are working diligently to ensure that American companies are well positioned to fulfill this enormous promise. 

Another exciting event that took place in April was the U.S. Travel Association’s International Pow Wow Event, which strives to boost U.S. tourism.  Last year, 62 million international visitors traveled to the United States, and for good reason.  There is no place like America, with its unique sites, culture and history. 

These visitors spent a record $153 billion dollars on things like restaurants, hotels, and shopping, strengthening bottom lines in a variety of sectors.  At Pow Wow, we pledged to continue to work with partners to support this vital industry.  And, during this World Trade Month and beyond, we renew our commitment to increasing U.S. exports in all industries. 

Throughout May, there will be a series of state and local events taking place nationwide to provide support to U.S. businesses looking to export their goods and services around the world. 

Later this month, we’ll be releasing a special edition of International Trade Update to report on many of these events so stay tuned.

In the meantime, we at the Department of Commerce look forward to working with you to link American businesses to the opportunities overseas, and help them build for the future. 

Together, we can make this World Trade Month the most memorable yet. 

So let’s get to work.


Ideas for Prosperity: A Conference about Education and Cooperation in the Americas

March 22, 2012

Andrew Theodotou is an intern in the International Trade Administration’s Office of Public Affairs. Andrew is a sophomore at Georgetown University.

“People are our most valuable assets,” Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez pointed this out in his remarks to more than five hundred senior government officials, private sector leaders, university representatives, and students gathered at Georgetown University. The conference, held March 12-13, was officially titled “Making Latin America and the Caribbean a More Equitable Society: Education, Economic Growth, and Corporate Social Responsibility”.

The focus of the event was to facilitate a high-level dialogue on the importance of education as an economic driver for competitiveness.  The event attracted representatives from more than fifty universities throughout the hemisphere, many represented at the dean or university president level.

Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez speaks at Georgetown University during the Making Latin America and the Caribbean a More Equitable Society: Education, Economic Growth, and Corporate Social Responsibility Conference

Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez speaks at Georgetown University during the Making Latin America and the Caribbean a More Equitable Society: Education, Economic Growth, and Corporate Social Responsibility Conference

Each of the addresses, dialogues, and roundtable discussions specifically highlighted the need to cultivate human capital in the Americas. They encouraged cooperation between the public and private sector throughout the hemisphere to achieve this goal and stressed the benefits afforded to all parties involved.

Participants discussed new ways to foster social and economic development in the Western Hemisphere as well as initiatives that have already been put into place towards this end.

In 2010, President Obama launched the “Change the Equation Initiative”, a CEO-led effort to bolster education in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Knowledge of these subjects has been identified as a key asset in today’s workforce and a powerful driver of economic growth. Many of our neighbors in the Americas have initiated similar efforts, such as El Salvador’s “Supérate”, a program sponsored by Microsoft which offers after school training in computer science and English language training.   Such programs demonstrate the increasing role that the private sector plays in improving our education systems and overall economic competitiveness.

A key focus of this event was President Obama’s 100K Strong Initiative, which seeks to increase the number of U.S. students studying in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) to 100,000 while attracting the same amount from the LAC region to study in the United States.  By increasing the number of foreign students studying in U.S. universities, this will create an increase in service exports for the United States and ultimately help stimulate domestic growth and job creation.  In addition, the event strongly focused upon forging new linkages across the hemisphere as a means of sharing best practices and identifying new ways to share research and collaborate.

Programs like these are motivated by the idea that weak education systems are a major barrier to socio-economic development, even in the United States. They are also built on recognition that cooperation is essential in the solution to this problem. If governments can work with businesses to promote workforce development, then a whole economy can grow. If businesses can play a role in teaching their workers today’s essential skills, they can create jobs. And finally, if students can collaborate with their peers in other countries, they will build a mutual understanding and facilitate positive trade relationships in the future.

The conference at Georgetown University aimed to advance these relationships, with hopes that they will fuel competitive economies and lead to a higher standard of living and greater social equality.


ACF Atlanta, a Huge Success

November 16, 2010

This post contains external links.  Please review our external linking policy

Francisco J. Sánchez is the Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade

The rain today, didn’t stop hundreds of leaders from across the Western Hemisphere from attending the Americas Competitiveness Forum (ACF) in Atlanta.

The final leg of an informative, action packed conference, the agenda featured Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke and the President of El Salvador Mauricio Funes.

The day, which began with a presidential address, covered topics ranging from international education on the benefits of strategic alliances to market opportunities in the Caribbean.

We at the U.S. Department of Commerce and the International Trade Administration are extremely pleased with the outcome of the conference, and look forward to passing the baton from the United States to the Dominican Republic this evening, the 2011 host country.

In closing, I’d like to take a moment to extend a heartfelt thank you to Walter Bastian, Tricia Johnson, the entire Western Hemisphere team and all of my staff who worked so hard to plan a productive conference to advance global competitiveness across the region.