What is Total Economic Engagement?
Total Economic Engagement seeks to integrate and coordinate all U.S. economic instruments and programs into our regional and country strategies. The Bureau of Economic, Energy and Business Affairs’ (EEB) broad cross-section of economic disciplines, interagency contacts, and expertise in such areas as trade, finance, energy, development, transportation, and telecommunications help ensure this coordination.
EEB is actively involved in the entire range of international economic issues affecting America’s security and well-being. Our priorities extend from securing reliable, sustainable energy supplies to increasing market access for U.S. goods and services. Protection of American interests, such as intellectual property rights, fair play in international business, and shutting down terrorist access to financial networks, is not only part of our work, it is the foundation on which our efforts rest.
But promoting U.S. economic and security interests is not a short-term endeavor; dealing creatively with emerging markets and alleviating poverty are priorities that are even more important in the era of rapid globalization than they were in the wake of World War II.
To quote Franklin D. Roosevelt: “True individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.”
Poverty and political unrest walk hand-in-hand, and too many countries’ economic situations offer little hope to their citizens. However, the economic landscape does not need to remain dormant. We believe, the crop of economic security, individual prosperity and political stability can be grown through total economic engagement.
Total economic engagement looks beyond the current practice of using financial development assistance as the only ox at the plow. We know that developing countries own the keys to their own economic success. Just as democracy relies on the educated and active common man, so a healthy economy rests on the liberated individual. Ronald Reagan summed it up well: “We who live in free market societies believe that growth, prosperity and ultimately human fulfillment, are created from the bottom up, not the government down. “Only when the human spirit is allowed to invent and create, only when individuals are given a personal stake in deciding economic policies and benefiting from their success – Only then can societies remain economically alive, dynamic, progressive, and free.”
Our goal, therefore, must be the creation of the right conditions for individual economic growth and success. We must cultivate conditions for private sector growth, investment and trade. This cannot be accomplished through Official Development Assistance (ODA) funds alone. Foreign assistance must support a developing country’s own effort to improve their economic climate.
Total economic engagement is putting all of the players to the same plow.
EEB is harnessing trade and economic policy formation, proper governance, and ODA activities together. The bureau also integrates the American individual. Working with U.S. citizen-partners participating in developing economies abroad is a key element of total economic engagement.
An accurate accounting of a nation’s total engagement must include economic policies as well as, trade, remittances, and foreign direct investment. In these areas, the U.S. leads the world in total economic engagement with the developing world. The private donations of American citizens, military emergency aid and peacekeeping and government assistance provide the primary sources for development financing.
In all of EEB’s endeavors with State regional bureaus, the White House, and other economic agencies (e.g., USTR, Treasury), we promote Total Economic Engagement as the standard for assessing our country and regional economic strategies because we have seen that this holistic economic strategy delivers tangible results.