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 You are in: Under Secretary for Economic, Energy and Agricultural Affairs > Bureau of Economic, Energy and Business Affairs > All Remarks and Releases > Remarks > 2006 Economic, Energy and Business Affairs Remarks

Address to the Business Council for International Understanding (BCIU)

E. Anthony Wayne, Assistant Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs
The White House - Indian Treaty Room
Washington, DC
May 5, 2006

It is an honor to celebrate this Anniversary. I feel among friends because of all the good work we have done together. And to the Business Council for International Understanding’s Chairmen Mike Hodin and Peter Tichansky, thank you for including me.

Since its creation in 1955 at the initiative of President Eisenhower, BCIU has partnered with the State Department to explore how best business and government can work together around the world. And in so doing, BCIU has been at the forefront of transforming how we think and interact with the business community.

BCIU’s founders believed that to fulfill Eisenhower’s request for American business to help communicate American ideas and values beyond our borders, it had to first forge a closer working relationship between U.S. business and U.S. government. At that time, there was a relatively large divide between these communities. And that was our loss.

As we all recognize today, U.S. corporations play an important role in public diplomacy. They not only provide excellent products and jobs abroad, but also provide good corporate stewardship: paying equitable wages; providing first rate training and treatment of their employees; implementing transparent accounting and procurement practices; and, promoting local economic development. Each of these actions speak well of the companies and the United States, they promote our values and principles, and in a small way create the motivation and know how to engender indigenous reform around the world.

BCIU also recognizes America’s competitiveness in global commerce is a core component of our national and economic security. American business successes abroad directly benefit the U.S. economy. In the last 20 years, promoting and advocating U.S. commercial interests has become a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy. BCIU helped put business and government on this path.

And the State Department appreciates the Business Council for International Understanding’s many contributions today:

  • Training – The BCIU Commercial Diplomacy Training enhances the trade literacy of the U.S. Foreign Service and the efficacy of officers in other key U.S. Government trade promotion agencies by conducting year round training programs at the Foreign Service Institute;
  • Consultations to Ambassadors – BCIU organizes consultations with American businesses for our outgoing Ambassadors to brief them on the leading business and commercial matters in their country; and,
  • Business Practicums – BCIU organizes a unique program that places Foreign Service Officers into companies for two to three months of practical, real world experience after they complete the Foreign Service Institute’s economic and commercial training course;

Very importantly, BCIU co-sponsors Chiefs of Missions Conferences, meetings between foreign dignitaries and the business community and much more. These gatherings are important tools in helping to promote cooperation across governments and industries.

There’s no question that we are a stronger country as a result of the thousands of informal dialogues and two-way briefings between business and government officials that have been facilitated by the Business Council for International Understanding. I dare say that I think President Eisenhower would be pleased.

I’d like to invite Charles Shapiro to share a few thoughts now. Thank you.

Released on May 8, 2006

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