This week, Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank will lead an infrastructure business development trade mission to Brazil, Colombia, and Panama, countries that have created robust infrastructure development plans for the coming years. This mission directly supports President Obama’s National Export Initiative, which set the goal of doubling U.S. exports by the end of 2014 and creating an additional 2 million jobs supported by exports. Throughout the course of the mission, 20 U.S. firms will join the Acting Secretary, with the goal of expanding their business opportunities in Brazil, Colombia, and Panama.
Today is the first full day of the trade mission and Acting Secretary Blank will participate in a roundtable with Brazilian CEOs to discuss possible areas for collaboration with U.S. businesses, particularly in the area of infrastructure. This discussion serves as a follow-up to the U.S.-Brazil CEO Forum, which Acting Secretary Blank co-chaired along with Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs Michael Froman in Brasilia in March.
On Tuesday, Acting Secretary Blank will meet with members of the Federation of Industries of Sao Paulo (FIESP), a Brazilian industry association that includes more than 130,000 companies representing a wide range of industrial activities. The Acting Secretary will highlight U.S. businesses’ efforts to support Brazil’s infrastructure development goals and connect U.S. and Brazilian firms to explore further procurement opportunities. She will also visit Embraer while in Sao Paulo, to highlight a Brazilian company that has invested in America and created U.S. jobs. Embraer has also worked with many suppliers in the U.S. and has strong partnerships with a variety of U.S. companies.
On Wednesday, the trade mission moves to Colombia, where Acting Secretary Blank will meet with government officials to discuss the commercial relationship between the two countries. Later in the day, she will speak at a business luncheon about the one-year anniversary of the United States-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement and the benefits the agreement has brought to both countries. The delegation will have meetings with the Ministry for Foreign Trade; the Ministry of Transportation; the National Infrastructure Agency (ANI); the Ministry of Civilian Aviation and the Ministry of Mines and Energy, among others.
On Thursday, Acting Secretary Blank will tour one of Microsoft’s “Mi Llave” Computer Centers, created in partnership with the Trust for the Americas to offer ICTs skills to reintegrating demobilized combatants, displaced persons and vulnerable communities affected by the violence in Colombia. The program, an example of the broader commitment of U.S. companies to the communities in which they work, provides job readiness and information and communication technology training to beneficiaries in addition to training in entrepreneurship.
On Friday, Acting Secretary Blank will meet with government officials to discuss areas of cooperation and future goals for the two nations. She will also speak before the American Chamber of Commerce Panama about the United States-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement and the economic growth related to the implementation and areas for future growth in the commercial relationship between Panama and the United States. Dr. Blank will also meet with President Ricardo Martinelli while the delegation will meet with the Panama Canal Administrator; the Minister for Canal Affairs and Secretary of the Panama Metro; the Ministry of Public Works; Panama City’s Construction Department; as well as representatives from the Port of Balboa and Tocumen International Airport.
Throughout the trip, the American companies will participate in: one-to-one meetings with foreign industry executives and government officials; networking events with guests from local industry, associations and business councils that are influential in the business community; and, briefings and roundtables with the legal and business community on local business practices and opportunities. These opportunities will allow the representatives of American companies to make the personal connections they need to expand their businesses and create more American jobs.