Pushing for Progress in the Middle East and North Africa
Guest blog post by Francisco J. Sánchez, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Secretary, Department of CommerceRecent
events have reaffirmed just how extraordinary this period is for the Middle
East and North Africa (MENA). The Arab
Spring has generated a lot of hope for people across the region. However, it’s also presented a number of
questions that need to be answered, many of which center around economic issues
like unemployment and slow growth.
the World Economic Forum (WEF) put it, “Recent shifts in the Arab world, coupled with an economic
contraction at the global level, have created renewed urgency for
decision-makers across the region to address the unfolding economic situation.”
it’s fitting that, this past weekend, King Abdullah of Jordan hosted a WEF event
to address job creation. World leaders gathered
to discuss pressing issues including the advancement of youth and women, the
impact of social media, and, of course, U.S.-Arab relations.
was honored to be one of the 1,000 people, from more than 50 countries, who participated
in the event. In particular, I was proud
to be a part of a panel discussion focused on how Arab governments can use
regional and global trade to restart growth and drive economic and social
message was clear: The United States
encourages trade liberalization and increased bilateral trade as a tool to
create economic growth and jobs for all citizens in the Middle East.
am conveying this same message during the week as I travel through Jordan,
Jerusalem, the West Bank and Israel on a policy mission. It’s going to be a productive period.
two days, I’ll meet with senior Israeli and Palestinian government officials and local businesses to engage in commercial diplomacy
and reiterate the U.S. government’s support of economic development and
partnership in the region.
In addition, I’ll participate in a roundtable at the
General Motors Research and Development Center outside Tel Aviv to highlight how
important innovation is to the future of the U.S.-Israeli commercial
This is an important trade mission with significant
partners. Consider that in 2010, Israel was
the third largest U.S. export market in the Middle East and North Africa, with
merchandise exports totaling $11.3 billion.
bilateral trade between the United States and Jordan was $2.2 billion in
2010. And, U.S. exports to the West Bank have increased by more than 117
percent since 2008.
we look ahead, there is enormous potential.
By building on our existing relationships with initiatives that are
guided by mutual interests, we can push for significant progress. The dialogue taking place this week will
bring us steps closer to this goal. Together,
we can help ensure that this chapter for the MENA region brings new
opportunities for all its people and partners.