The commercial diplomacy of Hilary Clinton’s State Dept. may in fact become the greatest legacy of her four years, although this is not generally recognized yet. She has made commercial diplomacy and trade promotion integral to American foreign policy, partially at the expense of the U.S. Dept. of Commerce. This seems to be in tune with the times. Global trade is taking center stage in international relations and American foreign policy.
More than her predecessors, Clinton has argued that commercial diplomacy and trade promotion, long the neglected stepchildren of the foreign policy establishment, are central to U.S. strategic interests. The role of the Department of State in promoting trade has varied over the years throughout the 20th century, depending on Presidents and Congressional interests.
It will be interesting to see how John Kerry as the new Secretary of State and President Obama’s trade reorganization proposals impact this legacy. Hopefully, they will reinforce it. It is clear that commercial diplomacy and trade promotion are essential to U.S. national interests. If anything this decade will see even fiercer global competition between countries and their firms for competitive advantage. Globalization and the information technology revolution continue at a heightened pace.