Good morning, everyone. I’m very excited to be here and to welcome you to our annual Business Seminar. I’m particularly happy to see so many great U.S. companies represented here. We have companies from across several industries and over 20 states, including my home state of South Carolina. I want to thank our co-hosts at the U.S. Department of Commerce. I also want to thank our partners at the United Nations for being here.
This is a very important event for me. As governor of South Carolina, my number one priority was attracting businesses and jobs to my state.
That process gave me a great appreciation for the needs of businesses – and for the ability of government to make doing business more difficult.
We know that the UN, due to its size and complexity, can be a confusing and bureaucratic place, particularly for U.S. businesses.
But just like we did in South Carolina, we’re working to change that.
The United Nations procures over $17.5 billion each year in goods and services. This represents an enormous opportunity for U.S. businesses.
Our priority is that U.S. companies capture as much of this business as possible. My pledge to you is to demystify this process and to level the playing field for U.S. companies when it comes to doing business with the UN. We’re doing pretty well – U.S. companies provide approximately $1.5 billion in goods and services to the UN annually. But we can do better.
One of my goals as U.S. Ambassador is to reform the UN and change the culture by bringing 21st century technology and standards to the organization. The idea is to make the UN more efficient and more effective. We want to make every dollar the UN spends count. And that’s where U.S. companies come in.
Events like this are your resource. We do this to inform you of business opportunities and to help you engage directly with UN procurement officials.
At the same time, we are encouraging the UN to communicate better and more systematically with companies to understand the latest and greatest technologies on the market. For example, we recently asked the UN to put together a Technology Fair for companies to meet with UN officials in Europe to showcase technologies for peacekeeping operations.
Both sides can learn from communicating more directly. Today is an opportunity for the UN as well as an opportunity for you.
I’m going to close by bragging on South Carolina a bit. When I left the governorship to come here, South Carolina had become known as the “Beast of the Southeast” for the economic and job growth South Carolinians had achieved.
We’d love nothing more than to see the same kind of success for U.S. companies at the United Nations. That’s what today is all about.
So thank you, once again, for being here. We hope you learn a lot from today’s program – and good luck.