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State Dept. Reorganization Combines Economic, Energy and Environment Functions

Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The State Department announced Dec. 8 the creation of a new Office of the Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment, which will replace the former Office of the Under Secretary for Economic, Energy and Agricultural Affairs. The new position, which will be held by Robert Hormats, will supervise three bureaus and two offices: the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, the Bureau of Energy Resources, the Office of the Science and Technology Adviser to the Secretary, and a new Office of the Chief Economist.

A State Department fact sheet states that the new office will lead the department’s efforts to focus on the secretary’s economic statecraft agenda, especially through supporting U.S. business and jobs in a global economic system based on clear rules. It will also promote sustainable and balanced growth in the world economy based on sound environmental practices, increased energy diversification, security and access as well as foster innovation through robust science, entrepreneurship and technology policies.

According to State, this realignment “reflects the reality that the nature of our international engagement has changed.” For example, technological and scientific innovations are accelerating the pace of international affairs, exacerbating challenges as well as creating potential new opportunities in science and technology to resolve them. Rising powers tend to focus on economic as opposed to other forms of power, and the United States’ economic growth is increasingly dependent on its ability to foster global growth, open markets to U.S. goods and services and effectively address emerging trade barriers and new global economic challenges. In addition, environmental challenges are translating into diplomatic and security questions. The fact sheet states that placing these issues under one official will allow State to better implement policies in these areas.

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