Launching the Meridian Corporate Council Working Groups with Sarah Morgenthau, Special Representative for Commercial & Business Affairs

Woman in a White pinstripe suit with brown hair and translucent glasses stands in front of a podium to give remarks with the backdrop of a blue logo from Meridian International Center.
Sarah Morgenthau, Special Representative for Commercial & Business Affairs, U.S. Department of State gives opening remarks at the launch of the Corporate Council Working Groups on April 3, 2024. Photo by Stephen Bobb.

On April 3, 2024, the Meridian Corporate Council hosted a Global Business Briefing and fireside chat with Ms. Sarah Morgenthau, Special Representative for Commercial and Business Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. The discussion, moderated by The Honorable Stuart Holliday, Chief Executive Officer, Meridian International Center, covered the Special Representative’s current priorities as well as the role American businesses have in driving U.S. competitiveness around the globe.

About Special Representative Sarah Morgenthau

Special Representative Sarah Morgenthau was appointed by President Biden in October 2023 to lead the Office of Commercial and Business Affairs at the State Department’s Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs. The Office of Commercial and Business Affairs advances trade, commercial, and economic policies for America’s workers and the middle-class to help create jobs and strengthen U.S. communities. Morgenthau leads efforts to expand U.S. exports through commercial advocacy and to create and advance a level playing field for U.S. workers and companies overseas. Morgenthau has extensive experience in senior federal government and private sector roles and brings strong leadership expertise in building relationships and advancing organizational, program, and policy objectives.

Here are some takeaways from the program:

The Meridian Center for Corporate Diplomacy with Special Representative Sarah Morgenthau from the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Commercial and Business Affairs, launched the Meridian Corporate Council Working Groups. With over 50+ major global corporations and partners participating from key sectors, these working groups enable increased public-private collaboration, will fortify American business growth, and strengthen our competitive edge internationally.

These groups will allow the private sector to collaborate with the U.S. Department of State and Special Representative Morgenthau on addressing pivotal issues pertinent to their respective thematic areas. The discussion delved into each of the five groups below:

  1. AI, Emerging Technology, & Digital Transformation

The needs of the world are changing rapidly, and the Fourth Industrial Revolution has brought advances in technology and services that demand adaptation from the public and private sectors. Through commercial diplomacy, the United States can bolster its technology policy and national broad. The 2019 Championing American Business Through Diplomacy Act is an example of targeted efforts to improve the way the Department of State and Commerce support U.S. businesses in foreign markets. As markets adapt to the digital age, AI regulation is at the forefront of many government and inter-agency conversations. The AI market size is projected to reach $407 billion by 2027 with an estimated 21% net increase in U.S. GDP by 2030, and with the EU releasing development regulations through the EU AI Act in 2021, the U.S. is not far behind. As the private sector reacts to emerging legislation, it must also have a seat at the table and shape conversations surrounding the evolving technology industry.

  1. Energy & The Environment

The second of five working groups, clean energy and the transition into a low-carbon economy continues to be a U.S. and global priority. The World Economic Forum’s Fostering Effective Energy Transition 2023 report notes 95% of countries have improved their total Energy Transition Index score over the past decade. In the U.S., the 2021 Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad and 2022 Inflation Reduction Act have placed the climate crisis at the center of U.S. foreign policy and national security. In the year since the Inflation Reduction Act was signed, the private sector announced more than $110 billion in new clean energy manufacturing investments, including over $70 billion in the Electric Vehicle supply chain and over $10 billion in solar manufacturing. The Department of State continues to work with the White House and the Environmental Protection Agency on filling production gaps and creating sustainable partnerships with the help of the private sector.

  1. Health Diplomacy

The U.S. is the largest donor in global health services, and through bilateral and multilateral engagements, supports programs and initiatives addressing global health challenges in around 70 countries. Health diplomacy is essential for fostering cooperation and addressing health inequities globally, creating cross-sector partnerships to promote heath equity and strengthen healthcare systems. In 2023, the U.S. appropriated $12.9 billion in global health funding, supporting activities across disease prevention, maternal health, and global health security. As a core component of U.S. economic foreign policy, the State Department’s Bureau of Global Health Security and Diplomacy coordinates and advances international cooperation to help achieve the Department’s global health goals.

  1. Supply Chains, Infrastructure & Critical Minerals

Robust infrastructure must underpin resilient supply chains, which in turn, must work to secure critical mineral’s crucial to the industries of tomorrow. Over the next few decades, demand for critical minerals is estimated to skyrocket 400-600% globally. China mines and refines 85-90% of rare earth elements globally and refines 65% of nickel along with 60% of EV battery-grade lithium.  The United States must work with key partners around the world to improve cooperation on securing and diversifying critical mineral supply chains to compete with China. Derisking supply chains while maintaining crucial bilateral and multilateral trade relationships and investing in secure infrastructure projects at home and around the world.

  1. U.S. Business Competitiveness

American businesses are the engine that drives U.S. competitiveness around the world. Not only do large companies have a dramatic impact on diplomatic engagement and abilities abroad, but small and medium sized firms too drive technology innovation and promote foreign policy initiatives.  The Biden administration has strongly emphasized growing U.S. competitiveness globally, taking measures to develop manufacturing and innovation domestically to better support supply chains, one example being the 2022 COMPETES Act which will increase semiconductor manufacturing and position the U.S. to compete with China. U.S. companies also have an important role as Ambassadors in countries they operate in as they often understand the on-the-ground frameworks that pave the way for government to enact industry-changing policies.





Project summary

Launching the Meridian Corporate Council Working Groups with Sarah Morgenthau, Special Representative for Commercial & Business Affairs | April 2024
Number of Visitors: 50
Number of Attendees: 50
Regions: Africa, East Asia and Pacific, Europe and Eurasia, Near East and North Africa, Western Hemisphere, South and Central Asia
Impact Areas: Business and Trade, Energy and the Environment, Artificial Intelligence and Cybersecurity, Global Health
Program Areas: Corporate Diplomacy
Partners: Public Sector, Private Sector
Meridian Corporate Council Working Groups