AmCham November Monthly Meeting

 

On Thursday, November 17, AmCham hosted Ms. Robin L. Dunnigan, United States Deputy Assistant Secretary (DAS) for Central and Eastern Europe, during our November Monthly Meeting.

The main objective of this meeting was for DAS Dunnigan to meet AmCham members during her first trip to Poland in her new role, which she took in September of this year. In her opening remarks, she underlined how important it is to the U.S. government and herself to listen to the business community's voice and understand the real needs and challenges of U.S. companies in different parts of Central and Eastern Europe. Continuing her opening, she spoke about the importance of the EU-U.S. alliance and friendship for the Biden administration and working together on fighting the COVID-19 crisis (on both economic and medical layers), stopping climate change, and lowering tensions with China and Russia.

The first topic covered in detail was an attempt to understand the U.S. perception of the Belarus border crisis. We heard that the U.S. Government is closely looking into the issue and is already working on a set of sanctions against Belarus to stop Łukaszenko from using migrants as a tool (or 'a weapon' as she called it).

Answering one of the Members' question, DAS Dunnigan reverted to the rule of law as a fundamental value that the U.S. Government wants to support throughout the CEE. For that reason, a concrete plan is being created to support different NGOs around the CEE, who aim to maintain and develop democratic values.

A widely discussed topic was the role of governments in resolving global supply chain problems. AmCham members raised the issue of a hold in U.S. and China trade, which affects companies down the value chain in the CEE region. Extremally difficult, especially now, during huge shortages in supply caused by post-COVID growth of consumption.

As the crisis is global, not local, and has a multidimensional background, no immediate actions could be taken to fix broken supply chains. A combination of many approaches is needed. Robin Dunnigan agreed that the problematic situation is at the same time an opportunity for Central and Eastern Europe to become the leading sourcing region, next to the Asian market. She agreed to promote that idea among U.S. Government members, the Technology and Trade Council (EU), and the 3 Seas initiative. 

Another point in the discussion was the potential threat of the energy crisis in the EU this winter. DAS deliberated on urging Russia to release their gas reserves, which should not be determined by the final agreement on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. She praised Poland for the efforts and success in diversifying sources and directions of energy purchase, which led to a situation where Poland can support neighboring countries entirely dependent on Russian gas, like Moldova.

Together with Cindy Biggs, Senior Commercial Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Poland mentioned the active recruitment of a delegation for the SelectUSA Summit in 2022. DAS Dunnigan added that some countries from the region already sent their trade delegations to the U.S. using the opportunity of the new travel rules.

In her final remarks, Robin Dunnigan reflected on the new U.S. Ambassador to Poland. Being aware of the delay in the process, she assured that the hearing in Congress should be finalized soon.

 

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