Washington DC: Trade, Administration, Democrats and Republicans

Our last day in Washington DC was a fitting conclusion to a wonderful week.

International Trade Administration:
Our first meeting of the day was with the International Trade Administration (ITA). This is an agency under the United States Department of Commerce that promotes exports of US nonagricultural goods and services. The Administration endeavours to enhances the competitiveness of US exports, promote trade and investment, and ensure fair trade through rigorous enforcement of trade laws and agreements.

At the Administration, we met Seth Isenberg, Senior International Investment Specialist for SelectUSA, and Adrian Stover, International Trade Specialist covering the Philippines, Australia and New Zealand. During our discussion, they talked about how they helped New Zealand businesses get a foothold in the USA through Select USA and garner a greater appreciation of the manoeuvring required to optimise business success in the United States. This was a particularly interesting discussion topic in the wake of a unique new administration and an uncertain international trade environment.

The delegation at the International Trade Administration.

White House Visitor Centre:
Here, we got an intimate window into the land’s highest office, the Presidency. Presidents have such an influence of the trajectory on the behemothic nation, and consequently the political, economical and social landscape of the world. The weight of the world can rest upon their shoulders. Having an insight into their lives, backgrounds and battles was enlightening and made us appreciate the scale of such a job.

Library of Congress:
Before going to our next meeting, we made a quick stop at the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution, the Library of Congress, the largest library in the world. It is home to millions of books, recordings, photographs, newspapers, maps and manuscripts. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress, and the de facto national library of the United States.

House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats:
Our final meeting in DC was with the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats. Here, we met Philip Bednarczyk, a Democratic Staffer. We also met Scott Cullinane, a Republican Staffer.

They discussed the mechanics of Congress, how they got into their current careers, and the current political climate in Washington. Perceiving these politically turbulent times through the lens of the staff on the ground was both refreshing and intriguing, deepening our perspective of the front lines of DC. It was a highlight for all of the delegation. Overall, it was a much tamer Democrat-Republican discussion than what we’ve been accustomed to with the 2016 presidential debates.

The delegation at the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

National Archives:
Just before it closed, we also went to the National Archives. The Archives house the the three main formative documents of the United States: the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. It was interesting to see the first constitutional steps that America made, in its journey to becoming an international superpower. Despite them being signed over two hundred years ago, they still play a key role today. To be in their presence was humbling.

Flight to Boston:

We had one last glimpse of the Capitol, saying goodbye to the political heart of the United States, on our way to the airport. We left to embark for the next exciting chapter of the tour, Boston.

– Sam Walker