DIPLOMACY 101: Economic Affairs
Updated: Feb 28, 2019
Diplomats in the US Foreign Service work in one of five career tracks. Even though they’re called generalists—which means they can work on almost any issue during their 20+ year career—they have to specialize in something. The choices are: consular, economic, management, political and public affairs.
The State Department has designed a quiz to figure out which career track might be right for you, but the questions seems based on a list of job descriptions and are not overly helpful if you don’t already know a little bit about the work itself.
So what are the issues economic officers work on? How to they further their countries’ national priorities, and who can be an economic officer?
The issues economic officers work on are different in each embassy. Typical portfolios in the economic section include macro-economic policy, commercial advocacy, agriculture, civil aviation, climate change, corruption, customs, energy, finance, health, sanctions, science, technology, transport, and women’s economic empowerment... Read more here!
The mains goal for economic officers are advancing their countries’ economic priorities, attracting foreign direct investment, and “leveling the playing field” for their countries’ investors and entrepreneurs so they can do business internationally... Read more here!
BEING AN ECONOMIC OFFICER – WHAT IT’S REALLY LIKE
No matter their chosen career track, all US diplomats have to complete at least one consular tour at the entry-level (in the first four years). Economic officers often don’t work in a full-time economic position until their second or third tour... Read more here!
MY OWN EXPERIENCE WITH ECONOMIC AFFAIRS
I have some experience with economic affairs from when I was a political/economic assistant in the US Embassy in Montevideo for two years. The embassy there is considered “medium size”, which means there were several officers and locally hired employees working on economic and commercial issues... Read more here!
WHO CAN BE AN ECONOMIC OFFICER?
In the US system, anyone can be an economic officer. You don’t need a special degree for it. Like in other career tracks within the Foreign Service, diplomats learn the necessary skills after they are hired, and mostly on the job (although there is a 10-month economic course diplomats can take at the Foreign Service Institute)... Read more here!
WHERE TO FIND MORE INFORMATION
Below are a few external links to help you find out more about the economic career track for Foreign Service Officers:
(AFSA) Foreign Service Journal January/February 2019 Issue: Economic Diplomacy Works
(State Department) Overview Of A Potential Progression In Your Career Track
(State Department) videos where current economic foreign service officers describe their work: