AmCham Bulgaria Concludes Successful AmChams in Europe U.S. Conference 2023 in Washington D.C. & Houston, Texas

AmCham Bulgaria team was part of the AmChams in Europe U.S. Conference 2023, held in Washington D.C. and Houston, Texas, on May 8-12, 2023. Ivan Mihaylov, CEO, and Daniel Kiryakov, Communications and Public Affairs Manager, were among the group of 35 representatives from 25 AmChams across Europe and Eurasia. The team attended the ACE agenda, had several additional bilateral meetings organized by the Chamber’s American anchor Ivo Konstantinov with multiple partner organizations and institutions, and was active during multiple sessions and presentations.

Washington D.C. Agenda

U.S. Chamber of Commerce

On Day 1 all attendees were welcomed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Suzanne P. Clark, President and CEO, and Marjorie Chorlins, SVP for Europe. Ms. Clark stressed the vital function of businesses in supporting and even urging governments to address significant concerns, bringing up critical business and government collaboration messages. Among the key issues that U.S. Chamber sees include the need of permitting reform, reform of immigration to the U.S., the Inflation Reduction Act, etc.

Marty Durbin, Senior President of the Policy Division and President of the Global Energy Institute, addressed U.S. industry problems, highlighting permitting delays and shortages of employees triggered by immigration issues. Dan Bayers, Vice President on Climate and Energy, stressed the connection between a secure energy supply and an awareness of our energy demands, requesting businesses and governments to work closer together. America’s leadership in LNG and the support to Europe and Japan in 2022 was undoubted. In his words, Japan is expected to reopen 11 GW of nuclear plants thus to release 5 bcf of LNG in 2023. The issue of the critical minerals and how U.S. Government will treat hydrogen are part of their agenda. Curtis Dubay, Chief Economist, reassured attendees about the economy’s strength, with Q1 growth at 1.1% and an annual forecast of 0.7%. While a mild recession may occur, job openings will help keep it in check. Dubay also discussed the gradual decline of U.S. inflation from 9.1% to 5.0%, cautioning that the Inflation Reduction Act might need to be more effectively addressed. John Murphy, Senior Vice President of International Policy, provided encouraging evidence of employment creation and growth in income. He emphasized the absence of signed agreements on trade and questioned the emphasis on The Buy American Act.

ACE Ministerial Meetings

On Day 1 the ACE team also met with Marisa Lago, Undersecretary of Commerce, and David De Falco, Deputy Assistant Secretary, at the U.S. Department of Commerce. There was a productive and open discussion on the importance of strengthening the links between the corporate and government sectors, as well as on the more substantial dialogue and outcomes of the Trade and Technology Council work.

On Day 2 the ACE team held an intriguing debate with the U.S. Department of State Undersecretary Jose W. Fernandez. The primary ideas presented throughout the debate were on unity and the critical mission of rebuilding Ukraine, immigration policy, energy diversification and security, and again on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

Strategic Insight: EXIM, APCO, Atlantic Council

The AmChams in Europe (ACE) team had the honor of meeting with POLITICO, one of the main sources of political news and commentary. They discussed the subtle complexities of politics as a fundamentally human effort in an engaging conversation with Matthew Kaminski, Editor in Chief.

The ACE team also met with the senior leadership of the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM). A constructive meeting took place with Judith Pryor, EXIM’s First Vice President and Vice Chair of the Board of Directors, to learn about financing programs and initiatives geared at assisting American and European businesses.

Day 3 of the agenda in Washington, D.C. concluded with a morning session at APCO Worldwide. The meeting included notable speakers who delivered valuable perspectives that left a profound mark on our team. Dan Scandling, Senior Director of US Politics/Congress; Elizabeth Cohan, Senior Director of International Public Affairs; J. Todd Inman, Senior Director of Global Transport; and James McGregor, Chairman of Greater China, were among the strong rosters.

Social Aspects of the Agenda

The 1st day concluded with a memorable reception hosted by the Ambassador of Greece to the USA, Alexandra Papadopoulou, at the Greek Residence, fostering connections and further discussions. Our friends of AmCham Greece host this year’s AmChams Best Practice Conference at Athens, Greece in September.

Day 2 ended with an evening reception at the Lombardy Hotel in Washington, D.C. Among those in attendance were Jörn Fleck, Senior Director of the Europe Center at the Atlantic Council’s Transform Europe Initiative; Charles Lichfield, Deputy Director, C. Boyden Gray, Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council’s GeoEconomics Center and Jon Decker, White House Correspondent and Senior National Editor at Gray Television.

Houston, Texas Agenda

The bigger part of ACE team moved on to the next part of the Delegation on Wednesday noon. They met notable Houston community members who had graciously shared their expertise and thoughts with them. Honored guests included Eric Maidla, Honorary Consul of the Republic of Estonia, Matt Todd, Senior Partner at Polsinelli, and Igor Gregorič, Chief and Program Director at the Surgical Division of the Memorial Hermann Heart & Vascular Institute-TMC, Professor of the Program of Advanced Heart Failure at McGovern Medical School, and Director of Research at the Center for Advanced Heart Failure, who shared groundbreaking research and insights in the field of advanced heart failure.

A Space Walk: Greater Houston Partnership, NASA, Collins Aerospace

The ACE team continuing their agenda in Houston, the fourth-largest city in the United States. The Greater Houston Partnership, an innovative organization focused on supporting the development and growth of the economy in the region, welcomed the team. Jeffrey Blair, Senior Director of Europe, Middle East, and Africa at Greater Houston Partnership and a notable city promoter highlighted the importance of connectivity in Houston.

During their visit, the ACE team was honored to meet William Harris, President & CEO of the Space Center Houston. They also had an outstanding encounter with Reid Wiseman, an astronaut who will be a part of the Artemis Moon mission in 2025. The team learned more about the ambitious space exploration program and participated in intelligent conversations.

Continuing their exploration of Houston, the ACE team also visited Collins Aerospace, a renowned aerospace. This visit provided an invaluable peek into the scientific developments and ideas driving the space sector, solidifying Houston’s position as a global center for aerospace operations.

Technology and Energy Transformation: Honeywell, Exxon Mobile

Amazing technological and transformational conversations of traditional and new industries took place with Pramesh Maheshwari, President, Honeywell Process Solutions.

Last stop for the ACE Team trip with a stunning walk and presentation at ExxonMobil Campus – 63K employees, 20K scientists work to solve the “AND Equation” – how to supply energy while protecting the environment. The team met with Romke Noordhuis, Executive, Global Business Solutions, Kurt Aerts, Director, Plastics and Product Life Cycle and Filip Schittecatte, Industry Outlooks Manager.

AmCham Bulgaria Agenda

During those six days AmCham Bulgaria benefited from the great agenda organized by the ACE Secretariat and aimed to get the most of this U.S. trip. Thus, several strategic meetings in parallel were organized thanks to Ivo Konstantinov with senior representatives of U.S. Department of Trade, U.S. State Department, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Trade Representative, U.S. Chamber Global Energy Institute, and the International Economic Development Council. Such meetings and exchange position well both Bulgaria and our Chamber before strategic partners across the Atlantic.

A special moment of reunion was the get-together dinner with Christina Lucas, the former General Manager for Bulgaria of AIG and now serving as Board Member of America for Bulgaria Foundation.

Acknowledgment

The ACE 2023 U.S. Conference was a great success: gathering distinguished colleagues from 25 chambers and crafting another excellent program for gaining insight, new ideas, and building-up partnership and friendships, was a great benefit to all participants. AmCham Bulgaria thanks to Susan Danger, Chair AmChams in Europe, Ajsa Vodnik, VP ACE and her team, and to everyone who made that possible.


Source: Photos AmChams in Europe / Text: based on AmCham Greece article


Photos by: AmChams in Europe and AmCham Bulgaria