Overview

A non-US company sought to persuade the US Congress to extend trade preferences for imports originating in its home country in Latin America. Blue Star developed a dual communications and legislative strategy to educate the US Government - specifically policymakers in the Departments of State, Treasury, and Commerce, the US Trade Representative, the National Economic Council, and the National Security Council - regarding the benefits of a trade preference extension.

Challenges

Largely as a result of a strained bilateral relationship, the US Government was not initially supportive of extending the Trade Preference Act with this country. Members of Congress questioned whether the Act should be extended, and many who had previously backed it withdrew their support. Adding to the pressure was the fact that without an extension, our client would have to shed thousands of jobs in a country where unemployment was skyrocketing.

Strategic Recommendations

In an effort to change this adverse momentum, Blue Star developed a strategy to engage the US executive branch, the US Congress on both sides of the aisle, and the leading public policy and non-governmental organizations in Washington, DC. Our strategy built on the client's compelling story: the business employed thousands of workers, it fed into the growth of hundreds of other small enterprises, and it was one of its country's largest taxpayers. To disseminate this story to all the relevant stakeholders and decision makers, the Blue Star team organized several forums in the Washington policy community. Further, we brought the company's CEO to Washington every month for Congressional meetings in order to communicate the urgency of the company's position.

Program Highlights

Once Blue Star had laid the groundwork through a robust outreach strategy, our client was able to testify before the influential Ways and Means Committee of the US House of Representatives. Additionally, our client's presentation before the US Department of State's tribunal was a key component of the Secretary's overall assessment of the trade preference regime, and subsequent recommendation to extend it. finally, we were able to persuade the Subcommittee Chair to visit one of the countries that benefited from the trade preference and speak at our client's factory.

Results

A compelling story combined with the successful efforts of Blue Star Strategies to execute a multi-level government relations campaign led the congress to approve the trade preference extension by a wide margin in both the House and Senate. In the end, Blue Star worked for the trade preference extension for three consecutive years - and achieved an extension each year in which we were engaged.