Remarks at the 2015 Milan Expo Event

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Deputy Chief of Mission Residence
Rome, Italy
March 27, 2014

Date: 03/27/2014 Description: Secretary of State John Kerry greets Milan Expo Commissioner Guiseppe Sala at a reception for U.S. companies based in Italy that are donors and potential donors for a USA Pavillion at the Milan Expo 2015. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, Pool) © AP Image SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, Kathleen. Thank you very much and good evening. Buona sera. I’m happy to be here with everybody in this rather modest public housing that our -- (laughter) – I keep going around with the President, we keep going to Villa Taverna, Villa Pinciana, da-da-da-da, and I find – where’s my home like this? (Laughter.) I don’t know what the deal is. But actually, I’m not allowed to say that. That’s okay, I got a good home.

It is really a pleasure to be here with all of you. Thank you very much, Kathleen. Thank you to the Chamber of Commerce, which I know has worked to help bring everybody together, and Giuseppe Sala, thank you for your leadership now for a number of years to help pull this together. And a group of you, who – I guess the International Culinary Center and the James Beard Foundation, as well as 3M, McKinsey, Illy, and who’d I leave out? I left somebody out. DuPont. There we go. How could I dare do that? Are you with DuPont?

PARTICIPANT: No, I’m International Culinary.

SECRETARY KERRY: All right. So I took care of you. (Laughter.) You’re all right. All right.

So it’s a great, great pleasure for me to be here in the presence of my new regular companion on a business basis every day. Federica has distinguished herself by beginning immediately in her first week welcoming over 40 ministers here. And I was one of them, privileged to be a guest and now to be back, excuse me, in Rome – obviously, one of the greatest cities in the world. And it’s such a pleasure to be able to be here.

I had the privilege of representing in Massachusetts for almost 30 years in the Senate, the United States Senate, one of America’s largest, most ferocious, Italian-American communities. And I’m very proud, and my brother-in-law, David Thorne, was your most recent ambassador here for a period of time. He and I created great mischief here in Rome years ago when we were in college. And he fell in love with it, and he decided he wanted to come back and be an ambassador, and I think he did a great job.

We’re happy that Kathleen and John Phillips are now doing an extraordinary job of carrying on, particularly on something that is of enormous importance to President Obama and to me and to the Obama Administration. And that is the recognition that in today’s world, business is different, and foreign policy is different. People used to always draw a line. If you were an economic officer, you came into an embassy and you got shunted off and you weren’t necessarily in the mainstream of “foreign policy.” Well, that is so far from the reality today. Economic policy is foreign policy.

And when I came in as Secretary, I made it very, very clear this was going to be one of the highest priorities of the State Department and of the Obama Administration’s second term. And the President is deeply committed to helping businesses to locate, to expand, to be able to marry with other businesses in other parts of the world in order to create jobs and strengthen other countries at the same time – not all as fortunate as Italy to have the extraordinary innovation and technology and remarkable design and creative talent that you have in Italy. But other countries that are having great difficulties today with young populations desperate for opportunity, where you really need, if you’re going to provide stability and a future, you’ve got to provide jobs.

Believe it or not, Milan Expo 2015, in our judgment, fits into that strategy, and that’s why I’m very proud to say that today Ambassador Phillips has signed the contract, and we have signed on officially for the United States to partner with the Friends of the Pavilion Milan Expo 2015. We’re going to be there to help support this effort to showcase sustainability and food security. And you do not have to be a rocket scientist or an anthropologist or a genius or a professor to understand as you look at what’s happening in the world today, with about 6-plus billion or whatever it is today heading to 9 billion over the course of the next 35 years, there is going to be unbelievable demand on resources when you couple that with climate change and the already real impacts on farming and fishing and all the other things that are part of sustaining life on this planet, we have a challenge.

That’s what makes Milan Expo 2015 particularly timely, and we are therefore excited about it. Also, we have developed a new program called SelectUSA where we’re working to interest other companies to actually come and invest in the United States too. It works in both directions. But our purpose in taking part in this expo, ironic as it may seem for the United States to talk about bringing food to Italy of all places – I know that’s a little bit of a coal to Newcastle situation. This really can be fun and it can be interesting, and it is a great opportunity for businesses to trade ideas, to showcase to the world.

In Shanghai, the last expo, I believe had something like 70 million people came through. The expectations for Milan are something like 30-35 million people. That is enormous traffic. And when you think about it, this is not just Italy’s fair, world’s fair to so speak; it’s going to be Europe’s, and it’s going to have an enormous ability to be able to attract attention, excitement, generate business, as well as good for the economy for all of those visitors who are coming through, et cetera.

So we’re excited about it. I’m honored to be here tonight. I have one message to all of you: Those of you representing Italian companies who do business with American companies, we want you to get them excited about this. We’re going to help market it. We will help engage. But tell your peers they’ve got to be involved in this. This is going to be 100 percent supported by the private sector, and therefore we need to go to work to make sure that the pavilion is at the level that we want it to be, that it showcases the creativity and technology and capacities that we have with respect to both sustainability and long-term stability and growth and food security for a growing population on this planet.

Obviously, there’s an enormous amount of money to be made when you consider the marketplace we’re looking at. The market that provided the great wealth growth of the 1990s was a $1 trillion market for 1 billion users. We’re talking about 9 billion users growing in these next years, with multiples of trillions of dollars of commerce and trade. So I think we have opportunity staring us in the face. We are proud to join with this. I am very happy to be here tonight with my counterpart Federica and grateful that we’re able to take part in Milan 2015. Thank you. (Applause.)