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The Role of U.S. State Governments in International Relations, 1980–2015

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image of International Negotiation

In an effort to protect and enhance the interests of their constituents in a complex era of globalization, interdependence, and “creative destruction,” most U.S. state governments have chosen to be engaged internationally, especially in economic activities, such as export promotion and the attraction of direct investment, tourists, and students from abroad. However, these activities have often been sporadic and are subject to being downsized or eliminated during tough fiscal periods, such as the Great Recession of 2007–2009. Moreover, U.S. federalism has been in a period of centralization with more power assumed by the national government at the expense of state governments. The executive branches of the national and state governments occasionally clash over international competencies, with the national government almost always prevailing. Nonetheless, most state governments continue to be actively engaged in “foreign affairs,” as contrasted with “foreign policy,” and future trends should result in the proliferation of these pursuits.

Affiliations: 1: Brigham Young University 774 SWKT, Provo, UT 84602USA

1 Earl Fry has authored numerous books and articles dealing with sub-state international relations and diplomacy, including The Expanding Role of State and Local Governments in U.S. Foreign Affairs (Council on Foreign Relations). He is a former Special Assistant in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. His most recent volume is Revitalizing Governance, Restoring Prosperity, and Restructuring Foreign Affairs: The Pathway to Renaissance America (Lexington Books).

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