By Michele Cahn

(From the editor: This article was originally published in The Commerce Blog.)

For everyone who may speculate that the U.S. position of influence in the world has declined, our recent trip to Poland and Turkey proves to me that when business and government come together, we make a very powerful statement. This type of initiative is something that is unique to the United States… this is commercial diplomacy in action at its very best.

I was able to spend the first days of October with Xerox CEO Ursula Burns, who is the vice chair of the President’s Export Council (PEC)     and who helped lead a fact-finding mission to Poland and Turkey. U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker led the high-level delegation of U.S. business leaders on an economic fact-finding mission to identify opportunities to increase trade and investment between the U.S. and Poland and the U.S. and Turkey, two high-potential, fast-growing markets that have been under penetrated by US companies, especially small- and medium-sized enterprises.

Our delegation included CEOs from such companies as Vermeer, Lockheed Martin, Marriott International, Archer Daniels Midland, 32 Advisors, and UPS—representing a combined market cap of more than $850 billion and senior representatives from another eight companies.

What impressed me so much was the reception from the entire range of people we met with was how significant this trip was and how and why  the PEC selected Poland and Turkey for this trip.  And while we take some of this for granted, private and public partnerships are very rare in these countries.  We were asked why would these U.S. companies join together for this trip: Don’t you compete with one another?

We were able to make it very clear, that this wasn’t about competing; this was trying to grow economic opportunities for all of us.  The outcome of this mission will be to help stimulate business in Poland and Turkey and help increase exports from the U.S.  Combined, that means economic and job growth in these countries and in the U.S., so we all benefit.

Business leaders in Poland and Turkey have a very strong interest in capitalizing on innovation and entrepreneurship.  Poland has a highly skilled and highly educated workforce, but the general impression there is that the digital revolution has passed them by.  The challenges in Turkey might be more significant in terms of modernizing laws, simplifying bureaucracy and building transparency.

So while there are challenges, there are significant opportunities to accelerate business growth and to encourage governments and businesses in both countries to partner more with each other .

The President’s Export Council serves as the principal national advisory committee on international trade advising President Obama on government policies and programs that affect U.S. trade and exports.  Our next step is creating a report for the President outlining possible next steps and we will deliver that report in December.

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Michele Cahn(above, right) is vice president of Global Government Affairs and Corporate Philanthropy for Xerox. She traveled with Xerox CEO Ursula Burns(left), co-chair of the President’s Export Council.