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General Counsel Welsh Promotes Commercial Law Development in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia

General Counsel Welsh promotes commercial law development in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia

U.S. Department of Commerce General Counsel Kelly Welsh met with government officials and business leaders in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia this week to strengthen ties with regional counterparts and to assess challenges U.S. businesses face in the those countries. The General Counsel’s Commercial Law Development Program (CLDP) organized the trip as part of ongoing efforts to improve the legal environment for American companies doing business in the Middle East.

The Crown Prince of Bahrain, His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa welcomed General Counsel Welsh at the Riffa Palace, where they discussed the importance of strong economic ties between the United States and Bahrain. They also discussed steps taken to advance the commercial legal system in Bahrain, which will enhance the ease of doing business and attract foreign investment. His Excellency the Minister of Industry and Commerce Zayed Rashid Al Zayani commented during the meeting on the strong ties between the U.S. Department of Commerce’s CLDP and the Bahrain Ministry of Industry and Commerce. 

General Counsel Welsh focused on entrepreneurship developments in Bahrain at a roundtable with members of the business community, and offered suggestions on how to create a legal environment that is conducive to investment and growth. Welsh and the delegation also discussed ways to advance U.S. and international investments in Bahrain with representatives of the American Chamber of Commerce.

In Saudi Arabia, General Counsel Welsh discussed the role of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) in modernizing commercial law in Saudi Arabia with His Excellency Abdullatif Al-Othman, governor of SAGIA, and His Royal Highness Prince Saud Al-Faisal.

General Counsel Welsh also met with the senior leadership of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA), including Vice Governor Mr. Abdulaziz S. Al-Furaih. SAMA officials highlighted the Saudi bankruptcy law draft being circulated for review, and they noted steps the Saudi Arabian government is taking to promote anti-corruption. The SAMA officials indicated their desire to cooperate with CLDP on insolvency laws in the Kingdom. They also discussed ways to enhance the climate for investments in the United States by Saudi Arabian entities and individuals.

Department of Commerce Operating Status for March 2, 2015

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In accordance with the Office of Personnel Management’s Operating Status, Department of Commerce offices in the Washington, DC area are OPEN under 2 hours DELAYED ARRIVAL and employees have the OPTION FOR UNSCHEDULED LEAVE OR UNSCHEDULED TELEWORK. Employees should plan to arrive for work no more than 2 hours later than they would be expected to arrive.

Non-Emergency Employees who report to the office will be granted excused absence (administrative leave) for up to 2 hours past their expected arrival time. In accordance with their bureau/operating unit’s policies and procedures, subject to any applicable collective bargaining requirements (as consistent with law), non-emergency employees may notify their supervisor of their intent to use:

  1. earned annual leave, compensatory time off, credit hours, or sick leave, as appropriate;
  2. leave without pay;
  3. their alternative work schedule (AWS) day off or rearrange their work hours under flexible work schedules; or
  4. unscheduled telework (if telework-ready).

(Employees who request unscheduled leave will be charged leave for the entire workday.)

Telework-Ready Employees who are regularly scheduled to perform telework or who notify their supervisor of their intention to perform unscheduled telework must be prepared to telework for the entire workday, or take unscheduled leave, or a combination of both, for the entire workday in accordance with their bureau/operating unit’s policies and procedures, subject to any applicable collective bargaining requirements (as consistent with law).

Pre-approved Leave. Employees on pre-approved leave for the entire workday or employees who requested unscheduled leave for the entire workday will be charged leave for the entire day.

Emergency Employees are expected to report to their worksite on time unless otherwise directed by their agencies.

More information and details on Operating Status can be viewed online at http://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/snow-dismissal-procedures/current-status/,

Personnel may also contact the DOC Status Line at 202-482-7400 for recorded updates regarding changes in the Department of Commerce’s operating status.

President Obama Renews Charge to Help Rural Companies and Communities Compete Globally

Spiral Candles, proudly made in North Dakota

Yesterday, President Obama announced new commitments in the “Made in Rural America” export and investment initiative, which is charged with bringing together federal trade-related resources for rural communities and businesses. This announcement reflects the Administration’s strategy for ensuring workers and businesses of all sizes, from communities large and small, benefit from the nation’s economic resurgence. 

The Department of Commerce also released data yesterday that show 26 states set new export records in 2014, and many of those states are in the nation’s heartland.

The Administration’s next steps in the “Made in Rural America” initiative build on input received from rural businesses and communities throughout the past year.  Following the President’s announcement of the initiative in February 2014, agencies led several regional forums across the country, a Rural Opportunity Investment conference last summer, and new partnerships to help more rural businesses – making everything from amphibious vehicles to aquaculture products – plug in to export assistance.    

Last year, we confirmed that rural businesses have the products and services in demand worldwide, and the drive to export – just like urban businesses. The challenge is improving their access to information and export services, including financing and logistics. U.S. Commercial Service – North Dakota Director Heather Ranck and rural companies spoke about that in this “Export Experts” video released last October.

Highlights from yesterday’s announcement include the following: