Javier Means Business: A Day in the Life of a Commercial Specialist at FCS

By: Graham Swaney, Public Affairs Intern

Javier Suárez is a specialist working for the Foreign Commercial Service (FCS) at the U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo. Javier is part of the local staff, and has been helping Americans and Dominicans connect and build successful business relationships for four years.

The Foreign Commercial Service is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration. FCS is focused on supporting and creating American jobs by leveling the international playing field for U.S. businesses and workers.  In the Dominican Republic, FCS has been assisting U.S. companies for over 30 years. In fact, the U.S. is the largest foreign investor in the country.

On most days, Javier will come into work, respond to urgent emails, and catch up on the latest American and Dominican business news. Javier is one of four commercial specialists in the office each of which focuses on helping businesses from specific sectors. Javier’s main sectors are information and communications technology, consumer electronics, and financial services, so he also keeps an eye on the news about these areas.

Javier at his desk in the U.S. Embassy.

After checking the news, Javier will typically work through requests for business assistance. Javier has plenty of these, given that he receives requests directly and is assigned to deal with requests from offices in the U.S. However, his schedule changes depending on what type of projects or events he is organizing. Sometimes he will spend weeks on end working almost exclusively on a particular business project or event. 

This variety is actually Javier’s favorite part of the job. In his words “no two days are the same”, and he is constantly meeting new people and learning about different companies and products. For example, he once helped a company that sells special vans designed to transport people to non-emergency medical appointments.

As a commercial specialist, Javier’s main objective is to help U.S. businesses reach Dominican markets and facilitate the creation of successful U.S.-Dominican ventures. To achieve this goal, he runs several services including the following:

  • Sending contact lists of known Dominican Businesses to potential American Partners 
  • Conducting Market Research
  • Trade Missions, which allow business representatives to meet with 8-12 other potential partners at a single event (Javier calls it “speed dating for businesses”) 
  • Single company promotions via brunches or seminars
  • Aid in the resolution of customs or other disputes with the Dominican government
  • Helping bridge the language gap between potential partners
  • Taking groups of Dominican Business people on trips to American trade shows

In June 2019, Ambassador Bernstein attended the U.S. – Caribbean Business Conference in Florida, hosted by the U.S. Commercial Services.  The conference had over 400 participants representing more than 200 companies seeking to expand or export to the Caribbean. Investment and trade is one of Ambassador Bernstein’s top four priorities in the country.  

In November 2018, Ambassador Bernstein hosted a reception for a Trade Mission with private sector representatives from the state of Florida.

The FCS pre-screens both American and Dominican businesses before inviting them to events or offering them services.  This involves confirming that they’re a legitimate business by doing things like looking for a real address and website. This process helps businesses on both sides meet better potential partners, saves time and minimizes risk.

The FCS typically focuses on small and medium businesses who have fewer representatives and less expertise in the Dominican Republic. However, large businesses will often reach out to get help complying with Dominican customs and laws. 

Javier’s office measures it success based on how many “Wins” it can help facilitate annually. A win is the creation of a new business transaction or partnership. This year, the FCS has a goal of achieving 36 wins and has already made 24! Javier has helped score 6 of these wins and is hoping to contribute 2 or 4 more by the end of the year.

For more information about FCS, you can follow their Instagram and Twitter account. 

“ A Day in the Life” is a series that focuses on U.S. Embassy Santo Domingo employees and the work they do in strengthening the bilateral relationships between our two countries.