Under Secretary of Commerce For International Trade Francisco SÁnchez
The APEC 2011 Road Show
Thursday, August 19, 2011
Albuquerque, New Mexico
As prepared for delivery
Thank you all for that warm and generous welcome.
A special thanks to Alex for his kind words of introduction and incredible leadership. I also want to recognize your Chairman, Andrew Baca; the officers and board members; and, of course, all of you who support the Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce for your lasting contributions to this city and its economic development.
For nearly four decades, this organization has done such valuable work to widen the circle of opportunity so that it reaches all communities. On behalf of the Obama administration, I’m happy to be here to talk about ways we can work together to make this circle even wider, so that all small and medium-sized businesses can achieve their big ambitions.
Key to this effort is strengthening our trade ties around the globe. As so many of you have recognized, these days — in order for a business to achieve its full potential — it’s no longer enough to target markets across town or across the state: You’ve got to access markets across borders and overseas.
That’s what this APEC 2011 Road Show program, which I helped to launch earlier this year in Seattle, is all about: raising awareness, and building — building your bottom lines, building new partnerships, and building new bridges of opportunity that stretch from Albuquerque to the Asia-Pacific region.
Why this region? Because its booming economy offers opportunities for your businesses, which, in turn, will stimulate the local economy and create jobs here at home. APEC is the fastest growing region in the world. Its 21 member economies represent approximately 2.7 billion consumers, 40 percent of the world’s population, and about 58 percent of global income. More than 60 percent of total U.S. exports go to fellow APEC members, and during the last five years, U.S. exports to APEC have grown by 30 percent.
According to some estimates, APEC economies have generated nearly 200 million new jobs and 70 percent of the overall global economic growth during the past decade. Simply stated, the economies represented by APEC increasingly represent the global economy of the 21st century.
APEC has now become the primary regional vehicle for promoting open trade and practical economic cooperation in the region. Its goal is to advance Asia-Pacific prosperity and sense of community. Its objectives are to strengthen regional economic integration, expand trade, enhance growth and increase employment in the Asia-Pacific region.
APEC’s mission aligns with the Obama Administration’s goal to move forward on tangible initiatives that build a “seamless regional economy” by achieving outcomes in specific priority areas: (1) strengthening regional economic integration and expanding trade; (2) promoting green growth; and (3) expanding regulatory cooperation and advancing regulatory convergence.
These goals fit within the National Export Initiative that the President announced in his State of the Union speech last year. The President set as a goal the doubling of exports by the end of 2014 to support millions of American jobs, and I am delighted to say that U.S. exports were up by 17 percent in 2010, and nearly 16 percent so far in 2011. So we are on our way to meeting his goals, while building the new export platform that the country needs to participate in the global economy.
This is the first government-wide export promotion strategy led by a President, and the Asia-Pacific region and several APEC economies play central parts of it. We are also working to define, shape, and address next generation trade and investment issues that should be included in trade agreements in the region, including the Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific.
We could then begin the work of eliminating non-tariff barriers to trade and preventing new barriers from emerging; agreeing to adopt policies and regulations that foster innovation and promote the use of information and communications technologies; and advancing structural reform objectives in APEC economies.
APEC leaders also directed APEC officials to continue to work to make it cheaper, easier, and faster for businesses, and particularly small and medium enterprises, to trade in the region, including taking steps to improve supply chain performance.
To promote green growth and help our economies make a successful transition to a clean energy future, we seek to accelerate APEC’s work to address barriers to trade in environmental goods and services.
We seek the removal of tariffs, and we want to address non-tariff measures related to advanced technology demonstration products such as vehicles and to remanufactured and recycled goods.
APEC will intensify efforts to streamline and strengthen the way it does business. All meetings, from high level Ministerials to technical-level events, will focus on solving problems and achieving clear, meaningful progress towards APEC goals. To this end, the United States is promoting even stronger private sector input into APEC’s work during 2011.
What has APEC recently accomplished for business? It has done extensive work on the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights; has a broad and deep technical agenda on standards development and conformity assessment; has developed principles on facilitating investment throughout the Asia-Pacific region; and has created a supply chain connectivity framework.
APEC has also developed a strategy on the movement of business people to make procedures and requirements more transparent and facilitate entry and temporary stay through the APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC) program. The United States cannot issue these cards so our businessmen cannot take full advantage of the program. However, I know that U.S. businesses are interested in the program and want to be able to apply for these cards to facilitate their business travel to the region. Legislation has been introduced in Congress that would allow us to issue cards and enable Americans doing business in the APEC region to apply for the card. The Administration is working with Congress to encourage passage of theABTC legislation this year.
Other recent APEC accomplishments include last year’s creation of the APEC Web page on Tariffs and Rules of Origin to improve transparency and accessibility of tariff and rules of origin information in APEC economies. “StatsAPEC,” a statistics portal, has databases with key economic indicators and links to member economy databases, and an intellectual property webpage makes it easy for businesses to learn what they need to protect and how to protect it.
The U.S. Government listens to the business facilitation concerns of American firms and uses your on-the-ground intelligence to inform our economic policy discussions in APEC. We welcome your participation in boosting the APEC forum.
We are hosting and/or contributing to the policy discussions for the following meetings this year: the APEC E-Commerce Steering Group, the Automotive Dialogue, the suite of Food Safety meetings, the Intellectual Property Experts Group; the Life Sciences Innovation Forum; the Mining Task Force; and the Tourism Working Group.
Our priority this year was hosting the APEC Small and Medium Enterprise Ministerial and related meetings from May 13-21 in Big Sky, Montana. At our request, the Ministers committed APEC to resolve the top barriers to trade faced by our SME exporters. They also approved the first voluntary code of anti-corruption principles for all parties for medical devices, and agreed to work on a similar code for the construction industry. Also they agreed to work on making ICT more accessible and useful for small businesses, starting with cloud computing.
We welcome your engagement in these policy discussions and hope you will join the U.S. delegations to the APEC 2011 meetings. I believe you have been given a one-page handout of the APEC schedule.
In working to make the APEC meetings successful, we will not lose sight of our efforts to promote exports to and resolve trade barriers in major APEC economies like Japan, Korea, Singapore, Canada, Mexico, and China.
ITA and the State Department are also leading a concentrated interagency effort to help U.S. companies expand their exports to six “next-tier” markets around the world. APEC members Indonesia and Vietnam are among these “Next-Tier” markets. Several U.S. trade officials, including me, have already led trade missions and engaged in extensive dialogue with government officials from Indonesia and Vietnam this year.
Ours are serious and concentrated efforts. The President is working to obtain congressional approval of the U.S.-Korea trade agreement. The U.S.-Korea trade agreement represents an unprecedented opportunity to increase exports, support job creation, bolster the American economy, and strengthen a vital strategic alliance in the Asia-Pacific region.
If the U.S.-Korea trade agreement is not approved and implemented in a timely manner, American firms will be put at a competitive disadvantage as businesses, farmers, and workers in other major trading nations receive preferential access to East Asia’s third largest market, while those in the United States do not. The U.S.-Korea trade agreement will advance the NEI by supporting tens of thousands American jobs.
Another agreement through which our trade negotiators seek to create and retain jobs at home by increasing American exports to Asia is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The trade negotiators are seeking to conclude an ambitious, 21st century Asia-Pacific trade agreement that reflects U.S. priorities and values.
The United States, along with Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam, intend to craft a high-standard agreement that addresses new and emerging trade issues and challenges.
We see the TPP as the most credible pathway to Asia-Pacific regional economic integration. We are pleased with the progress in the TPP negotiations to date. We have already completed five rounds of negotiations this year with a sixth scheduled for next month. With all the TPP partners committed to concluding the negotiations as expeditiously as possible, we are optimistic we will be able to do so.
There is much to do. You and I and APEC and the TPP are bits of the puzzle, and today, we’ve come a step closer to putting it all together.
This is important because, together, we can take today’s opportunities and turn them into tomorrow’s successes. Together, we can ensure that small and medium-sized businesses have the tools to thrive in the 21st century economy. And, together, we can pave a new road to prosperity that’s wide enough for all to move ahead.
The challenges we face today are great. But, the opportunities we have are even greater. Let’s seize them. And, let’s do it today.
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