Under Secretary of Commerce For International Trade Francisco SÁnchez
Asia-Pacific Council of American Chambers of Commerce
U.S.-Asia Business Summit
Friday, March 2, 2012
As prepared for delivery
Distinguished partners and friends — good afternoon.
It’s an honor to be here today with all of you.
I want to thank Tami Overby for those kind words, and for her outstanding work at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Allow me to also recognize the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan and its President, Michael Alfant, for their great job as hosts.
Finally, I want to thank all of you with the Asia-Pacific Council of American Chambers of Commerce.
You’ve done a great job in organizing this event.
And it’s been a pleasure to work with so many of you to strengthen the commercial ties between the U.S. and the Asia-Pacific region.
I’m glad to be here to build on this work.
And it’s a special pleasure to have this dialogue here in Japan.
As we all know, it’s been roughly a year since disaster struck.
Yet through it all, the people of Japan have shown incredible strength and courage.
This strength, spirit and vitality has made Japan such a special place to the world — and for me personally.
I have a lot of great memories here.
In fact, Japan was one of a few countries I visited after graduating from college.
And before I started my trip, I sent letters to all the U.S. Ambassadors asking to meet them.
And there was only one Ambassador who took the time to meet with me — Mike Mansfield.
As many of you know, Mike Mansfield was the longest-serving Ambassador to Japan.
I’m sure he had a busy schedule. Yet here I was sitting in his office.
And he had this custom of preparing coffee for visitors, from dignitaries to business leaders.
And much to my surprise he did the same for me.
It’s an experience I’ll never forget.
He saw what was happening in the world long before many others.
Back in the 1980’s, he said that:
“We are living in a fast changing world … a world that is shrinking … and going to shrink further … we’re going to become close neighbors… and we are going to have to understand each other better.”
Obviously, he was right.
The world has shrunk.
And our understanding of each other — and partnerships with each other — will help determine our success in the future.
Clearly, the members of APCAC have understood this.
When it was founded in 1968, there was great unrest at home in the United States.
And abroad we had challenging relationships with parts of this region.
Yet, remarkably, this organization was able to look beyond these challenges and take the long-term view.
It recognized that the relationship between the United States and Asia would be one of the defining partnerships.
And this vision has become a reality.
As President Obama has said:
“In the 21st century, the security and prosperity of the American people is linked to the security and prosperity of Asia. And in today's interconnected world — what happens in Japan or China or Indonesia also has a direct effect on the lives and fortunes of the American people.”
And right now, the American people need jobs and opportunities.
As we all know, back in the United States, the American people face some challenges.
We’ve faced significant economic challenges in recent years.
The financial collapse that began in 2008 sent our economy into a tailspin.
4 million jobs were lost in the six months before President Obama took office.
Another 4 million jobs were lost during his first six months in office — before his policies took place.
But the good news is that we’ve come a long ways since those dark days.
The unemployment rate in January fell to 8.3 percent.
There have been 23 straight months of private sector growth.
In total, this growth represents 3.7 million jobs.
Naturally, all of us in the Administration are happy that people are finding work.
But, we know that more needs to be done.
And central to this work is our commitment to boost U.S. exports.
This is a critically important effort for one simple reason: if more companies don’t embrace the opportunities outside of America, our nation won’t be able to compete in the 21st century economy.
That’s because outside of the United States, we find:
- 95 percent of the world’s consumers;
- 85 percent of the world’s growth over the next five years, according to the IMF; and
- roughly 80 percent of the world’s purchasing power.
Quite simply, if U.S. businesses ignore these economic trends, we’ll find ourselves slipping.
That’s the reality. And President Obama recognized it early on.
That’s why in 2010, he announced the National Export Initiative.
The goal is to double U.S. exports by the end of 2014.
I’m proud to report that we are on pace to achieving this goal.
In fact in 2011, there was a record $2.1 trillion in U.S. exports.
This is important because exporting helps businesses sell their stuff.
And selling stuff helps strengthen bottom lines.
And strong businesses put people to work.
Naturally, we are proud of our achievements.
But, we aren’t satisfied.
That’s because only 1 percent of U.S. businesses export — and that’s not enough.
It’s also because there is great potential to strengthen our relationships with partners all over the world.
And as we look at the global landscape, it’s clear that one of the areas with the greatest potential is the Asia-Pacific region.
It represents 55 percent of global GDP and accounts for 44 percent of world trade.
I’m glad that the United States is a part of this growth.
And all of us at the Commerce Department are committed to keeping the U.S.- Asia-Pacific partnership growing — both through our words and our work.
As Under Secretary, I’ve probably spent more time in the Asia-Pacific than any other region abroad.
Last year, I led the largest-ever higher education mission to Indonesia.
I also led another education trade mission to Hanoi, and will be heading to Vietnam next week to advance commercial relations.
Another highlight was former Commerce Secretary — and current U.S. Ambassador to China — Gary Locke’s clean energy trade mission to Shanghai last year.
I could list more examples.
But the point is clear: our work in this region is a priority for us.
And good things are happening.
U.S. goods exports to the broader Asia-Pacific totaled nearly $900 billion in 2011 — a 15 percent increase from 2010.
This is equal to 60 percent of total U.S. goods exports to the world.
This partnership is generating benefits for all sides…
Jobs and growth for the American economy.
In turn, U.S. products and services are helping to fuel the economic development in this region.
These are win-win partnerships.
Now, we must work together to produce even more wins.
We must do this in two ways:
- One: by seizing unfulfilled opportunities; and
- Two: eliminating the obstacles that block equal partnerships.
Let me start with the latter.
As we all know, the trade channels between the United States and this region could be wider and fairer.
After all, none of the businesses we represent can reach their full potential in the international markets:
- if an unequal playing-field prevents fair trade and competition;
- if trade rules don’t cover emerging technologies; and
- if regulations are too confusing and complex to understand.
That’s what makes the Trans-Pacific Partnership such an important effort.
As many of you know, it’s an ambitious, high-standard trade agreement.
It seeks to address new and emerging trade issues and 21st-century challenges.
Working with our colleagues at the Office of the United States Trade Representative — we are addressing traditional trade issues involving:
- goods and services;
- rules on intellectual property; and
- technical barriers to trade.
Additionally, we aim to go beyond the liberalization achieved in previous U.S. free trade agreements.
We want to negotiate new areas that address cross-cutting trade issues, the development of regional production and supply chains.
And we are making progress.
As you all know, a TPP framework was agreed to in Honolulu at the APEC Leaders’ meeting in November.
It was a landmark accomplishment.
The agreement identified five central features that nations around the world are already viewing as a new standard for trade agreements:
- expanding market access by removing all the tariffs and other barriers to trade;
- enacting a fully regional approach to maximize the development of production and supply chains across the region;
- easing the regulatory challenges facing businesses — especially small and medium-sized concerns — by promoting coherence and removing unnecessary red tape;
- ensuring that new industries — like clean technology and the digital economy — are addressed; and
- establishing a living agreement that allows us to address developments that arise in the future.
We want all of our trading partners to be innovators … and to experience the growth that results from:
- strong legal systems;
- robust IP rights;
- and open market economies.
We want to set high standards for our trade agreements and for our trading relationships around the world.
We truly believe that by leveling the playing field, all parties will benefit.
Take the recent U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement.
Once implemented, this agreement will lead to $11 billion in additional U.S. exports.
It will also secure at least 70,000 American jobs.
And of course, it will contribute significantly to the Korean economy.
The TPP will achieve the same goals of:
- boosting economies;
- lowering barriers to trade and investment;
- increasing exports;
- and creating jobs for all those involved.
We are very enthusiastic about the progress we’ve made.
We also welcome the formal expressions of interest in the TPP given by Mexico, Canada and Japan.
We’ve received considerable feedback from stakeholders about the potential participation of these countries.
And please know that we’ll be working with these stakeholders to assess their readiness to join this high-standards agreement.
The next full set of meetings and the eleventh round of negotiations are under way in Melbourne, Australia.
And we look forward to continuing this dialogue.
We also look forward to our continued partnership with regional efforts like the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.
The United States was proud to host APEC in 2011 and is pleased that it’s now easier for firms to do business in this region.
For instance, three sets of principles to strengthen business ethics were set in the:
- medical device; and
- biopharmaceutical sectors.
By establishing these codes, we especially help small and medium companies do business in the APEC region.
With regards to ASEAN, we are involved in a number of initiatives focused on:
- increasing trade and investment;
- removing unnecessary barriers; and
- enhancing our involvement in high-priority markets like Indonesia and Vietnam.
With all of these partnerships, our goal is simple: to ensure that the future relationship between the U.S. and the Asia-Pacific is defined by mutual interests and shared goals.
But we in the U.S. government know that high-level agreements alone won’t achieve this.
We also need partners on the ground.
And, that’s you: the American Chambers of Commerce.
You are on the frontlines.
You hear firsthand about the challenges American companies face overseas.
You are taking action, finding opportunities in markets far from home.
I’ve been proud to work with you.
And, I want to build on this work.
I want to know what you are seeing, and what we can do better.
Additionally, Senior Commercial Officers from my agency, who are based in the region, will hold one-on-one counseling sessions with companies all day today.
They are also eager to build on all that’s been accomplished.
Together, we can give U.S. businesses the tools for success.
Together, we can ensure that U.S. exports continue to help spur economic development in the Asia-Pacific.
Together — through President Obama’s SelectUSA program — we can steer foreign direct investment back to the United States in order to strengthen the American economy.
Make no mistake, our partnership together is important work.
As I said earlier, the number one issue facing the American people is the economy.
And a key to our recovery is expanding the circle of opportunity for American businesses.
That means increasing the presence of U.S. goods and services in more markets throughout the world.
To make this a reality — we’ve got to strengthen our ties with areas that are growing.
This work takes us to the Asia-Pacific.
In order to strengthen these ties, we’ve got to eliminate barriers to fair trade.
This work has resulted in efforts like the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
And I look forward to accomplishing a lot more during this forum.
We’ve got to keep working together, learning together and growing together.
By doing so, we will ensure that the next chapter in the U.S. – Asia story is better than any we’ve ever had, bringing new opportunities and prosperity to people across this region and back home.
So, I look forward to our conversation today.
And, I’m ready to continue working with you tomorrow to bring better days to:
- the U.S. economy;
- the Asian economy; and
- the world economy.
Once again — I want to thank the Asia-Pacific Council of American Chambers of Commerce for organizing this great event.
And I’m glad to answer any questions you may have.
The International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, manages this global trade site to provide access to ITA information on promoting trade and investment, strengthening the competitiveness of U.S. industry, and ensuring fair trade and compliance with trade laws and agreements. External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein. This site contains PDF documents. A PDF reader is available from Adobe Systems Incorporated.