U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton today reported that trade between the United States and Southeast Asia has tripled over the past 20 years.
In her remarks at ASEAN Business and Investment Summit in Indonesia, Ms. Clinton stressed that it is important for both countries to work toward the integration of the Asia-Pacific region.
“The potential here matters more than ever, first and foremost to the people who live here, but indeed to those living across the globe. This region has the world’s fastest rising economies, with GDP growth at an average of better than 6.5 percent a year despite the global slowdown. And with natural resources, untapped markets, a massive consumer base, and unlimited human potential, we expect that to continue to grow.” -Ms. Clinton
Ms. Clinton stressed both countries have to start by insisting on economic competition that is open, free, transparent, and fair. She said it means taking on rules that prevent foreign investors from competing with local businesses to produce better goods and services.
“Now let me describe briefly four ways that we want to work with you: first, by lowering trade barriers; second, by strengthening the investment climate; third, by pursuing commercial diplomacy; and fourth, by supporting entrepreneurs. We’re excited about the innovative trade agreement called the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP. That would bring economies from across the Pacific, developed and developing alike, into a single trading community, not only to create more growth, but better growth.” -Ms. Clinton
She stressed that not just to lower tariffs, but raise standards on the environment, protections for workers, intellectual property, and innovation. She highlighted both countries must create a cutting-edge trading community that promotes the free flow of information technology and the spread of green technology that helps them harmonize their regulations and build more efficient supply chains together.
“We are also working to ensure that the TPP is the first trade pact designed specifically to reduce barriers for small and medium-sized enterprises, and that all companies are treated fairly, regardless of their size, or whether their owners sit in boardrooms or government ministries.” -Ms. Clinton
She noted that lowering barriers is not enough, and that’s why the United States shares ASEAN’s vision for strengthening the roads, rails, ports, power stations, and other infrastructure required for the efficient flow of goods and services.