Remarks at the Asia-Pacific Council of American Chambers of Commerce (APCAC) Gala Dinner

Ziad Haider
Special Representative for Commercial and Business Affairs, Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs
Renaissance Beijing Capital Hotel
Beijing, China
April 14, 2016

As prepared

Good evening! Thank you, Jim, for that warm introduction. It’s a pleasure to be here in Beijing to participate in the annual APCAC meetings and to share the stage this evening with Ambassador Baucus and Vice Minister Zhang Xiangchen. I want to congratulate AmCham China on its 25th anniversary. Thank you for organizing this wonderful Gala.

Given that 4 of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world are in Asia, the economic import of the region is clear. This year’s APCAC Conference on China’s Asia Pacific engagement and its implications for American business definitely is timely.

And given the role the entire APCAC family plays in promoting American values and ideals and prosperity in Asia, I commend you all for your past and future achievements. I have enjoyed the discussions today and look forward to engaging with you further tomorrow.

Until recently, I served as a Senior Advisor for International Economic Affairs in the Office of the U.S. Secretary of State. As the Special Representative for Commercial and Business Affairs, I now have the privilege of engaging the U.S. private sector more regularly and more directly promoting U.S. business interests abroad.

However, both positions offer valuable perspectives on the role of our public and private sectors in advancing shared prosperity throughout the Asia Pacific region. And I can say unequivocally, that the U.S. government greatly appreciates how well our business community serves as ambassadors for the United States. Thank you!

Tonight, I’d like to address three important themes: One, America’s priorities for promoting shared prosperity in Asia. Two, the power of U.S. public and private sector collaboration in promoting this prosperity. And three, given that this year’s APCAC meeting is being held here in Beijing, I would like to reflect on key areas of U.S.-China economic cooperation.

Regarding the first point, in a speech delivered last August in Singapore, Secretary Kerry highlighted four key ways in which we are promoting prosperity in Asia: 1) Trade; 2) Investment; 3) Climate and Development; and 4) Connectivity.

With regard to the issue of trade, there is no question that the United States looks to the Pacific. Today, U.S. trade in goods and services with the Asia-Pacific region is at an all-time high, reaching over $3 trillion in 2014. And we are working to expand this trade in a variety of ways.

For example, 2015 saw APEC economies reduce applied tariffs on the APEC Environmental Goods List of 54 products to 5 percent or less, a ground-breaking Leaders commitment that originated in the 2011 U.S. APEC host year.

Currently, we are working closely with China as co-conveners to manage the drafting of the Collective Strategic Study on Issues Related to the Realization of the Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific, or FTAAP. This will inform APEC’s work to prepare its members to participate in high-quality, comprehensive, trade agreements, including perhaps eventually, the FTAAP. We look forward to providing the finished study at this year’s APEC Economic Leaders’ meeting in Peru.

Another key initiative you all are aware of is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement - which will reduce and eliminate trade barriers across 12 Asia Pacific markets comprising nearly 40 percent of global GDP. This agreement cuts more than 18,000 taxes various countries put on Made-in-America goods, and puts in place historic high-quality labor and environmental standards.

In Japan, TPP will eliminate tariffs as high as 40 percent on U.S. poultry products, and 30 percent on soybean products. And in some of our TPP partner countries, the agreement will eliminate tariffs as high as 30 percent on fruit exports.

We presently are making the case on TPP to the Congress and the American people. We welcome other countries’ interested in joining TPP in the future, provided they are willing and able to meet TPP’s high standards.

On the WTO front, the United States has worked to expand the WTO Information Technology Agreement, and, building on the 2012 APEC Leaders’ Commitment to liberalize trade in green technologies, we are working with China and 16 other WTO members to conclude the WTO Environmental Goods Agreement as well. An ambitious and timely EGA agreement will make a range of products – from wind turbines to air pollution control technology – cheaper and more widely available, lowering the cost of environmental protection.

In all of these efforts, we seek to establish inclusive, high standard agreements.

Second, investment.

The United States, including many of the firms represented here tonight, is a major investor in Asia. U.S. investment in Asia increased by 315% from 2001 to 2014 and Asian investment in the U.S. jumped 282% in that same time period.

In the ASEAN region, U.S. foreign direct investment is greater than that of any other country. And ASEAN countries are now returning the favor. Between 2001 and 2012, the growth in ASEAN investments in the United States exceeded that from all other regions of the world.

Not only are we a leading investor in Asia, many U.S. companies invest for the long-term, by developing long-term business relationships, training and developing local employees, and otherwise investing in local communities.

Third, on the climate and development front – 2015 was a milestone year.

We signed several important international accords, starting with the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development, followed by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and culminating in the agreement at the COP21UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris in December.

It is important to remember with COP21 that it was U.S.-China leadership in the years leading up to the signing of the agreement that laid the groundwork for its successful conclusion, including the joint announcement of ambitious climate actions made by President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping in November 2014.

The agreement that has been forged, when fully implemented, will help us transition to a global clean energy economy and ultimately prevent the most devastating consequences of climate change. More specific to Asia, in 2009 we launched, together with the Foreign Ministers of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam, the Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI), through which we are supporting these governments to build capacity to address transnational development and policy challenges and to narrow the development gap within ASEAN in the areas of agriculture and food security, connectivity, education, energy security, environment and water, and health.

In this endeavor, the private sector is a critical partner and we have appreciated the engagement of the members of the American Chambers of Commerce in Southeast Asia in LMI projects from the Infrastructure Best Practices Exchange to the Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Dialogue. And we of course continue with extensive bilateral development work throughout the region.

Fourth, when we talk about connectivity, we talk in terms of facilitating U.S. linkages with and within the region. We do this in a variety of ways in Asia, but allow me to mention one in particular.

At the U.S.-ASEAN Leaders’ Summit in Sunnylands, California, held in February, President Obama announced the establishment of U.S.-ASEAN Connect, a new, unifying framework for U.S.-ASEAN economic engagement.Connect will combine the expertise and resources of the U.S. government and U.S. private sector to further improve U.S.-ASEAN economic relations and assist ASEAN and its Member States in achieving the economic integration goals of the ASEAN Economic Community.

Connect will be organized around four pillars: 1.) Business Connect, 2.) Energy Connect, 3.) Innovation Connect, 4.) Policy Connect. These four pillars provide an organizing framework to capture the full extent of ongoing and future U.S. government programming and policies.

They will allow us to disseminate Connect-related information via a centralized website, and coordinate U.S. government responses to requests for information or assistance from ASEAN and the private sector.

To implement this initiative, we are establishing a network of three Connect Centers in Jakarta, Singapore, and Bangkok that will support American firms wanting to do business in the region. All three centers will be operational by the end of 2016. Our goal through Connect is to expand linkages between our public and private sectors and those in Southeast Asia.

Now I want to briefly address my second point, on how we work together with you, our private sector, to promote prosperity in Asia.

Just as you support U.S. government-led initiatives that promote trade, investment, development, and connectivity, we strive to support your efforts in these areas. On trade, we advocate for you with foreign officials on government contracts you are pursuing abroad.

For example, last year, advocacy by the U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines helped secure a U.S. firm’s bid to provide airport navigational aids to the Clark International Airport.

On the investment front, when Indonesian President Jokowi visited Washington this past summer, he witnessed signature of investment agreements worth a total of $20 billion between Indonesian and U.S. entities – in both the production and energy sectors, including clean energy.

Our government has supported many similar deals.

On the development and climate change front, the technological solutions that will allow for the transition to a global clean energy economy and advancements in other sectors will come from you, the private sector.

Yes, governments can provide research funding and financial incentives to promote new clean energy solutions, but in the end the creativity and solutions come from our innovative private sector partners.

Finally, with regard to connectivity, what we are trying to do through U.S.-ASEAN Connect and other such initiatives is to provide new opportunities for public-private partnerships. Earlier today I had a chance to meet with many of the AmChams in Southeast Asia, to explain what we are trying to accomplish through U.S.-ASEAN Connect, and to receive your feedback.

We look forward to a continuing dialogue with you on this initiative as we roll it out, to ensure that it meets all parties’ needs.

Since announcing the U.S.-ASEAN Connect initiative nearly two months ago, we launched the American Innovation Roadshow. David Thorne, Senior Advisor to Secretary Kerry, led a delegation that included representatives of several U.S.-based companies to Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines. And subsequently, the State Department’s Assistant Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs, Charles Rivkin and I led a similar roadshow to four cities in India.

The roadshows allowed us to hit on all four aspects of our shared prosperity agenda: trade, investment, development, and connectivity. Through the roadshows, we are able to assess government efforts to promote entrepreneurship and innovation that foster commercialization of ideas, processes, and new products that add value to the consumer and society, while providing financial and other benefits to the entrepreneurs and innovators.

Through the roadshows we are able to demonstrate U.S. expertise, promote the development of an innovative and entrepreneurial environment in partner countries, and deepen economic cooperation between our public and private sectors that will lead to trade and investment.

Through this effort we are creating new connections that will benefit us all.

U.S.-China Engagement

Finally, let me close by highlighting a few ways in which the United States and China are cooperating to promote economic prosperity in our own countries as well as throughout Asia.

The U.S.-China relationship is very important; we represent the first and second largest economies in the world. On the bilateral front, we are integral trading partners. Our bilateral trade in goods reached $598 billion in 2015. And U.S. investment in China reached $65.8 billion in 2014, while Chinese investment in the U.S. has risen from $618 million in 2004 to $10.2 billion in 2014.

This growth in Chinese investment in the United States is welcome. It supports American jobs and helps grow the U.S. economy, helping companies large and small to flourish.

For these reasons, we look forward to welcoming a strong delegation of Chinese investors again this summer at the SelectUSA summit from June 19-21.

And of course U.S. investment in China yields similar benefits for the Chinese.For this reason we are working to conclude a Bilateral Investment Treaty, or BIT, with China. MOFCOM is our partner in this effort, and so I want to take this opportunity to thank Vice Minister Zhang and MOFCOM for their ongoing efforts to reach a successful BIT agreement.

China’s economy is in transition and we are witnessing the global side-effects of this transition. The United States supports economic growth in China and we encourage China to implement market reforms that create better opportunities for the private sector.

One of the principal mechanisms is the Strategic and Economic Dialogue, or S&ED, which encourages discussion by nearly the entire economic cabinet of both countries. The S&ED serves as a vehicle for advancing trade and investment goals, including such high priorities as transparency, protection of intellectual property rights, and market access.

In 2015, we signed an MOU on global development under the S&ED, and soon we will hold the first U.S.-China Development Dialogue through which we will work to identify areas of collaboration on third country development. We are preparing for the next S&ED meeting to be held this summer as well, and anticipate additional progress.

We also collaborate on global issues.

On the G20 front, the United States supports China’s G20 presidency in 2016 and will work closely with China to promote strong, sustainable and balanced growth in the global economy. Both sides are committed to work with other members to support the G20 as a premier forum for international economic cooperation, to strengthen macroeconomic policy cooperation, and to use all policy tools (fiscal, monetary, and structural) to boost growth.

On the development front, previously I mentioned our partnership on climate change.

In addition, we continue to engage Chinese officials on the Belt and Road Initiative, the Silk Road Fund, and the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, so that we can better understand China’s priorities, and determine whether there are areas of mutual benefit, including for our private sector.

Yes, the United States and China have some differences, but it is clear, as President Xi stated during his visit to the U.S. last fall, that the “common interests of the two countries far outweigh [the] differences.”

And so, in the spirit of collaboration, we look forward to building upon the progress we have made to date, as we press on in promoting prosperity in our own countries, in Asia, and around the world.


In conclusion, I thank AmCham China for your hospitality and to all APCAC members for the opportunity engage in meaningful discussions with you this week. I also thank Ambassador Baucus and Vice Minister Zhang for the opportunity to hear from this evening. I look forward to the discussions that will follow tomorrow and to our future engagement.

In summary, the United States public and private sectors are committed to the prosperity of Asia. Asia is vital to our well-being, and we believe we are vital to the well-being of Asia as well. And through our partnerships with China and the many other economies and institutions in Asia we can build a brighter future for tomorrow.

Thank you.