Opening Remarks at the 2011 APEC Senior Officials Meeting 1

Michael Froman
Chair, APEC Senior Officials Meetings 
Washington, DC
March 11, 2011

Date: 03/11/2011 Location: Washington, DC Description: Chair Michael Froman delivers remarks at the open plenary of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Senior Official Ministers in Washington, D.C. - State Dept Image

I want to begin this morning by saying a word about the terrible earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan overnight. As President Obama said early this morning, the American people send our deepest condolences to the people of Japan. We stand ready to help the Japanese people in any way we can. Our thoughts are also with those in the path of the tsunamis caused by the earthquake, which includes most of the economies around this table.

This tragedy, like the recent earthquakes in New Zealand and China and similar events in recent years in Indonesia, Chile, and elsewhere in the region, reminds us how the nations and people of the Pacific Rim share not only a common geography but a common destiny. We are monitoring the situation closely and will provide any updates as we receive them this morning.

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I would like to welcome everyone to Washington, DC, and to the first Senior Officials Meeting of APEC 2011. As President Obama said last November in Yokohama, and Secretary Clinton reiterated earlier this week, the United States sees 2011 as an important year to reaffirm and strengthen our ongoing commitment to the Asia-Pacific – in particular, our economic engagement with economies throughout the region. We see our participation in and hosting of APEC as vital to this effort.

In 2010, under the strong leadership of our Japanese colleagues, APEC Leaders set forth a comprehensive, forward-looking framework for achieving growth and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region in the 21st century:

  • The Yokohama Vision called on APEC to promote stronger and deeper regional economic integration, including by taking concrete steps towards achieving a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP);
  • Leaders also stated that the full achievement of the Bogor Goals for all economies should continue to provide direction for APEC’s work on trade and investment liberalization and facilitation; and
  • Leaders outlined an APEC Growth Strategy for achieving high-quality growth in the region that is balanced, inclusive, sustainable, innovative, and secure.

In 2011, we want to work with all of you to realize this vision, in pursuit of APEC’s central mission of promoting trade and investment. We want to build towards the goal of a “seamless regional economy” that produces economic growth, employment, and prosperity across the Asia-Pacific region. To that end, we have identified three specific priority areas for 2011:

  • Strengthening regional economic integration and expanding trade, including by working to define, shape, and address the next-generation trade and investment issues that should be included in 21st century trade agreements in the region, including a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP).
  • Promoting green growth. Over recent years, APEC has built a substantial foundation for significant outcomes on green growth. In 2007, APEC Leaders issued a statement in support of the global climate change negotiations; in 2009, they agreed on a work program on environmental goods and services; and they have consistently supported a strong energy-efficiency program. Sustainable growth was also one of the attributes of the 2010 APEC Growth Strategy. This year, we should advance our work in all these areas by agreeing to take specific actions to promote green growth and help our economies make a successful transition to a clean energy future.
  • Expanding regulatory cooperation and advancing regulatory convergence. APEC also has a long history of promoting regulatory cooperation, the use of good regulatory practices, and greater alignment of APEC economies technical regulations, standards, and conformity assessment procedures. In 2011, we intend to elevate and marry these streams of work by pushing forward practical, concrete outcomes related to regulatory convergence and cooperation. To be clear, we are not seeking harmonization of our standards and regulations; rather we are seeking ways to bring our approaches to these issues closer together.

I am pleased to hear that in discussions so far this week, there appears to be strong support for these themes, and I look forward to our discussions of how we can move forward on them today.

Also in 2011, we also want to intensify efforts to streamline and strengthen the way APEC does business. All activities, from high-level to technical-level events, should focus on solving problems and achieving clear, meaningful progress towards APEC goals. In addition, we would like to work with you to better integrate the input of the private sector into APEC's work.

Throughout 2011, we plan to hold multiple private sector-led activities on topics ranging from energy and transportation to innovation and trade, food security, and women’s entrepreneurship that will allow APEC officials to draw upon recommendations from industry and other stakeholders when developing initiatives and outcomes.

These are all big issues that present real challenges to our economies and to the future of this organization. If we are going to be successful in addressing them, we will all need to work together, to think outside the box, and to push ourselves to truly “get stuff done” in 2011.