Background Briefing on U.S.-Australian Ministerial and the APEC Women and the Economy Summit

Special Briefing
Office of the Spokesperson
En route to San Francisco, CA
September 14, 2011

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: We are heading to San Francisco for a two-part trip. This evening and tomorrow is the U.S.-Australian Ministerial, better known as the AUSMIN. And then on Friday, we have the APEC Women And The Economy summit.

So we have two Senior State Department Officials to talk about these two events. Let’s start with Senior Official One on the AUSMIN.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: All right, guys. I’ll try to speak loudly so you can hear. We’re holding this meeting in San Francisco because it’s the 60th anniversary of the sessions between our two countries. In many respects, these are the agenda-setting, the overarching strategy pieces that guide our bilateral relationship that’s recently taking on not just regional issues, but global issues.

The first session was held in San Francisco, so in many respects, this is a look back on what’s been accomplished and also focusing a little bit on some of the challenges ahead. This will be the first AUSMIN with Secretary Panetta. We hold these meetings every year, oscillating between Australia one year and the United States the next. Our session last year took place in Melbourne.

These meetings take place within a larger context of, you might recall, the pivoting, the strategic turning of American foreign policy and strategy, increasingly focusing more attention on the drama and the developments in Asia while still trying to ensure that we are successful in the Middle East, recognizing that more time and attention would have to be devoted to Asia over the course of the next few decades with a clear recognition that most of the history and the critical pieces of the history of the 21st century were going to be written in Asia.

There are many aspects of our strategy – greater commitment to institutions, like the East Asia Summit, where President Obama will make his first appearance as the United States President in November, building ties with emerging states like India and Indonesia, obviously dealing with the extraordinarily complex set of relationships with a country like China. But at the top of the list is our relationship with our partners and our allies. We have five treaty allies in Asia – Japan, South Korea, Australia, the Philippines, and Thailand.

Over the course of the last seven years, if possible, there was already a very close relationship, a very strong relationship between Australia and the United States, it’s become even tighter. President Bush and President – and Prime Minister Howard had close ties on a range of issues. Prime Minister Howard was in the United States during 9/11. If anything, we’ve sought to make this relationship even more intimate.

We are working on a variety of things that we’ll be discussing over the next couple of days. We are going to talk directly about how U.S. and Australian forces can operate closely together, can work together in a variety of ways, and to see how Australia can play a role in what is termed the Global Posture Review. One of the things that I was talking about – with [Senior State Department Official Three] about is that in the past, our relationship has really focused on the immediate neighborhood. Talked a little bit about maritime and navigation issues. In the 1990s, we talked about Indonesia. These trends were very useful in the reengagement after the fall of the government in the late 1990s.

But more recently, our discussions and our focus of cooperation has got much further afield. We worked very closely on China with Prime Minister Rudd and – Prime Minister Rudd – now Foreign Minister Rudd is probably, more than any other leader, has just a remarkable command of China, has lectured in Chinese universities in Chinese, and has provided us his expert advice and commentary about how to proceed.

We’ve worked with Australia on architecture and on trade. On architecture, Australia have given us enormously good advice about how to position ourselves in this critical period on Asia. And as importantly, we’ve worked in what we might call out-of-area pursuits. Australia’s been enormously helpful in Afghanistan and in efforts on Pakistan. And more recently, Foreign Minister Rudd has been deeply engaged in a variety of efforts associated with supporting the Arab Spring both through bringing together other likeminded nations and also coordinating closely with the United States.

Australia has witnessed some very dramatic changes in its global posture. Ten or 15 years ago, Australia’s security relationships and its trade and economy were aligned to the West, to the United States. Increasingly, in Australia, dominant economic interests are in Asia, particularly from China. But they have maintained very strong security and political ties with the United States.

The Secretary has a very good relationship with Prime Minister Rudd, Foreign Minister Rudd, and also has – was the first member of our Administration to meet with Prime Minister Gillard. So a lot to do over the course of the next couple of days in context of a recognition that the United States is going to step up its game and engage more deeply in Asia over the course of the next couple of years.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: Let’s do a brief on day two and then we’ll go to questions.

So, Senior State Department Official Number 2 on APEC Women And The Economy Summit which happens on Friday.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: There are several lead APEC meetings taking place in San Francisco. This will be one of the largest, and it is a fairly new topic to the APEC agenda, which is women growing economies. We’re at a time when I think every economy realizes it’s being hard-pressed and needs to incorporate measures that will take it to a different place.

This started last year in Japan, where the United States worked with other economies to put this issue on the agenda. In Japan at the leaders summit at Yokohama, they recognized that in order to grow the APEC economies, there had to be a greater focus on tapping the potential of women, which, by any number of statistics of data we have today, show that there is a short-changing of the economies of the region by billions and billions of dollars because this potential is not being tapped.

What is different at this iteration is that we will have, for the first time ever, ministers, and they vary from foreign ministers to trade ministers, economics ministers, gender ministers, and high-level private sector participants from all of the 21 economies. There will be a declaration that will be adopted at the end of the ministerial high-level dialogue meeting that will take place on Friday. The declaration will say that the economies – this process has been an ongoing one, commit to reducing the barriers, barriers to access to finance and capital, which is a very serious problem for women-run businesses, access to markets, training, mentoring, discriminatory laws and regulations, like inheritance laws, inequities in tax laws, and an affirmative commitment to greater leadership opportunities for women.

This declaration will go to the leaders’ summit that will take place in Hawaii in November. Now, all of this is part of a real thrust that the Secretary has been making to tap the potential of women in growing economies. That has been manifested through a range of programs over the last couple years. The AGOA ministerial had a large focus on the African women’s growth opportunities to grow the economies of that region and better enable women to be export-ready to tap the AGOA market.

The Pathways to Prosperity for Latin America, tapping the trade agreements in ways that create greater opportunities for business growth and jobs creation, programs like TechWomen to enable women to have access to the kind of technology that provides the opportunities for growth. And there will be a significant presence of Silicon Valley officials, business leaders at this summit. Along the same lines, you may remember businesses and NGOs covered the OECD ministerial in June that we made a huge new effort on data collection, which is critically important to effective analysis of aggregated data looking at women in the employment sector as well as women’s entrepreneurship, which we don’t have the kind of tracking data that we need to have.

So this is part of an effort to utilize the platforms in which the United States engages to really move this whole potential of greater participation on the part of women to grow economies. And it is underpinned and predicated on the great and growing body of research that we have today. For example, the World Economic Forum does an annual gender gap report that correlates inequality of men and women in a given nation on four metrics, and to the extent that that gap is closer to being closed, those countries are far more prosperous and economically competitive. Goldman Sachs has done studies that correlate women-run small and medium-size businesses to accelerators for growth. But what is a big problem are these barriers that we are working to overcome in all of our economies that prohibits that kind of growth.

Agriculture is a major sector where women dominate in some economies, up to half of the farmers, but as the most recent study through the Food and Agriculture Organization shows, there is an imbalance between the access to resources and supports, credit to fertilizer that women have compared to male farmers. And where that gap is closed, there are equal opportunities to productivity. It will be equalized for – in fact, enhanced beyond what male farmers are able to do today.

And then similarly, the consumer side of all of this, which is critically important for the buying of services and products, women are being (inaudible) consumer market in the world, as The Economist has said. It’s not China or India or even the internet. It’s women who are – and there are huge statistics out today showing what this growth potential represents and what it can do to tap – for businesses to tap that and diversify their own workplaces to take advantage of that.

So in short, this is a summit to look at the ways of the potential of women can be tapped for economic growth, greater productivity, through this enhanced participation.


QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL THREE: Well, we’re going to talk about this after today.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: May I assume that people will sign on to this declaration? And generally, the most important notion of empowering women – are there specific steps that --

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Yeah, there are very concrete steps. The declaration, which I can probably give you a copy of – I think it may be available – goes through a series of access to finance and capital, what can be done, access to markets, what both the private sector and governments can do in the area of training and mentoring very specific steps. And what the representatives of the – both the private sector and the government economies that are present there will do is subscribe to all of this, and those recommendations will then go to the leaders summit.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.) I mean, I would imagine that the (inaudible) are different in (inaudible).


QUESTION: So how do you get one standard?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Well, it’s not one standard. It’s – these are a menu of things that have to be addressed if there’s going to be a factoring in of the difference that gender equality will make to economic growth. In some places, it’s inheritance laws; in other places, that’s not an issue. In some places, it’s financial inclusion. In other places, it’s impediments to market access. So it varies, but the – but it will be a more concerted effort in the ways that make sense in those economies to begin to rectify this.

And the Secretary in her speech will go through a lot of those barriers and the kinds of attention that need to be placed on addressing those barriers as well as what the data shows, factoring in the fact that this is no longer an evidence-free zone. There is growing, mounting evidence about how this is an extraordinary instrument of growth that the economies of the world have to pay attention to.

And the Asia Pacific economy – APEC is among the most dynamic. But even in the most dynamic region, the most dynamic economies, you’ve got the fact that the potential is not tapped. There’s one study that shows that GDP loss on a per annual basis is in excess of $40 billion. So --

QUESTION: Are there barriers that we have to overcome?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Well, we have barriers. Talk to women-run small and medium-sized businesses. They’ll tell you about some of their own issues with getting finance. There’s hardly any venture capital, Asian mutual fund kind of money going into women-run businesses. We’ve got management issues in terms of the diversification of management or boards of directors. There are 11 female CEOs of major companies. There are increasing numbers of women with high degrees who are stuck at the middle and not moving up.

So sure, we’ve got issues. We can all grow from this. But there’s one study that – I think it’s a Goldman Sachs study – that shows that if the United States took certain steps, we could grow our own growth rate by 9 percent GDP. So some of those things are what the Secretary will be pointing out in her remarks.

QUESTION: I mean --

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: It’s laid out in her speech in a very clear and organized way with a lot of data.

QUESTION: Just one last thing: I mean, we’ve sort of bought into the notion, I would think, as a country – at least this Administration, of the – empowering women and all the things you’re talking about. Do you find different levels of enthusiasm amongst the other APEC countries?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: I think a lot of it is not, frankly, as understood as it might be. I find when I go out and make some of these arguments, it’s a completely different understanding. It’s – this stuff is rooted in hard economics. And increasingly, it’s coming from multilaterals, the think tanks, and the business community.

You’ve got – Coca-Cola has just made a major initiative called Five by Twenty to grow 5 million entrepreneurs by 2020, female entrepreneurs, because as their CEO says, this is the only way we’re going to grow the global economy which we’re all dependent on.

Wal-Mart announced a major initiative – this week, in fact – that has a commitment of billions of dollars to buy from women-run businesses to diversify supply chains and to encourage their suppliers to do the same thing.

So at least we are beginning to see these significant shifts, and if this grows, hopefully the overall economic growth will be better.

QUESTION: To what extent do you expect territorial disputes or freedom of navigation issues related to China and its neighbors to be an issue with the Australians? They’ve tended to see some of those differently than we have.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Actually, I think in fact, the Australians have been one of the biggest supporters of our efforts in multilateral fora like the ASEAN Regional Forum for appropriate protection of maritime security, maintenance of peace and prosperity, freedom of navigation, and an insistence that territorial issues be handled peacefully. So I think – I would anticipate that this will be a subject of discussion for all foreign ministers. I think we’ll be talking about how we propose to handle these issues when the President and our leaders go to Bali in November for the East Asia Summit.

QUESTION: Do you expect any brief statement? The Secretary said a year or so ago that the United States will continue to weigh in and take action as needed because it’s in our national security interests --

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: She’s continued to make statements like that. I believe that in her opportunities to talk to you all and others, that she will underscore that during the platform for our approach to the issues, so it is our strong support for maritime security.

QUESTION: Very quickly, one, do you expect missile defense and (inaudible) cooperation to (inaudible) AUSMIN (inaudible)? Any chance that you’ll actually get some traction on that? Second, can you give us a synopsis of where things are vis-à-vis North Korea and the possibility of Six-Party or some other kind of talks? And lastly, a year ago, the hot topic when we went to Melbourne was earth minerals. A year later, do you feel like the market has pretty much taken care of that problem? Is there anything else or are you still even thinking about it, or is it sort of going away (inaudible)?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Great questions. I’ll take the last one and go backwards. Rare earth minerals are still very significant in a variety of strategic discussions. And there’s a recognition and therefore (inaudible) variety of industrial applications and the like, I think since last year, you’ve seen a lot of consequential efforts on the part of a number of states and entities to address some of those problems. And the approach is multi-faceted.

First of all, find new supplies in a variety of countries – Australia is one, Mongolia, others – to –


SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Afghanistan, to protect the supplies in the international markets. Second is conservation, third recycling, and fourth, just a smarter overall approach to where and when replacements can be found. People continue to be a topic for discussion all over the place.

On North Korea, I think as you know, we had a session in New York on July 29th. We laid down very clearly some pre-steps on nuclear, missile, and plans for North-South dimension sides in terms of what our expectations are from North Korea to allow us to return – with some confidence that things will be different – to the Six-Party Talks.

More recently, the United States, along with other nations, has made a modest contribution to flood assistance. And I think it would be fair to say that we are still awaiting a clear signal from Pyongyang about what their response is to our overall proposals. We, in turn, have been in very close consultation with the Japanese and the South Koreans, and we are watching and studying recent North Korean diplomatic engagements, including with Russia.

And your first question was about?

QUESTION: I just want to follow up on that one.


QUESTION: (Inaudible) Asia on July 29th.


QUESTION: Can you – did you have time to (inaudible) pre-conditions that you (inaudible)?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: They’re not pre-conditions; they’re pre-steps. And I would – I want to make sure that they’re precise, and so I want North Korea (inaudible) to be exactly between what I said and Ambassador Bosworth said. And I’ve asked people to go back to the (inaudible), are some expectations on nuclear moratorium, questions related to the missiles, and also --

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Yes, and some other issues associated with North-South.

The first question?

QUESTION: Missile defense, (inaudible) the AUSMIN (inaudible).

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Yeah. In fact, we have a very detailed communiqué that will be released tomorrow that has many dimensions. There are substantial elements where the United States and Australia are going to increase our cooperation in the military arena – in cyber, missile, and other capabilities. There will be more to be said about this tomorrow.

QUESTION: Missile?


SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Missile defense, I’m sorry. I meant to say missile defense.

QUESTION: If you could help me understand why missile defense would now be an issue for Australia when (inaudible) geography (inaudible)?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Well, I mean, some of our efforts are on tactical missile defense or theater missile defense. You got to remember, one of the things that we led with was the extent to which Australians are deploying with us to places like Afghanistan, in which there are missile threats.

Secondly, some of our efforts have to do with ship-bound capabilities. Australia is an important maritime nation in the Pacific. Some of our critical systems are seaborne capabilities. And I think it’s also the case that Australia has a strong strategic culture, wants to understand the larger framework of the sorts of missile threats that countries engage globally and regionally.


QUESTION: Sure. Southeast Asia, Australia reports energy (inaudible). These talks that you’re having with their officials and (inaudible), what’s the message that you intend to Australia’s public, for instance on Burma?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Well, again, this is another example. We’re talking about just sort of thing earlier about how much we work and coordinate with Australian friends on a wide variety of issues. It was – Foreign Minister Rudd was probably the first, most prominent foreign minister in – since the new government has come into power after these (inaudible) elections. He had a number of discrete conversations with the Secretary, saying what – there are some things that we should test, there are some signs that, frankly, we need to explore. It’s probably too soon to call it overly hopeful, but probably the most significant developments on the ground in decades.

And he’s provided us with some ideas for follow-up. I think, as you know, our new Burma advisor Derek Mitchell is just leaving from meetings with Aung San Suu Kyi and with senior government officials in Burma. Now, I don’t want to characterize those deliberations, but I will say that people have – more intense deliberations begin next week with the Burmese foreign minister when we meet in New York. And so there are definitely things that we want to follow up on and explore with them, but we still have some real concerns around issues associated with treatment of minorities, issues associated with the treatment of women. Horrible fatalities have been committed on the battlefields (inaudible) a horrific past.

But at the same time, there’s a dialogue that’s emerging between Aung San Suu Kyi and the leadership. There are clear, sort of, winds of change blowing through Burma. We are trying to get a sense of how strong those winds are, whether it’s possible to substantially improve our relationship.

QUESTION: Is Assistant Secretary Campbell going to meet with the foreign minister next week at UNGA?



QUESTION: Thank you.

PRN: 2011/1495