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APEC Is Incubator of Trade Policy Ideas
October 31, 2011

By Merle David Kellerhals Jr.
IIP Staff Writer
28 October 2011


The top U.S. trade official says that the annual meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders in Honolulu is crucial to developing effective and ambitious approaches to emerging trade challenges.

“It’s the place where we work on a wide scale — across 21 Asia-Pacific economies,” U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said October 26 before a major business group.

The 19th annual APEC leaders’ meeting is being held in Honolulu November 12–13 and is being hosted by the United States. The forum is composed of 21 member economies in the Asia-Pacific region, and is often called an “incubator” of trade policy ideas because of its role in the development of innovative trade concepts that reflect and respond to the realities of international business and commerce, USTR says.

“We’re putting great focus on the Asia-Pacific because that’s where the world’s most dynamic economies are expanding rapidly and creating significant opportunities to increase U.S. exports and jobs,” Kirk said during his speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Kirk said he will head to Honolulu to meet with APEC trade ministers before President Obama and other leaders arrive. “We hope to reach agreement on key issues so that we may present the leaders with concrete and meaningful outcomes in three priority areas: promoting green growth; strengthening regional economic integration and expanding trade; and advancing regulatory cooperation and convergence,” Kirk added.

The specific APEC focus on these challenges stems from Asia-Pacific exporters who are increasingly telling the APEC economies that current trade rules have not kept pace with the rapidly evolving realities of 21st-century commerce, Kirk said. “Many of you have asked us to address nontariff barriers and industrial policies that distort trade and inhibit competition,” he added.

Kirk cited as examples clean energy and digital information technology, which current trade rules do not cover sufficiently.

The United States, as host to the APEC Forum this year, is focusing attention on three priority policy initiatives, Kirk said:

• First, the United States is seeking to address tariff and nontariff barriers to environmental goods and services.  These steps will promote trade in environmental goods and services, and they will lower the cost of using this commerce.

• Second, the United States is asking economies to adopt policies that will promote effective innovation by encouraging competition and open markets. “The evidence shows that when countries restrict foreign competition in new technologies, they actually stifle innovation,” Kirk said.

• And third, the United States is asking the APEC economies to take specific steps to improve the quality of regulatory systems and align regulatory approaches more closely. These actions will boost productivity and promote job creation, he added.