05 June 2014
Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker is on a weeklong commercial diplomacy trip that demonstrates the Obama administration’s ongoing commitment to the Asia-Pacific region.
Along with members of the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council (USABC) and a delegation of U.S. CEOs, Pritzker is visiting Vietnam, the Philippines and Burma. Her travels were chronicled in June 3 and June 4 Commerce Department blog posts.
“The United States recognizes the vast potential for mutually beneficial growth in the whole ASEAN region,” the Commerce Department said. “U.S. businesses want to be part of the solution as countries across the region look to support a growing middle class, develop world-class infrastructure, unleash sustainable energy, and invest in their futures.”
STRENGTHENING U.S.-PHILIPPINE TIES
In the Philippines, Pritzker met June 4 with President Benigno Aquino III and June 3 with Secretary of Trade and Industry Gregory Domingo and Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima. Their meetings built on the strong U.S.-Philippine relationship, which was bolstered by President Obama’s trip to the country in April, the Commerce Department said.
Pritzker congratulated Aquino for his successful leadership and commended both Domingo and Purisima on the Philippines’ recent economic accomplishments and reforms that have resulted in strong growth. The country has doubled its gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate from 3.6 percent in 2011 to 7.2 percent in 2013, the Commerce Department said.
Pritzker said the $24 billion a year U.S.-Philippine trade relationship has continued to grow, with U.S. exports to the country increasing over the past year. She discussed opportunities for U.S. companies to support the Philippines’ infrastructure development needs, including at Clark International Airport, and talked about outstanding U.S.-Philippine trade issues and steps the country could take to become an even more attractive investment destination.
Pritzker also offered support to the Philippines for hosting the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in 2015.
All three meetings concluded with a visit from the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council CEO delegation, whose members discussed the Philippines’ importance to the U.S. public and private sectors.
SUPPORTING INNOVATION AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP
Recognizing innovation and entrepreneurship as key drivers of economic growth, Pritzker participated in a round-table discussion June 4 with Philippine entrepreneurs to learn more about the country’s business environment and discuss ways the Obama administration can support business creation. The discussion was hosted by Kickstart, a startup incubator, and IdeaSpace, a nonprofit that supports technology entrepreneurs.
The Philippine round table was part of a series of discussions Pritzker is holding to learn more about the opportunities for new business creation in different countries, as well as the obstacles that entrepreneurs face.
DISCUSSING TRADE TIES IN VIETNAM
In Vietnam June 3, on the first leg of her trip, Pritzker, and later the USABC delegation, met with Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang. She expressed support for progress in the growing bilateral relationship since the establishment of the U.S.-Vietnam Comprehensive Partnership in July 2013.
She also met with her counterpart, Vu Huy Hoang, the Vietnamese minister of industry and trade. The two trade officials discussed ways to increase economic engagement between the United States and Vietnam, as well as the investment climate for U.S. firms, trade relations and the United States’ commitment to concluding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. They also met with the USABC CEO delegation and talked about the U.S. private sector’s commitment to Vietnam.
Meeting June 3 with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, Pritzker reaffirmed President Obama’s commitment to opening a new phase of bilateral relations with Vietnam, and the two were later joined by the USABC delegation to discuss enhancing commercial ties.
At a round-table conversation with AmCham Vietnam, Pritzker discussed the importance of entrepreneurship to the Vietnamese economy and talked about her work to support the creators of new businesses around the world.
On June 2, she met with several government leaders to discuss opportunities for U.S. companies to do more business in Vietnam.
Since starting reforms toward a more market-based economy in the 1980s, Vietnam has experienced one of the highest GDP growth rates in the world, the Commerce Department said. Since the United States and Vietnam signed a bilateral trade agreement in 2001, trade between the two countries has increased from $2.9 billion in 2002 to just under $30 billion in 2013.
Pritzker goes on to Burma after her visit to the Philippines.