A prosperous and open Asia Pacific is key to the economic health of the United States. On the eve of the recent financial problems in Asia, the 21 members of APEC – which includes the United States, Canada, Mexico, Peru, Chile and Russia, along with East Asian nations – contributed about one-half of total global gross domestic product and exports. Thirty percent of U.S. exports go to Asia, supporting millions of U.S. jobs, and we export more to Asia than Europe. Our economic objectives in East Asia include: continued recovery from the recent financial crisis; further progress within APEC toward liberalizing trade and investment; increased U.S. exports to Asian countries through market-opening measures and leveling the playing field for U.S. business; and WTO accession for the PRC and Taiwan on satisfactory commercial terms. Opportunities for economic growth abound in Asia and underlie our strong commitment to economic cooperation, such as via the annual APEC leaders meetings.
Our economic strategy in Asia has four key elements: support for economic reforms and market opening; working with international financial institutions to provide well-targeted economic and technical assistance in support of economic reforms; providing bilateral humanitarian aid and contingency bilateral financial assistance if needed; and urging strong policy actions by Japan and the other major economic powers to promote global growth.
The United States will continue to work with the IMF, the World Bank, other international financial institutions, the governments in East Asia and the private sector to help stabilize financial markets, restore investor confidence and deepen on-going reforms in the troubled East Asian economies. In doing so, we will remain mindful of the need to promote protection of worker rights. We will continue to support South Korea, Thailand and Indonesia as they implement economic reforms designed to foster financial stability and investor confidence in order to attract the capital flows required to restore economic growth. U.S. initiatives in APEC will open new opportunities for economic cooperation and permit U.S. companies to expand their involvement in substantial infrastructure planning and construction throughout the region. We will continue our efforts to encourage all Asia Pacific nations to pursue open markets.
Bringing the PRC more fully into the global trading system is manifestly in our national interest. China is a major potential market for our goods and services. As we look into the next century, our exports to China will support hundreds of thousands of jobs across our country. For this reason, we must continue our normal trade relationship with China, as every President has done since 1980, to strengthen our economic relationship.
An important part of integrating China into the market-based world economic system is opening China’s highly protected market through elimination of trade barriers and removal of distorting restraints on economic activity. We have negotiated and vigorously enforced landmark agreements to combat piracy of intellectual property and advance the interests of our creative industries. We have also negotiated – and vigorously enforced – agreements on textile trade. We will continue to press China to open its markets as it engages in sweeping economic reform and to respect and adhere to core labor standards as codified by the ILO. Most recently, we reached agreement to bring China into the World Trade Organization on fair commercial terms – a landmark accord that will create jobs and opportunities for Americans through opening of Chinese markets, promote economic reform in China, and help spread the message and the tools of freedom to the Chinese people.
The Administration continues to make progress on increasing market access in Asia’s largest economy. Since the beginning of the first Clinton Administration, the United States and Japan have reached 38 trade agreements designed to open Japanese markets in key sectors, including autos and auto parts, telecommunications, civil aviation, insurance and glass. The Administration also has intensified efforts to monitor and enforce trade agreements with Japan to ensure that they are fully implemented. The United States also uses multilateral venues, such as WTO dispute settlement and negotiation of new multilateral agreements, to further open markets and accomplish our trade objectives with Japan. The US-Japan Common Agenda advances our bilateral cooperation with a major donor ally on global and regional environmental, scientific, and health issues.
Japan has a crucial role to play in Asia’s economic recovery: generating substantial growth to help maintain a growing world economy and absorb a growing share of imports from emerging markets. We have encouraged Japan to reform its financial sector, stimulate domestic demand, deregulate its economy, and further open its markets to foreign goods and services.
Republic of Korea:
The United States will continue its strong support for South Korean efforts to reform its economy, liberalize trade and investment, strengthen the banking system and implement the IMF program. We have committed to providing bilateral finance under appropriate conditions and will continue to explore concrete steps to promote growth in both our countries, to more fully open our markets, and to further integrate the Republic of Korea into the global economy.
The United States strongly supports efforts to sustain and strengthen economic recovery in the ten nations of ASEAN through maintaining our open market for Southeast Asian goods and services, as well as our support for IMF-led recovery programs for several ASEAN nations. Thailand has completed its IMF-mandated structural reform program and has turned the corner towards renewed growth. Indonesia’s economy has basically stabilized and the newly elected democratic government is working on new lending agreements with the IMF and World Bank, linked to progress on economic and financial reform. We applaud ASEAN’s 1998 Hanoi Action Plan, which calls for accelerated regional economic integration. We are working toward completion of a broad commercial agreement with Vietnam that will open markets and promote economic reform while allowing us to endorse Normal Trade Relations for Vietnam, which we also seek for Laos. Working with ASEAN members to address environmental degradation in Southeast Asia is a major priority, from forest fires and haze, to fisheries depletion, deforestation, and sustainable growth during the recovery from the Asian financial crisis.
Australia and New Zealand:
We are building on our already close working relationship with Australia and New Zealand to strengthen our bilateral trade and economic relationships, build consensus for regional liberalization, and cooperate in opening the new round of international trade negotiations at the WTO.