Thank you very much, Andrey Kostin, for that introduction and stealing one of my lines about the importance of including women across the APEC region in economic growth and prosperity. And also, I thank you for everything you’ve done to organize this important gathering, which has already heard from some of the leaders in the region about our commitment to enhancing interconnectivity and opportunity for business, trade, and investment. And I want to thank all who are here participating as well.
I bring greetings from President Obama and a strong reaffirmation of America’s commitment to APEC. The United States is a Pacific power, not just a diplomatic and military power, but an economic power. And our growing economic interdependence is part of why I often say that much of the history of the 21st century will be written in Asia.
But before I say more about America’s economic engagement in the Asia-Pacific and how it relates to our broader strategy in the region, I’d like to say a few words about our hosts.
In the economic realm, I want to congratulate Russia on joining the World Trade Organization. (Inaudible) this is good for Russia. It’s good for the United States. It’s good for the global economy. Three successive U.S. administrations worked steadily to advance Russia’s WTO aspirations. We strongly support the basic bargain at the heart of the WTO: Nations that uphold internationally-recognized norms – not just on tariffs but subsidies, procurement preferences, intellectual property rights and so on – these nations get to enjoy the benefits of open markets and free trade.
The World Bank, for example, estimates that by effectively implementing its WTO commitments, Russia could increase its gross domestic product by about 3 percent in the medium term, and as much as 11 percent over the long run. So it pays to join the rules-based global trading system. And Russia’s trading partners stand to benefit as well. We believe American exports to Russia could double or even triple.
And that brings me to the larger point I’d like to make today. Last year, in speeches at APEC events in Washington and then again in Hong Kong, I outlined America’s commitment to an economic system based on agreed-upon rules of the road that apply to all nations, developed and developing alike, a system that is open, free, transparent, and fair.
This commitment is a central thrust of U.S. strategy in the region. After an extended period in which the United States had to focus a great deal of attention and resources on regions and conflicts elsewhere, we are now making substantially increased investments in the Asia-Pacific. We seek to work with others to build a stable and just regional order that will benefit everyone.
President Obama took office in the midst of the global financial crisis and worldwide recession. There was then and is an urgent need to rebalance our economy and reduce instability. So we set out at the start to accomplish a number of goals to advance economic progress. There are a few I’d like to speak about briefly today.
They are, first, to advocate forcefully for American companies, so they can compete on an equal level playing field. Second, to pursue new trade agreements with partners across the Asia-Pacific. Third, to expand engagement with regional and global institutions that can mobilize effective common action on shared economic challenges. And fourth, to push for reforms that allow more people in more places to participate in the formal economy. We’ve made concrete, measurable progress in each of these areas. We have still more to do, in cooperation with our partners in the region, including all of you.
Let me begin with our advocacy for American businesses. President Obama set the ambitious goal of doubling U.S. exports worldwide by the end of 2014. And we’ve made great gains in APEC. Between just 2009 and 2011, U.S. exports to other APEC economies increased by nearly 45 percent, and they’re up another 7.5 percent in the first half of 2012. But we can still go further. American companies are eager to invest more in Asia. And when they confront unfair regulations, or if they just want advice on local customs, they come to us at the State Department. And we go to bat for them.
To point to one example, in July, in Siem Reap, Cambodia, we convened the largest-ever U.S.-ASEAN business event. It brought together more than 150 U.S. business leaders, several dozen business leaders from across the region, and three heads of state and more than a dozen government ministers, all with the shared goal of building stronger ties between and among our business communities.
The business leaders hammered out opportunities for new partnerships, and they also spoke constructively about the obstacles that still stand in the way of greater trade and investment. And the people from various governments listened and left with a better sense of what we have to do to improve the business environment in the Asia-Pacific.
Now, I understand that holding conferences, even such a ground-breaking one, and especially one as well attended as this, will only get us so far. To unleash this region’s full potential, we all need to take concrete steps, especially regarding protectionist policies that distort markets and discriminate against some companies, but not others. We know there remain significant discriminatory procurement rules and local content requirements: So-called tollbooths that force unfair terms on foreign companies just to enter or expand in a market; forced technology transfers and government-abetted piracy of intellectual property; preferential treatment for state-owned or state-supported enterprises. Those are some of the distortions that we continue to see and have to stand against.
Now, these protectionist policies might provide short-term benefit to domestic firms, but they disrupt supply chains, they scare investors, and ultimately, they set back economies and weaken the rules of the road that are designed to benefit everyone.
Now, no country, including my own, has a perfect record on this, but we are committed to building the kind of global economy the 21st century demands. And we’re confident that, if given a fair chance and a level playing field, American companies can compete and succeed everywhere.
To make sure our companies get to compete here in Russia, we are working closely with the United States Congress to terminate the application to Jackson-Vanik to Russia and grant Russian Permanent Normalized Trade Relations. We hope that the Congress will pass on this important piece of legislation this month.
Turning to the second line of action, the United States has made a major push to pursue trade agreements with partners across the Asia-Pacific that open markets and reduce barriers. Our landmark deal with South Korea could increase exports of American goods by more than $10 billion and grow South Korea’s economy by 6 percent. In addition to lowering tariffs, the agreement also includes improvements on intellectual property protection and enforcement, fair labor practices, environmental protection, regulatory due process.
That’s also true of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a new far-reaching regional trade agreement that will bring together at least 11 economies, developed and developing alike, into a single Pacific trading community. It will lower trade barriers while raising standards, creating more and better growth. And this agreement will set a new precedent by covering emerging trade issues such as the competitive impact of state-owned enterprises, the connectivity of regional supply chains, and opportunities for more small- and-medium-sized businesses that are truly the engine of economic growth and employment everywhere.
On the third front – regional and global institutions – the United States has made a concerted effort to work more closely with and within them, because fostering a balanced and stable economy is a challenge too sweeping and complex for countries to approach in isolation. It calls for all of us to cooperate in addressing head-on sources of financial stress that can and are spilling over borders. That means developed nations like the United States need to build more at home and sell more abroad. It means developing economies here in Asia. We need to grow larger middle classes that can fuel demand for both domestic and imported goods and services. That purchasing power will come from better jobs with higher wages and safer working conditions, including for women, migrant workers, and others who are too often excluded from the formal economy. If we do this right, globalization can become a race to the top, with rising standards of living and more broadly shared prosperity.
The United States has made this goal a centerpiece of our bilateral diplomacy, including within our Strategic and Economic Dialogue with China. And in terms of our outreach to institutions, we elevated the G20 as the focus for international cooperation on economic policy. We signed the treaty of Amity and Cooperation with ASEAN. We joined the East Asia Summit. And as host of APEC last year in Honolulu, we drove an agenda focused on strengthening regional economic integration, promoting green sustainable growth, advancing regulatory cooperation and convergence, and, yes, expanding economic opportunities for women.
Here’s just one example of what we’ve done. In Hawaii, President Obama brought his fellow APEC leaders together around a set of principles for effective, market-driven, non-discriminatory innovation policy.
We’re all looking to ensure that innovation is a key growth source for the years ahead. And it’s time for each of us to implement the innovation principles we agreed to with detailed guidelines that commit each economy to actively uphold global standards, enforce intellectual property rights, end technology transfer mandates, and improve procurement policies. This should be a major priority for APEC going forward.
And I am pleased that here in Vladivostok, APEC has agreed to cap tariffs on more than 50 environmental goods, which will help encourage the development of clean technologies and greener growth across the region. Among other steps that will be considered and agreed to by the leaders, we also pledged to avoid export restrictions that contribute to spikes in food prices during droughts and shortages, and to counter illegal wildlife trafficking in endangered and protected species.
On the fourth and final line of action, the United States has pushed for reforms that allow more people in more places to participate in the formal economy, especially women. Now, there is a growing body of evidence that bringing more women into the workplace, including into senior management, spurs innovation and productivity. Research also shows that companies that hire women executives and board members thrive and often out-perform those that do not. One recent study, however, found that more than 70 percent of companies in emerging Asian economies have no women on their governing boards. Now, by some estimates by the World Bank and others, restrictions on women’s economic participation are costing the APEC region more than $40 billion in lost GDP every year.
As the host of APEC, last year the United States focused on tapping into the vast economic potential of women across the Asia-Pacific. And in San Francisco, in preparation for the meeting in Honolulu, member economies targeted four critical areas: access to capital, access to markets, skills and capacity building, and leadership. And then in St. Petersburg, again in a run up to the APEC meeting here in Vladivostok, we agreed among ourselves and announced more than 70 new programs and policies to implement the goals of those four areas. The United States launched new initiatives to train central and commercial banks in inclusive lending practices and to help governments use their purchasing power to support women entrepreneurs and small businesses. We’ll stay focused on these challenges, because no economic system can be truly open, free, transparent, and fair if half of the population is excluded and exploited.
Let me leave you with this final thought. The United States is making a major investment in the Asia-Pacific. And we are doing everything that we can to promote that open, free, transparent, and fair economic system. But the success of this effort depends upon all of us here – governments and businesses, citizens alike. The private sector needs to stand up for the system that will allowed you to thrive over the long run. That means pushing governments to support high-standard trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, to drop harmful protectionist policies. It means playing by the rules, respecting workers, and opening doors qualified women. And most of all, it means doing what you do best: build, hire, and grow.
APEC has long made it a priority to include the private sector as a partner. The CEO Summit and the APEC Business Advisory Council are both opportunities to keep this dialogue going. And we’ve also have launched three new APEC Policy Partnerships on food security, on women and the economy, and now in innovation, science, and technology, and each of the (inaudible) to have a seat at the table. I encourage you to join us and contribute your energy and expertise to the important work we must do together.
The difference between a region on the path to sustainable growth and one whose gains will be more short-lived comes down to norms, to those so-called rules of the road. Setting and enforcing them should be a top priority for governments and businesses alike. Leaders across the Asia-Pacific have an opportunity to set the task forward now. The United States stands ready to be constructive partner in these efforts. We believe in the Asia-Pacific, but we know that the economic community that APEC foresaw all those years ago when it started has made great progress. But the challenge now is not to grow weary, not to turn inward, but to keep moving forward together. And if we do, the promise of the Asia-Pacific will be realized. On behalf of the United States, we look forward to working with you for the years ahead to realize greater, more inclusive, sustainable prosperity across the Asia-Pacific.
Thank you all. (Applause.)