Now, some of you might have heard me say before that I wear two hats. I’m here as a diplomat and as a recovering businessman. I am also fast becoming an expert Japan traveler. This is my third trip to Tokyo in the last year, and I am thrilled to be back. I'd like to thank the ACCJ President Michael Alfant, the ACCJ Board of Governors, and the entire APCAC Board for inviting me to speak to you.
We are meeting just days before the one-year anniversary of the terrible earthquake and tsunami that forever changed the lives of millions of people. Japan’s recovery over the last year is an inspiration to the world. What could have been a crippling disaster instead became a remarkable testament to the spirit and resilience of the Japanese people.
The world pulled together to support Japan in those days and months after March 11. Many of you contributed -- American corporations donated nearly $300 million for relief and recovery efforts. American and Japanese rescue and relief forces worked side-by-side, starting within hours of the tsunami.
Of course, Japan has done the same for us. In the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the Japanese people were among the first to respond. In the terrible days following 9/11, Japanese volunteers worked at Ground Zero day-in and day-out. When it matters most, our countries step up for each other. That’s what friends do for each other.
Now, last week, Secretary Clinton hosted the first-ever Global Business Conference at the State Department in Washington. We brought together senior U.S. officials with more than 160 business leaders from over 120 countries. My friend and yours Charles Lake was one of the participants, and I’m glad that he’s here today as well.
The Global Business Conference had one goal: to figure out how the United States can make it easier for companies to do business internationally and create American jobs. Today we want to continue that discussion with you. I am joined by a panel of my colleagues -- our chief diplomats from all across the Asia-Pacific. They made the trip because they know how important economics is to our relationship with Asia, and how important the economic relationship between Asia and the United States is to the world.
So as we begin this discussion, I’d like to make four key points. First, how the United States is sharpening our focus on economics as a foreign policy tool. Second, how business and economics are particularly important to our foreign policy in the Asia-Pacific region. Third, how the United States is doing a great deal to deepen our economic cooperation with the region. And finally, how we can and must do more, and how we need businesses to be part of that effort.
So let’s take these points one by one. First, our focus on business and economics as a tool for diplomacy – a policy we call economic statecraft. America's global leadership and our economic strength are fundamentally a package deal. We must do more to build up both.
We live in an era when the size of a country’s economy is every bit as important to exercising global leadership as the size of its military. Our corporations often reach more people in foreign countries than our embassies. Meanwhile, the American people are hungry for jobs that depend on finding new customers and opening new markets beyond our borders.
So we have made economic statecraft a priority for every one of our missions around the globe. And I’ll tell you, we will use every tool we have – including diplomacy – to promote global prosperity and create American jobs.
Which leads me to my second point: economic statecraft is particularly important in here Asia. That is one reason why, as you can see, we have such a strong showing on this panel.
Many Asian countries have long recognized the links between economics and foreign policy. In many ways, the business of Asia is business. Asian economies and populations are growing rapidly. I don’t need to tell you that much of future global economic growth will be centered in the Asia-Pacific. So it is imperative that we do this right. The decisions Asia’s emerging economies make together with the United States will help govern a rules-based system that will guide us through the 21st century. If we get the rules right, all of our countries will prosper together.
Economics is at the heart of America’s strategy in Asia. We are committed to exercising our role as a resident Pacific power—not just militarily and diplomatically but economically.
No one knows this better than the Asia-Pacific Council of American Chambers of Commerce. You have helped tend American business in Asia for more than 40 years. And your work has paid off. American Chambers of Commerce in Asia today oversee more than $400 billion dollars in trade volume and more than $200 billion in foreign direct investment. And yet, we can and we should be trading more.
The futures of the United States and Asia are linked. We are proud of the role the United States has played in helping fuel Asia's growing prosperity. In 2011, the United States exported nearly $900 billion in goods to APEC countries. That’s more exports than we sent to any other group of regional economies.
But there is no guarantee that the future will continue to be marked by success and growth. Our relationships need constant tending.
So, the third area I want to discuss is how we are enhancing our economic cooperation with the region. We have made some key gains, and we are committed to doing even more to get this right. Last year the President signed the landmark Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement. This deal will eliminate tariffs on 95 percent of American exports to the Republic of Korea. It will add more than $10 billion to the U.S. economy and grow Korea’s economy by 6 percent.
We want to bring these sorts of benefits to the broader region as well. So, we are working with our partners to build a high quality Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. Done right, the TPP could set the stage for decades of higher living standards and deeper friendships across the region. That’s the world we want. And that’s the world I think you want too.
As we build this future, we should be clear. We are not just fighting for American businesses – although that is certainly a priority. America’s economic renewal depends on the strength of the global economy. And the global economy depends on the strength of the American economy. And both—let me add—depend on a strong, vibrant Japanese economy and a full recovery. So, we are striving to build a global, rules-based system in which all businesses stand a chance to succeed. Secretary Clinton laid out our vision at the APEC meetings in Washington almost a year ago. Economic competition should be open, free, transparent, and fair.
What do we mean by open? We mean a system where any person, in any part of the world, can access markets. If you have a good idea for a new product or service, nothing should prevent you from sharing it with the world.
What do we mean by free? We mean that every company can move their goods, money, and ideas around the globe without facing unnecessary roadblocks.
By transparent, we mean that regulations are developed in the open, with everyone’s input, and everyone knows what the rules are.
And, by fair, we mean that those rules apply equally to everyone. Fairness makes sure that people are willing to compete in the first place.
These four simple words cover an incredibly complex economic agenda. And in some of these areas, we face great challenges. For example, we must do a better job of protecting intellectual property. We can disagree about how to best enforce intellectual property laws, but we cannot afford to ignore them. Our 21st century economies rely on innovation and invention to drive economic growth and job creation. We must do all we can to protect that.
So, to my last point: we can and must do much more in the coming years to advance this economic statecraft agenda, and we need the business community to be our full partner. We need to sit down together, in forums like this one and the State Department Global Business Conference, or at gatherings like APEC. Building sustainable global growth and creating jobs at home is a joint venture. The private sector innovates and allocates capital, and the government opens doors to new markets and ensures that the system is fair. Given the economic hardship Americans and our international friends are suffering today, we must bring the partnership between business and government to the next level.
We are relying on you to think big, to generate new ideas, to open doors with jobs and capital. And the government will be right beside you – knocking down barriers, connecting partners, protecting everyone’s interests. Together, we can build a system of healthy economic competition that will be sustainable and profitable for many years to come.
I hope that we come away from these next two days with a newfound sense of purpose and possibility. Starting now, we should all be asking: What can the government and the State Department do to improve opportunities for business in the Asia-Pacific region? How can we do better? How can businesses support our national interests in tying the United States and Asia closer together?
If we are successful in finding more ways to work together to build an open, free, transparent, and fair economic system, the future of U.S.-Asia cooperation is unlimited. The impact on our global economic output will be enormous. And the benefit to people’s lives and opportunities will see no limits.