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  • The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is the premier platform for the United States to advance economic policies in the Asia-Pacific region that promote free, fair, and open trade and investment. From November 11-17, the United States will host APEC Economic Leaders’ Week in San Francisco, underscoring our commitment to promoting inclusive and sustainable economic growth while bolstering American competitiveness in a free and open Asia-Pacific. Across the week, the United States will highlight the strength and resilience of the U.S. economy, our longstanding economic ties with the Asia-Pacific, the surge of job-creating investments from APEC economies into the United States in recent years, and the role of the U.S. economy in driving growth and innovation in the Asia-Pacific and globally. We will also reaffirm our commitment to partnering with APEC economies to chart the next chapter of sustainable, inclusive regional growth, further strengthen the ties between our economies and our populations, and support American families and workers.


MODERATOR:  Welcome, everyone, to the Foreign Press Center.  My name is Miranda Patterson, one of the media relations officers here at the FPC.  I am pleased to welcome senior official for APEC Matt Murray as well as Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Chris Wilson. 

The purpose of today’s briefing is to preview the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders’ Week in San Francisco.  Senior Official Murray is responsible for coordinating the United States active engagement and participation in APEC while also overseeing the Office of Economic Policy in the State Department’s Bureau of East Asia and Pacific Affairs. 

Chris Wilson is assistant U.S. trade representative for Japan, Korea, and APEC.  He oversees the development and implementation of U.S. trade policy toward Japan and Korea and within the APEC forum. 

A quick reminder of the ground rules for today:  The briefing is on the record.  After their opening remarks, our briefers have kindly agreed to take questions.  Please raise your hand and I will call on you.  If called for a question, please begin your question by stating your name, outlet, and country.   

For our journalists joining via Zoom, if you have a question, please go to the participant field and virtually raise your hand.  We will call on you and you can unmute yourself, and if you turn on your video to ask a question, we would greatly appreciate it.  You can also submit questions in the chat box, and if you haven’t already done so, please go ahead now and rename your Zoom profile with your full name and the name of your media outlet. 

This briefing will end promptly at 6:00 pm.  We will post a video and the transcript of this briefing afterwards on our website, which is   

And with that, I’m going to turn this briefing over to Senior Official Murray for his opening remarks. 

AMBASSADOR MURRAY:  Great, thank you, and thank you to everyone for joining us today, and thanks to the Foreign Press Center for hosting. 

I’m pleased to be here for the third time during the U.S. APEC host year, particularly to provide a preview of APEC Economic Leaders’ Week, which is set, as you know, to take place in San Francisco from November 11 to 17.  At the outset, I’d like to note our thanks and our appreciation for the strong collaboration and support we’ve received from San Francisco Mayor London Breed, California Governor Gavin Newsom, and other state and local stakeholders as they prepare to welcome delegations from the 21 APEC economies next week.  It’s going to be a great event due in large part to their outstanding efforts. 

Our APEC host year theme of creating a resilient and sustainable future for all and our key policy priorities – to build an interconnected, innovative, and inclusive Asia-Pacific region – have guided our agenda this year and underscore U.S. dedication to the Asia-Pacific region.  Through APEC, the United States has committed to strengthening economic cooperation in this dynamic region that represents 40 percent of the world’s population, nearly half of global trade, and over 60 percent of the global economy.  And the economic of our – of our engagement in APEC translates into real opportunities and job growth here at home.  As of 2021, APEC members are the source of $1.7 trillion in foreign direct investment into the United States, investment that provides jobs to 2.3 million American workers. 

Likewise, U.S. exports to APEC economies in 2021 surpassed 1.3 trillion, and over one-half of our total exports were destined for APEC economies, and these exports support almost seven million U.S. jobs, underlining the impact of our interconnected economies to communities across our country. 

Throughout the year, we focus on key areas like the just energy transition, food security, disaster risk reduction, and the digital economy.  And we’ve also worked to empower micro, small, and medium-size enterprises, women, indigenous peoples, and under-represented communities in the Asia-Pacific region.  Our commitment to economic resilience is reflected in promoting good regulatory practices, implementing structural reforms, and combating corruption. 

Next week in San Francisco, we will hold our final two ministerial meetings of the year.  The finance ministers meeting will be chaired by U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen while Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Katherine Tai will jointly convene their foreign and trade counterparts at the APEC Ministerial Meeting.   

And to conclude the week, President Biden will host the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting to establish a strategic vision for regional collaboration in the coming year.  APEC Leaders’ Week also will feature a lot of engagement with the private sector, including the APEC Business Advisory Council dialogue with leaders, the APEC CEO Summit, the inaugural Sustainable Future Forum, and also an opportunity to engage a broader set of stakeholders with the inaugural APEC Multistakeholder Forum, as well as other events organized by the private sector, civil society, academia, and non-profit organizations. 

We’re proud of the progress we’ve made this year through APEC, and we remain committed to enhancing partnerships and engaging with stakeholders across the region as we continue working toward a resilient and sustainable future for all of our people.   

In closing, we look forward to welcoming representatives of the other 20 APEC economies to San Francisco and certainly invite all of you to participate actively, whether in person or virtually, in the press conferences and briefings that will be held throughout the week in San Francisco.  Your reporting and perspectives are invaluable in amplifying the impact of APEC’s efforts around the Asia-Pacific region. 

So I’ll stop there and I’ll now pass the floor to my colleague, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Chris Wilson. 

MR WILSON:  Thank you, Matt.  Good evening, everyone, and thanks for joining today’s briefing.  Thanks also to the Foreign Press Center for putting this together for us.   

Again, my name is Christopher Wilson.  I’m the assistant U.S. trade representative covering APEC.  And I’ll preview U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai’s trip to San Francisco next week for the APEC Ministerial Meeting. 

As Ambassador Murray pointed out, the theme for our APEC host year is creating a resilient and sustainable future for all.  At a time of unpredictable global changes and shocks, the Biden-Harris administration is prioritizing resilience and sustainability in our economic, trade, and investment policies.  We may not be able to predict the next global shock, but we can better prepare ourselves for it so that we can recover quickly and stronger than before. 

This is why we incorporated these themes into our APEC host year.  In May, Ambassador Tai hosted the APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade Meeting in Detroit, Michigan.  In Detroit, Ambassador Tai convened a first-of-its-kind dialogue with leaders from the AFL-CIO and the United Auto Workers unions.  It was an opportunity to hear about how trade impacts their members and their communities, and how we can work together to build inclusive, durable policies that benefit all people.  We’re keeping those themes and priorities in mind as we look ahead to the APEC Ministerial Meeting next week in San Francisco.   

As Matt mentioned, Ambassador Tai and Secretary of State Blinken will meet with their counterparts on November 14th and 15th.  We’re excited to once again spotlight an important and trade-focused American city, and look forward to engaging with our counterparts, with business leaders, civil society representatives, and other stakeholders.   

One event in particular that I want to highlight is a trade-focused dialogue with indigenous leaders from several APEC economies on November 14th.  Since taking office, Ambassador Tai has met with tribal and indigenous leaders here in the United States to solicit their feedback and input on our trade policy.  We’re excited about the engagement in San Francisco as an opportunity to broaden this outreach to a regional stage.  Under President Biden’s leadership, we’re taking a new approach to our trade policy.  We’re putting workers and historically under-represented communities at the center of our policymaking process to ensure the benefits of trade include them.  The conversation that Ambassador Tai will host in San Francisco is an extension of this policy, and we could not be more thrilled to convene this dialogue.   

We also have an ambitious agenda for the APEC Ministerial Meetings, and I know that Ambassador Tai is looking forward to joining Secretary Blinken for a robust conversation about how APEC economies can continue to work together to promote resilience for our people.  In particular, we expect that the gathered trade ministers will discuss how APEC economies can cooperate ahead of the 13th World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference, which will be held next February in Abu Dhabi.  The ministers will also carry forward the conversation they began in Detroit regarding ways to deepen the incorporation of sustainability and inclusion in trade policies across the APEC region.  So there’s a lot to discuss, and we look forward to a packed schedule in San Francisco.   

And with that, Matt and I look forward to taking a few of your questions.   

MODERATOR:  Okay.  Thank you very much.  Again, please state your name, outlet, and country.  We’ll have this young lady here, you in – yeah.   

QUESTION:  Thank you.  Thanks for taking a question.  My name is Jia.  I’m from China’s Caixin Media.  My question is directed to Mr. Murray.   

So regarding the potential meeting between President Xi and President Biden – so from the view of Washington, how has the U.S. anticipation of the Sino-U.S. leaders’ summit evolved from last year’s Bali summit?  Compared to the Bali summit, is there a shift of focus or major objectives from the U.S. point of view? 

And my – the second question is:  So last week, as I checked, at the APEC CEO Summit’s program, I found there are two speeches.  One is from President Xi and the other is from President Biden.  But this – this week, as I checked, these two agenda vanished.  Does that mean that as both sides are working toward making the two-leader summit happen, there are still last-minute arrangements that are being made about this summit?  Thank you. 

AMBASSADOR MURRAY:  Great.  Well, thank you for the questions.  I think I’ll start with the second one first.  When it comes to the APEC CEO Summit, I would say there are lots of last-minute preparations that are still being made.  I know that we’ve had a number of different changes in timings for different events at the CEO summit.  They’re also trying to balance the schedules of a number of APEC leaders, including President Biden and President Xi, as well as a number of high-level CEOs, which is a big challenge for the U.S. private sector host committee that’s responsible for setting up the APEC CEO Summit.  So I know that we’re still working towards finalizing the entire program for next week, so I would encourage you to continue to check the website for updates on that.   

I think as far as the bilat is concerned, I mean, I’d say right at the top that, as you heard during the visit of Foreign Minister Wang Yi when he was here, we’re very focused on working towards keeping open channels of communication, and want to be able to manage competition responsibly, and certainly want to work towards a meeting in San Francisco between President Xi and President Biden.   

I think from my own perspective, as the U.S. senior official for APEC, my focus has been much more on what we’re trying to deliver for APEC as an organization and looking at it from a very – a multilateral perspective in terms of how we want to be engaged multilaterally, how we want to enhance our relationship with the economies in the region, how we want to uphold international rules and norms through APEC, how we want to really enhance public-private collaboration around the region to try to advance prosperity and create jobs for all economies, and also how we do want to deliver policy outcomes, as we were talking about in our opening statements, within APEC. 

But certainly understand – and I think one of the great things about APEC is that it is a convener for all of the leaders from around the region so that it can be a platform for important bilateral discussions to take place.  So as I said, we’re looking forward to, again, working towards that meeting between President Xi and President Biden, and certainly see that as something positive for the U.S.-China relationship, but also positive for the region. 

MODERATOR:  Yes, we’ll have Igor here.   

QUESTION:  Thank you so much.  Igor Naimushin, (inaudible) Russia.  Just a couple of questions, very short.  Could you please describe how the U.S. assess right now APEC’s current role in promoting global trade and economic relations within the region and globally?  Is this an effective organization from your point of view?  And what do you see – what does the U.S. administration see as necessary steps to, let’s say, improve its efficiency and improve its contribution?  This is the first question from my side. 

And the second one, just as a follow-up:  As IMF and World Bank continue to highlight risks from global trade fragmentation and economic fragmentation as well as growing investment barriers, from your perspective, how APEC could contribute to mitigate these risks?  Thank you. 

AMBASSADOR MURRAY:  Sure.  Well, I can start from my side and then perhaps Assistant USTR Wilson may have a couple points to add.  I think that traditionally, over the last three decades, we’ve seen APEC play an important role as a consensus-based nonbinding organization to really try to advance economic and trade relations around the region, and also as an incubator for good ideas of policy priorities that we could pursue in other – in other fora.  So I think on the basis of the last three-plus decades it’s been successful in that regard.   

Of course, APEC was founded in 1989.  This year – 2023 – is the 30th anniversary of the first-ever leaders’ meeting that took place in 1993, and during that time we’ve now seen lots of challenges in the global economy, whether those were brought on by the Asian financial crisis or the global financial crisis or most recently COVID, and so – and certainly war and conflict around the region as well.  And APEC has still been a place where it could – economies could work together to advance economic partnerships. 

So certainly from that perspective and from the U.S. engagement this year as host, I think we see a lot of potential for APEC to be able to deliver positive results.  And I think a great example of that is just the run-through of the different ministerial meetings we’ve had this year.  Back in May we hosted the trade ministerial that Ambassador Tai hosted as well as a transportation ministerial that Secretary Buttigieg hosted.  In August we had six ministerials on disaster management, on food security, on energy, on health, on small- and medium-sized enterprises, and women and the economy, and now we’re going to have the finance ministerial, the APEC Ministerial Meeting, and the Leaders’ Meeting in San Francisco. 

So the ability to convene at that level I think is really important and shows the value of APEC, but also I think APEC is great in terms of being a convener for subject matter experts as well in the working groups and the committees, and I think over the course of this year we’ve hosted more than 400 working-level meetings as well. 

So I think to the – your question then, given some of the economic headwinds that we’re facing, Secretary of State Blinken last year said that we really wanted to use our U.S. APEC host year to meet the moment that we’re in, meaning how can we address many of those economic headwinds through an organization like APEC.  And so I would argue that as we convene, as we come together in an organization that focuses on economic cooperation, APEC’s role is probably more important than ever before given some of those challenges that we’re facing. 

MR WILSON:  Yeah, I’d just add really briefly – I agree with everything that Matt has said.  I’m relatively new to APEC.  I’ve been working on APEC for less than a year, and I’ve been very struck by precisely its ability to move the needle on important issues precisely because it is consensus-based and not negotiating hard rules.   

So just to give you a couple of examples of work that APEC has done this year that I think are really meaningful, we’ve been able to produce a set of guidelines on what we call good regulatory practices, which is basically an encouragement to APEC economies to follow certain guidelines in terms of transparency in their regulatory and rulemaking processes, which also contributes very directly to the rule of law.  We’ve also seen some very useful work this year on logistics services. 

Now, these are often things that sound and are in fact quite technical, but they really do have an outsized impact in terms of making trade move in the APEC region.  And again, I think that’s really where APEC’s strength has been and continues – and continues to be. 

MODERATOR:  Thank you.  We’re just going to take a couple of questions from our colleagues online.  Can I please have Wen-Hsin Chang unmute yourself and turn your camera on? 

QUESTION:  Hi, can you hear me? 


QUESTION:  Oh, thank you very much.  Wen-Hsin Chang, the United Daily News Group from Taiwan.  I have different – two different questions.  First, Mr. Murray, you have mentioned before that U.S. will make sure that Hong Kong and Russia have appropriate representation in San Francisco.  So could you confirm and elaborate?  Why did the U.S. decide to invite Hong Kong’s chief executive, John Lee, who is sanctioned by the U.S., to APEC Summit?  Is the financial secretary, Paul Chan, an appropriate choice to be representative for Hong Kong in APEC meeting?  Members of the Congress accused State Department of – State Department of potentially deceiving Congress over the possibility that invite Hong Kong’s leader.  Could you comment on this? 

And second one, as everybody focused on U.S. and China leaders’ meeting on the margins of APEC, has the U.S. planned to engage with Taiwan delegation during APEC?  For example, will there be a dialogue between President Biden and TSMC founder Morris Chang, who is the representative of President Tsai?  If so, what is the major issue to talk?  Thank you very much. 

AMBASSADOR MURRAY:  Thanks for the question.  On the first part regarding Hong Kong and Russia, I would say the United States certainly takes its responsibility for hosting APEC in 2023 very seriously, and we’re looking forward to continuing to work with all APEC member economies on promoting free, fair, and open trade and investment and advancing inclusive and sustainable growth.   

I think we’ve been very consistent throughout the year and been very clear that participating in APEC will be in accordance with U.S. laws and regulations, and we have been working towards appropriate participation of all APEC member economies. 

As you noted, the government of Hong Kong indicated on October 31st that Hong Kong Financial Security Paul Chan will represent Hong Kong at APEC Leaders’ Week, and we look forward to his participation. 

On the second question you posed regarding the participation of Chinese Taipei at APEC, as you probably know, I made two trips to Taipei this year to meet with the government there regarding our U.S. APEC host year, and Taiwan – which participates in APEC under the name of Chinese Taipei – has been a full and equal partner in APEC since 1991.  And consistent with past precedent, the President looks forward to welcoming Chinese Taipei’s participation in San Francisco. 

I don’t have anything to announce today regarding specific bilateral meetings on the margins of APEC Economic Leaders’ Week, but we’ll look forward to staying in touch with you on that.  Thank you. 

MODERATOR:  Okay.  We’ll go back to some more questions.  Yes, please.  Please announce yourself too. 

QUESTION:  Dmitry Kirsanov of TASS.  This is for Ambassador Murray.  To follow up on what just was asked about Russia’s and Hong Kong’s participation, firstly, has the United States sent a formal invitation to Russia to attend the upcoming summit? 

AMBASSADOR MURRAY:  Well, I think as I just said a moment ago, the United States has invited all member economies to participate in the leaders’ meeting. 

QUESTION:  Secondly, the administration stated on several occasions – and you just did right now – that the U.S. is going to be a, quote/unquote, “good steward” of the APEC.  How do you square that with essentially refusing to invite two leaders of APEC countries, the president of Russia and the chief executive of Hong Kong?  And lastly, is the U.S. comfortable with other APEC countries using the same approach vis-à-vis the U.S. based on reciprocity? 

AMBASSADOR MURRAY:  Well, I think as I stated a moment ago, our commitment that we made when we offered to host APEC in 2023 was that we would host in accordance with the – both the spirit and principles of APEC, but also the laws and regulations of the United States.  And when it comes to the laws and regulations of the United States, that also includes consideration of sanctions.  So again, we’ve been in discussions regarding appropriate representation, and that’s the place where we’ve arrived as we head into San Francisco. 

QUESTION:  And reciprocity, other countries using the same approach vis-à-vis the U.S.? 

AMBASSADOR MURRAY:  Again, I can only speak to what we’ve done in our U.S. APEC host year and the commitment that we made, and that we believe we’ve lived up to that commitment. 

MODERATOR:  Okay.  Yes, you in the back, in the striped shirt. 

QUESTION:  Hi.  Ken Sakakibara with the Asahi Shimbun from Japan.  Thanks for taking my question.  I want to ask question to Mr. Wilson.  I think – I believe the USTR announced today that the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework Ministerial Meeting will be held on the 13th and the 14th during the APEC week, and I believe that there are four pillars of the IPEF, and that the supply chain pillar was concluded in Detroit in May of this year.  And do you expect that the remaining three pillars will also be substantially concluded at this upcoming meeting?  Thank you. 

MR WILSON:  Sure.  So, just to be clear again, Ambassador Murray and I are really focusing this briefing on APEC and APEC Leaders’ Week.  You’re right, though, that those APEC economies that are also participating in the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework have chosen to take advantage of officials being in San Francisco to hold negotiations again with the aim of some substantial conclusion in the outstanding areas of the IPEF.  But again, I think it’s important to note these are two distinct initiatives – both very important to the United States, both in terms of responsibilities as 2023 host of APEC and hoping to achieve some very positive outcomes during APEC Leaders’ Week, but again also taking advantage of a number of officials who happen to work on both APEC and IPEF to also be able to make some progress on that negotiation. 

MODERATOR:  Thank you.  Yes, please. 

QUESTION:  Hi.  My name is Dong Hyun from Yonhap News Agency.  That’s from South Korea.  My question is on the U.S.-China economic relations.  Today there was an op-ed by Secretary Yellen in The Washington Post about the planned meeting with the vice premier, He Lifeng, and she talked about the importance of a constructive economic relationship with China.  And yet she says she’s still very concerned about China’s unfair economic practices.  And can we expect the U.S.-China economic relations to be warming up?  Can you just give us some sort of idea of where we are?  Is it getting better, or it is still more focused on competition? 

AMBASSADOR MURRAY:  Well, I think as I had said earlier, really at the moment I think what we’re very much driving forward on is trying to keep the lines of communication open and trying to manage competition responsibly.  And we’re working towards this meeting happening in San Francisco between President Biden and President Xi.  I think I would defer to the Treasury Secretary on what she said in her op-ed today in terms of her view of the U.S.-China relationship from an economic standpoint, so I don’t want to speculate on where we’re headed.   

But again, I think what’s really important in my view is that we are having this really large APEC gathering next week which will provide a lot of different opportunities to engage with some of our most important economic partners.  Of course China is one of those partners, but we’ll also have Japan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, a couple of our Latin American partners, seven of our 10 ASEAN partners.  And so I think we’re very focused on the opportunity to engage with all of those APEC members in order to really try to advance economic prosperity in the region.  

QUESTION:  Mr. Wilson, you mentioned that the theme of the APEC Summit is the resilient future for all.  What there – can we expect some sort of deliverable on strengthening the resilience of the supply chain for the important talks? 

AMBASSADOR MURRAY:  I can take – start that and then maybe Assistant USTR Wilson has some points on that.  I think that one of the areas that we’ve looked at a lot this year is on sustainability and looking at building on what Thailand launched last year with the Bangkok Goals on Bio-Circular-Green Economy, and certainly how sustainability fits into supply chains and fits into the regional economic architecture.   

And so we’ve certainly, throughout our host year and our ministerial meetings, driven forward on some positive outcomes that we think can contribute here.  Our energy ministerial meeting, for example, agreed on principles for a just energy transition.  Our food security ministerial agreed on principles for sustainable agri-food systems.  And there have been a number of other positive outcomes that have come out of our ministerial and working-group-level meetings throughout the year.  And so what we’d really like to do is to see them be elevated at the leader – during Leaders’ Week so that our leaders can also agree on some of the steps that need to be taken forward in this area.   

And so I think there’s a lot that can be done.  I think also within APEC itself, there are a lot of areas where APEC very much focuses on resiliency.  We mentioned a few of them earlier when it comes to supply chains and other areas.  

So I do think that there’s an opportunity to be able to – when our leaders get together to be able to advance some outcomes in that area.   

MR WILSON:  Yeah, just to add briefly, I think from a trade perspective something that we’ve been thinking a lot about during this host year is that in order to create resilience in our economies, we need to be more inclusive in the way that we develop economic and trade policies.  And that has been an important theme for Ambassador Tai that she will continue to carry into the meetings in San Francisco. 

We have been working in the leadup to San Francisco with our APEC partners to develop a set of shared principles for incorporating sustainability and inclusion more directly in the way that each of us as APEC economies develops and implements our trade policies.  We’re making good progress on that.  We still have a bit more work to do over the course of the coming week.  But again, in addition to some very practical things that we’ve done like what I mentioned earlier with respect to logistics services, which obviously contributes very directly to resilient supply chains, we believe that the inclusion piece in terms of who we are engaging with, and developing trade policies is a part of that, and we are confident that APEC is taking some important steps forward in that regard. 

MODERATOR:  Let’s move quickly online to Igor Patrick.   

QUESTION:  Hello, can you hear me? 


QUESTION:  Awesome.  Thank you very much for doing this.  My name is Igor; I am from the South China Morning Post.  Ambassador, do you think that the fact that Hong Kong’s chief executive, John Lee, will not be here in the U.S. has affected China’s willingness to engage with the U.S. for the upcoming summit?  And also if I may – and this is a question for both of you – considering that Lee will not be here and the U.S. Congress is now actively discussing the Hong Kong Sanctions Act that would impose sanctions to – up to I guess 49 officials involved in national security cases, what are the prospects for U.S. engagement with Hong Kong during APEC?  Thank you very much. 

AMBASSADOR MURRAY:  So thanks – thank you for the question.  Again, I mean, my focus has been on engaging with the APEC members this year as we’ve hosted all of these meetings through Honolulu and Palm Springs and Detroit and Seattle, and now preparing for APEC.  I would refer a good portion of your question over to more of the China experts and Hong Kong policy experts at the State Department to take on part of that question.  I think that we have, again, tried to work with Hong Kong as a member economy of APEC this year as we’ve hosted, and – but as I said, our obligation, our commitment to host APEC to be – in a way that’s consistent with the laws and regulations of the United States has meant that we’ve had to work with Hong Kong on designating an appropriate representative to be in San Francisco.  So we are looking forward to welcoming Financial Secretary Paul Chan. 

I think that also, as I said earlier as well, we see APEC as an opportunity to engage with all 21 of the members.  There are a lot of tremendous opportunities that we see next week to engage leaders and ministers from all 21 member economies.  And so certainly our focus is making sure that, through APEC, we’re creating a platform for the strongest possible multilateral engagement in this way. 

MODERATOR:  Okay, thank you.  Leah?  Yes. 

QUESTION:  Hi.  I’m Leah Griffith from the Asahi Shimbun, Japanese newspaper.  Lately, particularly with the outbreak of war in the Middle East, some have been concerned about U.S. attention being diverted away from the Asia-Pacific area.  Considering both the Secretary Blinken and President Biden will be in attendance, will the administration take this as an opportunity to reiterate the importance of the Indo-Pacific to U.S. interests? 

AMBASSADOR MURRAY:  Thanks for the question.  I certainly think – and I think that we see lots of evidence of this the last few weeks – that regardless of what’s happening in other parts of the world, the Indo-Pacific is a major focus and priority for the Biden-Harris administration.  Just in the last couple weeks, we’ve seen a ministerial with Indonesia, a state visit from the prime minister of Australia, we had the visit of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi here.  This week, Secretary Blinken will be in Japan, Korea, and India, and then will be hosting the APEC Meetings in San Francisco next week. 

So certainly, there is a lot happening with the Indo-Pacific region, and from the regional economic perspective, obviously, this region of the world is the most economically dynamic, where we see, as I was saying earlier, half of global trade, 60 percent of the world’s GDP, and seven of our top trading partners are all in the region.  And so it’s a region that we can’t afford to ignore, and more importantly, it’s a region that we really want to enhance engagement with, particularly on the economic side, because it means so much for the economic prosperity of our own country.  

So certainly, there’s a lot going on in the world.  Certainly, Secretary of State Blinken and so many leaders around our government are busy with a number of different policy priorities, but I think the evidence is clearly there over the last month how much the administration is focusing on the Indo-Pacific.  And we certainly see next week as another opportunity to highlight that. 

MODERATOR:  Thank you.  Let’s go to Bhagya. 

QUESTION:  Thank you.  Bhagyshree Garekar with Straits Times newspaper.  I wanted to know if we can expect a joint declaration at the end of this meeting.  When might that be and could you give us a bit of a preview, perhaps? 

AMBASSADOR MURRAY:  So certainly our goal, as is I think the goal for every APEC host, is to have a consensus leaders’ statement and consensus ministerial statements to come out of APEC Economic Leaders’ Week.  And I think this goes back to the very beginning of our year, when we had our first meetings in Honolulu and we asked other APEC economies what their expectations for a U.S. host year would be.  And what we heard – the feedback from the other economies was they really wanted us to follow through on implementation and delivering outcomes from the previous APEC years hosted by Thailand and New Zealand and Malaysia where there had been a lot of vision statements and resetting kind of APEC’s priorities.   

And so we really took on board the feedback from the other economies that we should be focusing on implementation of what APEC is trying to do to really have an enhanced, more open trade and investment, to really focus on innovation and digitalization, and also on strong, secure, and, as Chris was just highlighting, sustainable and inclusive growth in the region.   

And so as we come full circle now to the end of our year, we’re very focused on working with the other economies to highlight the many outcomes that we’ve worked on together throughout the year through the various ministerial meetings, through the various stakeholder engagements, and trying to aim for a consensus leaders’ declaration and consensus ministerial declaration.  There are certainly challenges to that.  One of the challenges that’s been most apparent over the last year and a half in APEC is the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war, and certainly there’s a lot of concern from many APEC economies about the economic impact of that war on the region and how we characterize that in statement – in the statements is certainly a point of difference of some of the economies.  So we will continue to work on that and certainly hope to be able to deliver a consensus outcome at the end. 

QUESTION:  (Inaudible) Israel-Gaza situation might hijack the agenda quite a bit?  Are you expecting protests? 

AMBASSADOR MURRAY:  Sorry, what was the last part?  

QUESTION:  Are you expecting protests related to that in San Francisco? 

AMBASSADOR MURRAY:  Well, I think when it comes to the Israel-Hamas situation, we just talked a moment ago about the focus on the Indo-Pacific region and why the Indo-Pacific region and why APEC is so important to the United States.  And certainly, APEC’s focus as an economic forum is really on economic growth in the Asia-Pacific region.  Of course, as I was just referring to, last year we saw the Russia-Ukraine war on the Asia-Pacific agenda in large part because of Russia’s membership in APEC.  And we saw a leaders’ statement last year in Bangkok following on the G20 in Bali also including language to condemn Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. 

So given the opportunities at the APEC Meetings for all the leaders to be together and given the different ways in which they’re all impacted by the situation in the Middle East right now, I certainly would expect the topic to be discussed, but I wouldn’t want to speculate right now on any specific outcomes or any specific discussion that could take place.  I think the focus, again, in APEC is really on the Indo-Pacific region and – but obviously, it is an opportunity for leaders to be able to talk about other emerging challenges as well. 

MODERATOR:  Okay.  Okay.  Let’s turn online to Yago Rodriguez.   

QUESTION:  All right.  Thank you very much.  Do you listen to me?  Okay.  Thanks. 

MODERATOR:  Yes, we can hear you. 

QUESTION:  All right, so Yago Rodriguez, the Political Room, from Spain.  And I wonder if APEC will host any kind of initiative on AI governance in order to establish some sort of framework or standard for this sort of AI race.   

AMBASSADOR MURRAY:  So certainly, one of the issues that we’ve really focused on this year in APEC is the digital economy, and APEC has a mandate to focus on innovation and digitalization as one of the organization’s three economic drivers of growth.  And so when we had meetings in Seattle in August, we were there for about three and a half weeks.  We had a couple hundred working-group-level meetings as well as six ministerial meetings, and we referred to that as the first-ever APEC Digital Month, because our focus in so many of those meetings was on digital economy issues, including AI.   

I would say in the APEC context, AI and how to grapple with AI across a range of areas is one of many digital priorities that the 21 APEC economies are trying to build consensus around, and we saw it come up in several different ways this year, whether it was related to human resources or whether it was related to other, more technical digital policy areas.  And so I’m sure, again, this will be one of those topics that will be discussed throughout the week, and also trying to work within APEC to match up with some of the other initiatives that are going on in other multilateral fora around the topic of AI. 

MODERATOR:  Okay, we’ll stay online.  Let’s go to Kitty Wang. 

QUESTION:  Okay, thank you so much.  This is Kitty Wang with Radio Free Asia.  My question is:  Regarding this APEC summit, what economic or trade issues will you be focusing on during your dialogue with China?  And what are you most concerned about?  Can you elaborate on that?  Thanks. 

AMBASSADOR MURRAY:  Can I ask a clarification question? 

MODERATOR:  Absolutely. 

AMBASSADOR MURRAY:  To clarify, Kitty, are you referring to the bilateral meeting with – between President Biden and President Xi, or are you talking about the APEC meetings? 

QUESTION:  I’m talking about the APEC meeting in more general. 

AMBASSADOR MURRAY:  So I think that, again, one of our big areas of focus coming into this year is we really wanted to build on what the previous APEC host economies had been able to deliver, and I think the last few years, a lot of that focus has been in three big-picture areas – one being sustainability, one being the digital economy, and a third being resiliency and inclusion.  And so we certainly, throughout the host year, have tried to build an agenda where we’ve been able to leverage the ministerial meetings and working group meetings and stakeholder engagements to try to advance in those areas. 

I think one of the key lessons that we heard all the APEC economies express this year is that coming out of the COVID pandemic, there is a need for all economies across the region to put their – really economic growth on a more sustainable and inclusive and resilient footing and the degree to which we can use APEC as a platform to try to do that in a multilateral way that is consensus-based and nonbinding.  And I think what has surprised me the most this year is I think that if you talk to all of the APEC members, there’s pretty unanimous agreement on the challenges that we all share.  And so I think maybe that’s a positive thing to have come out of the COVID pandemic, is we all see a lot of the same problems. The challenge, of course, is how do you agree on the specific ways forward from a policy perspective. 

So I think, again, we’ve used our eight ministerial meetings so far to really focus in on these three broad areas, and then we will be, I think, deepening that discussion throughout APEC Leaders’ Week in San Francisco. 

MR WILSON:  The only point that I would add is APEC has really always been a very useful incubator for work that happens at the World Trade Organization, and I mentioned earlier that we’re rapidly approaching the next ministerial conference of the WTO in February.  So I know that the trade ministers will look forward to the opportunity to share their perspectives on preparations for that ministerial meeting.  APEC economies have different perspectives, obviously, on what happens at the WTO, but the ministerial meeting will be an important opportunity to perhaps start refining priorities for MC13. 

MODERATOR:  Thank you.  And I think we’ve just about run out of time for questions, so I will go ahead and end the briefing now.  Just as a reminder, we do have – the transcript will be available later this evening on our website.  Thank you all for joining.  Have a good evening. 

U.S. Department of State

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