THE WASHINGTON FOREIGN PRESS CENTER, WASHINGTON, D.C.
MODERATOR: Good morning everybody and welcome to the Foreign Press Center. My name is Jed Wolfington, and I will be moderating this morning’s briefing. Just a reminder that this briefing is on the record. It will be live-streamed on our website, fpc.state.gov, and you will be able to find the transcript later on in the day.
It is my distinct pleasure and honor this morning to welcome for the first time as a briefer, but hopefully not the last time given that this is the year that the United States hosts APEC – we hope to see Mr. Murray here again – but Mr. Matthew Murray, the U.S. Senior Official to APEC. And Mr. Murray will speak to us today a little bit about some of the priorities for APEC.
So welcome, Mr. Murray. Thank you.
MR MURRAY: Thank you very much to everyone for being here and to the Foreign Press Center for hosting. The United States is excited to be hosting APEC in 2023, especially since this year will mark the 30th anniversary of the inaugural APEC leaders meeting which was held in Blake Island, Washington in 1993. We’re very fortunate as well that the U.S. APEC host year in 2023 follows Thailand’s successful host year in 2022, particularly given that Thailand led the consensus – led us to consensus last November on the Bangkok Goals for Bio-Circular-Green Economy as well as on the ministerial and leaders’ statements in November. This year the United States very much looks forward to following up on Thailand’s theme of open, connect, and balance.
We also are grateful to Malaysia and New Zealand for their respective host years the two years prior, particularly Malaysia for their work on the Putrajaya Vision 2040 and New Zealand for the Aotearoa Plan of Action, which reflects our joint vision as APEC and the 21 economies to realize a vision for an open, resilient, dynamic, and peaceful Asia-Pacific community by 2040 for the prosperity of all our people and future generations.
Our APEC 2023 theme, “Creating a Resilient and Sustainable Future for All,” will align with the Putrajaya Vision’s three drivers of inclusive growth: trade and investment, innovation and digitalization; and strong, balanced, secure, sustainable, and inclusive growth – and will help us move towards implementation of the Aotearoa Plan of Action and the Bangkok goals.
As we dive into our policy priorities and areas of focus for 2023, it is clear that cross-cutting concepts of building resilience, strengthening environmental sustainability, and advancing inclusive policies are woven across our priorities and our work. In doing so, we will aim to meet Secretary of State Blinken’s charge for APEC 2023 to meet the moment that we are in.
Our 2023 host year, we’ll specifically focus on three overarching policy priorities: interconnected, innovative, and inclusive.
Our first priority is interconnected, building a resilient and interconnected region that advances broadbased economic prosperity. We believe that creating new connections and strengthening existing ties across the APEC region is at the heart of the sustained economic recovery that we all need and will be critical for future growth and prosperity for the Asia-Pacific region. As the host of APEC 2023, the United States will build upon Thailand’s work by prioritizing the renewal of cross-border ties for sustainable and responsible travel and commerce, while building new digital and physical connections to spur economic growth.
Our second priority is innovative, enabling an innovative environment for a sustainable future. We look forward here to building on the momentum of the Bangkok goals in our host year by continuing to work with APEC economies toward a sustainable future in an innovative manner. We will further address the climate crisis, promote environmental sustainability, reduce disaster and disease risk, improve emergency response, promote the digital economy and enhance digitalization, and foster an enabling business environment, including through undertaking structural reform while advancing women in STEM throughout all these efforts.
APEC will lead work on green recovery and green growth, climate finance, clean energy, food security and agricultural biotechnology, food safety, and combatting marine debris. Additionally, APEC will promote enabling business environments through structural reform, good regulatory practices, competition policy, standards alignment, and anticorruption efforts. And APEC will continue to lead on digital connectivity through ICT infrastructure development, opennetwork architecture for ICT networks, and advances in international standards and best practices in the digital economy.
And our third priority is inclusive, affirming an equitable and inclusive future for all, which recognizes that in order to achieve sustained economic growth, we must work to ensure that all segments of our societies are able to participate in and benefit from an increasingly connected and globalized economy. APEC economies should work towards inclusive growth for workers and those with untapped economic potential, including women, small- and medium-sized enterprises, and underserved and under-represented communities. APEC will seek to incorporate gender into discussions of the importance of equity and inclusion in agriculture, customs, e-commerce, structural reform, transportation, trade, the future of work, and health as drivers for growth. APEC will continue to promote workforce development and education, elevate worker voices across the APEC agenda, and support underserved communities through making choices in trade policy which value inclusivity. By unblocking the potential for prosperity for underserved and marginalized people, APEC can facilitate equitable and accelerated economic growth.
Across all these priorities, we have a strong desire to work together with key stakeholders in the private sector and in civil society to help us reach these goals and ensure that 2023 is a successful and memorable host year for the United States and for our APEC partners. Robust participation by stakeholders provides an enormous opportunity for all of us to share ideas and insights, develop innovative solutions to many of the challenges facing our economies, and promote the concepts of resilience, sustainability, and inclusion, which helps drive economic growth across our region.
So briefly, on this year’s calendar, we currently are hosting the first senior officials meeting and related meetings in Palm Springs, California. Those meetings started on February 14th and will last until February 28th. I look forward to making the trip out to Palm Springs tomorrow. And over the course of the two weeks in Palm Springs, as the State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said last week, we’ll hold more than 100 meetings, and workshops and more than 1,500 delegates from around the APEC region will visit. We’ll also have a number of different stakeholder engagement events planned for Palm Springs.
The second senior officials meeting and related meetings will take place in Detroit, Michigan from May 14th to 26th. And in Detroit, we will also hold a transportation ministers meeting on May 15th to the 17th, as well as the ministers responsible for trade meeting from May 25th to the 26th.
The third senior officials meeting and related meetings will be held in Seattle, Washington from July 29th to August 21st. In Seattle, we’ll hold six ministerial meetings: the senior disaster management officials forum, the small- and medium-sized enterprise ministerial meeting, the women in economy forum, the energy ministers meeting, the food security ministers meeting, and the high-level meeting on health and the economy.
And then finally, of course, we’re planning to hold the APEC leaders week in San Francisco, California during the week of November 12th, which will include the leaders’ meeting, the APEC ministerial meeting, as well as a finance ministerial on the government side, and then the CEO summit and the ABAC Dialogue with Leaders on the private sector side.
So we very much look forward to welcoming representatives of APEC economies to the United States this year to carry forward this exciting work. And we also very much look forward to being a good steward of APEC in this role as host. So I’ll stop there and look forward to your questions.
MODERATOR: Great. Thank you very much, Mr. Murray. We have several journalists here with us in the room, and we have probably about 20 media representatives on Zoom. So we will go back and forth. But I will go to the room first. Anybody in the room have any questions? Yes, sir.
QUESTION: Thank you for doing this. I’m Taro from Nippon TV. So in this November, will U.S. invite Russia? So if so, could you tell me the reasons? Thank you.
MR MURRAY: Sure. Well, we certainly see – we’ve been making clear for the last year that Russia’s war against Ukraine fundamentally threatens APEC’s goal of facilitating a favorable and sustainable business environment in the region. And the United States will continue to use all available economic and financial tools to hold those responsible and help bring that conflict and human suffering to an end. So it’s critical to ensuring our regional and global economic cooperation and growth can continue and that will be important in order to realize our APEC leaders’ vision.
The United States looks forward to hosting APEC this year to expand and deepen economic ties within APEC for the benefit of both the American people here at home and our partners. And we will diligently work towards participation of all delegations in APEC events in accordance with U.S. laws and regulations, and based on the spirit and principles of APEC. So in terms of invitations for the APEC leaders week, would – I would refer you to the White House in terms of any decisions that will be made on the economic leaders meetings in November. Thanks.
MODERATOR: Thank you very much. We will now go to Zoom where we have a question from Mr. Vladislav Pavlov from TASS. And if you are in the Zoom, please raise your virtual hand or submit a question in the comment section. Mr. Pavlov, you can unmute yourself. Thank you.
QUESTION: Hello. Do you hear me?
MODERATOR: Yeah, we hear you.
QUESTION: Yeah. Thank you. So I have a – my question is related basically to the previous question because, Mr. Murray, as far as I understand, you said – you told a press briefing in Singapore in December that, as good stewards of APEC, the United States invited Russia to participate. And so were you referring just to the APEC summit in San Francisco or all events under the U.S. chairmanship. For instance, are you inviting Russia to take part in senior APEC officials meeting in Palm Springs in February? Thank you.
MR MURRAY: Yes, so Russia participated in the informal senior officials meeting that we hosted in Honolulu in December, from December 7 to 9. They elected to participate virtually, but they did participate in the plenary meeting and in the symposium that we held in Honolulu. Also right now in Palm Springs there are Russian delegates that are participating in the various meetings there, and we will have, I think, the – an alternate senior official coming for the senior officials meeting next week. And so we do have Russian participation both in person and virtually in Palm Springs.
I think my response to the previous question was with regard to leaders week specifically, given that leaders week is really – all the arrangements are made through the White House. I would refer you to the White House for that particular question. But we do have Russian participation in Palm Springs, we had Russian participation in Honolulu, and you’re correct – when I was in Singapore, I talked about, again, wanting to be a good steward of APEC and wanting to make sure that there are opportunities for all economies to participate.
MODERATOR: Thank you for the question. Can we go back to the room? Any questions in the room? Yes, sir, in the back row.
QUESTION: Thank you. I’m Tetsuo Shintomi from Kyodo News. I would like to ask a question regarding Taiwan. Do you expect Taiwan will play a bigger role in APEC given the fact that Taiwan has a stronger economical relationship with member countries, including United States? Also, is there any possibility for United States Government to have a bilateral meeting with Taiwan during APEC? Thank you.
MR MURRAY: Yeah, so Taiwan participates in APEC, as you know, under the name of Chinese Taipei. And then APEC members all use the terminology of economies since 1991 when the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong, and Chinese Taipei all joined APEC as full and equal partners.
We see Chinese Taipei as a full and equal member of APEC, and we work closely with Chinese Taipei in APEC to advance a range of issues, whether that’s women’s economic participation, energy security and resiliency, digital economy, and the whole range of things that I talked about earlier in terms of all of our various APEC priorities.
Again, I mean, we have been very clear throughout the process that led up to our hosting that we want to diligently work towards the full participation of delegations at APEC events in accordance with, as I just said a moment ago, U.S. laws and regulations, and in the spirit of the principles of APEC.
And so we’ll continue to work with the APEC secretariat and other APEC partners to make sure that all economies, including Chinese Taipei, are able to do so.
MODERATOR: I’m not seeing any hands raised in the Zoom room, so if there are any questions here in the briefing room, take those. If not, I would offer Matt any opportunity to make any concluding remarks.
MR MURRAY: Sure. I think that we certainly – again, we want to make sure that in our APEC host year that we’re good stewards of APEC, that we’re able to really advance all these priorities across the board, and in doing so in consultation with all of our APEC member economies. I think that clearly the administration is really focused on how can we advance our economic engagement with the region, and hosting APEC in 2023 is certainly one way that we plan to do so.
And again, across these more than 300 meetings and 10 ministerial meetings and the leaders meeting, as well as through all of the stakeholder engagement, we definitely want to make sure that we are able to really focus on the “C” in APEC – cooperation – and really look to work with all of our partners moving forward in order to have a successful host year, and then be able to pass the baton to – Peru is the host in 2024.
So thank you.
MODERATOR: Thank you. On behalf of the Foreign Press Center, I would like to thank Matthew Murray for sharing his time and expertise with us today. And I’d like to thank everybody who joined us on Zoom here at the Foreign Press Center. That concludes the briefing. Thank you.