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Addressing Trade Barriers in the Asia-Pacific Region and Supporting American Jobs Through Exports


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Ron Kirk

This week, the United States is hosting the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Ministers and Economic Leaders’ Meetings in Honolulu, Hawaii. As President Obama’s lead negotiator and spokesperson on trade, I will host a meeting for my fellow APEC Trade Ministers in preparation for President Obama’s meeting with APEC Leaders later this week and to build on the success of the APEC Trade Ministers’ meeting held in Big Sky, Montana last May.

At Big Sky, the United States and its APEC trade partners identified ways to improve regulation and transparency, made advances on reducing trade barriers impacting environmental goods and services, and determined specific next-generation issues on ensuring how trade rules can reflect the realities of the region today. Tomorrow in Honolulu, my fellow Ministers and I will address key hindrances to trade for businesses across the Asia-Pacific in order to achieve these important goals. By making it easier for all our exporters to enter markets in APEC economies, we are helping businesses grow exponentially. This dynamic growth leads to further job creation across the region, including in the U.S. – an important component to President Obama’s economic policy.

One priority goal the United States has pursued this year is making the Asia-Pacific a seamless regional economy. In support of that goal, this week, we will ask our APEC trade partners to reduce barriers to trade for environmental goods and services, promote innovation policies that encourage competition and open markets, and improve their regulatory systems. Value-added improvements in these areas will make it easier for American businesses to export to the Asia-Pacific region, supporting the creation of much-needed American jobs.

While in Honolulu, we are also seeking solid progress with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, which is a 21st-century agreement that tackles pressing trade concerns in new ways, addresses cross-cutting issues previously unaddressed in trade agreements, and benefits from an unprecedented level of stakeholder input. While APEC is a voluntary, cooperative forum where we can collectively tackle critical trade and investment topics in the Asia-Pacific, TPP parties are negotiating binding commitments and obligations which reflect our highest ambitions.

In considering trade in the 21st-century, TPP parties are discussing comprehensive issues like building regional production, promoting development, and facilitating the participation of small- and medium-sized businesses in global trade. By eliminating traditional barriers that prevent smaller businesses from entering the world marketplace, we are opening pathways for these enterprises to expand and grow through trade. If even just a few more businesses out of every hundred in America export, we will see a dramatic increase in jobs here in the United States.

This weekend, President Obama, in hosting meetings with his fellow APEC Leaders, will attempt to achieve these trade goals and grow American jobs through increasing export opportunities in the Asia-Pacific region.

During the meetings, USTR.gov will be updated in real time to keep you fully abreast of our work. Be sure to visit our APEC 2011 page and follow us on Twitter to get the most up-to-date information on the progress of APEC meetings in Hawaii.

Ambassador Ron Kirk is the United States Trade Representative (USTR).

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