Pritzker Says Asia-Pacific Region To Drive Global Growth Over Next Decade

BNA

June 4, 2014 — The Asia-Pacific region will be an engine of global growth over the next decade, a development that will have a profound impact on how and where the world—and American firms—do business, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker said in a speech June 4.

"The Asia-Pacific region has become a significant market for American products and services—and sales to and investments in the region by U.S. companies serve as the foundation for good jobs here and in the United States," Pritzker said.

U.S.-Philippines bilateral trade is $24 billion per year. By 2022, Asia-Pacific nations will import nearly $10 trillion of goods and services, nearly two-and-a-half times more than they do today, according to Pritzker.

The secretary pointed to the efforts by the U.S. Foreign Commercial Service to expand its footprint in Asia by opening new offices in the region in Wuhan, China, and Rangoon, Burma (also known as Yangon, Myanmar), to promote partnerships in the region.

Pritzker's comments were delivered at an event in the Philippines sponsored by the American Chamber of Commerce, the Management Association of the Philippines and the Makati Business Club. She spoke before an audience that included top executives from a number of U.S. companies, including ACE Limited, AES Corp., Marsh & McLennan, UL, Chevron, General Atlantic, Mead Johnson Nutrition, Qualcomm, and Rio Tinto, according to the Commerce Department.

Long-Term Commitment

Pritzker said President Barack Obama has made a deliberate decision to deepen U.S. engagement with the Asia-Pacific region by expanding partnerships across the region, establishing a stable security environment and creating an open and transparent economic environment.

"We have made a long-term commitment to the region, and no matter what crisis or opportunity may emerge, our expanded presence here will remain a cornerstone of our foreign and economic policy," she said.

This effort means deepening U.S. trade and investment ties with existing partners, Pritzker said. “It requires working multilaterally to build both the soft and hard infrastructure that is necessary for the growth of our emerging partners,” she added. “And it demands building new tools—such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership—to initiate a level playing field for commerce across the fast-growing region.”

Three Pillars of Economic Strategy

The Obama administration's economic strategy for the region has three pillars, Prtizker said:
  • Using “creative and energetic commercial diplomacy” to strengthen partnerships with long-established trading partners;
  •  

  • Helping dynamic, fast-growing, and emerging Asian economies to enter into the global, rules-based trade and investment system by developing necessary physical infrastructure and legal and regulatory systems that provide clarity and predictability to transactions in the region; and
  • Building and strengthening regional mechanisms like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to establish and maintain rules of the road across the region that promote a level playing field for all.

Trans-Pacific Partnership

The U.S. also welcomes the interest that the Philippines has expressed in joining the TPP negotiations, Pritzker said.

"The successful completion of the TPP is a central economic priority of the Obama Administration because opening markets across the Asia-Pacific region will help promote growth and jobs here and in the United States," she added.

"Once completed, TPP will help provide greater regulatory coherence for all the countries involved, protect intellectual property, and establish rules to better link companies with production and distribution networks across the Asia-Pacific region."

The U.S. is also focused on ASEAN and APEC, according to Pritzker. "The United States and our companies have a long-term stake in ASEAN's economic prosperity," she told the audience.

"They are eager to make the investments in areas such as information technology, infrastructure, clean energy, telecommunications, financial services, healthcare, education, and more."

To contact the reporter on this story: Stephanie Cohen in New York at scohen@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jerome Ashton at jashton@bna.com

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