U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Bruce Andrews Delivers Keynote Address at CSIS Asian Architecture Conference


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Today, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Bruce Andrews delivered keynote remarks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Asian Architecture Summit. The Summit brought together thought leaders, business executives, and policy makers to discuss trade in the Asia Pacific region, and the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit to be held in Peru. During his remarks, the Deputy Secretary outlined the Unites States’ rebalance in the Asia-Pacific region, and emphasized the rapid expansion of the middle class and opportunities for economic investment.  

Furthermore, Deputy Secretary Andrews highlighted the recent work and successes of APEC and the Association of South East Nations (ASEAN) Economic Community, but reaffirmed that developing the commercial relationship between U.S. and Asian Pacific based businesses remains a top priority. Moreover, the Deputy Secretary called for greater economic infrastructure investment, and pointed to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) as a means to do so. He also explained how the benefits of the TPP extend far beyond the borders of the United States, and will open doors to trade and protect cross-border data flows.

In closing, the Deputy Secretary emphasized the importance of remaining on the cutting-edge of global trade by passing the twelve country trade agreement. By eliminating more than 18,000 tariffs, TPP would not only form new partnerships in the world’s fastest-growing markets, but also further establish U.S. influence and economic security in the region.

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Thank you, Monica, for that kind introduction. It is a pleasure to be here at CSIS with all of you.

It’s no secret that for much of the 20th century, American foreign policy was largely defined by our historic relationship with Europe and our struggle against communism and authoritarianism.

We fought two world wars and helped Europe to rebuild. We forged lasting alliances that continue to shape our world. And we spent four decades focused on defending our nation and our European allies from the threat of an aggressive Soviet Union.

In the 21st century, the United States faces new challenges – and new opportunities. And just as CSIS – an organization formed at the height of the Cold War – has widened its lens to focus on our changing world, so must the U.S. government.

In the midst of his first term, President Obama announced a rebalance to Asia – one in which our diplomatic, economic, and strategic resources would better match the extraordinary promise of the region. And as the President said last month in Laos, this rebalance must not be viewed as a “passing fad.”

The rebalance is a basic reflection of reality – the reality that the 21st century will largely be shaped by the Asia Pacific. Already, this region is home to half of our global population, and some of the world’s fastest-growing, most dynamic economies. Combined, the nations of the Asia Pacific account for 60 percent of global economic output – a figure that will likely rise in the years ahead.

In many cases, these countries are also home to large populations of talented, entrepreneurial, and ambitious young people who see their brightest days ahead of them. They are not wrong. Their communities are rapidly urbanizing. Investments in infrastructure are growing. And living standards are rising – from Hanoi, to Jakarta, to Kuala Lumpur.

By 2020, half of the global middle class will reside in the Asia Pacific. And within 20 years, that middle class will grow to 3.2 billion people. To put that in perspective, that will be nearly nine times larger than the entire population of the United States. In short: America’s economic future is inextricably linked to the nations of East Asia and the Pacific.

We at the Department of Commerce are more committed than ever to engaging with the nations, the businesses, and the people of this vibrant region. We believe that growing our trade and investment ties must be a guiding force for the U.S. rebalance to Asia. We all know that relationships between nations are more enduring when they are grounded in strong commercial relationships. 

Today, we have the largest number of Foreign Commercial Service staff anywhere in the world stationed in Asia. Every day, 75 commercial service officers and a local staff of nearly 300 staff work to connect American businesses to new opportunities in the Asia Pacific.

We are using creative and energetic commercial diplomacy to deepen partnerships across the region. And through organizations like APEC and ASEAN, we are developing regional norms that allow commerce to flourish and to benefit all of our economies.

In 2015, the launch of the ASEAN Economic Community marked a major step towards greater economic integration – with ten nations that collectively represent 632 million consumers and a $2.4 trillion market. In February 2016, President Obama hosted the first US-ASEAN Summit in the United States in Sunnylands, California.

Following the summit, we launched U.S.-ASEAN Connect, a new on-the-ground effort to connect businesses with potential U.S. partners. Today, we have three Connect Centers up and running in Jakarta, Singapore, and Bangkok. And last March, we launched our “digital attaches” pilot program, dispatching commercial service officers with expertise in digital commerce to six markets around the world – including the ASEAN. And just this week, Secretary Pritzker announced an expansion of the program.

Finally, improving compatibility between U.S. and ASEAN-made products remains a top priority. We continue to make progress on aligning technical standards for medical technology, chemicals, electronics, and other goods.

APEC also continues to be a critical forum for U.S. engagement. One of the Department of Commerce’s top priorities has been combating corruption that disadvantages small-and-medium-sized enterprises in APEC markets. We lead the APEC SME Business Ethics Working Group, which promotes the development and adoption of codes of ethics across several sectors. One of our greatest success stories to date is in the health care sector, where 10 APEC economies have adopted medical device codes that apply to a total of 19,000 firms competing across the region.

We also continue to engage our partners in APEC around issues that impact the digital economy. In 2011, we implemented the Cross-Border Privacy Rules System – a voluntary framework for privacy protection that has proven highly effective. Our goal is to support greater digital commerce throughout the Asia Pacific by protecting privacy and ensuring the free flow of information, services, products, and data across borders.

Our efforts to promote rules-based trade in the Asia Pacific have supported consistent growth in recent years. In fact, since President Obama took office in 2009, U.S. exports to the Asia Pacific have grown by more than 50 percent.

We all benefit from an economic architecture supports greater trade and investment. Yet the future of the rebalance to Asia demands bolder action. We must build upon our solid foundation of cooperation and pave the way to stronger, more enduring commercial ties. Our greatest opportunity to do so is through the passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. 

Let me be clear: The Obama Administration remains totally committed to the enactment of TPP.

Everyone here today knows what’s at stake for American companies. TPP eliminates 18,000 tariffs on American-made goods and services from day one, leveling the playing field in markets with millions of potential new customers. For consumers across the Asia Pacific, this means more access to more of our products and services at a more competitive price.

Yet the benefits of TPP extend far beyond U.S. companies. The elimination of tariffs will give our partners across the region a chance to compete in previously inaccessible markets. Where tariffs and trade barriers shut businesses out, TPP opens doors. And by protecting cross-border data flows and limiting data localization, TPP ensures the people of the Asia Pacific will have access to the leading technologies of the 21st century.

Across industry, there are enormous opportunities for collaboration. Take infrastructure, for example. In 2014, the Asian Development Bank projected that the Asia Pacific region would need $8.3 trillion for infrastructure investment by 2020 to keep pace with demand for energy, transit, and telecommunications upgrades.

The public sector alone cannot meet this demand. Yet to attract capital from the private sector to build the infrastructure they need to compete in the 21st century, governments must strengthen regulatory and legal frameworks throughout the Asia Pacific.

That is why the rules-based framework for trade and investment under TPP is such an important step forward. It will open the doors to new investment. It will strengthen regional supply chains. And, it will ensure that products and services developed in one TPP market are quickly and efficiently available for consumers in others.

It is no exaggeration to say that the future of the rebalance to Asia - one that promotes greater prosperity, stability, and security for the region and for the United States - hangs in the balance with TPP.

American credibility is on the line. Our competitors are not standing still. Quite the opposite. They are moving forward with agreements grounded in less ambitious standards and looser rules.

Indeed, since 2000, nearly 100 new trade agreements have been signed in the Asia Pacific region alone – and many of them disadvantage American workers and businesses. We cannot ignore the momentum behind the Chinese-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

Make no mistake: this is not just about China. We want a vibrant commercial relationship between China and the United States. In fact, in about a week I am leading a trade mission of 12 top U.S. healthcare companies to Beijing and Chongqing. But throughout the Asia Pacific, we want a dynamic, high-standards, rules-based framework for trade and investment that every nation should want to join.

They say a rising tide lifts all boats. Yet we cannot reap the benefits of higher standards – for workers, for the environment, for human rights, for intellectual property enforcement and more – if lower ones are locked in first.               

Today’s summit thus brings us together at a pivotal moment. We face a choice between two futures. In one future, American leadership in the Pacific is diminished, and our competitors are emboldened.

Digital walls are erected – stifling the innovation that benefits us all. Trade barriers grow more rigid – preventing companies from growing exports, forming partnerships, and creating more jobs. In this “status quo world,” our competitors succeed at locking-in lower standards – denying our companies a level playing field; and denying the people of the Asia Pacific the benefits of increased investment, a healthier environment, and stronger worker protections.

In another, more prosperous future, TPP is ratified and entered into force. Businesses form new partnerships in the world’s fastest-growing, most dynamic markets. Consumers have access to the latest digital technologies, enabling them to compete in the 21st century.

New investment pours into the region – offering a path to prosperity where there is poverty, delivering hope and opportunity instead of hate and extremism. And the United States secures our influence in a region that is critical to our economic, security, and strategic interests.

We know which future we must choose. That is why the Obama Administration is more committed than ever to passing the Trans-Pacific Partnership through Congress. We must ratify it, implement it, and enforce it. We do not have time to waste, because we know that our competitors are not waiting for us to lead.

We are a Pacific nation. And as a Pacific power, the United States has always been – and must remain – an integral partner in this region. Our surest path to prosperity in the 21st century is the one we pave together – with all of you. Thank you.

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Last updated: 2016-10-11 16:11

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