US trade rep says “attend Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation conference”

Tuesday 17 May, 2011

The Chicago Council on Global Affairs welcomed US Trade Representative Ron Kirk to talk about THE ASIAN MARKETPLACE: DRIVING AMERICA’S ECONOMIC GROWTH, which was essentially a promotion for the upcoming Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Conference (APEC) later this year.   This conference will gather leaders of 21 of the largest economies of the world which account for 40% of the world’s GDP & 1/2 of the world’s population.  The US is the host of a yearlong series of meetings on transpacific partnership in San Francisco & Montana.  Private industry will participate too, contributing to public/private partnerships.  Pres. Obama will take part in Hawaii in Nov.

Kirk kicked off saying 70% of Americans think trade is not good for America, that we’ve traded electronics & t-shirts for jobs, & that America is helping emerging economies, while the opposite is also happening.  Illinois exported $50B in goods & services, which results in employing 348K people.  If was sell more to the world, that’s good for us, so we’re lowering their barriers to sell them more.  APEC countries are responsible for 1/2 of the growth in the world, so they are prime target markets.  Kirk’s office is trying to make it cheaper, easier, & faster to sell abroad.  His focus is on strengthening integration with supply chain connectivity so that we can plan & expedite our value.  He’s trying to eliminate tariffs on green technologies with regulatory cooperation.  SME representatives are invited to APEC to meet with trade ministers in Montana.


  • Visa issues are a challenge.  We’re open to retaining the best & brightest talent, but congress is zealous in protecting our borders.  We need to relax/expand our visa programs again.  More tourism leads to more trade.
  • The Trans Pacific Partnership started 1 year ago to build the next generation trade model & has had 7 rounds of negotiations with 8 countries.  They’ve agreed to put everything on the table & be as aspirational as possible.  They are now getting to the hard part, crystallizing differences & making the tough decisions.  It’s progress has been put off because of natural disasters in the region (earthquakes in Japan & New Zealand & floods in Australia) & elections in 5 countries.  Kirk is working together with congress to protect intellectual property for pharma, etc.
  • Congress is bitterly divided on the 3 Free Trade Agreements the Obama administration inherited.  The administration vows to do it better & not fall to false choices to rectify the imbalances of access to foreign markets.  Ford & the UAW have embraced the worker protection & human rights efforts.  $38B could be won in exports to Korea & 80% of that would be manufacturing.  Also no industry is more dependent on exports than agriculture.  Services would be opened up too.
  • Trade is 13% of GDP, although some people are frustrated with & even hate trade.  The administration is trying to create wise policy that supports job growth.  Other countries are taking advantage of us, so trade rules need to be enforced.  For example, China shouldn’t be able to dump products below cost in the US.  Made in America is still the best brand in the world.

Kirk spoke with the press after the event & here’s what the Chicago Tribune reported:  U.S. puts condition on talks with EU to resolve airplane subsidy dispute


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