America Needs to Look 'Outward' for APEC 2011

NEW YORK, November 31, 2010 - Kurt Tong and Monica Whaley review the issues raised in the 2010 APEC Summit in Yokohama, and discuss agenda for APEC 2011.

NEW YORK, November 30, 2010 – The US must resist growing protectionist sentiment at home and pursue fair and open trade with Asia when it hosts the 2011 APEC Summit in Honolulu, according to US Senior Official for APEC, Kurt Tong.

“Protectionist sentiment in the United States is experiencing somewhat of an upswing,” Tong said, “[We need] to turn the national psyche back in the direction of confidence and looking outward rather than trying to circle the wagons.”

In conversation with Monica Whaley, President of the National Center for APEC, Tong emphasized that as the host of the 2011 APEC Summit, the US had the opportunity to educate the public about the important interrelationships between the American economy and those of the Asia Pacific region. “[Americans’] future livelihood is tied to the degree in which we are successful in tying our economy to more rapidly growing parts of the global economy,” Tong said. “If we have deeper economic relations with a rapidly growing region, then we’re going to grow faster. We’re going to get more jobs and higher incomes in the United States.” 

Tong said that the central US vision for APEC was to build a “platform for economic activity” in the Asia-Pacific region without trying to design or guide such activity. “That platform should be open, free, transparent, and fair,” Tong explained. “Open in the sense that the platform is open to all participants from all over the world; free in the sense that there are as few barriers as possible to trade, investment, and economic activity; transparent in the sense that the rules for that activity are as clear as possible; and fair in the sense that the rules are not tilted in the direction of any particular set of players.”

Tong noted that the US vision for APEC enjoyed wide support in the Asia-Pacific region. “What is encouraging as you go to APEC meetings and as you talk to our counterparts around the region is that this is increasingly a shared vision. I sit down with counterparts from China, from Southeast Asian countries—just about [everyone] except North Korea shares this same vision of how the region should develop.”

This was the tenth post-APEC briefing hosted by Asia Society.

Reported by Ben Linden