Washington — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will press to raise the bar for “free, open, transparent and fair trade” among the 21 economies attending the 2012 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders' Meeting in Vladivostok, Russia, according to a senior State Department official.
Briefing reporters in Washington August 29, the official said that APEC’s trade promotion work over the past 22 years has created “a boom in trade across the Asia Pacific that has resulted in a great deal of prosperity for all the people of the economies of APEC.” The official spoke on condition of anonymity.
The market opening work of APEC, whose members account for 55 percent of the global economy, “blazes a trail” to set rules for free and fair commerce in the 21st century, according to the official.
“I would argue that it’s doing so not just for Asia Pacific, but for all the other countries that look to APEC’s outcome and seek to emulate them,” the official said.
Participating in the same background briefing, a senior official from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) said that the 2012 APEC forum, September 8–9, will seek to produce “concrete deliverables” that will make a positive difference for the people and businesses of all the APEC economies.
The trade official said the U.S. delegation will focus on four types of concrete deliverables: environmental goods and services; local content requirements; next-generation trade and investment issues; and supply chains.
The United States wants to see some “core environmental products,” such as renewable and clean technologies, water and wastewater treatment equipment, and air pollution control equipment identified for trans-Pacific trade support, according to the trade official.
Related to the environmental category, the United States will urge APEC to take stronger action against illegal wildlife trade. Illegal wildlife trade “creates illegal smuggling networks that can be used for any number of things. It creates public health risks, and of course it destabilizes countries that are the sources of this wildlife,” the State Department official said.
The same official added that the United States is also concerned about trade in counterfeit medications.
“We have a population that is aging, that has a need for reliable access to medication. One of the things we’re worried about is the increasing incidence of counterfeit medications around the world,” the official said.
With regard to local content requirements, the United States says such measures distort trade, disrupt global supply chains and produce a particularly adverse impact on small and medium-sized companies, according to the trade official.
“We’re looking for APEC to take a leadership role … and see how we can work together to discourage countries from using such measures to achieve their economic objectives,” the trade official said.
Addressing next-generation trade and investment issues, the trade official said Russia has taken a leading role in proposing a “model chapter” on transparency in a trade agreement, featuring notification of impending regulations, public consultations and other such actions.
With regard to global supply chains, the trade official said the U.S. delegation will try to identify policies that have created “choke points,” or blockages, in the supply chains and propose ways to unblock them.
The trade official said that food security is another issue that is expected to surface at the APEC meeting. APEC is a “great venue” to establish a collective vision to mitigate the effects of drought and to ensure that resulting inflation does not affect the poorest and most disadvantaged people in the world, the trade official said.