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Pursuing Economic Growth and Opportunity

As he wraps up his weeklong trip to Asia, Ambassador Ron Kirk reports on how new partnerships and agreements will benefit American businesses and workers.

Today we concluded a weeklong trip to Asia. In our closing meeting with President Obama and Chinese Premier Wen, leaders of our two countries reiterated their commitments to renew old alliances and forge new partnerships.

Throughout the past week, we have made strides toward our goal of strengthening U.S. leadership and economic competitiveness in the region and making progress on issues that matter to the American people and leveraging that progress into job creation at home.

From a trade perspective, the steps we’ve taken in Asia will benefit businesses and workers across the American economy – ranchers, farmers, manufacturers, and creative industries all have a future in U.S. trade with Asia.

As companies across the spectrum look for a way forward out of these difficult economic times, we’re asking them to take a second look at trade.  Because engaging new customers abroad can create jobs at home.

President Obama began his trip to Asia by making an announcement in Tokyo that the United States will engage with the Trans-Pacific Partnership. This will be done in close consultation with the United States Congress and with stakeholders at home. This is an exciting opportunity for the United States to engage with some of the fastest growing economies in the world as well as providing the opportunity to address gaps in our current agreements, and to set the standard for 21st-century trade agreements going forward.

At the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Singapore, the APEC nations pledged to increase trade by simplifying customs procedures and improving the movement of goods across and within borders. They also announced an action plan designed to make it 25 percent cheaper, easier and faster to conduct business in the region by 2015 by cutting costs and streamlining processes associated with starting and operating business in APEC economies. President Obama pledged to the 21 APEC members that the United States will remain an active partner. The United States looks forward to hosting  APEC in President Obama’s home state of Hawaii in 2011.

Our past few days in Beijing have given us the opportunity to further engage our Chinese counterparts and build upon the good work we started at the 2009 U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade, which I co-chaired with Secretary Locke October 28 – 29th in Hangzhou, China. At the JCCT, China agreed to improve market access for American energy companies, reopen its market to U.S. pork, and clamp down on Internet piracy. 

This past week has laid a very good foundation for the strong and healthy engagement of America with nations throughout Asia.  As President Obama’s point person on trade, I come away from our time in Asia inspired by our shared commitment to a future of even greater economic growth and opportunity for our people.

Ambassador Ron Kirk is the U.S. Trade Representative