REMARKS BY PRESIDENT OBAMA
AND PRIME MINISTER VEJJAJIVA OF THAILAND
AFTER ASEAN-10 MEETING
5:16 P.M. SGT
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, good afternoon, everybody. We have just concluded the first ever meeting between a United States President and the leaders of all 10 ASEAN countries. And I’d like to thank my friends, Prime Minister Lee, for hosting, and Prime Minister Abhisit, for co-chairing this historic meeting.
As I said in Tokyo yesterday, the United States is a Pacific nation, and we enjoy deep historical ties to Southeast Asia — one of the most important and dynamic regions of the world. As the first U.S. President to have a personal connection to the region, I reaffirmed to my ASEAN friends that the United States is committed to strengthening its engagement in Southeast Asia both with our individual allies and partners, and with ASEAN as an institution.
During our meeting, we talked about how the United States and ASEAN can work together as close partners, both within this region and throughout the world. We discussed the importance of meeting common challenges like climate change, nuclear proliferation, and working together in support of G20 efforts to promote a sustained and balanced global economic recovery. And I reaffirmed the policy that I put forward yesterday in Tokyo with regard to Burma.
We also recognized the need for expanding high-level engagement on these and other major issues. I proposed sending Energy Secretary Steven Chu to the region next year to talk with his ASEAN counterparts about clean energy, and we agreed that our trade ministers should develop new initiatives to promote trade and investment that could create jobs and improve living standards in all our nations.
And finally, I stressed my strong support for ASEAN’s ambitious goal of creating a community by 2015, including its bold effort to achieve economic integration, which will contribute to a sustained and lasting prosperity within this region and throughout the world.
We know that there’s much work left to be done, but we also know that continued dialogue and engagement between our nations can help us meet the common challenges of the 21st century and achieve our common goals.
So it was an honor to take part in this historic meeting. I look forward to a second leaders meeting next year. And I am so appreciative that we had such an outstanding chair during the course of this meeting. Thank you very much.
PRIME MINISTER VEJJAJIVA: As the President just said, we just had an historic meeting with the leaders of ASEAN and the United States. This has been made possible not because of — just because of the longstanding partnership between individual countries in this region and the United States, and more than three decades of partnership between the U.S. and ASEAN — I think also due to his personal leadership and his commitment to reinvigorate engagement with the region.
We had a discussion on an impressive range of issues, particularly with the U.S. support for the community building efforts of ASEAN, ranging from issues like our cooperation on disaster management, trade and investment and the creation of the economic community in ASEAN, as well as providing support for some of the new institutions like the Intergovernmental Human Rights Commission, which will be going to the U.S. to talk with the experts and consultations next year.
ASEAN also stands ready to be a reliable partner of the U.S. in attacking the various global and regional challenges, whether it’s climate change, whether it’s the Doha Round, or counterterrorism and other security issues.
So this has been a historic meeting. We are pleased with the progress that this enhanced partnership has achieved. And we look forward to similar meetings next year.
FACT SHEET: APEC Leaders Meeting–Key Accomplishments
On November 15, President Obama participated in the 17th Annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ meeting in Singapore. APEC members account for 53% of global GDP, purchase 58% of U.S. goods exports, and represent a market of 2.7 billion consumers. In 2008, U.S. goods exports to the Asia-Pacific totaled $747 billion, an increase of 8.3% over 2007. During that same period, U.S. services exports to the region totaled $186.5 billion, up 7.7 percent.
U.S. Hosting of APEC in 2011. President Obama expressed his strong support for APEC and stated that the United States is a Pacific nation whose economic ties to the Asia-Pacific are strong and enduring. He pledged that under his Administration, the United States will be an active and engaged partner in APEC and the region. He announced that in 2011, when the United States hosts APEC, he looks forward to welcoming his fellow APEC leaders to Hawaii.
Balanced, Sustainable, and Inclusive Growth. APEC leaders endorsed the Pittsburgh G20 principles and agreed to implement the policies of the G20 Framework for Strong, Sustainable, and Balanced Growth, further expanding the global commitment to achieve more balanced growth that is less prone to destabilizing booms and busts. Leaders pledged to make growth more inclusive through APEC initiatives that will support development of small and medium enterprises, facilitate worker retraining, and enhance economic opportunity for women.
Regional Economic Integration. Despite strong export growth to the Asia-Pacific, the United States’ share of the total trade in the region has declined by three percent in the past five years. To improve U.S. competitiveness in this vital part of the world, President Obama announced to APEC leaders that the Administration, in close consultation with the U.S. Congress and stakeholders, will engage with current and potential future members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement to shape a broad-based, comprehensive, and high-standard platform to successfully integrate the economies of the Asia-Pacific. APEC leaders announced their commitment to accelerate economic integration and, to that end, endorsed a U.S.-Australia initiative in APEC to promote cross-border services trade in the region.
Facilitating Trade. APEC leaders took steps to facilitate increased trade in the region by simplifying complicated customs procedures and documentation resulting from the region’s numerous trade agreements, improving the region’s enforcement of intellectual property rights, and speeding 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 decreasing costs and streamlining processes associated with starting and operating a business in APEC economies.
Supporting the Multilateral Trading System. President Obama expressed his eagerness to complete an ambitious and balanced Doha agreement and called on others to join the United States at the negotiating table. APEC leaders instructed their trade ministers to work towards a successful conclusion of the Doha Development Agenda in 2010 and reaffirmed their commitment to refrain from raising new barriers to investment or to trade in goods and services.
Climate Change. President Obama urged all APEC member economies to work together to address the shared challenge of climate change. He and APEC leaders called for collective action by all economies and committed to reaching an ambitious outcome in Copenhagen in December.
Low Carbon and Green Growth. Demonstrating their will to advance energy security and “green” development, Leaders endorsed the G20 commitment to rationalize and phase out over the medium-term inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption. Leaders commended APEC efforts to review its members’ energy efficiency policies and to foster regional trade in environmental goods and services, which would spur the growth of “green collar” jobs.
Food Security, Food Safety, and Secure Trade. Leaders instructed their officials to implement programs aimed at improving agricultural productivity and enhancing agricultural markets in the APEC region. Leaders also commended U.S.-led APEC initiatives that bring together public and private sector experts to promote international best practices that will improve regional food and product safety and combat trade in counterfeit medical products. They called for a continuation of APEC’s work in areas such as trade and aviation security, counter-terrorism financing, and emergency and disaster preparedness.