The United States congratulates Malaysia for hosting a successful APEC year despite the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Through entirely virtual APEC meetings, culminating with the virtual meetings of APEC Leaders and Foreign and Trade Ministers, the 21 APEC economies reached consensus on a number of ministerial statements culminating with the Kuala Lumpur Leaders’ Declaration and the Putrajaya Vision 2040. In response to COVID-19, the United States has prioritized reorienting APEC’s agenda toward post-pandemic economic recovery and maintaining momentum on the forum’s core work on trade and the digital economy, and long-term initiatives to improve the investment climate and regulatory environment.
WHY WE ENGAGE IN APEC
APEC is the premier platform for the United States to engage our regional partners on trade and investment issues in the Asia-Pacific region. Taken together, APEC’s 21 economies account for approximately 38 percent of the world’s population, approximately 60 percent of global GDP, and about 47 percent of world trade. APEC members represent seven of the top 15 markets in the world for U.S. goods exports. Our work in APEC advances our vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific.
- By opening markets and advancing fair trade initiatives across the APEC region, we make it easier for U.S. businesses to succeed abroad and generate strong economic growth in the United States and the region.
- Over 6.1 million American jobs are supported by U.S. exports of goods and services to the APEC region.Private sector input, through engagement with the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) and regular technical exchanges between governments and business leaders, is critical to ensuring that APEC is delivering pragmatic solutions to the key challenges facing U.S. businesses and workers at home and in the region.
CHARTING A NEW VISION FOR APEC
APEC Leaders endorsed the “APEC Putrajaya Vision 2040” to guide APEC’s work over the next twenty years. The Vision sends an important signal of APEC’s continued importance to fostering trade and investment and sustainable growth in the Asia-Pacific. It reflects key U.S. priorities such as addressing unfair trade practices and other barriers to trade, creating a market-driven enabling environment, fostering innovation, and expanding the digital economy to drive strong future growth.
MAKING TRADE IN THE REGION FREE, FAIR AND RECIPROCAL
The United States works with partners in APEC to advance free, fair, and reciprocal trade and investment while delivering meaningful results for U.S. businesses. U.S. priorities in APEC include advancing services trade and preparing other economies for participation in high-standard trade agreements. We continue to work in APEC to lower barriers to U.S. exports and open markets for U.S. businesses by:
- Helping economies to fully implement their WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement obligations, which is fundamental to ensuring the flow of essential goods and services to respond to COVID-19;
- Improving efficiency in supply chains and lowering costs for trade by improving the publication of customs requirements and streamlining expedited shipments;
- Supporting robust public private dialogue across key trade and digital policymakers to understand the changing digital trade environment in the region;
- Increasing services competitiveness by developing awareness of innovative, effective, and emerging regulatory practices related to services authorization;
- Improving quality and availability of internationally comparable services trade data and increased understanding of barriers to services trade through development and implementation of an APEC services trade restrictiveness index.
SUPPORTING U.S. INNOVATION AND THE DIGITAL ECONOMY
COVID-19 has underscored the importance of the digital economy in driving economic growth, creating new jobs, and cultivating new markets and new industries in all APEC economies. A more open, interoperable, and secure Internet will benefit the U.S. economy, where the digital economy accounts for an estimated five percent of GDP. This year, United States promoted new, innovative digital technologies to respond to and recover from COVID-19 by:
- Supporting an open, transparent, and consensus-based process to developing strong cybersecurity standards across the region through a regional stock take to promote cross-border digital trade;
- Fostering innovation for U.S. inventors seeking patent protection in foreign markets through increasing awareness on the benefits of patent grace period harmonization;
- Strengthening consumer privacy protections, protecting American jobs, and enhancing market access for U.S. companies by promoting participation in the APEC Cross-Border Privacy Rules (CBPR) system;
- Strengthening trade in digital products through increased participation in the APEC Pathfinder on a Permanent Customs Duty Moratorium on Electronic Transmissions, including Content Transmitted Electronically; and
- Publishing the U.S.-led APEC Closing the Digital Skills Gap Report: Trends and Insights.
HELPING U.S. COMPANIES DO BUSINESS
We work with APEC economies to improve implementation of economic policies, business regulation and fair competition to level the playing field and open markets for U.S. companies. We also work with economies to implement good regulatory practices, break down barriers to business, and institute anti-corruption measures. Our work in APEC makes it easier for U.S. companies to do business in the region by:
- Supporting APEC economies’ efforts to create enabling environments through a Third Phase of the APEC Ease of Doing Business Action and Implementation Plans;
- Outlining policies and best practices in the region to protect minority investors in privately-held companies to further level the playing field for minority investors, expand the pool of capital for SMEs, and strengthen business confidence in investing in the region;
- Increasing APEC economies’ capabilities in communicating the safe and sustainable benefits of genetically-engineered and genome-edited agricultural products to domestic stakeholders, in part through the APEC HLPDAB webinar series.
- Further improving good regulatory practices, particularly in the area of stakeholder consultation in rule-making, and sharing the U.S. approach to regulatory oversight of artificial intelligence and emerging transportation technologies.
- Strengthening ethical business practices with public-private collaboration and capacity building through the Business Ethics for APEC SMEs Initiative, and encouraging ethical business practices by governments in a new resource guide.
EXPANDING WOMEN’S PARTICIPATION IN THE ECONOMY
One of our top priorities for APEC remains advancing women’s economic empowerment across the region. Greater economic participation, and leadership by women, especially in the region’s post-pandemic economic recovery, will spur GDP growth and foster stability. Through APEC, we work to expand opportunities for women to participate in the economy by:
- Supporting efforts across APEC to increase women’s economic participation on key metrics through the La Serena Roadmap on Women and Inclusive Growth (2019-2030)and its accompanying Implementation Plan;
- Identifying the legal and regulatory barriers to women’s inclusion in the economy, in line with the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative, understanding their economic impacts, and strengthening APEC economies’ abilities to advocate for, develop, and implement necessary reforms;
- Ensuring that women are positioned as drivers of recovery efforts, as referred to in the recently adopted Women and the Economy Forum statement; and
- Strengthening the ability of APEC economies to better support women-owned businesses in engaging and growing in cross-border e-commerce through a diagnostic toolkit.
PROMOTING HEALTHY, RESILIENT, AND SUSTAINABLE ECONOMIES
The United States works with partners in APEC to address external factors that affect economic participation, such as health and environmental issues. In particular, working to maintain healthy populations, build resilience, and promote the sustainable use of environmental resources are all necessary to maintain long-term economic growth. We work in APEC to mitigate the economic impacts of health and environmental challenges by:
- Improving health systems and pandemic preparedness through a gap analysis and literature review of the economic impacts and levels of preparedness among APEC economies;
- Supporting healthy populations by promoting resilient health systems in light of COVID-19;
- Promoting innovative telehealth solutions across APEC through case studies that highlight best practices to promote and increase access to telehealth solutions during and following COVID-19;
- Combating illegal logging and facilitating trade in legal forest products in the APEC region through focused engagement with frontline industry and international organizations; and
- Supporting efforts to accelerate economic recovery in the travel and tourism sector through public-private sector engagement.