Last week, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific Barbara Weisel spoke at the annual East-West Center's Senior Policy Seminar. The Senior Policy Seminar brings together senior and influential policy makers, government officials, private sector leaders, and academic experts from the United States and the Asia-Pacific region for discussions on the economic, social and strategic dynamics and the future of U.S. policy in the region.
She discussed the decline in global, U.S. and Hawaiian trade flows over the past year and its impact on the U.S. economy because of the role trade has played in U.S. economic growth over the last few years.
"We need to boost trade so it can serve as a vehicle of recovery, by using every tool available to us to enforce trade agreements, eliminate trade barriers and build trade and investment with the Asia-Pacific to create new market access for U.S. companies.
This region accounts for nearly 60 percent of world GDP and almost half of all global trade, and it has large and dynamic markets totaling about 41 percent of the world's population. Hawaiians understand the importance of the Asia-Pacific because 81 percent of their merchandise exports went to this region in 2007 and of its foreign-born population, 87 percent comes from the Asia-Pacific.
Regional developments over the past several years, including the proliferation of preferential trade agreements by our competitors, could disadvantage U.S. companies. As we consider our trade agenda, including in the Asia-Pacific, we need to ensure that it responds to these developments, advances our national priorities, helps the U.S. economy recover, and supports long-term, stable economic growth. We will be looking for input from stakeholders, including Hawaiians, whose unique perspective on trade and the role of the Asia-Pacific will help inform our efforts."
Learn more about the Southeast Asia and Pacific here.