Washington, DC - United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk commented this morning on Monday's announcement that President Obama intends to enter into negotiations of a regional, Asia-Pacific trade agreement, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement, with the objective of shaping a high-standard, broad-based regional pact. Ambassador Kirk spoke about TPP during his remarks at an event entitled "APEC and the USA: Looking to 2011 and Beyond," sponsored by the Washington International Trade Association, The National Center for APEC, and the International Gateway Program of the Ronald Reagan Building. Following is an excerpt from Ambassador Kirk's remarks as prepared for delivery:
"Because the Asia-Pacific is so vital to America's economic future, we have also decided to participate in the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Because my vision for America's Asia-Pacific trade is not limited to one organization, but will embrace every opportunity for growth.
"Through the Trans-Pacific Partnership, we have the opportunity to expand U.S. trade in the Asia-Pacific by negotiating and shaping a high-standard trade agreement with key Asia-Pacific economic partners. Right now, the TPP includes Australia, Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam - partners that are geographically and developmentally diverse, but are of one mind in their ambition. Our participation is based on the shared objective of expanding this group to include additional Asia-Pacific economies in what will become the largest, most dynamic trade collaboration of our time.
"Of course, negotiating a high standard agreement among such a geographically diverse group will not be easy.
"We will have to confront big challenges, from rationalizing rules of origin amongst our current FTA partners to addressing agricultural, developmental, and labor challenges elsewhere to adding additional countries in ways that ensure that we maintain a comprehensive, high standard agreement. But with our initial group of partners, we expect to break new ground, to create a true 21st century trade agreement. The TPP I intend to negotiate and conclude will reflect U.S. priorities and values, enhance American competitiveness, and generate job-creating opportunities for American businesses and workers.
"In short, we expect the TPP agreement to serve as a model for the future of American trade. We recognize that today's workers, businesses, and farmers have different concerns than they did a generation ago, and we intend to update our approach to trade in keeping with a changing world. In these negotiations, we will talk about new technologies, emerging business sectors, and the needs of small businesses alongside labor, environmental, and more traditional trade concerns in the context of a regional approach to trade.
"Already, USTR staff have begun meeting with their counterparts from Trans-Pacific Partnership nations. And we are initiating a new partnership with Congress and with domestic stakeholders to determine how best to engage with the TPP.
"You have heard our vision, and now we want to hear yours. Yesterday, we sent a letter to Congress announcing our intent to pursue trade-creating opportunities through the TPP and asking for their input. In the coming months, we expect to work hand in hand with Congress to develop priorities for these critical negotiations.
"And today, a notice in the Federal Register seeking comments from farmers, ranchers, workers, businesses, and all of you is up on the web. This is your chance to tell us your thoughts on Asia-Pacific trade generally and the TPP specifically.
"I welcome all of you here today to share those thoughts with us. We want to hear your best ideas to jump-start growth by linking American businesses and workers to customers across the Asia-Pacific.
"Americans can expect that USTR will work to shape a stronger, more open rules-based system that will create high-quality jobs. And as we move forward with the TPP and work toward the 2011 Hawaii APEC Leaders meeting, we will do so with the objective of generating economic opportunities for American businesses and workers alike."