Remarks by Ambassador Tai During the Opening Session of the APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade Meeting

DETROIT – United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai today chaired the opening session of the APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT) Meeting.  In her opening remarks, Ambassador Tai welcomed APEC trade ministers to Detroit and highlighted the theme of the U.S. host year: "Creating a Resilient and Sustainable Future for All."

Ambassador Tai's opening remarks will be livestreamed on the State Department's APEC website.

Ambassador Tai's remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below:

Hello, everyone!  Fellow ministers, heads of delegations – it is my great pleasure to call this meeting of APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade to order.

It’s a special privilege and pleasure for me to welcome you to this place, the great city of Detroit.

It’s fitting that we are meeting here, in a city that has become synonymous with rebirth, revitalization, and dynamic innovation. 

The story of Detroit is the story of America.  It is a city with a rich past, fantastic architecture, vibrant arts, and passionate sports fans.  It’s also a place whose history—and future—is intimately connected to the subject that brings us together, trade.

For the United States, this meeting is an opportunity to recognize and honor the generations of working people, right up to the present day, that have made Detroit an engine of the U.S. economy. 

Motor City—our affectionate nickname for Detroit—is the backbone of America’s industrial might, and its fingerprints are all over our nation’s story—its resilience, perseverance, and dedication carried the torch forward through many lifetimes.

When President Biden and I speak about putting workers at the center of our trade policy, it’s not an exaggeration to say that Detroit—past, present, and future—is at the heart of this.

So, I’m determined, during these two days, to provide you all with a flavor of this dynamic place and its people.

Detroit has experienced firsthand some of the negative impact of aggressive liberalization and deindustrialization—factories shuttered and communities suffered. 

We meet at a time of shared uncertainty and challenges, including fragile supply chains, growing inequality, and a worsening climate crisis.

These challenges were exacerbated through the pandemic and increasing geopolitical tensions.

In light of this, we must assess where we are and think creatively to better prepare ourselves for a more resilient and sustainable future. 

I want to thank our recent APEC hosts—especially Malaysia, New Zealand, and Thailand—for piloting us through some very tough times, and for pointing us in the right direction with the Putrajaya Vision, the Aotearoa Plan of Action, and the Bangkok Goals. 

We have a solid foundation to build on, and we have a lot of work ahead, especially as we continue to implement previous outcomes.

We have an opportunity in APEC to forge a new path for our people and for our planet and to build our economies from the bottom up and the middle out, to deliver tangible results for our people.

A good example is the World Trade Organization discussion we will have this afternoon. 

Our economies were able to work together at the 12th Ministerial Conference to deliver important outcomes, so that session will be an important touchpoint to build on those successes and to move deliberately and intelligently forward in reforming the WTO to better respond to today’s challenges.

Then tomorrow, we will turn our attention to fully integrating the principles of sustainability and inclusion in our respective trade policies and our engagements with other trading partners. 

I am especially looking forward to learning from your experiences and best practices in this regard.

We have a full agenda in front of us, and I’m looking forward to a robust discussion. 

Before concluding, I would like to thank all of the officials from APEC economies who have worked hard on our draft statement for this meeting, and on many other aspects of preparations for this MRT.  I look forward to updating you soon on the successful conclusion of the MRT Statement negotiations. 

With these brief comments, let me once again welcome each of you very warmly to Detroit.  I’m looking forward to a productive time together.