WASHINGTON - United States Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick will visit China and Japan April 8-11 to promote global, regional, and bilateral trade liberalization. Zoellick has just completed a four day trip to southeastern Asia, with visits to Thailand, Singapore, and Indonesia.
"I'm pleased we've made progress in promoting trade liberalization on our visit to southeast Asia -- working to expand U.S.-Thai bilateral trade ties, developing an action agenda with ASEAN and crafting an innovative ‘integrated sourcing initiative' to support the economic reform process in Indonesia through the U.S.-Singapore FTA," said Zoellick. "I welcome the opportunity to discuss with my Chinese and Japanese colleagues the economic conditions in and growth prospects for our countries, as a basis for expanded trade, investment, and economic cooperation."
In Thailand, Zoellick held bilateral trade talks with Thai Commerce Minister Adisai, after which they announced the start of negotiations on a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA). Also in Bangkok, Zoellick participated in the first formal meeting between a U.S. Trade Representative and the ASEAN Economic Ministers in ten years. At this session, the United States and ASEAN agreed to launch a multifaceted work program to expand trade in the region.
Zoellick joined Singapore Trade Minister George Yeo and Indonesian Trade Minister Rini on the Indonesian islands of Batam and Bintan to announce an "integrated sourcing initiative" proposal for the U.S.-Singapore Free Trade Area (FTA). This proposal is designed to allow duty-free trade in certain IT products while eliminating burdensome rules of origin, paperwork, and processing fees for such products, thereby encouraging trade and investment. In Jakarta, Zoellick met with President Megawati and senior Indonesian government officials to thank them for their support and cooperation in the fight against terrorism, discuss the steps Indonesia is taking to promote economic reforms and sustained growth, and better appreciate Indonesia's plans to deal with both security and economic challenges
Ambassador Zoellick's April 8-10 visit will be his third to China since assuming office, and his first since China's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) on December 11, 2001. Zoellick will seek to learn more about China's economic reforms and China's process of implementing its new WTO obligations. He will discuss ways through which the United States can work with China to assist in the implementation of their WTO commitments. Zoellick will also discuss the Doha Development Agenda for the new WTO negotiations and explore ways in which the United States and China can promote greater market access in those talks. During his visit, he will give a speech on U.S.-China relations focusing on the impact of globalization on the two nations.
On April 11, Zoellick will visit Tokyo, where he will meet with senior Japanese government officials to exchange views on the economic outlook and a range of bilateral and multilateral trade and economic issues.
"As the world's largest economies," said Zoellick, "the United States and Japan share a special responsibility in Asia and the world to cooperate closely to spur growth and lead global efforts to expand trade. I look forward to discussing concrete ways to accomplish these goals with my Japanese colleagues.
Read USTR Zoellick's speech "The United States and China in the Eras of Globalization."