SPOKESWOMAN: Good afternoon ladies
and gentlemen, thank you for joining us. We welcome U.S. Trade
Representative Rob Portman who will begin with opening remarks. We will be providing consecutive
interpretation into Korean. Once we
finish the remarks we will take your questions. Thank you.
PORTMAN: Well, first thank you all
very much for staying around to hear directly from me. We had an opportunity to have a
larger press conference a little while ago, and I thought Chairman Kim did a
good job of summarizing the results of the last couple of days, but I wanted to
add my perspective to that.
I first want
to thank our hosts, the government of
Korea and the
people of Cheju, who showed
us warm hospitality. I was
delighted to have the opportunity to see this beautiful part of
great importance to APEC. The APEC
countries are vital partners of ours, accounting for nearly two-thirds of
U.S. exports and
almost half of all global trade.
This was my first visit to Asia since taking
on the assignment as U.S. Trade Representative one month ago.
We view this
as a very successful meeting, thanks in part, as I said at the other press
conference, to the leadership of Chairman Kim. He did a good job of keeping us on
track, of being sure that we came to a resolution on the critical issue of
market access for non-agricultural products. He is to be commended for the good work
he did this week.
leadership we kept to the strong tradition of APEC, which is to provide an
impetus within the global trade talks for trade liberalization, in particular
for reducing tariffs and non-tariff barriers. Under his leadership, we were able to
achieve a significant breakthrough in our efforts as part of the Doha WTO
negotiations to cut tariffs and to create real market access. This will be very helpful in
Geneva, where our
officials are now working to complete work by the end of July, for the first
approximation going toward the end of the year to be sure the Doha Round is
the Swiss formula, we have provided an important encouragement to the talks in
Geneva. This builds on the work that APEC has
done in the past, in particular to liberalize sectors and to address non-tariff
barriers. I will give you an
example. APEC set the bar long ago
by galvanizing support for the Information Technology Agreement, the ITA, where
ultimately WTO members zeroed out all their duties in the significant IT
In addition to
our success with the Swiss formula, we also made progress in the two other major
areas of the WTO, agriculture and services. Finally, APEC has also been a
leader in trade facilitation efforts, and we were able through our work with the
senior Ministers to continue the effort to make trade facilitation an important
pillar of the APEC work in our region.
All of these
gains help with regard to development – whether it is reducing market barriers
and increasing market access for non-agricultural products; whether it is in the
agriculture area, where we are improving market access, reducing domestic
support, dealing with export competition; whether it is in services – all of
these elements will help with regard to development. One of the key goals of
this DDA Round is in its name, the Doha Development Round, so that is
hold the potential for dramatically improving the economic situation and
reducing poverty, not only in the Asia Pacific area but around the world. In particular, let me give you a
statistic. The Center for Global
Development has found that a successful conclusion to the DDA in market-opening
negotiations could lift more than 500 million people out of poverty and add $200
billion dollars annually to the economies of developing countries.
INTERPRETER: That was $200 billion dollars
PORTMAN: $200 billion dollars,
yes. It seems like you spoke more
than I did. (laughter)
INTERPRETER: It takes longer in
PORTMAN: If it takes longer in
Korean, I apologize for the length of the press conference.
PORTMAN: This was an invigorating
week for me. There have been a lot
of negative comments made about the progress in
Doha, and this
week I was able to be surrounded by Ministers who are all devoted and committed
to the goals of free trade, and committed to moving the
forward. So it was a very positive
and encouraging series of meetings.
I now look
forward to staying in touch with all of these Ministers and seeing real results
of our actions that we took these last couple of days. In addition to
Doha, there are
other issues we also made progress on.
And that has to do with APEC helping to build an Asia Pacific business
environment that protects intellectual property, and promotes high-quality free
trade agreements and transparent procedures for the movement of goods across
I want to
focus on the very important action we took to protect innovation by endorsing a
comprehensive Anti-counterfeiting and Piracy Initiative, that was sponsored by
Japan. This intellectual property
initiative calls for the development of strong, region-wide measures by the end
of the year to combat a growing regional challenge of trade in counterfeit and
pirated goods, and online piracy. Last night I had the
opportunity to hear from Jung Sae-Hoon, who is a very talented Korean
singer. He was there at the dinner,
and he gave a marvelous performance.
Someone gave me this CD, which is one of his CDs. We want to be sure that his talents are
protected – that artists like him have the ability to protect their work. We want to be sure that businesses and
individuals are able to protect their intellectual property. So that’s why this
initiative is so important, and I was delighted to see APEC take a leadership
role this week with this new initiative.
was a very good week, and I look forward to continuing to work with these
Ministers to take the actions that we were able to accomplish this week and now
translate them into concrete results.
Again, thank you for being here, I look forward to any questions you
Bloomberg News, Beijing –
I’ve seen you before…
QUESTION: I just
wanted to follow up on the question I know you’ve heard before so many
times. The talks with Trade
Minister Bo Xilai – could you give us some details what about what came out of
that regarding the textile trade?
He mentioned that
want to see a substantial increase in its trade surplus. Can you give us any more light about
what he means by that? Will there
be any concrete steps taken regarding the increase in textile exports to the
U.S.? Will this go to a WTO resolution
forum? Also, my other question is
regarding the Yuan. Did you discuss
the Yuan with Trade Minister Bo Xilai?
If so, what was said about this?
First of all, thank you for your patience, because I know you had these
questions yesterday and I wasn’t able to answer them. We had a
this morning, and we had a very productive exchange as we’ve had in the
past. We did talk about
textiles, we also talked about currency, although more in general terms. As you know, the currency portfolio is
not with my office, it’s with the Department of the Treasury. With regard to textiles, we talked about
acceded to the WTO three years ago, they agreed to certain safeguard measures in
paragraph 242 in their
accession agreement, and specifically agreed to textile safeguards. What the
United States is
doing is entirely consistent with that accession agreement, and consistent with
I heard Minister Bo Xilai’s response to your question earlier
and I do understand his concerns.
We do need to put this in some perspective.
currently does enjoy a significant trade surplus with us, as
you indicated. It is $162 billion
as of last year.
increased 29% from 2003 to 2004, so a significant increase even going into last
year. So that’s the broader
context to look at here.
The textile trade is actually relatively small when you add
up all of the products that either have currently come under the safeguards or
might come under the safeguards in the future [pending
safeguard requests], it’s 1.5% of that U.S.-China trade, so only 1.5% of
China exports [to the United
States] would even be subject to the safeguards.
Again, all the current safeguard actions in the pending
requests would account for 1.5% of
U.S.]. If the safeguards were imposed,
China would also
have the ability to increase their textile exports, even under the safeguards by
seven and a half percent [per year].
So, I just wanted to put that in some perspective. In terms of the increase in textile
increase over the first three months of 2005, compared to last year, was 19%,
which is significant. In the
States, it's even
more, from March 2004 to March 2005, there's a 100% increase [first quarter
ending March 2004 compared to first quarter ending March 2005]. In some categories where the safeguard
actions have been taken, the
U.S. imports of
Chinese textiles have increased by as much as 1500%. With cotton trousers, it’s 1520%, with
cotton shirts it’s a 1351% increase, and so on, so it’s a significant
surge. The facts speak for
It’s my goal to be sure that we manage the issue
carefully, because we value our trade relationship with China, but also to be
sure that people who follow this issue, including the media, understand that the
United States is taking this action pursuant to the WTO and to our rights under
QUESTION: Can you please repeat the last part of your
AMBASSADOR PORTMAN: I’ll try to repeat what I said but I may
not remember it exactly. The
actions are consistent with the WTO, and consistent with our rights as WTO
Any other APEC questions?
YTN-TV – You just said that
the success in adopting the “Swiss Formula” will contribute greatly to pushing
forward with the DDA. However, the
WTO has 148 member states, and also all of the member states have to follow
agree. So, there are some
pessimistic views that the success here in APEC will not have significant
influence on the success of the WTO, so can you comment on this, sir?
That’s an excellent question.
The WTO works by consensus, and there are 148 members. But today, the announcement by Minister
Kim was very significant, because now you have a group of 21 economies
representing most of the world’s trade, of the most dynamic region in the world,
agreeing on a specific formula to be able to address one of the toughest issues
in the WTO. There is a need to work
with other countries to form that consensus. We will all be redoubling our efforts
between now and the end of July to do just that.
Arirang TV - Sir, I would like to ask you the prospects of the
Korea forging a
free trade agreement. Will there be
a substantial development only after the pending bilateral trade concerns are
of its ban on
As you know,
Korea is a very
important trading partner for the United
States, and in fact
Korea is our
seventh largest trading partner.
also a very important ally of the United
States, and we are constantly seeking ways to
deepen our relationship, including our economic relationship. We have met several times this year
already on a bilateral basis to work on some of the trade issues that you
mention. I believe we’re making
progress on those issues. We have
not had the opportunity to discuss a Free Trade Agreement during these APEC
meetings, but any decision on the
U.S. side to
initiate Free Trade Agreement negotiations with
Korea would only
be made after consultations with the U.S. Congress, with
stakeholders, and only after seeing additional progress on those trade issues
your earlier reply on the discussions with
Bo, you mentioned in passing that the discussions included talks on the currency
as well. Can you just shed a little
bit more detail on the currency aspect of the discussions? And also, could you comment whether you
think that the issue of the surge in Chinese exports to the
U.S., and their
fixed currency exchange rate – are the two related from the USTR’s perspective,
or are they two separate issues?
EMBASSY SPOKESWOMAN: Would you
identify yourself, if you please?
AMBASSADOR PORTMAN: Good questions. Let me say that the meeting was on a
broad range of issues. I raised, of
course, market access issues, which is the central issue, from my position as
U.S. Trade Representative, with China, to be sure that we have access for U.S.
include software procurement issues by the Chinese government; the beef issue,
which also is an issue with China;
distribution rights of U.S. products throughout China, and direct selling, which
is an issue that we continue to raise, and finally, intellectual property
rights. Despite some efforts by
intellectual property right violations are still rampant. I mentioned that earlier in the context
of the CD from the Korean singer, that we need to be sure that we have
much more effective deterrence in the region.
major enforcement problems with intellectual property, and so we raised those
issues as well. And they do affect
the trade deficit, in my view, because to the extent we can make progress on
market access, we will see more
With regard to your question on currency, again, we only
discussed that in very general terms, because that’s not within my
portfolio. I think I’ve given you
probably more than you asked for with regard to textiles in response to the
earlier question, but we did not make the connection or discuss it in those
Financial News –
AMBASSADOR PORTMAN: (to Interpreter) Did you answer the
question for me?
INTERPRETER: No, no. (laughter)
were some reports that initially in the automobile sector, and now in the U.S.
Congress, there are people who are saying that
Korea is trying
to control its currency, is a nation that tries to control or manipulate its
currency. So, in the automobile
sector, this has come out before, 10 years ago – 1988, almost 20 years ago,
I think, so the question is, can you comment on this, have you ever heard about
this, do you know anything about this?
The second question is, has the
industry, such as GM or Ford or these companies ever pressed the USTR to take
action towards the Korean automobile industry?
I’m not sure of the answer to your first question. I can do some research for you, if you
want to give me your card, we’ll follow up with you. With regard to the second issue, that
has not been raised with me by any of those companies.
Ilbo – I understand that you will have a talk with the Korean side during
dinnertime, so what will be the U.S. position that you will present to the
Korean side on the issues such as lifting the ban on U.S. beef and also reducing
the screen quota?
AMBASSADOR PORTMAN: I wish we could be eating
tonight. Because I believe it’s
safe. My children eat it everyday,
as do millions of Americans and thousands of Koreans who are in the
United States on
vacation or on business. So,
restoring the beef trade to
Korea is a top
priority of mine. I will say that
there are other APEC markets that are also closed. One, of course, is
China. For the past seventeen months, almost a
year and a half, we have worked very closely with the Korean government to
provide answers to all questions that they have and all concerns that they have
regarding food safety and animal health.
As you know, just recently, the OIE issued their guidelines, indicating
that based on scientific evidence,
U.S. beef is
safe, and that the beef trade should resume. So, I’m hopeful that we can see an
opening of the market. I think it’s
good for the
producers. I think it’s also good for Korean
consumers, and this is an issue that I will be addressing tonight.
I do have an opportunity to have a dinner meeting tonight
with Minister Kim and some of his colleagues, and we’ll be addressing a full
range of issues, including the beef
World Organization of Animal Health. That’s why they call it the OIE –
because it doesn’t translate well.
you also answer about the screen quota?
Oh, screen quota. It was his
question, not yours.
(laughter). I will raise
that issue tonight. As you know, we
believe that the quota should be reduced, and this has been a consistent
that the quota should be increased – there should be a reduction to the barrier
films [see below for clarification].
I will make a personal comment here, which is that Korean films are very
competitive. They are considered
some of the best films in the world, and we believe that progress can be made
there as well, that there should not be this issue between our countries, and
that the Korean films are quite competitive.
Let me just be clear on the answer in terms of the
quota. We believe the quota should
be reduced on the number of Korean films, so the barrier should be reduced to
U.S. films, and
the quota for the Korean films should be reduced, and that has been our
What else have I forgotten? Thank you all again. I’ve developed a good relationship with
Minister Kim over the past month, and I consider him to be one of the leaders
now globally on trade issues, and I look forward to working with him and the
Korean government going forward.