Remarks by Ambassador Katherine Tai at the 2023 Indo-Pacific Business Forum

TOKYO – United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai today delivered pre-recorded remarks during the 2023 Indo-Pacific Business Forum, taking place in Tokyo, Japan.  In her remarks, Ambassador Tai underscored the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to pursuing sustainable and inclusive growth in the region through the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework.  Ambassador Tai also emphasized the importance of partnering with the private sector and other stakeholders to build a solid, lasting economic foundation for everyday people.

Ambassador Tai’s remarks as delivered are below:

Hello, everyone!

I’m Katherine Tai, the United States Trade Representative.  Thank you USTDA Director Enoh Ebong for inviting me to speak today.  It’s my pleasure to address the Indo-Pacific Business Forum, and I hope your new year is off to a great start.

The last few years have been challenging on many fronts, including a global public health crisis, Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine, and the economic fallout from both.  But the new year brings new hope.

We have an opportunity to work together to bring sustainable and inclusive growth to the Asia-Pacific region, and you all play a critical role in building that tomorrow.

This region has demonstrated its ability to overcome challenges and thrive in difficult circumstances.  It has done so throughout the pandemic just as it did during other hardships, including the Asian financial crisis now twenty-five years ago.

You overcame and emerged stronger.  And today, you are once again positioned to write a new chapter in this story of resilience, one that is focused on raising the tide for all our citizens, not only now, but also for future generations.

The Indo-Pacific Economic Framework is our commitment to pursue this dream together.  It’s an embodiment of how we intend to do trade the right way and to have workers and our planet front and center.

It’s our innovative tool to address today’s greatest needs, those challenges that directly affect our people; to fight for the common good; to ensure that the next generation inherits a better world.

I traveled a lot last year – both abroad and in the United States – to meet with my foreign counterparts, and also hear directly from our farmers, fishers, textile innovators, and small business owners about how trade can work for them.  And there is a common theme – that we need to create economic opportunities based on confidence and fairness.

This is at the heart of the IPEF.  Constructing a fair and equitable system means advancing our shared values, like tackling the climate crisis, lifting up the rights of our people and workers, building resilient supply chains, and crafting an inclusive digital economy.

We’ve made great progress on these and other issues since launching the IPEF in May.

In September, we hosted an in-person ministerial in Los Angeles, where we started filling in the details about how we’ll address the challenges and opportunities that define this century.

Last month, we had our first negotiating round in Brisbane, Australia and made progress on the topics in the trade pillar.  Those topics include trade facilitation, agriculture, domestic services regulation, and good regulatory practices.

These issues matter to workers, farmers, and small businesses throughout our region, and our partners are enthusiastic about continuing these discussions in the coming months.

President Biden has been clear that trade must deliver real opportunities to everyday people, and the IPEF will be a human-centric model for the rest of the world to follow.

It aims to unlock enormous economic opportunity for our region, with a focus on small businesses and underrepresented parts of our populations – like women entrepreneurs and youth – and in the region’s emerging economies in particular.

The private sector is an important partner to realizing this vision.  At our Los Angeles ministerial and in subsequent meetings, I heard from several business leaders about how the IPEF can drive investment and open markets across the region.

My team and I truly value the input from our stakeholders and business communities.  That’s why we sought public comments on our negotiating objectives and why we held consultations before our first round, both in Washington and in Brisbane.

Our IPEF partners also agree that technical assistance and capacity building as we go will be key in delivering concrete outcomes through the framework.  Public-private cooperation will be a cornerstone to achieve our goals, so I look forward to working with many of you to build a solid, lasting economic foundation for all our people.

In our vision for an inclusive economic prosperity, governments and businesses must work hand-in-and to harness trade’s power to drive a race to the top.  Your partnership is invaluable as we strive to take steps forward with all, for all.  Let’s demonstrate what we can do when we work together.  Let’s show how trade can be a force for good in the lives of everyday people.

I encourage all of you to join us on this journey.  We have an ambitious schedule planned for the IPEF in 2023, and we look forward to demonstrating substantial progress by the end of this year.

Thank you, and I hope you enjoy the rest of the forum.