Schwab Statement on launch of the U.S. Negotiations to join the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement

September 22, 2008


“I am delighted to be here today with my colleagues Brunei
Darussalam Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister II Lim Jock Seng, Chilean Foreign
Affairs Minister Alejandro Foxley, New Zealand Trade Minister Phil Goff, and
Singapore Foreign Affairs Minister George Yeo to announce the launch of
negotiations for the United States to
join the comprehensive Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership

“We make this announcement here in New York, the U.S. financial center, at a time when
attention is focused on the challenges confronting the financial markets and our
economy.  The Administration is taking extraordinary measures to address
these challenges and will continue to act to strengthen and stabilize the
financial markets.  Meanwhile, we have an opportunity to build on one of
the strengths of our economy and that of our trading partners – namely, the
traded goods and services sectors.

“Today, I want to discuss the United States’
participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, and our long-term
vision for regional, plurilateral and multilateral agreements that promise more
than lowest common denominator outcomes.  This initiative also will help
strengthen the United
States’ competitiveness and generate growth and
prosperity in the years ahead.  Robust international trade is crucial to
the health of the U.S. economy, particularly during the
uncertain times we are experiencing.  With our goods, agriculture, and
services exports growing steadily, trade accounted for nearly two-thirds of
U.S. economic growth from the second
quarter of 2007 to the second quarter of 2008, and almost half of our growth in
the last year. 

“We need to ensure that our trade will continue to expand
so that it can contribute to U.S. economic growth in the
future.  Strengthening our economic ties to the Trans-Pacific region is
vital to achieving this goal because of the economic significance of this region
now and in the future.  The Trans-Pacific region accounts for nearly 60
percent of world GDP and almost half of all global trade.  With its large
and growing markets and robust economic growth, it is clear that further
strengthening our ties to this region should be a priority.   

“The United States is pleased to stand
with this group of like-minded countries, whose vision for trade liberalization
and Trans-Pacific economic integration we share.  We are particularly
interested in this high-standard agreement potentially serving as a vehicle for
advancing trade and investment liberalization and integration across the
Trans-Pacific region and perhaps beyond.  Ultimately, the objective is to
expand the membership of the Agreement to other nations that share our vision of
free and fair trade. 

“For the past year, the United States
has conducted a thorough exploratory process on whether to join the agreement
and has held several rounds of detailed discussions with the Trans-Pacific
partners about our potential interest.  Our announcement today is the
result of this work and the common understanding that we have reached on the
goals of the negotiation.  It also reflects the high priority the
States places on deepening our already
extensive ties to the dynamic Trans-Pacific region.  

“While the United States is the first additional
country to seek to join the four original members of the Trans-Pacific Strategic
Economic Partnership, we are confident that other countries in the region will
ultimately embrace the benefits of participation.  This high-standard
regional agreement will enhance the competitiveness of the countries that are
part of it and help promote and facilitate trade and investment among them,
increasing their economic growth and development.  

“We also believe that this initiative will support other
priority U.S. trade
initiatives, including approval of the pending Free Trade Agreements with
Colombia, Panama, and South Korea, as
well as successful conclusion of the WTO Doha Round, to which all of the
Trans-Pacific Partners are committed.    

"Again, I am pleased to be here with my colleagues and
look forward to getting these negotiations underway.  I would now like to
turn to my colleagues for them to share their comments. Thank

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