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U.S. Officials' Comments at APEC

BG9734E | Date: 1997-12-02

Minister Axworthy, Minister Marchi, Excellencies and colleagues, let me begin by thanking our Canadian hosts for the absolutely superb job they have done in leading APEC this year and in arranging this conference. I am pleased to join Secretary of Commerce William Daley and our chief trade negotiator Charlene Barshefsky in representing the United States.

Members of the APEC community, the true test of a ship occurs not when the winds are favorable and the waters smooth, but when the skies turn dark and powerful waves crash against the bow. The same is true of institutions.

In recent years, this forum has convened during periods of rapid economic growth. This year, we meet amidst predictions of financial meltdown and the reality of setbacks that have roiled Asian markets and slowed growth.

For APEC and its members, the time of testing has arrived. As leaders, we must work together to restore financial stability and re-start economic growth.

To move forward, the United States is emphasizing two core points. Each economy needs to take responsibility for implementing sound economic policies. And the international community -- led by the IMF -- should be prepared to furnish appropriate assistance.

Accordingly, we strongly support the decisions made last week in Manila to improve regional cooperation in promoting financial stability, and to strengthen the IMF's capacity to respond to financial crises.

The ability of the region's economic leaders to agree on the Manila framework validates the underlying premise of APEC, which is that we will all do better when we each do better. Growth, like turbulence, is contagious.

In the months ahead, the region's economies must combine the energy of the tiger with the wisdom of the owl.

We must strengthen, not retreat from, the principles that have been the foundation of a quarter century's economic growth, including sound macroeconomic management, high rates of savings, free markets and liberal trade and capital flows.

We must also learn from the recent disruptions by reforming banking systems, curbing corruption and promoting the kind of reliable investments that yield sustained growth.

In addition, we must take advantage of the opportunity APEC affords to make concrete progress towards a more open Asia-Pacific economy.

For example, APEC's support for completion of a global financial services agreement based on improved offers would be a welcome sign to investors that this region is determined to restore the conditions that make rapid growth possible.

We can provide further evidence of that determination through agreement on a strong Early Voluntary Sectoral Liberalization package.

We can make progress on infrastructure by making government purchasing more transparent, and by working with the private sector to develop a regional network for the delivery of natural gas.

We can further open the new frontier of cyberspace through an accelerated work plan to identify ways to enhance the benefits of electronic commerce.

We can make APEC a leader in the promotion of innovative green technologies and environmentally sensitive growth.

We can do more to prepare for and prevent environmental and weather-related disasters such as the droughts brought on by El Nino and the forest fires that have been plaguing Southeast Asia.

And we can think now about how to work together in Kyoto to achieve consensus for strong, realistic and equitable action to combat global climate change.

During the past quarter century, Asia-Pacific economies have achieved miracles of growth, job creation, poverty reduction and rising living standards. Today they are passing through what we hope will prove a brief squall.

To meet the test we now face, APEC members must continue working together to promote good governance, bring down barriers to trade, and secure a broad public consensus that open markets will open the door to prosperity not just for a lucky few, but for the hardworking many.

And the actions we take to restore financial stability will be the signal to the world that we will do what is necessary to produce long-term sustainable growth.

The United States has a deep faith in the genius and productivity of the peoples of the Asia-Pacific, in the resilience and underlying strength of their economies, and in their capacity to absorb setbacks, re-group and come roaring back.

It was this faith that prompted President Clinton to invite APEC leaders to Blake Island four years ago, setting in motion a process of cooperation that deepens with each passing year.

And it is this faith that allows us -- even as we struggle with current problems -- to look to the future not only with determination, but with confidence.

Thank you very much.

Intervention on Electronic Commerce by
U.S. Secretary of Commerce William M. Daley
APEC Ministerial in Vancouver, Canada
November 22, 1997

Mr. Chairman, I would like to join my colleagues in underscoring the importance of Economic and Technical Cooperation activities to the diverse economies of the Asia-Pacific region. On no issue, perhaps, is cooperation more important than electronic commerce.

The growth of information technology is staggering. In Asia, Internet hosts have more than quintupled during the last two years. It only makes sense that this medium will revolutionize the way we do business. This year, in the U.S. alone, the value of goods and services traded between companies will grow to US$8 billion, up 1000% from 1996. By 2002, it is estimated that more than US$300 billion will be spent on these business-to-business transactions.

As our Australian colleague indicated yesterday, smaller, isolated firms may gain the most from the "anytime, anywhere" nature of electronic networks. The Internet can place even the smallest, newest firms before customers all over the world and within arms' reach of potential business partners, a fact which should appeal to all APEC economies, especially those with a strong entrepreneurial spirit.

Creating an environment that allows electronic commerce to flourish will make it a major force for economic growth for APEC economies in the 21st century.

We should make clear to our business communities that we support the globalization of electronic commerce and the avoidance of barriers that impede its growth. We can do so by committing to some basic guiding principles.

First, the private sector should lead. Governments should refrain from imposing undue regulation and legislation, while supporting a predictable, consistent, and simple legal environment.

Also, the marketplace -- not governments -- should determine technical standards. We should redouble support for private sector-led efforts on a common approach to electronic authentication, an approach that would allow a full range of commercial options and discourage the imposition of bureaucratic structures. We must also strike the proper balance between privacy rights and the common interest in a free flow of information.

Of course, electronic commerce will only be as successful as the information infrastructure that supports it. APEC must take the lead in encouraging member economies to adopt telecommunications policies that foster private investment.

I am pleased that the Ministers' Statement will call for a work plan on electronic commerce. This effort should include an understanding of a tariff-free environment on the Internet; continuing work on electronic authentication; and consultation with the OECD on tax issues. This plan should emphasize the importance of private sector leadership on electronic authentication, privacy, content, and technical standards.

I can't emphasize strongly enough how important this effort is to the continued growth of the APEC economies. The time is now to harness the power of information technology and build a global electronic marketplace that will increase efficiency, reduce the need for capital, and cut costs for businesses and consumers alike. We must not delay.