Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivered remarks today to open the first Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum. APEC is the premier forum for strengthening regional economic integration in the Asia-Pacific and is central to U.S. economic engagement in the region. The organization of 21 member economies aims to reduce barriers to trade and investment in order to create a seamless regional economy. Throughout the host year, the United States will organize four sets of SOMs, combined with high-level meetings and ministerials. The first SOM will take place March 11-12, 2011, in Washington DC. The host year culminates with the APEC Leaders meeting November 12-13, 2011, in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Secretary Clinton said, "It is exciting for the United States to serve as the host of APEC for 2011. This has been in preparation for many months. We hope our time together here in Washington and in Montana, California, and Hawaii later this year, will yield real and lasting benefits for all of our people, because after all, we meet at a moment of fast and far-reaching change. The transformations that many of our economies have experienced in recent years have remade our region and our world. Hundreds of millions of people have climbed out of poverty. Places that were once largely removed from the global economy are now crackling with commerce. And this progress is a testament to the talent and ingenuity of people across this region. And it is also a testament to the power of economic integration.
"The rise in prosperity and decline in poverty occurring throughout the Asia-Pacific region are a direct result of greater trade and investment. These are goals that we have pursued and achieved together. And the United States is proud of the role that we have played in this region's progress as a trade and investment partner to many APEC economies, a market for your goods and services, and a leading proponent of an open and liberalized approach to shared economic activities."
The Secretary continued, "Now, there's no question that this approach has paid off, but growth has also given rise to new challenges. Food and fuel prices have climbed. Greenhouse gas emissions and the consumption of natural resources, leading to environmental consequences, are there for all to see. Meanwhile, growth has shifted the geo-political order of our region and the world as new centers of influence have emerged and new dynamics have developed between and among our nations.
"All told, these trends add up to a sense of possibility about the positive developments of the future, but also a sense of anxiety, because that future is far from certain. I have said many times before that much of the history of the 21st century will be written in the Asia-Pacific region. And it is a history that we writing together.
"Every economy represented here is hard at work creating jobs, addressing the social and environmental consequences of growth, and laying the groundwork for long-term prosperity. Now of course, there will be differences in how our countries pursue these common goals. But I believe strongly we must pursue them in partnership -- through more and better trade, investment, and collaborations in science, technology, and education -- if we wish to continue the progress that has already begun.
"That means we must decide how we will work together, what rules we will adopt, what principles we will abide by, and what behavior we will encourage and discourage in ourselves and in each other. These are open questions that deserve the most careful analysis because we are called upon to answer them as individual economies and as an economic community. APEC provides a forum for reaching those answers.
"The United States brings to APEC a deep commitment to this region's stability and prosperity. Since the earliest days of the Obama Administration, we have been working to strengthen our one-on-one relationships and to galvanize more effective regional cooperation on shared challenges. We have affirmed and deepened our alliances with Japan, South Korea, Australia, Thailand, and the Philippines. We have increased our engagement with old friends and new partners, including India, Indonesia, Vietnam, New Zealand, Mongolia and Malaysia. We have launched a strategic and economic dialogue with China to build greater trust between our governments and to coordinate policy on consequential issues facing both of our nations. And our relationships with the APEC economies of the Americas -- Canada, Mexico, Chile and Peru -- have never been stronger.
"We have also significantly increased our participation in Asian regional organizations. That includes ASEAN. In the past two years, we established a U.S. mission to ASEAN, signed the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation and held two U.S.-ASEAN summits. We have also stepped up our engagement with the East Asia Summit. I attended the summit in Vietnam in October on behalf of the United States, the first time our country has ever participated. And President Obama will attend the summit later this year in Indonesia.
"We view these institutions as pillars of a strong and effective regional architecture, which can help us work together to manage urgent strategic security and political issues. APEC has an important role to play in that architecture as the leading forum for designing economic policies that promote regional growth and prosperity.
"Together, these actions by the United States comprise a strategy that I call 'forward-deployed diplomacy.' It reflects our belief that the security and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region is critical to the security and prosperity of the United States and the rest of the world. And furthermore, as a Pacific nation and a Pacific power, the United States has a responsibility to help lead in meeting these challenges and making the most of the opportunities we face today. So the United States comes to APEC as the largest economy in the world, with a long tradition of innovation, whose people have built businesses and invented technologies that have improved billions of lives."