Aloha from Honolulu!
For the first time since 1993, APEC is back in the United States! Over the past week, officials, ministers and leaders from the 21 member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum have been meeting in Honolulu to review the outcomes of the U.S. host year and to set guidelines for the future of trade in the Asia-Pacific region.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, senior officials gathered to work on finalizing a package of policy recommendations to be sent up to ministers and leaders for their consideration. We set ambitious goals across a robust set of topics and reaffirmed that APEC is a good engine for producing tangible results.
On Tuesday evening, Governor Neil Abercrombie welcomed the senior officials to Washington House, the former governor's home, for an evening of discussion and traditional Hawaiian entertainment. Throughout the week, Governor Abercrombie, Lt. Governor Brian Schatz and all the other elected officials in Hawaii were extraordinarily welcoming. The Hawaii Host Committee, in fact, scored a huge success in illustrating how Hawaii can be an ideal place to do business for traders and entrepreneurs throughout the Asia-Pacific Region. Hawaii also succeeded in demonstrating to APEC that it is a leader in green growth through its investments in renewable energy and environmental protection.
On Thursday and Friday, Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton led their counterparts from the other 20 APEC economies in reviewing the work accomplished over the past year and deliberating over the policy recommendations from the senior officials, including sorting out issues which could not be resolved previously. Secretary Clinton chaired special sessions on disaster resilience and open governance that featured broad non-government participation together with foreign ministers.
This weekend, President Barack Obama has been meeting with the other 20 economic leaders. This Sunday morning, they adopted the Honolulu Declaration, which noted the great strides made in our three priority areas for the host year: expanding trade, encouraging green growth, and strengthening regulatory cooperation throughout the region -- all pulling us in the direction of a "seamless regional economy."
However, much hard work lies ahead. During this time of economic hardship, businesses and people around the world and throughout the Asia-Pacific region are struggling. It is more important than ever to make it easier to trade and invest across the Pacific Ocean, in order to create jobs and increase prosperity. Though the U.S. host year has wrapped up, our motto for the year -- "Get Stuff Done" -- will surely live on. This year, we indeed got stuff done, but there is much more to do. The United States remains committed to its engagement in the region. So, to kick off the Russian host year of APEC in 2012, let's keep on getting stuff done!