Vice President Pence is honored to be leading the U.S. delegation to the APEC Leaders’ meeting this week in Papua New Guinea. At APEC, the key forum for promoting economic growth and high standards for trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific, the United States will reaffirm our commitment to working with our partners to advance an economic and trade architecture that opens markets, promotes high standards, and achieves free, fair, and reciprocal trade across APEC.
Supporting innovation and the growth of the digital economy is a key priority of the United States for this year’s APEC Leaders’ meeting. This theme is central to the Papua New Guinea APEC host year. The United States will promote policies that facilitate digital trade and promote a free and open internet. The United States has already begun to work towards this objective. This year in APEC, we began implementation of the APEC Internet and Digital Economy Roadmap, developed a list of principles to facilitate digital trade, and expanded participation in the Cross Border Privacy Rules system, all of which will reduce barriers and improve access to the digital economy for people, consumers, and businesses. The digital economy is growing rapidly in APEC economies, and a more open digital economy will greatly benefit the region, including the United States where the digital economy accounts for an estimated five percent of GDP with the potential to boost annual GDP domestically by up to $2.2 trillion by 2025.
Another policy objective for the United States at the APEC Leaders’ meeting is to increase women’s economic participation, including through entrepreneurship opportunities, workforce development, and breaking down regulatory and legal barriers. The numbers are staggering: A 2015 report from the McKinsey Global Institute found that if women played identical roles as men in labor markets, global GDP would rise by $28 trillion by 2025. That is nearly 25 percent of the world’s current GDP, and it is almost half of the world’s current debt. The United States values APEC as a multilateral space in which issues of women’s empowerment can be raised. Our work in APEC has centered around using data to promote women in high-growth and high-wage sectors, including transportation, science, and technology; support women entrepreneurs; and help small and medium enterprises improve women’s economic participation through better health and workplace safety outcomes. The United States is firmly committed to continuing to promote gender equality globally because when women win, we all win.
The United States is working through APEC to promote structural reform to level playing fields, increase transparency, and reduce corruption. Our work with other APEC economies to improve their domestic policies, regulations, and institutions is opening new markets and making it easier for companies, especially small ones, to do business by fostering an open and transparent economic environment across APEC and throughout the Indo-Pacific region. In 2015, APEC economies committed to make it ten percent easier, faster, and cheaper to do business in the region by 2018, as measured by the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business survey. To advance this initiative, the United States works with member economies to reduce procedures, time, and cost of starting a business in the region and to increase access to affordable credit for small businesses.
The United States looks forward to working with Papua New Guinea and all of our APEC partners to make progress on these and other critical priority areas of cooperation. APEC is the model for how a non-binding body can drive consensus, brainstorm ideas, and set goals for economic openness. It is an incubator of ideas that helps shape the global architecture by ambitiously pursuing more free and fair trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific.
Editor's Note: This entry also appears in the U.S. Department of State's publication on Medium.