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Australia and Asia: The power of proximity

By Tim Harcourt, JW Nevile Fellow in Economics at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Australian School of Business, Sydney*

Nearly half a century ago, Geoffrey Blainey’s The Tyranny of Distance argued that Australia’s geographical position shaped our psychological attitudes. The long distance between Australians and our colonial forebears in Europe, and also the United States, made us unsure of our future economic prosperity.

At about the time Blainey was writing, Donald Horne’s The Lucky Country described a resource-rich Australia that lacked the intellectual confidence to make the most of its natural endowments. Singapore’s long-standing Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew also famously warned that Australia risked becoming the “poor white trash of Asia”, and advised that vast natural mineral wealth was neither necessary nor sufficient for long-term prosperity.

By the 1960s, however, Japan had already replaced the UK as Australia’s major trading partner, and the long journey towards greater engagement with the Asia-Pacific had begun. In fact, Australia’s economic relationship with Asia over the past half-century can be seen in terms of four overlapping “waves”, culminating with the rise of trade in services. This latest wave is still in motion, and is part of a story that has seen Australia succeed in replacing the tyranny of distance with the power of proximity.

The first wave: Black Jack’s shore break in Japan, 1957-72
In 1957, just 12 years after the end of the Second World War, Australian Trade Minister John “Black Jack” McEwen signed a commercial agreement with Japan. This agreement gave Australia a head start in Asia, and launched the Australian tradition of bipartisan support for increased trade engagement with the region. There followed a flurry of trade and, later, investment between Japan and Australia, notably in iron ore, coal and natural gas. By 1966 Japan was a key trading partner and had transformed itself from a nation devastated by war into a huge and affluent global economy.

The second wave: Reaching out to China, 1972-82
As Japan re-entered the world economy, followed closely by Korea and a handful of other rapidly expanding Asian economies, China remained closed to the outside world with little economic engagement beyond its borders. However, Australian relations with China warmed considerably after Gough Whitlam visited Beijing as leader of the opposition in 1971 and formally established diplomatic relations as prime minister in 1972. It is in part thanks to this early wave, which complemented subsequent gestures, such as Australia’s support for China’s entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) two decades later, that China now regards Australia as a key economic partner.

The third wave: Breaking down the tariff wall, 1983-2008
Lee Kuan Yew’s admonitions from Singapore came back to haunt Australia in the recession of 1982-83 when, despite a resource boom, the economy was stagnating beneath double-digit unemployment and inflation, a situation that was common throughout OECD countries at the time. In response, government reforms opened up the Australian economy and oriented it even more towards Asia. Moreover, it achieved this while maintaining social harmony through the so-called accord with the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU). A mix of market and social policies was unleashed: the Australian dollar was floated, financial markets were reformed, and universal health care and a pension scheme were introduced alongside education reforms aimed at boosting productivity.

As for trade, the tariff wall that had kept Australia isolated for a century was dismantled. Australia supported the trade liberalisation espoused by the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and its successor, the WTO, and helped launch the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) group.

The fourth wave: Global engagement in the Asian Century
Now Australia is on its fourth wave of engagement with Asia. In terms of trading partners, China has overtaken Japan in a further realignment of the global economic order that will again alter Australia’s trade. The emergence of several Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) states, in addition to China and India, will shape this new phase of engagement.

Click to enlarge

The fourth wave will be different for Australia. First, we have established platforms in ASEAN, China and India, from which we can approach the new frontier markets that are opening up in places like Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar in the Mekong Delta (an area that also forms part of the OECD’s Southeast Asia Regional Programme), and Mongolia and Kazakhstan in Central Asia.

Second, while our larger companies have already formed strong relationships in Asia, the nature of global supply chains and open regionalism means that Australian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will become increasingly enmeshed. Currently 7 out of 10 of our top SME exporter destinations are in Asia.

Third, services will now play a more important role in this new wave. Mining and agriculture–what Australians call “rocks and crops”–will continue to provide the lion’s share of our export revenue to Asia, but our points of engagement with Asia will expand as the services trade promotes broader and deeper people-to-people relationships. Second tier cities in China, like Chongqing and Chengdu, are full of Australian architects and engineers, as are parts of India, Mongolia, Kazakhstan and Southeast Asia. Australia is also well-placed to respond to higher food demand by increasing the export orientation of Australian crops. Modern agribusiness is also about services, and could help Australia move further up the value chain from the “mining boom” to the “dining boom”.

In short, goods exports build a platform that enables the services trade to grow throughout the region and bring with it opportunities for investment, niches for SMEs, and richer global and regional integration.

There will be challenges as Australia pursues the fourth wave of Asian engagement, not least its exposure to shocks and its greater reliance on the ups and downs of demand in China. After all, proximity brings its own pressures. But there are also opportunities. Take climate change, for instance: this poses a serious threat to all our economies, though it also represents an opportunity for Australian environmental services exporters, especially those engaged in sectors like green construction, transport and infrastructure in China, India and Indonesia.
Australia’s economic relationship with Asia has taken many twists and turns, as we have grappled with the changing economic landscape of the region. By taking on these challenges and actively engaging with our Asian neighbours, we have become one of the world’s most open and successful economies. And as Australia hosts the G20 summit in Brisbane, there are some early signs from this fourth wave that we are really starting to benefit more than ever from the power of proximity in the Asian Century.

*Tim Harcourt is the author of Trading Places: The Airport Economist’s Guide to International Business.  He is also former chief economist at Austrade, the Australian Government’s trade department. Visit
www.theairporteconomist.com

References

Blainey, Geoffrey (1966), The Tyranny of Distance: How Distance Shaped Australia’s History, Sun Books, Melbourne.

Harcourt, Tim (2014), Trading Places: The Airport Economist’s Guide to International Business, UNSW Press, Sydney.

Horne, Donald (1964), The Lucky Country: Australia in the Sixties, Penguin Books, Australia.

© OECD Observer No 300, Q3 2014

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UN Pledging Conference sees new funds announced for fight against poverty

12 Nov 2014

18 countries commit 97 million dollars for UN Development Programme

New York City – 12 November 2014 – 26 UN Member States have pledged approximately US$ 650 million to go towards UN development work, mostly for 2015, with US$97 million destined for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Nick Hartmann, Director of UNDP’s Partnership Group, speaking at the Conference on behalf of UNDP Administrator Helen Clark, welcomed the announcements of funding for the organization’s ‘regular’ or ‘core’ resources, referring to non-earmarked funding that can be used at UNDP’s discretion to respond to emerging needs of countries.

Core funding was the “bedrock”, he said, of UNDP’s ability to sustain its multilateral and universal character, ensuring that resources and activities are available to support all eligible countries, with a distribution to primarily low-income and least developed countries.

Noting that many of UNDP’s contributors had gone to great lengths to maintain their funding despite a challenging financial environment, he nonetheless emphasized the “continuing downward trend” UNDP faces.

In spite of this, more Member States had begun contributing to UNDP, with the total number rising from 50 to 56 in 2013. This was a welcome development that UNDP would continue to nurture.

Additionally, non-core resources remained stable at US$3.98 billion in 2012 and US$3.93 billion in 2013.

Thanking Member States for their contribution, Hartmann pointed to UNDP’s responsibility as the custodian of funds entrusted to it. With this in mind, he noted that the organization had been ranked first amongst all bilateral and multilateral development agencies, as reflected in the independent Publish What You Fund’s Aid Transparency Index.

In tandem with non-core resources, Member States’ contributions last year allowed UNDP to target the world’s poorest and most vulnerable.

Some highlights of UNDP’s results in 2013 include:

• 43 million new voters registered in 68 supported countries. 96 million people voted in UNDP-assisted elections, 41% of which were women.
• Over 4 million people in 117 countries, 40 of which were affected by conflict, had improved access to justice and legal aid, 49% of which were women.
• 3.5 million people in 12 countries benefited from access to modern energy services from 2,900 rural energy enterprises.
• Carbon dioxide equivalent-emissions were reduced by 116–142 million tonnes, the equivalent of 30–37 coal fired power stations, in 32 countries.
• UNDP helped 25 countries establish or strengthen disaster early warning systems and has now assisted 45 countries with establishing disaster management agencies.
• Finally, 617,000 people benefited from emergency employment schemes established by UNDP; and over 193,000 small businesses were created with UNDP’s support in post-conflict countries.

Countries that announced pledges at the Conference were: Denmark, Netherlands, New Zealand, India, Luxembourg, Turkey, Russian Federation, Kuwait, Bangladesh, Singapore, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Mongolia, Samoa, Myanmar, Afghanistan and Djibouti.

Contact Information

Dylan Lowthian
Communications Analyst, UNDP Bureau of External Relations and Advocacy
Email: dylan.lowthian@undp.org
Tel: +1 (212) 906-5516

Two Europes or One Europe?

European Commission

[Check Against Delivery]

José Manuel Durão Barroso

President of the European Commission

Valedictory speech by President Barroso

European Parliament plenary session

Strasbourg, 21 October 2014

Mr President, Honourable Members,

First of all, I would like to thank you for the invitation to address this Parliament in what would be the last time I have this opportunity. In fact, we are coming to the end of my second mandate as the President of the European Commission and I am very happy to be here with you and my colleagues to present to you our bilan, since this is my second Commission, I think I can also refer to the last ten years.

I want to share with you my feelings, my emotions, what I think about the way the European Union has responded to these very challenging times and what I think are the most important challenges for the future.

I think you can agree with me that these have been exceptional and challenging times. Ten years of crisis, and response of the European Union to this crisis. Not only the financial and sovereignty debt crisis – let’s not forget at the beginning of my first mandate we had a constitutional crisis, when two founding members of the European Union rejected, in referenda, the Constitutional Treaty. So we had a constitutional crisis, we had a sovereign debt and financial crisis, and in the most acute terms we now have a geopolitical crisis, as a result of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

The constitutional crisis that we had was in fact solved through the Lisbon Constitutional Treaty. The reality is that at that time, many people were saying that it would be impossible for the European Union to find a new institutional setting. And in fact there were moments of ambiguity and doubt. But basically, we could keep most of the acquis of the European Union, including most of the new elements of the Lisbon Constitutional Treaty, which was ratified by all Member States including those that today seem to have forgotten that they have ratified the Lisbon Treaty.

More recently – because I learned to leave to the end the economic issues because they are still with us – we had this very serious challenge and threat to our stability, in Europe, coming from the unacceptable behaviour of Russia regarding Ukraine. And we took a principled position. We offered Ukraine an association agreement and a free trade agreement and I am happy that, in spite of all the difficulties, Ukraine was there, signing and ratifying the association agreement, and I want to congratulate this Parliament, because the same day at the same hour the Parliament in Ukraine was ratifying this agreement, you were also ratifying the agreement showing you can offer hope to Ukraine as part of the European family of nations.

At the moment I am speaking to you, this crisis is not yet solved – we know that. But I think we can be proud that we have kept a position of principle, that we have condemned in the most unequivocal terms the actions of Russia and that in fact an association agreement was ratified, not only with Ukraine, but also with Georgia and Moldova because I believe we have a duty to those countries that are looking to Europe with their spirit and their hope to share with us the same future and because they want to share with us the same values.

At this moment we are still mediating and, today, there is a meeting mediated by the Commission on energy with the Russian government and the Ukrainian government, so a political negotiated solution is possible, we are working for that. It is in the interest of all the parties to have a political agreement, but a political agreement that respects the principles of international law, a political agreement that respects the right of country that is our neighbour to decide its own future and a political agreement that respects the sovereignty, the independence of that country. So, we should be proud of what we have been doing in this very challenging geopolitical crisis.

And we also had the financial and sovereign debt crisis. The reality is that the crisis was not born in Europe, but the fact is that because we were not prepared, because the Euro-area had not yet the instruments, we were very much affected by it – not only in financial terms, in economic terms, in social terms and in political terms. I think this crisis was probably the biggest since the beginning of the European integration process in the 50s of the last century. Let’s now put things into perspective.

Dear Members of Parliament,

Let’s remind ourselves what was the main opinion of most analysts in the economic and financial media, or even many of our countries or outside of Europe, about what could happen: everybody was predicting Greek exit, Greece exiting the Euro, and, of course, Greece exiting Euro would certainly, immediately have had a cascading effect in other countries, a domino effect that was indeed already felt in countries such as Ireland or Portugal. But let’s not forget, Spain was also under very heavy pressure, and Italy. We were staring into the abyss. I remember well what happened in discussions in the margins of G20 in Cannes in 2011, I remember well when analysts were predicting with almost unanimity a Greek exit and at least 50% of them were predicting the implosion of the Euro. And what happened? Not only was there no exit of the Euro, now we are to welcome the 19th member of the Euro, Lithuania will join us in the 1st of January 2015. And not only did Greece not leave the Euro area, it has enlarged and the European Union has been enlarging as well. This is a point that has been very much underestimated in our analysis.

2004, the year I had the pleasure and the honour to assume the leadership of the European Commission, do you remember that we were 15? Today, we have 28 countries. So we have almost doubled the membership of the European Union during this crisis. Is there a better proof of the resilience and the capacity of adaptation of our Union? The fact that we were able to remain united and open during the crisis I think confirms the extraordinary resilience and the strength of the European Union and this should not be underestimated.

I know that, for some, these things do not count for much. They are in a way making an idealisation of the past; they dream probably of a closed Europe; they think Europe was better when half of Europe was under totalitarian communism. I don’t think that. I think Europe today is better than when half of Europe was under communism. The fact that the European Union was able, during all this crisis, to open, to consolidate and to unite on a continental scale almost all of Europe around the values of peace, of freedom and of justice, I think it is a great thing we should commemorate and not to be ashamed of, as some seem to be.

So, this is I think also a reason to commemorate. Many people were predicting, as you probably remember, those of you following these issues at that time, that the European Commission would not be able to function with 25 or 27 or 28 Members, that the European Union would be blocked. The reality is that the European Union was not blocked by the enlargement; the reality that I can share with you now is that sometimes it was more difficult to put together some of the founding Members of the Union than all the 28 countries of Europe.

So I think we should be proud of that as well, collectively, because the European Union was able to remain united and open during the crisis. And when I say open, I mean it in all senses of the word, including with an open attitude towards the world. For instance, when we have promoted a proactive climate agenda after the failure of the Doha Development Round and the Doha trade talks. And we are now leading in that sense, because I believe that trade can be one of the best ways to support growth globally and in the European Union. Or when we, because it was an initiative of the European Union, went to the former President of the United States of America, inviting him and convincing him to organise the first G20 meeting at Heads of State or Government level, because that was a way of having a global cooperative approach and to avoid the return to ugly, nasty protectionism. That could be a temptation in times of crisis. So we were able to keep Europe not only united and, in fact, enlarging its membership, but also open to the rest of the world.

But now, are we stronger or are we weaker? I know that the most critical people today will say that we are weaker. But are we really?

In fact, when the crisis erupted, we had almost no instruments to respond to it. We were facing, as it was said at that time, an unprecedented crisis. Yet we had no mechanisms, for instance to support the countries that were facing the immediate threat of default. A lot has been done. We have collectively, the Commission and the Member States and always with the strong support of the Parliament, we have created a new system of governance. We have today a much more reinforced governance system than before, including with unprecedented powers for the community institutions, and we have done everything to keep the community method at the centre of our integration. For instance, the Commission today has more powers in terms of governance of the Eurozone than before the crisis. The European Central Bank has today the possibility to make direct supervision of the banks in Europe, something that would have been considered impossible earlier; it would have been almost unimaginable before the crisis. And I remember when we spoke about the banking union, when I gave an interview saying that we need a banking union, I received some phone calls from capitals saying ‘Why are you speaking about the banking union? This is not in the Treaties’. And I responded, ‘Yes it is not in the Treaties, but we need it if we want to fulfil the objective of the Treaties, namely the objective of stability and growth’. And today we have a banking union.

Honourable members,

If we look at things in perspective and we think where we were ten years ago and where we are now, we can say with full rigour and in complete observance of the truth that today the European Union, at least in the euro area, is more integrated and with reinforced competences, and we have now, through the community method, more ways to tackle crisis, namely in the euro zone. Not only in the system of governance in the banking union, but also in the legislation of financial stability, financial regulation, financial supervision.

We have presented around 40 new pieces of legislation that were all of them approved by the European Parliament. And once again I want to thank you, because in almost all those debates the European Parliament and the European Commission were on the same side of the debate and were for more ambition, not less ambition for Europe. And so today, I can say that we are stronger, because we have a more integrated system of governance, because we have legislation to tackle abuses in the financial markets, because we have much clearer system of supervision and regulation. So, I think we are now better prepared than we were before to face a crisis, if a crisis like the ones we have seen before should come in the future.

Of course, you can say that there are many difficulties still. Yes, and I am going to say a word about this in a moment regarding the prospects for growth, but please do not forget where we were. We were very close to default, or, to use a less polite word, to a bankruptcy of some of our Member States. And look at where we are now. From the countries that had to ask for adjustment programmes, Portugal and Ireland exited the programme successfully. Ireland is now one of the fastest growing countries in Europe. And in fact all the others that were under the imminent threat of collapsing, are now in a much more stable mood. Spain, that asked for a programme for the banks, also has improved successfully. So in fact only two countries of all those, because we should not also forget the Central and Eastern European countries that also had adjustment programmes, even if they were not yet in the euro area, only two countries are still completing their adjustment programmes.

The deficits now on average in the Eurozone are 2.5%. This is much less than in the United States or in Japan. So, in terms of stability, we are much better now than before. By the way, the Eurozone has a trade surplus. The European Union in general now will have a surplus in goods, in services and, for the first time in many years, in agriculture.

I am saying that because very often the opinion in some of the political sectors is that we are losing with globalisation. This is not the case. Some countries of our Union in fact are not winning that battle, but on average we can say that Europe is gaining the global battle in terms of competition, namely in terms of trade and investment.

But of course, growth is still timid. I think that basically we cannot say that the crisis is completely over, because threats remain, but we have won the battle of stability. Today nobody in the world will honestly bet on the end of the euro. The euro has shown that it is a very strong, credible and indeed stable currency. The reality is that our growth is still timid and clearly below expectations.

So what can we do for growth? This is the important question. And for that I need to make a reminder once again. I know very well that very often the European Union policy and namely the European Commission policy has been presented as completely focused on austerity. I think this is a caricature.

We have constantly asked at least for three important lines – fiscal consolidation certainly, for the countries that are feeling the pressure of the markets. It would be completely irresponsible if they could not frontload a programme of rigour to correct their public finances, but we have always said with equal vigour, probably some would not like to listen, the need for structural reforms, for competitiveness, because the reality is that even before the crisis we were growing under our potential, that is the reality, and with serious problem of lack of competitiveness in some of our countries and so that is why we needed more ambitious structural reforms.

But we have also argued in favour of investment. I have always said that we need more investment, public and private investment. Private investment will come the more we show that we have competitive economies that we can attract private investment. Indeed I am now happy to see that most of our countries, certainly at a different pace, but they are pursuing ambitious structural reforms that would have been considered completely impossible before the crisis.

And the reality is, if we want to be honest in terms of the analysis that the countries that have suffered the most during the financial crisis were precisely those that have lost in terms of cost competitiveness before the crisis. And now, for instance the reforms that have been made by Spain, by Ireland, by Portugal, by Greece, are impressive.

Now, apart from the political consolidation and the structural reforms, we have always seen the need for more investment. Private investment, but public investment as well. You will remember the debate about the MFF. President Schultz remembers certainly. We were together in many meetings asking the Member States to do more in terms of investment and the most important instrument we have at European level for investment is the Multiannual Financial Framework, that is around one trillion euros.

So if there is not more ambitious investment it was not because of a lack of ambition of this Commission, or a lack of ambition of this Parliament. It was because of the opposition of some capitals. This is the reality. We are for solid investment, targeted investment for growth. Not only with the MFF. Remember the proposals that for instance here in the State of the Union speeches with you I have put forward. The increase of the capital for the EIB that finally was agreed. The project bonds that the Member States have accepted, but only as pilot project bonds. The facility that we have created for SMEs with loans from the EIB and funds from the structural funds, from our budget. Unfortunately only two countries wanted to pursue that line.

Or, for instance, the programme for youth, the Youth Guarantee that we have proposed and that the Member States have agreed. But now with the Youth Employment Initiative, only two countries have accepted to have a dedicated programme for youth employment.

So, my dear colleagues, let’s be clear: we are for investment. I wish all the best to the new Commission and to my friend and colleague Jean-Claude Juncker, to have the support of the Member States for a more ambitious investment programme for the next years. I believe this is possible now, I believe the awareness is much bigger on this matter. But once again this is part of a comprehensive strategy that combines fiscal consolidation with structural reforms and investment, and, of course, all the measures taken by us in terms of the banking union and in terms of financial regulation for stability.

And I’m saying this with this vigour because I think it would be now a mistake, after everything we have done, to give up, to show less determination, to abandon the road of structural reform. I think we have done a part of the job, stability is broadly there, growth, even if it is slower than what we would like to have, but now we need determination to complete the reforms so that sustainable growth, not growth fuelled by debt, excessive public or private debt – because such growth is artificial, it’s a fictional growth, and afterwards, sooner or later, we would pay the price – but sustainable growth – that I believe it is possible if we continue the courageous path of reforms and a stronger governance for the European Union.

I don’t have the time now to go over all the other policies we have been developing over the years. But let me just highlight one or two, because I think they are very much at the moment of decision, and I think they are important.

I’m extremely proud that is was my Commission in my first mandate, in 2007, that put forward the most ambitious programme for climate protection in the world. And we are still leading in the world in terms of the climate agenda.

In fact, we were able to join the climate agenda with the energy security agenda, and I’m saying that because this week we are going to have an important discussion in Brussels at Heads of State and Government level, and I hope that the European Union will keep its leadership role – of course not to be isolated but to have others, because we have a responsibility towards our planet. And this is was certainly one of the great advances of these years, that the European Union was able to make the most important and bold steps in terms of fighting climate change.

Another area where I think we could very proud is – in spite of all the restrictions because of our financial situation – that it was possible in the MFF to get 30% more for Horizon 2020, for research and technology. I think there is a great opportunity now for us to do more in that area, as also in the culture side, with our Creative Europe programme.

The reality is that in some areas it was possible, in spite of the economic and financial crisis, to increase investment at European level.

But I’m also very proud that in spite of the pressures of our budgets, we could always be there in terms of development aid and neighbourhood policy.

Whenever there was a big tragedy in the world, from the tsunami in Indonesia to the recent Ebola crisis, from the Syrian refugee crisis to Darfur, we were there, we were among the first. And I think we, Europeans, should also be proud of that, because we are still, together with our Member States, the most important donor for development aid in the world. That is something that corresponds very much to our values and I’m happy that in spite of all the crises we did not abandon our obligations in terms of development cooperation.

I have already said a word about trade. I think it is very important to keep an ambitious trade agenda, an open Europe but for free and fair trade. And the Commission has concluded a record number of agreements, not only with South Korea, Singapore, Central America – the first region to reach an agreement -, Peru, Ecuador, recently with Canada, with Western Africa, Eastern Africa and Southern Africa. And I could also mention some others that are now progressing, like Japan, the United States and also an investment agreement with China.

So we are the most important trade bloc in the world. We are the biggest economy in the world.

And I’m saying that because today I know it’s very fashionable the pessimism, the defeatism about Europe, what I call the intellectual glamour of pessimism. But I believe that we have a good record to show and I believe that together, collectively, we are much stronger and we can better defend our interests and protect our values.

Dear colleagues – I call you colleagues because I believe we have been sometimes in discussions but we have been colleagues in this great enterprise that is the European project -, I think politically we have some lessons to draw.

One is that we have shown great resilience. I think we can say that the forces of integration are stronger than the forces of disintegration. And I believed that day and night, sometimes in very dramatic moments, sometimes when I had to make dramatic appeals to some capitals: to the richer countries, asking them to show more solidarity; and to the poorer countries asking them to show more responsibility.

Sometimes we have done it very discretely, it’s true. The European Commission is probably more discreet than others. I did not want the Commission to be part of the cacophony of different voices during the most acute moments of the crisis. It was extremely market sensitive that situation. But I can tell you, in my full conscience, that we have done everything we could with existing instruments to avoid the fragmentation of the euro or to avoid a division in the European Union. And I very often had to call on my colleagues in the European Council, Heads of State and Government, to show the ethics of European responsibility.

But one of the lessons I draw from this is that if eventually it was possible to come to decisions, it is true that it was sometimes extremely painful and difficult. And took time. We have said also, and I think it is something that we can all agree: democracy is slower than the markets are.

The Commission would have preferred, and I’m sure this Parliament as well, decisions to be bolder, more comprehensive, faster. But we are a Union of democratic states, we are not a super state. And we have to respect different sensitivities.

One of the conclusions I draw from these ten years of experiences is the need to cooperate between institutions. I know sometimes it is more popular to put forward impossible ideas and to criticise others. But I firmly believe that we need to engage with different institutions, that it is not a solution to oppose the countries to the European Union. On the contrary, we have to show to our countries that they are stronger if they are part of the European Union. That we are not diluting their national identity but, on the contrary, we are asking them to share their sovereignty so they can project better their interests globally. I’m firmly convinced of this.

And I’m saying this to you now, as I am leaving in a few days: my only interest is that these lessons are learned so that we do not repeat some mistakes in the future. At the same time, I think we can say that it is not through confrontation but through cooperation that we can attain our objectives.

At the moment I prepare to hand over this very challenging and interesting job to my good friend Jean-Claude Juncker, I want to say here, on my behalf and on behalf of all my colleagues of the Commission, that we wish the new Commission all the best, that they have a great challenge ahead of them but that they could count also on our support. And I’m sure of the support that this Parliament is going to give to them.

Because, Mr President, the relations were not always perfect. But I think you can agree that we were able to establish a fruitful relationship between the Parliament and the Commission.

I’ve been in this Parliament more than 100 times. There was never a Commission that was so often represented in the Parliament as my two Commissions. We have established this cooperation and I’m so grateful because this Parliament, sometimes with very strong demands, was always supportive of the community method, was always supporting the community institutions. And I believe this is very important for the future of Europe.

My dear colleagues of the European project,

The way to solve the problems we have in Europe is not through revolution and even less through counter-revolution. It’s by compromise, it’s by reform. Evolution and reform. We have to reform to adapt to the new challenges but not with new clashes between the institutions, not with clashes against our countries. And I believe that if this idea of strong cooperation putting the European common good above all else, I think my colleague and friend Jean-Claude Juncker and his new Commission will have success, of course based on the support I’m sure you are going to give them.

Because the European Union is a union of values. In these last days I had to face many journalists and they asked me ‘what was your most emotional moment? Which moment did you prefer?’ And I have many, and I also had very difficult ones, to be honest. But one of my most emotional moment was when, on behalf of the European Union, together with Martin Schulz and the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, we received the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the European Union.

I think this was a powerful reminder sent to us from the global community that we count in this world and that what we do is very important. That the values that were at the origin of the creation of our Union, namely the value of peace, are still at our essence today. And that we have to fight for them.

And I think is the moment I really said I want to share with all those in the different institutions, including this Parliament, that have been working for a united, open and stronger Europe. And when I leave this office, with all my colleagues at the Commission, I can tell you that we have not achieved everything we could, or everything we would have liked to have achieved, but I think we have worked with the right conscience, putting the global interest of the European Union above specific interests. And I believe that now there are conditions to continue to do work for a united, open and stronger Europe.

I thank you for your attention.

Auf wiedersehen, goodbye, au revoir, adeus.

Muito obrigado, thank you very much.

Following the statements of the Members of the Parliament, President Barroso made the following closing remarks:

Mr President,

I should like to take up a number of the points raised by the previous speakers. Firstly, I believe that proof that we – and by “we” I mean the Commission of which I have had the honour of being Presidentare on the right track lies in the fact that the criticisms have come from the opposite ends of the spectrum, though often couched in the same terms, resolutely ignoring the difficulties and extraordinary challenges that we have had to face and failing to put forward any coherent response.

The truth is that we have been through possibly the worst economic and financial crisis we have seen since the countries of Europe began to come together and that it was not the European Union or Europe that spawned the crisis. This is what some defenders of national sovereignty, as they like to call themselves, do not or will not understand. It was not Europe that created excessive private debt or caused the financial sector to behave irresponsibly. Quite the opposite – this all took place under national scrutiny, or rather lack thereof. Europe is the answer. We now have one of the most ambitious regulatory and supervisory systems in the world, if not the most ambitious. In other words, saying that Europe is worse off because of the European Union is simply not true. It shows a complete lack of respect and a lack of intellectual rigour. Europe is not responsible for the financial crisis, which had its roots in the United States. Europe had its weaknesses, but what the European Union did was to respond. The blame for this does not lie with the European Union, and I believe this is something that all those who share the European ideal – be they at the left, right or centre of the political spectrum – should have the courage to state, because by remaining silent we will be reinforcing the populist rhetoric of the extreme right and extreme left.

I listened carefully to those of you who said that populism was on the rise and who laid the blame for this at the door of the European Union. Ladies and gentlemen, this is not true. It is abundantly clear that populism and xenophobia exist outside the European Union. Look at the anti-immigrant incidents that have taken place in Switzerland. Look at what happened in Norway when that terrorist killed all those young people because he was opposed to a multicultural Europe. Look at the Tea Party movement in the United States. Is Europe to blame for America’s Tea Party movement?

We are currently seeing an aggressive form of populism around the world, which espouses arguments from both the left and the right. Sometimes it is difficult to tell the difference. So to say the European Union is responsible for this shows a lack of intellectual rigour and a lack of political integrity. What we have to do, as Europeans, is to demonstrate that it was not Europe that caused the crisis or the public debt in the Member States. There was little that Europe could do when, for example, one Member State falsified its accounts. This is something Europe had to face. The first initiative of my second Commission was to ask the Member States to give us more powers to supervise national statistics, because in my first Commission this was rejected. And not by Greece. It was rejected by the big Member States, which were reluctant to hand more powers over to the European Union. So if we really want to have a debate, let us be quite clear and strict in terms of intellectual integrity and political candour.

Ladies and gentlemen, there is one thing that I would like to say to you with the greatest of conviction. The team that I have had the honour of heading has worked with enormous commitment and diligence, whilst always putting Europe’s interests first. There is something that I want to say to you, since this is a political assembly with a wealth of political dynamics, but where the emphasis is always on the common European good. My Commission was not made up of colleagues from the EPP, socialists or liberals. It was made up of people who worked for Europe. My party is the EPP and I am proud of that, but, as President of the Commission, my party is Europe and that is the message I wish to convey, in particular to the major forces of the pro-European centre-left and centre-right.  Differences must, of course, be aired, but they must not be allowed to weaken the pro-European camps. We cannot hand the extreme right or extreme left anything else on a plate. Pro-European forces must come together. They must have the courage to defend Europe. They must do so at national level, and not just here in Strasbourg. We need a major coalition of this nature for Europe because I believe that we have the strength to win the battles of the present and those of the future.

Thank you very much for your attention.

FACT SHEET: President Obama Announces New Actions To Strengthen Global Resilience To Climate Change And Launches Partnerships To Cut Carbon Pollution

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release

September 23, 2014

The U.S. Continues to Lead International Efforts to Combat Global Climate Change and Prepare for its Impacts

Today, at the United Nations Climate Summit in New York, President Obama announced a new set of tools to harness the unique scientific and technological capabilities of the United States to help vulnerable populations around the world strengthen their climate resilience.  The United States also announced its leadership and participation in more than a dozen new climate change partnerships launched at the Climate Summit. 

The tools for global resilience announced by the President include improved and extended extreme weather risk outlooks to help avoid loss of life and property; data, tools and services to enable countries to better prepare for the impacts of climate change, including a new release of global elevation data; and an announcement of a new public-private partnership to ensure that the climate data, tools, and products made available by U.S. technical agencies are useful to developing countries. The President also announced a new Executive Order requiring Federal agencies to factor climate resilience into the design of their international development programs and investments.

New international climate change partnerships in which the United States has played a key role in launching include the Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture, the Oil and Gas Methane Partnership, the Pilot Auction Facility for Methane and Climate Change Mitigation, and the Cities Climate Finance Leadership Alliance.

These actions build on the President’s Climate Action Plan, which includes unprecedented efforts by the United States to reduce carbon pollution, promote clean sources of energy that create jobs, and protect American communities from the impacts of climate change.

The Climate Action Plan is working. In 2012, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions fell to the lowest level in nearly two decades. Since the President took office, wind energy production has tripled, and solar energy has increased by a factor of ten. This summer, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed the first carbon pollution standards for existing power plants, which account for a third of U.S. carbon pollution. And the President is empowering state and local leaders to reduce carbon pollution and prepare for the impacts of climate change in their communities through initiatives including a $1 billion National Disaster Resilience Competition and the State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience.

Internationally, the United States continues to press for an ambitious, inclusive, and pragmatic global climate agreement in 2015, and intends to put forward a robust post-2020 climate commitment in the context of other major economies doing the same. Through our leadership of the Major Economies Forum and the Clean Energy Ministerial as well as our bilateral relationships, we continue to press the scientific and economic case for strong climate action. U.S. leadership has helped spur international action to address the health and climate impacts of short-lived climate pollutants, to launch free trade talks on environmental goods, and to cut donor country financial support for new coal-fired power plants.  Going forward, the United States will continue to help develop, launch, and implement practical, action-oriented international initiatives such as those announced at today’s U.N. Climate Summit.

New U.S. Actions to Strengthen Global Resilience to Climate Change

Executive Order on Climate-Resilient International Development

President Obama announced an Executive Order on Climate-Resilient International Development, requiring agencies to factor climate-resilience considerations systematically into the U.S. government’s international development work and to promote a similar approach with multilateral entities.   U.S. financial support for adaptation activities in developing countries has increased eightfold since 2009; such dedicated funding is critical.  At the same time, the magnitude of the challenge requires not just dedicated adaptation finance flows but also a broader, integrated approach.  Development investments in areas as diverse as eradicating malaria, building hydropower facilities, improving agricultural yields, and developing transportation systems will not be effective in the long term if they do not account for impacts such as shifting ranges of disease-carrying mosquitoes, changing water availability, or rising sea levels, thereby reducing the effectiveness of taxpayer money.  This new Executive Order will:

  • Improve the resilience of the Federal Government’s international development programs, projects, investments, overseas facilities, and other funding decisions through consideration of current and future climate-change impacts, as appropriate;
  • Share knowledge, data, tools, information, frameworks, and lessons learned in incorporating climate-resilience considerations; and
  • Complement efforts by the Federal Government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at home and globally.

Releasing Powerful New Data to Enable Planning for Resilience

To empower local authorities to better plan for the impacts of severe environmental changes such as drought, glacial retreat, flooding, landslides, coastal storm surges, agricultural stresses, and challenges concerning public health, today the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Geospatial-intelligence Agency (NGA), and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), as part of an ongoing commitment to open data and international data sharing through the inter-governmental Group on Earth Observations, will release a collection of higher-resolution elevation datasets for Africa. Datasets covering other global regions will be made available within one year, with the next release of data providing more accurate elevation information for Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean. Until now, elevation data for Africa were freely and publicly available only at 90-meter resolution. The datasets being released today, and during the course of the next year—which are based on data collected by sensors designed by an international partnership and carried on the U.S. Space Shuttle—resolve to 30-meters and will be used worldwide to improve environmental monitoring, climate change research including sea-level rise impact assessments, and local decision support. These datasets are being made available via a user-friendly interface on USGS’s Earth Explorer website. With a commitment from the Secure World Foundation, and in collaboration with the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites, USGS, NOAA, and NASA plan to offer online training and regional workshops to further enable users to take advantage of these data resources.

Developing New Outlooks for Extreme-Weather Risk

To reduce harm from extreme-weather events occurring throughout the world, the Obama Administration announced its intent to begin a coordinated U.S. effort, led by NOAA, to develop reliable extreme-weather risk outlooks on time horizons that are currently not available. This effort will initiate the planned development of new extreme-weather outlooks in the 15-30 day range, beyond the 14-day limit of current reliable weather forecasts and will explore producing information products for longer time-scales at which climate change influences risk.  Currently available weather and climate information from NOAA empowers decision-makers, communities, farmers, and business owners to make smart decisions as they plan and prepare for the future. This new effort will seek to increase the information available to these decision makers in the 15-30 day timeframe with new kinds of actionable information to use as they plan and prepare for the future. To kick off the effort this year, NOAA will begin issuing weekly 3-4 week precipitation outlooks and will extend its current extreme-heat index product from the current 6-to-10-days-out to 8-to-14-days-out, giving communities several additional days to prepare for potential life threatening heat waves.

Equipping Meteorologists in Developing Nations with the Latest Tools and Knowledge

To help connect meteorologists in developing nations with the best-available tools, knowledge, and information resources, NOAA will seek to significantly expand the reach of its highly successful international “Training Desk” program, which brings developing-country meteorologists to the United States for state-of-the-art training and education at NOAA’s National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center. Since 1992, more than 300 meteorologists from 35 nations have completed NOAA’s training desk program, helping both to build capacity at meteorological institutions in their home countries for climate prediction, monitoring, and assessments, and to feed local observational climate data back to NOAA upon returning to their home countries. This effort will increase the number of meteorologists from developing countries in Africa, the Caribbean, South America, and Southeast Asia who will participate in the training desks and will expand the curriculum from weather and climate to include the important water challenges (predicting how much, how little and what quality) that are now confronting the global community.

Launching a Public-Private Partnership on Climate Data and Information for Resilient Development

President Obama announced that the United States will develop and launch a new public-private partnership focused on connecting actionable climate science, data, tools, and training to decision-makers in developing countries. This partnership will enhance capacity within developing countries to assess impacts and vulnerabilities associated with climate change, boost resilience, and achieve their own development goals in the context of a changing climate. Building on the skills and investments of USAID’s climate change and development programming, including leveraging the newly announced Global Resilience Partnership, expertise from international and scientific agencies, including the agencies of the U.S. Global Change Research Program; and the innovation of U.S. universities, NGOs, and the private sector, this new partnership will:

  • Make existing climate data, scientific information, outlooks, tools, and services more accessible to decision-makers around the world;
  • Identify and address targeted climate information and capacity gaps, including by providing targeted training opportunities;
  • Create a global community of practice that links climate data, climate change adaptation efforts, and international development; and
  • Commit to the timely development of new products to support decision-making targeted at the needs of specific climate-vulnerable countries.

Multi-Stakeholder Initiatives Launched at the Climate Summit with U.S. Leadership

The Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture

The United States is joining the Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture as a founding member.  The Alliance brings together governments, businesses, farmers’ organizations, civil society groups, research bodies and intergovernmental entities to address food security in the face of climate change. The United States will bring its existing food security and climate programs to this multi-stakeholder effort, including:

  • Feed the Future – the U.S. Presidential initiative for food security, invests in technologies to deliver drought tolerant seeds, fertilizer and water efficiency technologies, and other tools to help farmers become more climate-smart in achieving its objectives of inclusive agricultural sector growth and improved nutrition.
  • The Agriculture Initiative of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) – the United States co-chairs CCAC’s Agriculture Initiative, which seeks to reduce methane and black carbon emissions while promoting agricultural livelihoods and advancing broader climate change objectives on adaptation and mitigation.
  • The Department of Agriculture’s Regional Climate Hubs will deliver information to American farmers, ranchers and forest landowners to help them adapt to climate change and weather variability.

Launch of CCAC Oil and Gas Methane Partnership

The United States has played an integral role in launching the Oil and Gas Methane Partnership, an innovative public-private initiative bringing together governments, leading oil and gas companies, and other stakeholders in a partnership focused on cost-effective reduction of methane emissions.  The Partnership, an initiative of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC), provides involved companies with a systematic, cost-effective approach for reducing their methane emissions and for credibly demonstrating to stakeholders the impacts of their actions.

Global Green Freight Action Plan

The United States is helping to lead the development and implementation of a Global Green Freight Action Plan together with over 20 countries plus NGOs, international organizations, and companies.  This effort will result in fuel and cost savings for businesses and consumers as well as emission reductions of climate and air pollutants such as black carbon, carbon dioxide, and particulate matter.

Indonesia Palm Oil Pledge

The United States applauded the signing of the landmark Indonesia Palm Oil Pledge by the CEOs of Cargill, Asian Agri, Golden Agri-Resources, Wilmar, and the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.  This Pledge includes industry-leading benchmarks such as proactive government engagement on policy reform and a principle of no planting on peat lands, and go beyond the companies’ existing sustainability commitments.  By applying these principles to third-party suppliers and covering the signatories’ operations worldwide, these companies are creating best practices for their industry.  The U.S. Government looks forward to working with the signatories, civil society and the Government of Indonesia to follow and promote implementation of the Pledge.

Pilot Auction Facility (PAF) for Methane and Climate Change Mitigation

The United States will announce the intention to provide a $15 million contribution to the Pilot Auction Facility for Methane and Climate Change Mitigation (PAF), an innovative, World Bank-managed climate finance instrument that will use auctions to maximize the efficiency of public resources for climate change mitigation.  The PAF will pioneer an innovative, results-based climate finance model with potential to support low-carbon investment in ways that provide better value and lower risk for the taxpayer.  The United States drove this concept forward from the time of our G8 presidency in 2012 to its launch by the World Bank this month.

Power Africa Cooperation Agreement with Sustainable Energy for All Initiative

The United States will sign a Cooperation Understanding Agreement with the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) Initiative to further strengthen collaboration between the President’s Power Africa Initiative and the UN- and World Bank-led SE4All activities in Africa.  Building on Power Africa’s Beyond the Grid component, the cooperation will focus on expanded energy access, as well as development of renewable energy projects.  At the August 2014 U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit, President Obama announced new aggregate goals for Power Africa to add 60 million new electricity connections and 30,000 megawatts of clean energy generation in Africa.  Working with the countries on investment strategies and reducing barriers to project development will be a high priority of the collaboration.

The Cities Climate Finance Leadership Alliance

The United States is a founding member of the Cities Climate Finance Leadership Alliance, a new initiative aimed at helping cities around the world access financial tools for low carbon, climate resilient infrastructure.  The Alliance will bring together cities, national governments, financial institutions, NGOs, and other stakeholders.  The United States will contribute experience, best practice and lessons learned from ongoing efforts such as the National Disaster Resilience Competition and Climate Resilient Transportation System.

National/Subnational Cooperation on Climate Change

Enhanced cooperation and coordination among national and subnational levels of government is essential to forge coherent, effective, and efficient responses to climate change.  The United States has been at the leading edge of efforts to connect these national and subnational efforts through its State, Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience and other programs, and announced a range of initiatives at the Climate Summit including:

Climate Action Champions – The Climate Action Champions initiative will recognize local and tribal government entities that are leading emission reductions and climate resilience efforts domestically. The initiative will enhance opportunities for financial and technical assistance, as well as facilitated peer-to-peer networking and mentorship, to support and advance their climate mitigation and resilience objectives.

Public Transportation Resilience Projects – The U.S. Federal Transit Administration announced the awarding of nearly $3.6 billion for climate resilient transportation infrastructure projects in the states impacted by Hurricane Sandy that were competitively selected.

Federal-Tribal Climate Resilience Partnership The Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs launched a new $10 million program for delivering adaptation training.

First Green Guaranties Issued by the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC)

By providing “Green Guaranties,” OPIC (the U.S. government’s development finance institution) joins other public and private sector institutions in supporting climate-friendly investments.  OPIC’s first Green Guaranties were offered to eligible U.S. investors in the domestic debt capital markets on September 17, 2014.  These U.S. government-guaranteed certificates of participation adhere to the Green Bond Principles of 2014, which have been collaboratively developed with the guidance of leading capital markets issuers, investors, underwriters and environmental groups.  The placement enables OPIC to boost an asset class that is rapidly becoming an attractive investment for generating both social and financial returns.  Proceeds raised under these Green Guaranties will total an initial $47 million to be deployed in the construction of the Luz del Norte solar project in Chile – which, when completed, will be the largest photovoltaic project in Latin America. 

Phasing down Climate-Potent Hydrofluorocarbons

Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are potent greenhouse gases used in refrigerators, air conditioners, and other industrial applications as replacements for ozone-depleting substances.  At the Climate Summit, a large group of governments and civil society partners agreed to support phasing down consumption and production of HFCs through a Montreal Protocol amendment; promoting public procurement of climate-friendly alternatives to high-GWP HFCs; and welcoming new private sector led initiatives aimed at reducing HFC emissions, including a Global Cold Food Chain Council, and a Global Refrigerant Management Initiative.  This summer, EPA proposed two new rules under the Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program that would smooth transition to climate-friendly alternatives to HFCs in the United States by expanding the list of acceptable alternatives and limiting use of some of the most harmful HFCs where lower risk alternatives are available.  Last week, the Obama Administration also announced new private sector commitments and executive actions that will reduce the equivalent of 700 million metric tons of carbon pollution globally through 2025.  Companies committed to introducing new climate-friendly alternatives, transitioning production lines and cold food chain equipment – the equipment that brings food from farm to market – away from potent HFCs.

City Action to Reduce Methane and Black Carbon from Municipal Solid Waste

The United States, in cooperation with over 60 country, city, non-government, and private sector partners, is taking action to reduce harmful methane and black carbon from municipal solid waste through a global city network that seeks to catalyse action in 1,000 cities by 2020.  The United States is providing direct technical assistance to cities to improve waste and emissions data, design waste policies and programs, and conduct project studies.  American cities like San Diego and San Francisco are also doing their share by building partnerships with cities overseas to help them apply our world-class practices in their own cities. 

U.S. Leadership on Forest Preservation

The United States joined other governments, the private sector, civil society, and indigenous peoples organizations in signing the New York Declaration on Forests.  Supporting the Declaration reaffirms the ongoing commitment of the United States to protecting the world’s forests and restoring degraded lands, including our pledge to restore 15 million hectares (ha) of forest land domestically as our contribution to the Bonn Challenge global goal to restore 150 million ha of forests and degraded lands by 2020.  The United States government has committed over $1.3 billion to support REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) since 2010.  The United States was a co-founder of the BioCarbon Fund Initiative for Sustainable Forest Landscapes (ISFL), which seeks to promote reduced greenhouse gas emissions from the land sector, from REDD+, and from sustainable agriculture, as well as smarter land-use planning, policies and practices.  The ISFL co-founders announced at the Climate Summit that they have agreed to establish the first two large-scale, public-private programs in the Oromia Regional State of Ethiopia and the Luangwa Valley of Zambia.

New International Energy Partnerships

At the Climate Summit and SE4All events in New York, the United States announced its support for three group initiatives:

  • The Africa Clean Energy Corridor is a regional project in East Africa aimed at accelerating renewable energy development and complements the Administration’s Power Africa initiative; 
  • A coalition of foundations and private companies is launching “energy efficiency accelerators” to pursue policy reforms and commercialization of new technologies in buildings, appliances and lighting, and transport.  The United States will support these accelerators through the Clean Energy Ministerial’s (CEM) Clean Energy Solutions Center and other CEM initiatives; and
  • The SIDS Lighthouse Initiative complements U.S. efforts in Hawaii and the Virgin Islands and the new Caribbean Energy Security Initiative.  

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation

11:00 A.M. EDT

THE WASHINGTON FOREIGN PRESS CENTER, WASHINGTON, D.C.

MR. WANG: Thank you, and thanks for the moon cake. Just kidding. Anyway, I just came back, as you know, from SOM3 in Beijing where we spent a total of actually almost two weeks, including a lot of sort of working group level meetings. And then – so after SOM3 we, as you know, will have a whole series of ministerials leading up to the leaders meeting in November. And so in fact right now in Xiamen they’re doing the oceans ministerial. So it’s a meeting at the ministerial level on oceans issues, and then there will be about six or seven ministerials. I’ll be going back to China in – this weekend. So I’m not sure where I am actually right now. But I’ll be going back to Beijing, and then there’s a human resource development ministerial in Hanoi, in Vietnam. So I go there to that ministerial, and then to the Philippines.

As you know, the Philippines is the host next year for APEC. So they’re very, very eager to begin to prepare for next year’s agenda and how we can follow through from this year. So I’ll be going to the Philippines and meeting with my counterparts there. And then after that I’m going to go to Hong Kong and have some meetings there, and then go to Macao for the tourism ministerial. So that’s September 13th – and then come back. So I’ll be on the road for about two weeks.

And following that, I’ll probably stay in Washington as much as I can, because we start preparing for the actual leaders meeting, and so there will be a lot of demands in terms of – obviously, President Obama is definitely going. That’s what I understand. And we probably will have not just President Obama, but of course, Secretary Kerry, as well as USTR Mike Froman. But this year we may even have, I understand, possibly – well, clearly – Commerce Secretary Pritzker, possibly Agricultural Secretary Vilsack, as well, and maybe one or two other secretaries. So it’ll be a fairly big delegation from the United States going to Beijing in November. So a lot of preparation.

But in the run-up to that we also have a finance ministerial, we’ll have an agricultural ministerial – I think both in Beijing – and then I’m not sure if you know the actual leaders schedule, but it begins in Beijing on the fifth and the sixth, which is the senior officials (SOM) meeting – the fifth and the sixth. And then Secretary Kerry and Mike Froman will do their ministerials – APEC ministerials – on the seventh and the eighth, and then the President and other leaders will arrive on the 10th – and basically it’s the 10th and 11th in Beijing.

And then I think, as you all know, I think President Obama will be staying behind in Beijing for a day on the 12th, after which he heads out to Burma for the EAS – the East Asia Summit – and then he heads to Brisbane in Australia for the G20 – the 15th and the 16th.

So that’s the general schedule of the coming couple months. Of course, I’m involved primarily in APEC, not in the EAS or the G20. Now let me just make a couple of comments about the substance of APEC as we’re moving towards the leaders week. And then I’ll try to leave a lot of time for questions that you all have.

Now on the substance, I think at my last briefing we talked about essentially the agenda for the APEC year from the Chinese perspective, and you have basically three pillars. The one – the first pillar is the trade and investment pillar, and then the second one is what the Chinese call the innovation, reform, and growth pillar. But in general, those are the set of issues that are related to how we sustain economic growth in the region. So issues of the environment, issues of food security, heath security, women empowerment, internet, urbanization, all of those issues that are important in sustaining growth – so not just growing but sustaining it in a way that would allow it to grow, obviously, in a healthy fashion. And the third pillar, as you all know, is the connectivity pillar. Essentially, there we have a whole set of issues related to trying to increase the flow of people and goods throughout the APEC economy, so including cross-border education, physical infrastructure, regulatory convergence, things of that nature. So that’s the third pillar.

And I’m happy to say that SOM3 is usually the most important SOM meeting, the senior official meeting, because it’s the last one before the leaders actually meet. So we really have to get everything together to make sure that we don’t have a lot of problems during the leaders week. We don’t want to spend a lot of time arguing over things, debating things at the last meeting. So this meeting is very important. And the U.S. had about 200 delegation members go to the SOM3, and when I say delegation I mean it fairly loosely. We had about a hundred from the private sector going, and then a hundred from the different agencies within the U.S. Government going. So as you know, it’s not just the State Department. We have people from Homeland Security; people from Agriculture; people from Commerce, of course; USTR, Transportation; et cetera. So a lot of – Department of Justice, because this year we focused a lot on anti-corruption, so we had people from there attend as well. And so a very big meeting.

And I’m happy to say that this year I can honestly say we really made good progress at the SOM3 meeting with the Chinese host. Very well organized. We made progress across the three pillars that I just talked about.

On the first pillar, let me just say that, as you all know already, the Chinese are very focused on the – on, of course, the large FTAAP, the free trade area of the Asia-Pacific. And so we had good discussions on that, and hopefully by the time our leaders get together, we should be able to actually launch the roadmap for FTAAP for the free trade area. We will have, essentially, the roadmap that would include a lot of events that we’ll be doing – activities we’ll be doing that would include information-sharing, it would include capacity-building, it would include, finally, an analytical study of how we’re going to move towards a free trade area of the Asia-Pacific, what we call FTAAP for short.

So that’s something, of course, the Chinese are very much focused on launching this year in Beijing. And again, we had good discussions, and I think we will have a good launch in November. And we did a few – quite a few other things in this trade investment area, including beginning to look at services, access to services market in the region within APEC – for example, manufacturing-related services that the Japanese and Australians both proposed and we cosponsored.

So we’re essentially – the point is that we’re moving away from – not away from, but from sort of focusing on goods, the liberalizations on tariffs and so on, to the services market. And that’s what we call a global supply chain. And we’re also looking at moving into the environmental services area – trying to open access to environmental services in each of these markets where we can actually expand the flow of services in this area.

And so in that area – again, there’s a long list – as most of you know, APEC is a very broad, broad sort of body of issues that we deal with. So apart from that, in the sustainable growth area, I think I spoke to a number of local press people in Beijing. And I actually arrived fairly early in Beijing because there was a very high level workshop on anticorruption. And the U.S. and China are working very closely together in this area. And also, there was the first meeting of the anticorruption and transparency network, and the ambassador, Ambassador Baucus attended that one. The minister for supervision, by the way, attended the first one – the high level workshop on anticorruption. Huang Shuxian, the minister of supervision, opened the meeting itself, and it was a very good meeting.

Again, I learned a lot personally from that meeting, where a lot of private sector companies, people – law enforcement officials from different economies spoke. And at the first meeting of the ACT network – this is a network of law enforcement officials, essentially – first meeting of this group. And Ambassador Baucus, our ambassador in Beijing, delivered opening remarks at that, as well as a number of others. And the Vice Minister for Supervision Fu Kui was there as well throughout the meeting.

So it was a very useful meeting because the whole purpose of this ACT-NET is to get all of the law enforcement officials who are involved in anti-bribery in the APEC region together to try to begin a process of information sharing among the different economies on bribery cases that essentially cross the border within APEC, and to also share best practices on how we do things, so that we can tackle this issue more seriously and more effectively, and also, essentially, to bring them together to also find out what the various regulations are within each economy. For example, the U.S. has a different set of laws and regulations regarding bribery cases, and also asset recovery regulations. So this would be a good chance for law enforcement officials to know about the particular regulations and rules in different economies. So this is the first step towards that, and so we hope that this will bring in greater cooperation.

But beyond this issue, we also touched on a whole range of issues, as I mentioned earlier. The U.S., for example, is still very much – from the year we hosted in 2011 – very much focused on trying to increase women-empowerment in the economy. In other words, how do we provide greater opportunities for women to access finance markets and to also be more involved in the higher levels of management within different companies in different countries?

This was, of course, also not just a U.S. initiative, but also very much led by Japan because, as you know, Abe and women-omics, is very, very concerned about sort of the aging Japanese society and how you have to utilize more the talents that you have within Japan, within your society, and how to essentially elevate and expand the role of women, which means you have to deal with sort of family friendly practices within companies. So the Japanese, for example, have a proposal where they will – they’ve asked all of different APEC economies to nominate five companies from each economy that have best practices in terms of how they promote and facilitate the role of women in their companies by producing family friendly policies on health, on healthcare, and so on.

So we focused on that as well in SOM3. Again, we also had, essentially, health security issues that we focused on. China, as a host, sponsored two particular sessions that I attended as well, that all the senior officials attended, and the internet economy was one of them. So the idea now is all of our societies are changing so quickly and the role of the internet is clearly very, very significant, so we invited people from Alibaba, Baidu. From the U.S. we invited Uber. Do you know what Uber is? Yeah, it’s sort of taxi cabs – not quite taxi cab, but it’s a service. And I actually never knew what Uber is until this summer. But the Uber person came, and they actually have now Uber service in China. So if you have a problem in China, you can go onto this – I guess whatever you have, an app that you have for Uber, but they’re expanding quite a bit.

And so the point there is that they were trying to show how internet can be used to really – as an innovation – to actually do a lot of things. For example, a lot of small businesses that cannot afford big buildings and cannot compete with the CEOs from big companies, can actually use the internet to really quickly link, organize, do business. And so it could also be used to service a lot of the vulnerable groups within societies that they have access to the internet. So a very, very, very useful seminar workshop with discussion afterwards.

And the Chinese also hosted another one on urbanization in this area. China, as you know, and a lot of other countries continue to urbanize. And so we had presentations from Korea, from Japan, from China on different ways of urbanizing in an environmentally friendly fashion, and how important it is to conserve energy, to design – plan the city in a way that would be efficient and healthy for urbanized growth. On the U.S. part, I spoke a little bit about how in the U.S., we already are fairly urban, but how, for example, in New York City, when you go now to New York City, you can find that even the older cities, there are different ways that businesses have started and communities and neighborhoods have started to make it more vibrant by essentially doing pedestrians’ walks and then urging businesses to get together to sort of make more vibrant different neighborhoods within an old city. And so there are many ways of dealing with urbanization, but it’s now a very major issue for a lot of countries. And so we’re trying to share best practices, trying to find out how we can work together to help urbanization proceed in a healthy fashion there. So those are some areas and if you have questions about this area, we can talk about it more later on.

In the last pillar, on connectivity, we talked, of course, about a number of issues in terms of infrastructure, physical infrastructure development, the need for investment in physical infrastructure. But mostly we spent almost a few hours on what we called a connectivity blueprint. So the senior officials earlier in the year asked the APEC secretariat to produce a blueprint on connectivity. In other words, how do we plan to move ahead to connect the APEC economies more closely together in all of these different areas? And underneath the connectivity blueprint, we have another three pillars.

And the three pillars are: physical; and the second one’s regulatory convergence – we’re trying to get regulations more uniform and more coordinated; and then people-to-people, so cross-border education, tourism, travel, the ABTC card, the APEC business travel card, and so on. So we discussed the blueprint at length and we set targets wherein, let’s say by 2025 – we haven’t decided on the actual date yet, but we set targets where we are trying to, let’s say, double the number of people-flow among the APEC economies, or tourism, cross-border education, trying to increase the number of cross-border students studying in different economies. And so we hopefully will be able to complete the blueprint and as a way of moving forward in terms of connectivity and produce this for the leaders week in November.

And let me just add one last thing. One of our major initiatives – one of the United States, supported by eight other economies – is to actually create what we call an APEC scholarship and internship initiative. And by this what we mean is that we’re getting a number of economies to cosponsor scholarships for students; for example, students from the developing APEC economies to be able to study in another economy on a scholarship if they can’t afford it. So I think we had a very good response. This proposal was made earlier and at SOM2 we had a very good response. For example, Chinese Taipei, I believe, will come up with some 20, 25 or so scholarships, where they will provide scholarships for people to go to Taiwan to study. And I know that China also will have quite a number of scholarships that they will be proposing at the end of the year in November.

Australia – very, very positive. They not only are trying to invite people to go to Australia to study on scholarships, but they’re also trying to encourage Australians, young Australians to go abroad to other parts of Asia, to learn more of the culture, learn the educational system, and so on. And in the U.S. we’re proposing to have a number of companies offer internships that will allow and help students from various APEC economies to come to the United States or to go to some of the companies in the region to intern in, let’s say for example in our case, the APEC members – Caterpillar, Eli Lilly, Qualcomm – will be offering sort of internships or scholarships to encourage, again, more cross-border education.

So I think I’ve gone on enough. Is it 10-15 minutes or so already?

MODERATOR: Yeah, it’s about 20.

MR. WANG: Yeah. So what I’ll do now is just turn to you for questions, and I’ll be glad to answer – and she’ll – she said she’ll select who – I don’t get to pick. Thanks. (Laughter.)

MODERATOR: So just remember, again, wait for the microphones and say who you are and your outlet, please. We’ll start with you.

QUESTION: Thank you, Dr. Wang. Yun Zou with China Central TV, CCTV. Well, my question is that during the senior official meeting, both China and United States has expressed your willingness to work together in fighting the corruption, but we all know that by no means that will be an easy task, because, as you just said, that different countries has their own different interpretation of corruption and also has their own legal system. So I’m just curious that under this agreement, what kind of rules will all the countries abide by and who will mainly chair this agreement? Thank you.

MR. WANG: Okay. Well, first of all, in terms of the actual organization itself, it’s not so much trying to arrive at one rule, because we all know that we have very different political, legal systems. It’s really more to try to understand what each country’s rules and regulations are, so by understanding that – for example, if you – let’s say you had somebody cross a border. If somebody, let’s say, left China or left U.S. to go somewhere else with illegal funds, whatnot, then what you’d need to know – for example, the Chinese officials need to know is if you want to get somebody back to China or their illegally-obtained funds, you need to know what U.S. regulations are, what kind of evidence is needed to be able to actually get that person back or to recover the funds.

So it’s not an attempt to make everybody have one rule or law, because that’s going to be impossible. But it’s more to understand what the requirements are. So in fact, from this meeting that we had of the ACT Net, we produced, to begin with, a directory of all of the offices and the people in charge of the offices in the different economies. So, for example, if you have – if someone went to Malaysia and you have a case in Malaysia, then you can open up the book, essentially, and you know who the responsible offices are and the people are, then you can contact them to begin with. And then we also are producing a guidebook on the asset recovery process. So then this guidebook will have in it, for example, the process or procedures in the United States for recovering assets that are essentially stolen from another country and in the United States. So that’s the purpose of the ACT Network, and it’s not to really come up with one rule.

The other thing, of course, is to exchange best practices. So one of the major goals is to really have cross-border cooperation on assets or people that go cross-border, but also it’s really to learn about how you do it within your own country as well. So in our own country, how we deal with bribery and how you deal with it in other systems. So one of the important things we hope – again, it’s not done yet, but by the end of the year – we hope to have our leaders endorse a set of – and this is more like what you were saying – actually endorse a set of principles on anti-bribery that is very similar, for example, to the ones in OECD. So OECD has anti-bribery principles in terms of making sure that there’s a way of detecting and responding to sort of bribery cases.

So hopefully by the end of the year we will actually have – the U.S. actually drafted a sort of APEC principles on anti-bribery and enforcement of anti-bribery laws. And so we’re hoping that that will then be adopted by the different economies, and this will be one set that APEC economies will then be able to subscribe to and agree to. So you’re welcome.

MODERATOR: Yes, right up here.

QUESTION: Thank you, Dr. Wang, for holding this press conference. Ching-Yi Chang, Shanghai Media Group. I’d like to know, does President Obama expect to sign bilateral investment agreement with China during his trip to Beijing? And also, is there any change of the view of the United States on China’s market economy status, especially after China establishes its free trade zone? Thank you.

MR. WANG: Sure. I honestly don’t really follow that very closely, the BIT. Actually, it’s not a BIA, it’s a BIT – Bilateral Investment Treaty – if it’s between China and the United States. I do know that they’re having about three or four meetings a year, either in Beijing or in the U.S., on the Bilateral Investment Treaty. But I don’t know at what state it is at this point. But my guess is – just in terms of my interaction with my China desk counterparts and all that, and USTR – is that it won’t be at APEC. It’s still a couple years down the line, is my guess, so it won’t be that fast.

But again, I may be wrong. But I don’t expect that we are coming anywhere close this year to actually completing it. We’re exchanging negative lists, for example. There’s a list that the Chinese have that I know is very long from the U.S. perspective, and so we’re still negotiating that. And so it’ll take a while.

Now on the question of market status, again, I know of that more from my job when I was a deputy chief of mission in Beijing. And so I’ve been following that negotiation as well as the BIT. And that one, I believe, we’re still a long way off. But again, I would defer to perhaps others who are more current on this. But I think at this point, if it continues, I think the target date is 2016. So obviously, what China does in terms of its Shanghai pilot zone and so on would help, but I think we’re still a long way off from actually coming up with a change in the sort of market status for China.

MODERATOR: Okay. Yeah, right up here.

MR. WANG: You should give a badge to the people in the back as well.

MODERATOR: I will. (Laughter.)

MR. WANG: We’ve got three people in front.

MODERATOR: Yes.

QUESTION: Thank you very – thank you. Thank you very much, Dr. Wang. My name is Atsushi Okudera from Asahi Shimbun, the Japanese newspaper. I’d like to ask about U.S.-China bilateral relationship. This is not a direct – the APEC meeting, but are you planning to have a bilateral meeting, summit meeting, between President Xi Jinping and President Obama before or after the APEC meeting? And if you have, what kind of style? As you know, Chinese Councilor Yang Jiechi last year announced United States and China has agreed next time they going to have a same time of – same style of —

MR. WANG: Sunnyland.

QUESTION: Freestyle – like Sunnyland. So this time are you going to have same kind of – same style of summit meeting in Beijing or other cities? And if you have, what is the point of this time’s summit meeting, particularly in terms of new model of major power relations? They – both country talking about lots of times, but we still don’t understand. It is not very clear. I know this is for avoiding conflict —

MR. WANG: Right.

QUESTION: — or talking very freely, frankly. But actually, there is lots of differences on South China Sea and East China Sea and cyber problem. So what is the point this time? Thanks.

MR. WANG: Okay. Yeah, as I mentioned at the very beginning, after the leaders meeting is finished, the 10th and 11th, President Obama will stay behind in Beijing on the 12th, and so that’s where the bilateral meetings will be held between China and the United States. Some of the questions you’ve asked actually are probably best answered by the Chinese. We don’t know exactly what the Chinese have planned for the 12th in terms of how they want to do the bilateral at this stage, so I think that’s still in the process of discussion.

But obviously, I’ve heard a lot of comments about how effective it is to actually have smaller meetings where you can actually talk about issues in a more personal way, and I think knowing President Obama’s style and, of course, from the U.S. point of view, we did Sunnyland, and so we think that that’s an effective way of doing things. But – and of course, the Chinese seem to be receptive to that, but exactly what they have planned, we don’t really know at this stage whether it’ll be Beijing, whether it’ll be outside somewhere else. But that’s something I think that the Chinese are discussing with us, but not yet decided, I believe.

And in terms of the actual – the goal and the great – the major power relationship, again – actually, that’s a term that the Chinese came up with, not the U.S. So I’m not sure whether we subscribe completely to the exact interpretation of that. It’s something that Xi Jinping had sort of discussed several times, announced several times. That’s what he wants. But to me, it really – I’m not sure what new style model we have, but to me, it’s really simple.

And essentially, between any two countries – not just China and the United States – is first of all, you have to expand the areas of cooperation as much as you can, whether it’s on trade or whether it’s people-to-people, cultural, whatever it is. So you expand as much as you can the positive side of the relationship. That’s one thing. And the second point is then you manage the differences, because you will have differences, and some more than others, but between China and the United States, we certainly have differences that – some of the things you cited on cyber, on a number of other issues. But – so I would say you try to manage them in a way that would not make it uncontrollable or unmanageable, I guess. So that’s the bottom line.

So we have quite a number of issues between U.S. and China, and so far I think we’ve been able to manage them. So I think the relationship between U.S. and China will essentially be one in which we continue to – on human rights, on cyber or whatever else – we continue to have differences. We need to manage those. And then on the other side, within APEC for example but beyond APEC, we have a lot of, like, CPE, the sort of people-to-people exchange. We’ll continue to expand it as much as possible, and hopefully, the positive side will, in the long term, win out. So that’s what I see as the power relationship that we have.

MODERATOR: The gentleman right here.

QUESTION: Thank you, Dr. Wang. Wait, hello? Yeah. Thank you, Dr. Wang. Xiaoyang Xia, reporter from Wen Hui daily, Shanghai, China. You mentioned that China as a host has set out three pillars for this year’s APEC. The question is: Does the U.S. quite agree with those pillars or themes? And do you have any differences? And what are U.S. priorities for this APEC which you want mostly to achieve?

And secondly, you mentioned under the third pillar the main – one of the main focus is the infrastructure building, and what’s your opinion or what’s U.S. position on the Chinese proposal for the establishment of a Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank? Thank you.

MR. WANG: Yeah. We have no problems at all with the three pillars that the Chinese have proposed because they’re fairly broad, so how can you disagree with trade and investment, or how can you disagree with sustainable growth and how can you disagree with connectivity?

The question, then, of course, underneath them will be working on all of these different issues that are sort of different priorities – some for the Chinese, some for the Japanese, Koreans, Vietnamese, et cetera, and ours. So no disagreement; we’ve been working very well under those three pillars. In terms of U.S. priorities, I mentioned already at some length the question of anticorruption, and I think that’s a joint priority for the U.S. and for China because – and not only that, actually. This priority is actually quite broad, because if you look around the APEC region, whether it’s Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Mexico, Peru, corruption is a big problem. It’s a pervasive problem in all these economies.

And so the question is: How do you continue to sustain growth without dealing with this issue? Because it essentially produces unfair sort of disparity of wealth and no rule of law, so in the long term, you really have to deal with it. That’s why it’s a very high priority for the United States, and I think also for China, clearly, and for the other economies. So that’s a very high priority.

We’re also very concerned – I think especially Secretary Kerry and President Obama – about the environment. And I think China, Vietnam, Indonesia, others are also because, for example, rapid growth in China over the last 20 or 30 years has produced an environment which is really quite hazardous to your health in terms of air, in terms of water, food security – food safety, I should say, not so much food security but food safety. So we all know that you can grow very quickly, but to sustain it and to actually make it healthy for your own people, you have to really focus on the environmental impact of what you’re doing.

So for example, right now, as mentioned earlier, oceans – we’re having an oceans ministerial right now in Xiamen in China. And so beyond air and beyond water and so on, we’re going into the oceans, where so much of the ocean now has marine debris. So people throw things overboard when they’re in ships, they throw them from the land, they dump it out there, and it’s destroying a lot of the oceans that we have. And again, for the moment, we don’t know that, but in the long term, we’re going to rely on the ocean – the big Pacific Ocean and others. So we hope that we’ll be able to get countries within APEC at this point to begin to work on protected marine areas to begin with, and then sustainable fisheries – not to overfish, not to do illegal fishing or unregulated fishing, because if you were to do over-excessive fishing, then essentially you’re going to be drying out the resources that you need in the future. So the environmental issues are very important, and one of our major U.S. initiatives apart from the oceans – as you know, we did an Oceans Conference here, Kerry did one, inviting global members here. So we’re trying to use some of that – the action plan – we table it at – in SOM3, this action plan from the Oceans Conference. And we’re hoping to use some of that now in the oceans ministerial in Xiamen to try to get APEC to support these various principles.

And beyond the environment, I mentioned already that women is a very high priority for us, because again, we think it’s not only the right thing to do to include women in inclusive growth, but it’s also good for the economy, for your development to be able to utilize all the talent that you have within your society. And so that’s a very high priority for us. So in concrete terms, what the U.S. has done in this area is we tabled, for example, a study that we have done on trying to come up with indicators for women participation in the economy as a whole. So in other words, for example, how many women – what percentage of women are in management positions, what percentage of women have access to finance, what percent of women essentially have access to markets.

So we’re trying to come up with an indicator – we already have done the study; we have come up with 26 indicators. And what we’re trying to do now is get the economies next year to begin to measure exactly where women are in terms of participation in the economy. And once you have that measure as a baseline, then we’ll begin to set targets and see where we’re failing – in other words, why are women so – have no access to finance in certain countries, let’s say, and try to work on improving that. And we’ll set targets and to move ahead.

So we’ve done this study, we hope that this will endorsed – the indicators will be endorsed by the leaders, and then we will then hopefully have the leaders encourage all the economies to begin measuring, and then from there move on to targets in the coming years. And —

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MR. WANG: Yeah. The last one, on infrastructure – there a lot more priorities. I have about a list of ten priorities more. But let me just go directly to the infrastructure issue. I think most of you are aware of the Chinese proposal on the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. And we have been in touch with China and met with Chinese leaders – Jin Liqun will be, of course, the head of that bank, we understand. We’ve had discussions on that. And there we’ve been very clear about what our concerns are. And our concerns are just that this proposal for this AIIB, that they’re able to meet the various standards of other multilateral development banks – meaning essentially, to begin with, the projects should take into consideration safeguards on the environment.

So when you start an infrastructure project, you have to make sure that you look at the environmental impact of that project, or labor, and what kind of labor you use, what conditions under which they work. That’s one thing. Governance, transparency – meaning that if you’re in construction you’re talking about large sums of money. How should it be dealt with in terms of transparency, governance so there’s no corruption? We go back to the issue of corruption. So our main concerns are that, and we’ve conveyed these concerns to China, and we hope that they can be addressed.

QUESTION: Thank you. Kunihiko Yasue from Yomiuri Shimbun.

MR. WANG: Yeah. Just a little softer, but yeah.

QUESTION: As for FTAAP, Trans-Pacific Partnership is a part of FTAAP. And as to Trans-Pacific Partnership —

MR. WANG: TPP.

QUESTION: — President Obama in July said he hopes to get something which is public and the Congress can look at by the time he visit Asia in November. So are there any possibility or a plan that the latest meeting for TPP negotiation will be held in the sideline of APEC latest meeting like last year?

MR. WANG: Okay. Let me first correct you on one thing. I don’t think that APEC – I don’t think that there were TPP negotiations per se on the sidelines of APEC. There were meetings, but there were not negotiations. In other words, APEC, heads of APEC in Bali when I was there last year, for example, the TPP leaders got together for sort of a short discussion, but it was not a negotiation. So that’s a very different thing. On the TPP issue, obviously the key player in the United States is USTR. So we’re not actually negotiating within APEC or involving negotiations on TPP within APEC, as you know.

And so I don’t really know exactly what status it’s in right now. Obviously, last year in Bali we were hoping it could be completed by around that time. And obviously, we’re working very hard this year and understand good progress has been made, especially after the various meetings in Japan on market access. But again, on the specifics of the negotiations, I’m not really privy to it so I don’t know how far along it is. All I know is that every time I turn around to talk to Wendy and others they’re off somewhere – or Mike Froman – they’re off somewhere negotiating it or talking somewhere.

So all I can say is I think we’re making progress, but I don’t know what will happen by the end of the year.

MODERATOR: I’d like to offer an opportunity to New York. New York, can you hear me?

QUESTION: Yeah. This is Shen with China Business Network and from New York. And it is good morning, Dr. Wang.

MR. WANG: Good morning.

QUESTION: And you said President Obama and President Xi Jinping will hold a meeting during APEC like one last year. And what will be the possible topics that interest to leaders? And will the issues about the South China Sea and the Ukraine (ph) will be brought to the meeting? Thank you.

MR. WANG: Okay. I’m not sure if I understood everything you said clearly. Well, President Obama did not go to Bali last year, so I don’t know. They didn’t meet in Bali. I’m not sure if that’s what you said earlier, but in any case that’s not important.

I think within APEC, as far as I know, in the APEC context we will not be dealing with some of the political issues you talked about. At the bilateral I think these topics will probably come up. So on the 12th, I guess whatever differences we have or issues we have between China and the United States probably will come up, it’s my guess, at the bilateral on the 12th. But within APEC it’s not certainly part of the topic.

I’m not sure if I got your question entirely. I wanted to give you another chance to say something. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Okay. I just want to say whether this topic whether the issue is about South China Sea and Ukraine (ph) would be brought to a meeting, and what would be the possible topics that interest to leaders?

MR. WANG: Possible targets that are interested to leaders?

QUESTION: Topics.

MR. WANG: Topics. Well, again, you want to separate APEC from the bilateral, and on the bilateral between China and the United States I think we – I can’t say exactly what they will say because it’s something that they will have to determine later on, but my guess is – all of us can guess what the topics would be. I mean, obviously, all of the differences between China and the United States on various issues will be raised, all of the sort of cooperative areas will also be raised.

So I would not be surprised certainly, and I can’t speak for the President, but I would not be surprised if South China Sea came up in a discussion because it is clearly an issue that both countries are concerned about managing, and I think it’s an important issue not just for China and the United States, but it’s an important issue for a lot of other countries in the region. And as for the other topics, again, it’s a wide range of topics. I think we all are aware of some of the range of topics that could be discussed. Human rights could be an issue as well. Trade issues would be important as well. You know we have a lot of trade issues. Cyber could be part of the topic. So I think you probably know better than I do the list of all of the issues that clearly both countries are concerned about today.

MODERATOR: Okay, start here.

QUESTION: Good morning, Dr. Wang. I’m from China, China News Service. I want to go back to the anti-corruption issue. And just now you mentioned that the APEC economies are doing guidebooks, some kind of guidebook to the anti-corruption. And are they going to publish this year, or it will take some year to discuss about the final version of that?

MR. WANG: Right.

QUESTION: Yeah. It will take —

MR. WANG: Yeah.

QUESTION: And besides that, besides the trying to understand each other’s legal system, and what kind of cooperation are they going to do during this anti-corruption issue action, that you call it? Okay, thank you, sir.

MR. WANG: Well, I think on the issue of the publication, actually the United States already has the publication, so we have a template for it. We already have our offices and also we have our asset recovery guidebook. So what we’re trying to do, probably next year, is to have all the APEC economies do the same thing. So clearly, it will not be done by November, but it will be something that will be essentially directed by the leaders for us to do in the coming year. So that’s the agenda for – I think for next year.

And I forgot the second part.

QUESTION: What else are you going to –

MR. WANG: Oh, yes. Yeah, apart from – okay. Beyond that, I think the whole point is I remember very clearly from one of the presentations at the high-level workshop that I attended and how people were talking about sort of cooperation between the law enforcement officials of one country with another, and one of the most important elements of this cooperation is trust. So in other words, you have to have some trust between the law enforcement officials of one country and another when they begin to exchange information or when they begin to try to get cooperation on specific cases. If there is no trust – and of course, trust is based partially on personal sort of relationships in terms of respect for the other person’s knowledge and respect for the other person’s integrity, but also for the system.

So I think one of the most important things we hope to come out of this network is that you begin to then have people meet more frequently – not just on specific cases, but let’s say on training courses so they’ll have a training course. China will be setting up a – what it calls a secretariat for this ACT network. It’s a small group for 2014-2015 and then maybe it’ll move on to other areas. But the idea is to set up a secretariat that would be able to organize training workshops where all of the law enforcement officials will come together and maybe in some area in some country and work together on learning best practices, how you do things, how I do things, and in that process also develop personal relationships among the different law enforcement officials to begin to understand each other. And in that sense, I think that will help facilitate actual progress on cases that actually occur.

MODERATOR: Hiroaki, and then I’ll go to you. These are probably the last two questions, guys. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Thank you. Thank you, Dr. Wang, for doing this. My name is Wada. I’m with Japan’s Mainichi – I’m with Mainichi newspaper.

DR. WANG: Mainichi. Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: And my question is about maritime territorial disputes in the bilateral meeting between the United States and China. What is the willingness of the Obama Administration to take up this particular issue? And you also talk about managing differences between the United States and China.

MR. WANG: Between who?

QUESTION: But after what happened off Hainan Island the other day, the interception by the Chinese of the U.S. Navy aircraft, what is the sense inside the Administration about the difficulty of managing the difference? Is that sense of difficulty is increasing, or is there any change? Thank you. These are my questions.

MR. WANG: Okay. Well, I think, again, let me just start by saying that this is not in my area, it’s not in my zone, so I’m not really dealing with that. So I want to make that very, very clear so nobody will think that I am actually speaking with authority on this issue. But all I’ll say is that I expect that all of the issues you raise will probably be discussed simply because they’re important issues. The more important the issues are, the more challenging they are, the more likely they’ll be discussed between our leaders, because they’re the ones who have to deal with these very serious problems. So all I’ll say on that then is that with the recent incident over the intercepts, whatever different versions of it – Chinese and American – I think, clearly, it’s something that we need to discuss. So my guess is that it’s already being discussed and that it will continue to be discussed if – at some point by our leaders.

So is it increasingly more difficult? Yeah, and that’s why you need to discuss it.

MODERATOR: Okay. Weihua.

QUESTION: Hi, thank you. Chen Weihua, China Daily. Yeah, I want to go – continue on that ACT network. Will that lead to deterrence for those Chinese – corrupt Chinese officials to seek safe haven in the U.S., Canada, or Australia, or will that lead to extradition and repatriation of those corruption – corrupt officials already here? So thank you.

MR. WANG: Right. Well, I think the goal, certainly, is to – on both sides, not just China and the United States but on all sides, the goal, of course, is to increase the possibility or the probability that illegally obtained funds or criminals who go across the border will be returned and will be treated according to the rule of law in whichever country they come from. So the goal of the entire thing is to increase that probability, and to increase that probability then the presumption is that each side has to understand what the requirements are for doing this.

And so by starting on this first step to try to understand laws and regulations of different sides, the kinds of evidence that’s needed that’s considered to be relevant information or relevant evidence that could be useful in court, that that first step will increase the probability that in the future people who escape to another country with illegal funds will be returned eventually to their country. So that’s the goal of it. Now, how fast that happens, when that happens, is another issue, but that is the goal. And obviously, if the Chinese were to better understand what kinds of evidence is needed, and if they can provide that to us or to any other country, then obviously, the chances that they will be repatriated or be brought back would be higher.

MODERATOR: All right. Do you want to take one more?

MR. WANG: Sure, I’ll take one, yeah.

QUESTION: Matt Field with —

MODERATOR: Wait just one second.

QUESTION: I’m sorry. Matt Field with NHK, Japan Broadcasting Corporation. Just on the corruption efforts, can you just clarify how many countries were involved in these corruption meetings you attended? Were there bilateral meetings just between the U.S. and China? And so can you imagine a day when the U.S. would be helping China track down corrupt officials here in the U.S. and sending them back to China? Thank you very much.

MR. WANG: Sure. No, it wasn’t bilateral. I didn’t count exactly who was there, but I would imagine almost all 21 economies were involved. It was open, certainly, to all 21 economies. And again, the first day was a workshop, a high-level – well, there are three – actually, three days of meetings. The first day was a working group meeting of the anti-corruption and transparency working group. That’s one day.

The second day that I mentioned Minister Huang Shuxian went is the high-level workshop on anti-bribery. And not only were there 21 economies all invited – and many did go, because I was there – they were also on the panel people from Indonesia, people from Malaysia, other people who were speaking on that panel. And also there was private sector, so companies like Siemens and so on actually made presentations. And from the United States, the SEC, Securities and Exchange Commission, had people there. Department of Justice had people there. And so it was a 21-member APEC discussion on anti-corruption.

And – oh, whether or not I can see a day when the United States will actually work with China to bring Chinese criminals back to China, I’ll say that we already do. Again, I worked in China for many years, and we already have a lot of cases where – whether it’s from China, from Americans sent back to the United States or Chinese sent back to China in some cases – fewer of those, probably. But we’ve – not just in the criminal cases, but other cases – we have cooperated. There were some cases where we have actually sent people back to China when I was deputy chief of mission in Beijing.

The question then is: How many of them? Of course, the Chinese would like more, obviously, so we are cooperating already. The question is: How much more cooperation can we have? And there we require, again, a better understanding of what kind of evidence we need for this to happen. And if it’s provided to us, then we’ll continue to cooperate. We have something called the JLG, the Joint Liaison Group, that meets several times a year. And that’s where we are already bilaterally exchanging information about each other’s practices as well as information on specific cases. And we also have what we call ILEA program, where we actually bring a lot of law enforcement officials to Bangkok where we have a training center, and that has included some Chinese in the past for the last 10-20 years. So we are working together already on this issue.

MODERATOR: All right. Well —

MR. WANG: One last one?

MODERATOR: All right.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. Hello, okay? My name is Inoue from Kyodo News of Japan. I’m just wondering whether you had any chance to discuss about cyber issue with your Chinese counterparts, because Chinese Government has denied the U.S. allegation about the cyber theft and they refuse to have working group on cyber issue during the S&ED. So I’m just wondering where you are on this issue.

MR. WANG: Okay, good. The simple answer is that within APEC we did not discuss this. It was not an APEC topic. But as you know, they had an S&ED recently and that’s where they were discussed. Now, obviously, I understand that at the Strategic Security Dialogue that it wasn’t an official topic but the two sides discussed it, how can we deal with this issue. But I was not involved in the S&ED so I don’t know to what extent they discussed it, but I know the topic was certainly raised in that context.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MR. WANG: Yes, we have not discussed this issue through APEC. It’s a bilateral issue so it’s not an issue with Indonesia-U.S., Papua New Guinea. They’re not interested in this issue. So yeah, but that’s a bilateral issue.

MODERATOR: All right. Thank you, everyone. We’ll call this briefing concluded.

MR. WANG: And thank you very much for coming. Appreciate it.

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