As The U.S. Chairs APEC, Where Does America Stand On Trade?


During the year when the U.S. hosts, we really drive the agenda” – Monica Hardy Whaley, President, National Center for APEC

The 21 member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum have one thing in common: the Pacific Ocean. To be a member of the regional group, founded in 1989, the waves of world’s largest ocean had to lap your shores. The concept was almost romantic, evoking images of naval trade routes and adventures at sea. Chile and China were members; India and Argentina were not. But the goals were clear: greater economic cooperation and trade.

The last time the U.S. was APEC’s annual host, in 2011, that core mission still prevailed as the then Secretary of Trade Hillary Clinton promoted a massive trade proposal known as the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). At the APEC Summit in Honolulu that year, Clinton said she hoped the pact would “bring together economies from across the Pacific, developed and developing alike, into a single 21st century trading community.”

The world changed and so did the U.S. stance on the merits of the pact, not to mention global trade itself. Relations with China and Russia are also in a very different place. So what does the U.S. stand to gain in 2023, as it steps up to chair APEC again?

For that, we turn to Monica Hardy Whaley, longtime president of The National Center for APEC (NCAPEC), a U.S. business association that promotes private-sector priorities in the region via the APEC gatherings and other means.

“During the year when the U.S. hosts, we really drive the agenda,” says Hardy Whaley. “The other partners really look forward to those years when we are chairing because we d0 engage with the region.”

Indeed, she argues that APEC’s value to American businesses and the U.S. economy is greater than ever. With members accounting for almost half of global trade—and more than 62% of U.S. goods exports—the group has become an important forum for promoting everything from common standards and protocols to measures to enhance climate resilience and relationships in the region. Through NCAPEC,

Along with annual summit. the U.S. will host several key gatherings, starting with a “Senior Officials” meeting in Palm Springs in February. In May, there will be a set of meetings in Detroit, including a gathering of transportation ministers that Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg will host as well as a trade ministers meeting hosted U.S. Trade Representative Trade Katherine Tai. In August, six different ministerial meetings will take place in Seattle that will look at ways to enhance cooperation and opportunities in areas such as women in the economy, small and medium enterprises, energy, health, food security, climate resilience and more.

The heads of state will come together in November for the annual APEC Summit in San Francisco. That’s also the time when the leaders of some of the world’s largest companies will also meet at the APEC CEO Summit. That, too, is evolving. For more, click on the video above to get a preview of what to expect from America’s year of chairing APEC.

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