Statement by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner on APEC Finance Ministers Meeting

We met this week in the face of continuing global economic challenges.  The crisis in Europe remains the central challenge to global growth.  It is crucial that Europe move quickly to put in place a strong plan to restore financial stability.

We are all directly affected by the crisis in Europe, but the economies gathered here are in a better position than most to take steps to strengthen growth in the face of these pressures from Europe.

In this context, the principal focus of our discussions was how to help strengthen growth around the world and make it more balanced and sustainable in the future.  The finance ministers here voiced their support for last week’s pledge by G-20 Leaders to support the global recovery.

In order to achieve the objectives of stronger, more balanced growth now and in the future, APEC finance ministers concentrated on making progress in a number of areas:

·        As the United States continues to work through the problems that caused our crisis and Europe confronts a period of slower growth, Asian economies will need to do more to stimulate domestic demand growth—both so they are less vulnerable to slowdowns, such as the situation in Europe, and so they can continue to contribute to global growth.

·        This process of rebalancing will be aided by exchange rate policies in China and other Asian economies that allow their currencies to adjust in response to market forces.  China, in particular, must continue to allow its currency to strengthen, and China has acknowledged the importance of faster exchange rate adjustment.

·        Ministers agreed to continue our work to advance global financial reform and build a level playing field, in order to reduce the chances that risk-taking shifts to jurisdictions with lower standards.

·        APEC ministers also discussed practical, direct measures for boosting future growth in all of our economies, focusing on the vital role of infrastructure investment in catalyzing growth and employment creation.

·        Finally, to protect the poor and promote financial resilience, APEC economies have taken steps to expand the reach of safe and reliable financial services.

While APEC economies are the most vulnerable to a global slowdown, they can also play the greatest role in contributing to the global recovery and establishing the foundations of strong, sustainable, and balanced future growth.  The APEC economies account for more than half of global GDP, and the bulk of these economies are likely to grow significantly faster in coming years than the rest of the world.  They also account for more than half of global current account surpluses, and their rebalancing efforts are critical to the foundations of strong, sustainable global growth.

That capacity for growth is essential to the prosperity of the United States, and that’s why we are committed to continued engagement with the economies of the Pacific Rim, including more open and productive trade relationships.  APEC economies are the destination for 60 percent of U.S. exports, a figure that is likely to continue increasing.  U.S. exports overall increased 15.9 percent over the past year.  Our exports are growing at a rate nearly four times faster than our overall economy, further underscoring the importance of the Pacific Rim to American jobs and global growth.  As APEC economies grow, and as they move to increase domestic demand, the importance of our relationships with them will only grow.

The United States recently ratified trade agreements with Korea, Panama, and Colombia, and we have made substantial progress toward the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which will increase U.S. trade with the most dynamic economies of the Pacific Rim.  All of these efforts are essential to meeting the National Export Initiative’s goal of doubling exports in five years, which will support millions of American jobs.

But in order for the United States to take advantage of the substantial opportunities offered by this region, we need to invest in reforms to make us more competitive.

This means making smart, targeted investments in education, innovation, and infrastructure, and doing what’s necessary to put our fiscal house in order.

The President’s strategy is to combine immediate investments and tax incentives, as proposed in the American Jobs Act, with long-term reforms to reduce our future deficits.  We need to take immediate steps to strengthen growth now, as well as make long-term reforms that will help us sustain growth in the future.

The meetings over the past two days have reinforced the importance of the relationships shared by APEC members.  This weekend, President Obama will host the APEC Economic Leaders, and they will work to further strengthen those relationships, and in turn, strengthen growth in the Pacific Rim and around the world.

Thank you.  I will now take your questions.

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