|The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
October 21, 2001
Background Press Briefing by
A Senior Administration Official
Shanghai, People's Republic of China
5:30 P.M. (Local)
MR. MCCORMACK: Good evening, everybody. We have a senior administration official to give you a BACKGROUND briefing on the APEC meetings over the past two days. With that, I'll turn it over to our senior administration official.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thank you. We just completed the leaders session of the APEC summit meeting. The APEC region, of course, very critical for the United States -- 21 economies, half of the global population, 60 percent of global output. They take about 70 percent of U.S. exports, and include our four largest bilateral trading partners, Mexico, Canada, Japan and China.
We achieved all of our three key objectives for this meeting: First, strengthening the coalition and the war on terrorism. Second, helping to reignite global economic growth by giving a push to the launch of a new round of global trade talks next month. And finally, we obtained endorsement of the U.S. proposed Shanghai Accord, which is designed to accelerate the march toward free trade within the APEC region, itself.
The attacks on September 11th, of course, targeted two great economic symbols. The terrorists tried to shatter confidence in the global economic system. But as the President has noted, they failed. And the leaders agreed at the meeting that the fact of holding this summit itself, and the fact of President Bush's presence serve as a signal that, as the President himself said yesterday, we will go on with the steady, patient work of building a market-based economic system that has brought unprecedented prosperity to this region and to the world.
And that is, in fact, what the leaders did in three sessions today -- a morning session, a lunch session, and then there was an afternoon session.
Let me just review briefly for you the three -- our three key objectives and what we achieved, and then we can open it up for questions.
The first, of course, is strengthening the coalition on counterterrorism. The leaders issued a statement on counterterrorism that is unprecedented for APEC, and in many respects, unprecedented in general. It calls the attacks murderous deeds. In it, the leaders commit to strengthening cooperation to bring the perpetrators to justice. It repeats the same condemnation that was in the G8 leaders statement, calling the attacks a threat to all people of all faiths.
And that, of course, is a significant statement, much more significant in some ways coming from the APEC group of nations than the G8, because the APEC group of nations is just spectacularly diverse -- geographically diverse, economically diverse, culturally diverse, and of course, diverse in terms of religion, including many important Islamic nations.
In the statement on counterterrorism the leaders pledged to "immediately and faithfully implement U.N. Resolutions 1368 and 1373, which set the military action in Afghanistan in the context of right of self-defense enshrined in the U.N. Charter. The resolutions also specifically call for cutting off financing to the terrorist groups like al Qaeda and all those who assist them.
And finally, the statement contains a commitment to enhanced cooperation in a number of very specific areas singled out by the leaders, and those are worth noting. In it, the leaders pledge to take measures to prevent the flow of funds to terrorists, as we discussed a moment ago, to enhance airport, aircraft, and port security; to strengthen energy security; to strengthen critical sector protection -- critical sectors being sectors such as telecommunications, transportation, health and energy -- to enhance customs procedures and authorities so that they can better enforce laws, while minimizing the impact on the flow of trade; to enhance border security, again while ensuring the movement of legitimate travelers; and to strengthen capacity building and economic and technical cooperation to enable member economies to put into place and enforce effective counterterrorism measures.
A very strong statement that in many ways is unprecedented for a forum that historically really has focused exclusively on economic matters.
Our second objective, of course, dealt with global economic growth. And there we focused on obtaining a statement and a strong endorsement of a new round of global trade talks, under the auspices of the World Trade Organization. The leaders issued that. Of course, a new round is the best way to reignite global growth, and as the President has put it many times, apply the power of markets to the needs of the poor.
And finally, one of -- our third major objective at the APEC summit itself was to obtain endorsement of the Shanghai Accord. As many of you know, some years ago, the APEC nations committed to what are called the Bogor Goals, achieving free trade within the Asia Pacific region, among developed countries by 2010, among developing countries and developed countries by 2020.
Subsequently, some action plans were issued. But as you know, APEC is a voluntary organization. These are not binding agreements. And movement toward free trade within the region, at least as a group, has not proceeded as quickly as some would have liked. And, therefore, we proposed the so-called Shanghai Accord, which was designed to provide tools and process to accelerate the movement toward free trade within the APEC region, and specifically, the Shanghai Accord which was endorsed by the leaders and actually issued, I believe, as a separate document that was attached to the declaration.
The Shanghai Accord calls for a number of things, but in general what it does is it broadens APEC's vision to encompass the new economy, and the issue of how to create greater opportunity, using digital technology, is something that this whole meeting, in fact, focused on.
But it broadens APEC's vision to embrace the new economy, and it includes a series of specific actions that are designed to strengthen the commitment to the Bogor Goals, the principal ones being a commitment to reduce the cost of doing business, transaction costs by five percent within five years; the use of so-called pathfinder initiatives, whereby a sub-group of the APEC countries that wants to move faster in terms of trade or investment liberalization can do so; a commitment to develop and implement transparency principles, transparency and government regulation, transparency and rule-making, also corporate transparency; and the development of a trade policy for the new economy, again focusing on the digital economy; adopting trade policies that support the protection of intellectual property, that lower tariffs for trade in high technology goods, and those sorts of things.
So, in sum, we came in here hoping to strengthen the coalition against the war on terrorism, and we did so. We've got a big and resounding endorsement for a new round of global trade talks. And that round, of course, is to convene early next month. And finally, to accelerate progress within the Asia Pacific region on free trade, we obtained adoption and endorsement by the leaders of the Shanghai Accord.
Happy to take any questions.
Q How much of a setback is it that the terrorism statement, while containing all the positive things that you mentioned, contained no specific mention of Osama bin Laden or al Qaeda, or any specific endorsement of the U.S. military campaign that's underway?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Not a setback at all. As I said, we consider -- we're thrilled with the statement. We consider it unprecedented for this group of countries. The G8 leaders statement didn't mention those groups by name, either.
What this statement does do is it specifically references the principal U.N. Security Council resolutions that endorsed the action that lay the predicate for it through reference to the right of -- specific reference to the right of collective and individual self-defense, specifically authorized the blocking and freezing of assets of terrorist groups and of those who would assist them, and it also, interestingly enough, calls for ratification and implementation of all the relevant U.N. conventions, including the convention on the suppression of financing for terrorism.
So we consider this remarkably strong, again. And as one of the leaders, themselves, put it, it's a sign of the maturity of APEC as an organization that we were able, with this extraordinarily diverse group of economies, to find common ground in the war on terrorism. And we clearly did that.
Q A follow-up? Why didn't the statement make any mention of the U.S. military campaign?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, it mentions it by referencing the resolutions. And that's exactly what we aimed for.
Q Weren't those passed before the campaign?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes, but those resolutions lay the predicate for it and that's exactly what we aimed for, as I said. The statement does everything that we wanted it to do, without question.
Q Can you back up a minute and explain exactly how the U.N. resolutions support our veiled reference of support for the military campaign?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: As Kofi Annan himself has said, that the military action in Afghanistan is "set in the context" of the resolutions which reference the right of self-defense in the Charter.
Q So are you claiming that the reference to those resolutions is an indirect endorsement --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No. All I'm saying -- all I'm saying is the statement on counterterrorism that we got out of this group of economies, 21 different economies including some major Islamic countries, does everything that we sought it to do. In particular, it contains extraordinarily specific commitments with respect to stopping the flow of financing, and improving cooperation across a range of issues with respect to terrorism, border security, critical infrastructure security, energy security, customs operations.
And it also includes as was noted yesterday, it also includes a very strong commitment to capacity-building, giving these countries the capacity to combat terrorism, giving them -- helping some of these countries acquire the capacity to stop the flow of funds.
Q But even as you say you are thrilled with the statement you got, would you be more thrilled if the statement had said, we endorse U.S. military operations in Afghanistan?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: What we were looking for was what we got.
Q Why were we not looking for more?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Because we didn't need more from this group. What we got was a very strong endorsement of the campaign against terrorism. We got specific commitment to implement every relevant U.N. resolution. In fact, not only did they name the specific resolutions, but they went on to say, as a catch-all, all relevant U.N. resolutions and conventions and international law.
Q With respect, not all U.N. member states -- U.N. Security Council resolutions, whether organizations like APEC endorse them or not.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes, they are authorized to do them. But this calls for immediate and faithful implementation, and goes on with some specificity to talk about how they'll be implemented and the amount of cooperation that APEC, as a group, is going to commit to this effort.
Q Can you explain how a pledge to implement things people are obliged to implement anyway is a step forward?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, in principle, they are pledged to implement them. But, as you know, in practice that many of -- all sorts of international obligations are not necessarily implemented. What we've got here was a very strong commitment to implement it, and a specific reference to implementing it faithfully and immediately. And we expect that will be done.
Q To go back over the context of the military campaign, itself, clearly, the lack of specific reference of support to the military campaign is in the context of some of these foreign leaders coming out and saying that they wish it was ended quickly, and they have concerns about the scope. But are you suggesting that we should read -- you all don't read anything into the lack of any language or any endorsement of it in the --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No. This, as I -- I cannot say it more candidly. This statement accomplishes everything that we sought to accomplish.
Q Well, did you not seek that kind of language because you thought you couldn't get it?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, we simply focused on the implementation of the resolutions, capacity-building. It's a reflection also, as the President has said, that we -- the different countries will contribute in different ways to this effort. He's been very clear about that, repeated it again to the group today. And we recognize that different countries will contribute in different ways. So we think that this represents a range of commitments that the APEC countries can undertake, and have agreed to undertake.
Q What role did the President play in this afternoon's leaders's retreat, what were his goals, what did he say and do there?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, the President spoke first about the campaign on counterterrorism. But he also spoke strongly in support of both trade liberalization -- greater trade liberalization -- the benefits it can bring, the launch of a new trade round. He noted the importance of accelerating trade within the region. And he also acknowledged the importance -- and many of these countries, of course, are concerned about it -- of having the capacity to take advantage of the benefits of market opening.
And again, with the range of economic development represented in that room, from very developed economies to some of the lesser developed economies, capacity-building was a focus of this meeting. In point of fact, what the agenda focused on was the global economy, how to reignite growth. And the President also talked about the decisive actions we were taking at home to do our part to reignite growth domestically, and about what we needed to do internationally to ignite growth, such as launch a new round. And we also talked about the capacity- building initiatives that we had committed to, both within the region and elsewhere.
Q Not to be frivolous, but did he say anything about his shirt?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I'm sorry?
Q Did he say anything about his shirt?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No. Not to the leaders. (Laughter.)
MR. MCCORMACK: He was really happy with the shirt -- it was everything he wanted. (Laughter.)
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: It was an APEC tradition.
END 5:52 P.M. (Local)