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 Home > News & Policies > November 2008

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
November 22, 2008

Fact Sheet: Creating a New Era of Prosperity in the Asia Pacific Region and Beyond
President Bush Focuses On Three Great Forces For Economic Growth: Free Trade, Free Markets, And Free People

     Fact sheet In Focus: APEC 2008

Today, President Bush spoke at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation CEO Summit in Lima, Peru, and discussed the importance of free trade in generating economic growth.  United States' engagement with the Asia Pacific region is especially important during this time of economic strain.  The Asia Pacific region's share of the global economy has grown to nearly 55 percent.  By continuing to engage this vital region, the United States can help lead the way toward a new era of prosperity in the Asia Pacific region and beyond. 

Our Nations Must Keep Our Commitment To Free Trade 

President Bush has made it a priority to expand trade and investment.  When the President took office, the United States had free trade agreements in force with three nations.  Today, that number is 14 – with three additional agreements approved by Congress but not yet in effect.  The United States also has concluded agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea.  While it is disappointing that the Congress has adjourned without approving these good agreements, the President urges all those who support free trade to continue making the case for these agreements. 

  • Since the President took office, America's trade with the world has increased almost 60 percent – from $2.5 to $4 trillion.  Overall, America's trade with APEC nations now accounts for almost two-thirds of its trade in the world.
    • Trade between Peru and the United States has more than doubled.
    • Trade between Chile and the United States has more than doubled.
    • Trade between China and the United States has more than tripled.

  • President Bush supported the accession of China, Taiwan, and Vietnam into the World Trade Organization (WTO).  The Administration is negotiating bilateral investment treaties with China and Vietnam, and discussing similar agreements with Taiwan, Indonesia, and Russia.  Earlier this year, the United States began discussions on a new regional free trade agreement with Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, and Singapore. Australia and Peru have also announced their intention to join the negotiation of this agreement.

  • The President also called on leaders to agree on a framework this year that will help bring the Doha Round of WTO negotiations to a successful conclusion.  He also urged leaders to refrain from raising barriers to investment or to trade in goods or services, imposing export restrictions, or implementing measures that are inconsistent with international trade rules, including measures to stimulate exports.

Trade has transformed the previously small economies of Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Taiwan into global powerhouses.  In addition, it has fueled the rise of nations such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam.  Trade has helped China achieve three decades of rapid economic growth, declining poverty, and closer engagement with the world. 

Our Nations Must Maintain Confidence In The Power Of Free Markets

Over the decades, the free market system has proven the most efficient and just way of structuring an economy.  While governments must take responsible action to reform financial markets and strengthen economic growth, the greatest threat to prosperity is too much government involvement in the market.  Free markets provide the incentive to work, to innovate, to save and invest wisely, and to create jobs for others.  It is essential that nations resist the temptation to overcorrect by imposing regulations that would stifle innovation and choke off growth. 

No region of the world demonstrates the power of free markets more vividly than the Asia Pacific. 

Free markets helped:

  • Japan grow into the world's second-largest economy;

  • South Korea become one of the most technologically-advanced nations in the world;

  • Chile triple its economy and cut its poverty rate by more than two-thirds over the past two decades; and

  • Helped make Peru the second fastest growing economy in APEC last year.

Economic Growth Requires Our Nations To Build Free And Democratic Societies 

The United States launched the Millennium Challenge Account to invest in nations that fight corruption, pursue wise economic policies, and improve the lives of their people.  Today, Millennium Challenge programs support some of the world's most promising developing nations. 

The United States is cooperating with APEC nations to adopt better farming practices and build up local agriculture markets.  The United States is also partnering with leaders to defeat the AIDS epidemic in places such as Vietnam and Papua New Guinea. 

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