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Albright – APEC Ministerial Meeting Remarks

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

Office of the Spokesman (Auckland, New Zealand)

As prepared for delivery September 9, 1999

Remarks by
Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)
Ministerial Meeting

Auckland, New Zealand
September 9, 1999

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Minister Smith, Minister McKinnon, Excellencies, colleagues, let me begin by thanking our hosts from New Zealand for all they have done this year in leading APEC and in arranging this meeting. I am pleased to join Commerce Secretary William Daley and our chief trade negotiator Ambassador Charlene Barshefsky in representing the United States.

Two years ago, when we met in Vancouver, I said that the true test of an institution comes in times of turbulence and storm. I think we all would agree that the period since then has been a time of testing for the Asia Pacific community.

Today, in much of the region, business activity is increasing, stock markets are rising and consumer confidence is on the mend. And though this rebound remains fragile, some are tempted to proclaim once and for all that crisis has given way to comeback.

As a result, our great enemy in APEC today is not fear, but complacency. For our purpose is not simply to emerge from crisis, but also to prevent future ones. We seek a durable recovery and sustainable growth. And we know that the time to make a ship strong and seaworthy is before the next tempest looms on the horizon.

That is why this year is especially important for APEC. The world is watching to see if our resolve will slacken -- or whether we will push forward to complete the reforms that are required to bring our people all the economic opportunity and security they deserve.

APEC has a central role to play. First, as we discussed this morning, APEC must do all it can to move the global trading system toward greater openness.

As we look to the upcoming WTO Ministerial in Seattle, I urge fellow members to join in making a strong and substantive call for a new broad-based round to open markets in agriculture, services, and industrial goods. And we should voice our support for enhanced transparency in government procurement and in the WTO as an institution.

Second, APEC can help to strengthen markets as well as open them -- by acting within our borders in ways that complement the work we do across borders. We already have before us important APEC initiatives covering natural gas, air services, and electronic commerce. We need now to carry them out in our respective economies.

But we should also act more broadly to strengthen markets throughout the Asia Pacific.

That means deepening the legal and regulatory reforms that attract investment and improve the business climate.

It means strengthening weak banking systems and improving lax financial oversight.

It means building a culture of accountability that makes corruption and cronyism plagues of the past.

It means supporting democracy and respecting universal standards of human rights and labor rights.

It means working together on practical problems such as Y2K.

And it means investing in the education, training, health and security of our people -- so that they embrace economic change, instead of becoming its victims.

I am pleased to say the United States has done its share in this effort. President Clinton has focused worldwide attention on the need to restore growth and strengthen the social fabric in countries hard- hit by the crisis. And at a time when other large economies faced difficulties, we kept our own vast markets open to growing imports from the region.

We have used our leadership and influence in the international financial institutions to encourage a vigorous and flexible response to the crisis. The World Bank has heeded our calls to increase social lending to East Asia -- more than doubling it this year, to almost $10 billion. And the "Accelerating Economic Recovery in Asia" program that Vice President Gore and I announced at APEC last year is helping hard- hit countries address pressing needs.

The United States will continue to be a leader in this effort. For we will always be a Pacific nation. And we are motivated by the same belief in the region's future and its people that first led President Clinton to invite APEC leaders to come together six years ago.

Perhaps it is no coincidence that now, as then, we look forward to Seattle. And we do so in the same way -- not with complacency, but with confidence.

Thank you very much.

(###)


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