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Statement on Two New US APEC Initiatives

Text: Under Secretary Larson Statement on Two New APEC Initiatives

(Announces two programs aimed at strengthening markets) (970)

Under Secretary of State for Economic, Business and Agricultural Affairs Alan Larson announced in Brunei two new programs the United States is undertaking to advance the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) goals of enhancing corporate governance and competitiveness.

In a prepared statement dated November 12, Larson explained that one program is a competitiveness initiative involving the United States and its APEC partners Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines where leading local and private counterparts in targeted sectors will work together to enhance global competitiveness. He said the program is to begin in November with an initial funding of $770,000 from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Larson said the second program involves American companies such as Citigroup and New York Life working with the U.S. government to provide financial sector training for central banks, ministries of finance, and private companies in the Asia-Pacific region.

Following is the text of Larson's remarks:

(begin text)

Remarks as prepared for delivery to APEC Ministers

by Alan Larson, U.S. Under Secretary of State for Economic, Business

and Agricultural Affairs

U.S. ANNOUNCES INITIATIVES ON STRENGTHENING MARKETS

TO WITHSTAND CRISIS

On behalf of Secretary Albright, who wishes she could be here today, I'd like to thank our hosts for the excellent arrangements and congratulate the authorities around the table for the strong economic performances so many are experiencing. Growth rates in most APEC economies exceed 4 percent and in several economies much higher rates are being achieved. Our common aim for the year ahead must be not only to ensure continued growth, but, just as importantly, to make growth resilient and sustainable.

If nothing else, the financial crisis showed that markets must be both open and strong in order for our economies to prosper. Today, as innovation and entrepreneurship increasingly become the driving force behind economic growth, it is all the more important to foster dynamic, open economies through regulatory reforms that promote competition.

The U.S. strongly supports APEC's work to enhance competitiveness. Today, I'd like to tell you about two new programs we are undertaking to contribute to this important work.

The first is a competitiveness initiative beginning just this month with our APEC partners Thailand, Philippines and Indonesia. The initial phase of the program will receive $770,000 from USAID. We expect to continue this work when the initial phase is completed.

Under this initiative, we will work with leading local public and private counterparts in targeted sectors, to help develop a shared vision of what each of those sectors needs in order to compete globally more effectively. The project will help build capacity to enable economies to better pursue pro-competitive regulatory policies, attract more infrastructure investment, improve human skills, and develop more efficient financial markets, all key elements of strengthening markets to enhance competitiveness.

The initiative aims to incorporate both business and government, to promote a greater understanding of how to increase competitiveness and act on it.

What makes a nation or company competitive? As we in APEC know, a key to its competitiveness is the productivity of its people. Productivity means using your natural and human resources, your financial assets, your ideas and your talents, and turning them into good products that satisfy consumers in other markets.

Productivity means reinvesting those earnings to produce even more skilled, better-compensated workers. Competitiveness and productivity mean striving for growth in income and improvement in the quality of life for everyone.

Competitiveness is not a race to the bottom but the path to mutual prosperity that will reduce income gaps between the rich and the poor. We hope to contribute to that end in this project.

The second program focuses on financial sector training. Two years ago in Kuala Lumpur, Secretary Albright pointed to the benefits of private sector training programs that would strengthen financial capacity in both the public and private sectors. She spoke of the possibility of a "financial peace corps."

APEC Finance Ministers agreed in September to pursue work on financial training programs. We welcome the involvement of bank supervisory and market regulatory authorities from many of the APEC economies. We also appreciate the leadership of the Asian Development Bank and involvement of other international financial institutions, which have helped make this a successful initiative.

Financial sector training will help ensure sustainable economic recovery in the region. As Secretary Albright has stressed, private sector contributions to this work are critical. We welcome new private sector initiatives to enhance financial training and promote good corporate governance.

Citigroup is a leader in this regard. In cooperation with the U.S. Government, Citigroup will be heading an effort to bring together major financial institutions and develop a private-public risk management training program.

The program will be aimed at central banks and ministries of finance, as well as private companies. It will make them aware of the latest techniques in risk management, and the importance of risk management for both lenders and borrowers, to build stronger capital markets.

Insurance companies are also involved. They are developing courses on managing regulatory change in life insurance and pensions. This will encourage development of a well- functioning insurance industry in the APEC region.

New York Life, for example, will lead a series of symposia and training programs over the next three years in China. These programs will promote improved regulation and actuarial standards, and assess international best practices in risk management, disclosure and accountability.

My government looks forward to further cooperation between governments and corporations to improve financial regulation and enhance corporate governance with the aim of building stronger, more competitive markets in APEC.

(end text)

(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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