National Bureau of Asian Research Roundtable
Daniel R. Russel
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
April 1, 2015
Thank you, President Ellings, for the kind welcome, and for bringing together this distinguished group.
It’s good to be in Seattle, and with the National Bureau of Asia Research. Congratulations on NBR’s 50th anniversary.
For half a century now, you have provided high quality, independent research on issues facing the U.S. and the world,
from energy trade to security strategy and beyond. The strength of America’s academic community and think tanks is
envied around the world. It’s particularly beneficial to have institutions like NBR around the country, so that the
voices in our national foreign policy conversation reflect the diversity of views across our land. So thank you for all
that you do.
Let me start by telling you about why I’m here in Seattle. It’s crunch time for the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Secretary
Kerry has asked his team to get out around the country, talk to people who are interested in trade with Asia, address
any concerns folks may have, and spread the word about TPP’s benefits. So, in addition to meeting with you, I’m talking
with major exporters, including member companies of the Business Council for International Understanding, and meeting
with local press. I’m also giving remarks later tonight at the University of Washington Jackson School to talk about the
larger context of U.S. relations with Asia, beyond trade.
So here, I’ll summarize that context briefly and then focus on trade.
The Asia-Pacific region – and you know the U.S. is a Pacific power – is one of the world’s most dynamic regions. It
contains the top four most populous countries, the three largest economies, many of the world’s fastest growing
economies, and a rapidly growing middle class of over half-a-billion consumers. U.S. trade with the Asia-Pacific region
was $2.9 trillion in 2013.
Nations across the region face choices: Are they going to move toward greater political freedom and respect for
universal rights and values? Are they going to open their economies while protecting workers, investors, and the
environment? Are they going to strengthen the international and regional system of rule of law to treat all countries
fairly? And by doing that, avoid conflict that could lead to loss of life and crippling economic consequences for all of
We can’t take the answers to any of these questions for granted, and they’re all interconnected. Our ability to shape
the answers depends on our economic, diplomatic, and military strength. So when we lead on trade and investment, it
helps us across the board. Free trade agreements, like the ones we have with Australia, Singapore, and the Republic of
Korea, benefit many American businesses and our relationships with those countries.
Trade is good for your local economy, as you know. Goods exports support about 402,000 jobs in this state – the third
highest of any state, according to the Department of Commerce’s most recent estimate – so you’re very well-integrated
into the global economy. Of your exports, thirty-six percent already go to Asia, including over $2.6 billion in exports
of goods. And in a recent five-year stretch, jobs in Seattle based on the export of services, like software, grew 54%.
Concluding TPP is essential to President Obama’s top priority of creating good jobs in America. It also is the most
important thing we can do for U.S. relations with Asia this year.
This agreement will include 11 other countries that already account for 33 percent of your state’s goods exports, worth
$26 billion (average from 2012 to 2014). It will grow America’s overall exports by more than $123 billion by 2025,
according to a study by the renowned independent Peterson Institute. And those exports will support many more
Just consider the barriers that our workers and businesses are currently facing in the Asia Pacific, the world’s
fastest-growing region. American autoworkers are handicapped by tariffs that can reach 30 percent in Malaysia. American
farmers are forced to contend with tariffs as high as 40 percent on poultry in Vietnam. Meanwhile, foreign competitors
have struck trade deals that give their own exporters an advantage, getting their products to consumers in those same
markets with significantly lower or even no tariffs.
TPP also gives us the opportunity to protect workers and the environment with the highest and most enforceable standards
of any trade agreement ever. The TPP will include groundbreaking new commitments to protect our oceans, forests, and
wildlife. And it will allow us to address specific concerns about labor conditions in certain TPP countries, bringing
improvements on the ground to workers across the region.
In addition, TPP will allow us to tackle a number of issues that have never been addressed in trade pacts - for
instance, it will help ensure that state-owned enterprises compete fairly with our private companies.
It also will ensure that Americans whose businesses and jobs depend, either directly or indirectly, on innovation,
invention and creativity enjoy the benefits of that work. This includes 40 million workers across the country, and a lot
of them are here in Seattle. We have focused a lot of attention on ensuring strong outcomes in the TPP that will promote
the digital economy and ensure a free and open Internet. We also have developed strong and balanced intellectual
property rules that protect and promote invention and the creation of new products and services, while enabling
consumers to access the full benefits of scientific, technological, and medical innovation, as well as new media and the
Our competitors’ growing number of FTAs in the region promote rules that reflect their values, vision of the future, and
competitive strengths—not ours. This doesn’t promote sustainable, shared economic growth, intellectual property rights,
or maintenance of a free and open Internet. These other rules don’t tackle the growing problem of unfair competition
from state-owned enterprises.
In short: We need TPP to promote economic growth and support high-paying jobs, and to advance our values and show that
our ongoing commitment to the region extends beyond security. TPP is important to the long-time partners I mentioned
with whom we already have FTAs. It’s important to new partners like Vietnam and Malaysia as they seek to further reform
and develop their economies. And it’s important to Japan as Prime Minister Abe works on structural reforms, the “third
arrow” of his domestic economic recovery programs. While we have more work to do with Japan, to resolve differences in
areas such as agriculture and autos, we’re confident we can get this done.
TPP is about giving Americans a fair shot in these markets. Because we know one thing beyond doubt: with a level playing
field, when trade is fair, our workers; our businesses do very well. And the businesses and workers here in the
Seattle-Tacoma area and in Washington State prove that each and every day.
As my friend and colleague Ambassador Mike Froman, our U.S. Trade Representative, has said, “the finish line for TPP
negotiations is in sight.” Negotiators are meeting around the clock, and countries are moving on issues that seemed
intractable months ago.
More good jobs and a stronger American middle class are on the table. So I hope we can count on your support, and the
support of people around Seattle and across Washington for the Trade Promotion Authority we need to bring this agreement
home, and for the TPP agreement itself.
We also see TPP as the best pathway to a larger Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific. But in the meantime, we’re
continuing to move forward with partners outside the TPP. The biggest, of course, is China.
Exports from the Seattle-Tacoma area to China went up nearly $5 billion from 2009 to 2013 alone. And we’re working to
help you increase that number.
Our diplomacy with China has allowed us to expand the areas where we work together, while managing our clear
differences. And that diplomacy over many years, including bringing China into the WTO, has supported China’s economic
rise, enabling trade and increased exports to China. In 2014 alone, we made important progress in at least four specific
Let’s start with the Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade meetings in Chicago. There, Commerce Secretary Penny
Pritzker and U.S. Trade Representative Mike Froman made great progress in getting China to open to imports of U.S.
biotech corn and soy; medical devices and pharmaceuticals; and to give fair treatment to U.S. businesses facing the
Second, at the 2014 Strategic and Economic Dialogue, our biggest bilateral annual gathering, we intensified negotiations
on a Bilateral Investment Treaty. The “negative” list is next, and we’re asking that it be very high quality – narrowly
tailored and widely open to foreign investment, especially since our openness to Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) has
allowed new Chinese FDI into the U.S. to surpass our FDI in China.
While we remain concerned about China’s recent tightening of its foreign investment climate and its seeming disregard of
certain principles of a free and fair market, we strongly believe that a U.S.-China Bilateral Investment Treaty holds
the promise of further opening China’s market to foreign investors and creating an improved investment environment for
Third, during President Obama’s trip to Beijing, we reached a key agreement to expand visa validity for business
visitors to ten years, a boon for our tourism industry and a win for our companies with interests in China. We also
achieved an important bilateral understanding to help the WTO’s International Technology Agreement move forward. We
subsequently suffered a setback and there’s still a lot of work to do, but we remain hopeful.
Fourth, our landmark climate progress, also during the trip, is important for long-term public health, and economic
health, and it supports the green economy.
As you can see, we have a very full economic docket with China, and as I’ll detail in my remarks this evening, a much
broader agenda in our bilateral relationship. Together the United States and China have launched a range of new
initiatives to boost clean energy research, make carbon capture and storage a reality, link up our cities as they pursue
low-carbon solutions, and promote green trade between our countries.
All of you, and the entire Seattle area, have many important roles to play in America’s economic relationship with Asia.
Seattle’s impact reaches well beyond the quantity of your trading and investments – many of your companies are known and
lauded for the quality of your relationships, the ethical standards you adhere to, and work to instill throughout your
supply chains. It’s not just protecting workers, it’s providing them with skills training while protecting the
environment and countering corruption.
And later tonight, I’ll speak to Seattle’s role beyond economics – as a center of academic research, a welcoming host of
students from the region, and a home to vibrant Asian diaspora communities. With your continued help, the U.S. and Asia
will continue to grow and prosper together.
Thank you. Let’s open it up for discussion.