The United States, said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a speech to the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit in Bali, Indonesia, is pivoting toward the Asia Pacific region, where it intends to be a diplomatic, economic, and strategic force for the 21st century.
The Asia Pacific has the world's fastest rising economies, with gross domestic product growth at an average of more than 6.5 percent a year. American investments in ASEAN countries more than doubled last year, but there is room for improvement, said Secretary Clinton.
A key to achieving broad sustainable growth is economic competition that is open, free, transparent, and fair. That means taking on rules that prevent foreign investors from competing with local businesses to produce better goods and services. But lowering barriers, said Secretary Clinton is not enough. That's why the U.S. wants to work with ASEAN to shore up the infrastructure of its member countries, including roads, rails, ports, and power stations. All these are required for the efficient flow of goods and services.
The U.S. also wants to work with ASEAN countries to improve the investment climate. Removing nationalistic barriers to investment will bring new technologies to ASEAN, improve productivity, and raise income levels for all segments of society.
Another aspect of U.S. policy with regard to ASEAN is commercial diplomacy. The U.S., said Secretary Clinton, has to advocate for businesses and make sure that they are able to compete on a level playing field. When governments impose unfair terms on foreign companies just to enter or expand into a new market, the U.S. needs to push back.
And finally, the United States will continue to support entrepreneurship and small businesses so that they have the capital resources, regulatory support, and market access to develop new products, create jobs, and expand their businesses. That's one of the reasons that the U.S. established the Global Entrepreneurship Program and Partnerships for a New Beginning. Both are aimed at advocating for entrepreneurs and small businesses around the world. Indeed, small businesses provide employment for far more people than all the big businesses in the world combined.
The United States is very optimistic about the economic potential of the Asia Pacific. "Let's use our resources," said Secretary Clinton, "our networks, and renew our commitment to the kind of growth that will really benefit the vast majority of people."