Obama's Rebalancing In Asia Is Win-Win Strategy

Published on 20 December 2013

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by Jane Morse


Washington, D.C.

Scot Marciel
Scot Marciel

The Obama administration’s “rebalancing” policy in Asia is a win-win strategy for both sides of the Pacific, according to Scot Marciel, the State Department’s principal deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

“The president set out a clear, overarching objective for the United States in the region: to sustain a stable security environment and advance a regional order rooted in economic openness, peaceful resolution of disputes, and respect for universal rights and freedoms,” Marciel told the Senate subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific affairs at a December 18 hearing.

Although the economic pillar of the president’s rebalance policy is critical to achieving his highest priority — creating jobs and opportunity for the American people — it will provide handsome economic payoff for the nations of the Asia-Pacific region as well, Marciel said.

Progress in this area is already evident, he said. For example:

• U.S. trade with the East Asia–Pacific region grew by 22 percent between 2008 and 2012, far outpacing the 13 percent growth in global U.S. trade.

• The United States is the leading foreign investor in the East Asia–Pacific region, with the stock of U.S. foreign direct investment standing at around $622 billion in 2012, up 35 percent from 2008.

• Investment into the United States from economies of the East Asia–Pacific is also growing, increasing by 31 percent since 2008 to reach $422 billion by the end of 2012.

And the outlook for future economic growth is good, Marciel said. The World Bank recently projected that the East Asia–Pacific region will contribute 40 percent of global growth this year, and some forecasters expect that nearly 50 percent of world growth over the next two decades will be generated in this region, yielding hundreds of millions of new middle-class consumers.

But there are a number of dark clouds looming over this otherwise sunny future, Marciel said. “For example, rapid economic and population growth has created enormous strains on the region’s food, water, forest, marine and energy resources,” he said. “In many areas, the increased use of fossil fuel for industries and transportation has resulted in dangerous levels of pollution that in turn pose dangers to people’s health and accelerate climate change. On the political and security fronts, the resurfacing of long-standing territorial disputes threatens the stability of the region.”

“How we respond to these challenges will determine our long-term ties to the region, as well as the region’s future,” Marciel said. But the State Department, he said, is working on a number of fronts to fuel the economic engines while meeting possible threats. For example:

• To promote environmental sustainability, the United States has advanced work with the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum to improve energy efficiency, promote greener standards in building construction, combat illegal logging and reduce wildlife trafficking.

• To address the economic dimensions of human security in the region, the United States supports APEC in promoting sustainable health systems, building resiliency in supply chains after natural disasters and addressing food security.

• To build up human resources and expand economic opportunities, the United States is working to connect small and medium-sized enterprises to global value chains, increase mobility of university students and promote women’s economic empowerment.

While working to keep challenges at bay, the State Department and U.S. missions in the region have established Interagency Commercial Task Forces to provide economic, commercial, agricultural and trade services in the most efficient and productive manner possible, Marciel said. They are also promoting investment and tourism, hosting investment promotion seminars, talking to business leaders around the region to encourage them to consider job-creating investments in the United States, and working with American service providers to help educate potential investors about how to comply with U.S. laws and regulations, he said.

The State Department, Marciel added, continues to promote a more open trade and investment environment in the East Asia–Pacific through collaboration with economies of the region in APEC, and through the full implementation of free-trade agreements.

The State Department “understands the importance of laying the policy groundwork on which the East Asia-Pacific region and the United States can continue to grow with shared prosperity,” Marciel said.


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Posted 2013-12-20 10:30:00