PhD Proposal Summary #cliffnotes #overview #nothappeninganytimesoon

Below is a summary of one of the many PhD proposals I submitted to various universities internationally. While I was able to get into more than 15 very competitive unis, I couldn’t secure even the slightest amount of funding from any of them. It’s been three years now and I don’t seem to be any closer to getting that funding. I have contemplated switching my topic and applying again, but I may have to hold off on it since my topic being accepted hasn’t been of issue, rather funding has been my main issue. However, enough time has passed that parts of my research are irrelevant and other parts are no longer original since it has been encompassed in other researcher’s findings. The more time that goes by, the less my specific lens in regards to the topic is original or new. And therein lies the dilemma.

Anyways, here is a snapshot of one of my proposals. My other proposals are variations of the same topic. As you may know, every university has different proposal requirements. Some want a 15 page proposal, some want a 5 page proposal. Others want a full literature review, while others look down on what they deem “name dropping.” Here is just one of the many variations of proposals I have saved.

Enjoy…

Project Overview

Research Title: Transnational Contemporary Palestinian Music: Transnational Palestinian Identity Formation, Palestinian Experience and its Role in Israeli Affairs

Palestinian contemporary music, particularly Palestinian hip-hop, which is very popular amongst Palestinian youth, acts as a medium for the Palestinian experience. Palestinian musicians voice their experiences and identity through their lyrics and this music acts as a medium to explore transnational Palestinian identity formation in the US and UK, seeing as this music is consumed globally by the Palestinian diaspora. [1] This research intends to study the role of Palestinian contemporary music in formulating a transnational Palestinian identity, how this transnational identity creates a new vision of Palestinian citizenship or activism and how this transnational identity and Palestinian citizenship influences Israel’s international relations.

Project Scope

The case study for this research is contemporary Palestinian music and its role in identity expression and formation, drawing a parallel between Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities concept that print capitalism brought the rise of the nationalism,[2] in turn globalisation’s role in transnational music distribution brought the rise of a transnational Palestinian identity. This research will assess in detail how this identity formed and what role this identity plays in their political activism concerning Israeli domestic and foreign relations. This will be achieved by researching the Palestinian community’s interactions with music and political opportunity structures in their home country’s, as well as Israel.

The members of DAM, a prominent Arab hip-hop group, come from Al-Lid, Israel, although they very strongly identify themselves as Palestinian in their lyrics. DAMs closing lyrics to their song, Stranger in My Country, illustrate their multi-layered identity. And our Arabian roots are still strong. But still our Arabian brothers are calling us renegades. No. We never sold our country. The occupation has written our destiny. Which is, that the whole world till today is treating us as Israelis. And Israel till tomorrow will treat us as Palestinians. I’m a stranger in my own country.” [3]

The lyrics of DAMs, Stranger in my Country, express feelings felt by Palestinian citizens of Israel. DAMs lyrics act as a form of communication to Palestinians living in other regions, serving as a form of news to these regions that otherwise may be unaware of what Palestinians in Israel experience. This leaves the Palestinian listeners with their own experiences that form their identity, in addition to the connection they have formed with other Palestinian experiences that influence their experience hereon in, and take part in shaping their identity. This hybrid identity then influences the state of Palestinian citizenship, affecting actions taken by Palestinians, political affiliations and civic duties, creating a transnational Palestinian citizenship.

Project Empirical and Methodological Overview

This project will assess why and how the Palestinian diaspora interacts with contemporary Palestinian music, embracing Palestinian identity or eschewing the community they live in as a form of political participation by using a postmodernist theory of methodology,[4] linking the use of music with political activism amongst Palestinians in the diaspora.[5] It will focus on organisational development of politically active groups on the macro, meso and micro levels, as well as diaspora Palestinian political inspirations found in Palestinian contemporary music. This project will garner empirical data through interviews with Palestinian music listeners and political activists, in order to build a comprehensive overview of how Palestinian lyrics and music can influence its listeners to form a transnational community that acts in benefit of a nation it does not live in. I also plan to translate and analyze Palestinian song lyrics and compare these lyrics to news reports that report socio-political circumstances of Palestinians. Attending conferences or concerts in which Palestinian musicians perform will give me better access to interview Palestinian contemporary music listeners. These interviews plan to get a better understanding of how Palestinians define their experiences, what constitutes a Palestinian identity, how connected they are to Palestinians in different regions, how they view Palestinian hip-hop and contemporary Palestinian music, as well as get a better idea of their political influences.

From the data collected, I will then seek to build a wider theoretical framework to analyse the Palestinian diaspora’s formulation of identity, how this identity is measured and the influence this identity has on Israeli foreign and domestic decision making. This research will build on the work of Usama Kahf, who researched Palestinian hip-hop and identity in Israel and its relation to the Palestinian political struggle;[6] Andy Bennett’s research that explored youth consumption of music and how this music is used to define the self;[7] Amal Jamal, who researched media’s use in cultural resistance, as well as Israeli media policies towards Palestinians;[8] and Bakari Kitwana’s research on rap music’s role in cultural movement and political power.[9]

A challenge arises as Palestinian hip-hop and other forms of contemporary Palestinian music is male dominatedHow does this dynamic play into identity formation amongst Palestinian women and does it have any impact on the political activism of Palestinian men or women?

Timeline

This research is expected to take up to three years as follows:

  • September 2015 January 2016Preliminary research, survey of literature and interpretive models.
  • February 2016 December 2016 Fieldwork, interviews and data collection.
  • January 2017 March 2017 Collate data and assess an interpretive model.
  • April 2017 September 2017 Development and presentation of preliminary findings and analysis.
  • October 2017 January 2018 First draft.
  • February 2018 October 2018 Final write up.

Project Aims and Objectives

This study will act as a vehicle case study for critiquing current research approaches to identity formation through music and its influence on international relations. It will be designed to challenge the paradigm that views transnational musical identity formation as insignificant in the face of international relations. This research is important because it fills existing empirical and theoretical gaps. Empirically, there is very little research on contemporary music’s role on the formulation of a transnational identity that leads to a politically active community that is capable of enacting change on an international level. There is also limited understanding of the Palestinian diaspora’s political aspirations and even less understanding of Israel’s interaction with Palestinian musical messages. This research looks to conduct thorough empirical research, particularly through interviews, observational data collection, quantitative monitoring of Palestinian music consumption amongst the diaspora. It will also involve an in depth analysis of contemporary Palestinian music’s lyrics, the messages intended in the music, as well as researching the connection between Israeli political relations and music.

Theoretically, this research will explore the limitations set forth by not incorporating an interdisciplinary approach to the subject of transnational musical identity’s influence on international relations and political activism. This research will utilise data to create an extended postmodernist framework to assess motivations for political activism in the diaspora and how much of that political activism is due to their Palestinian identity that was formed in part by Palestinian contemporary music.

Reasons for the Research

Recent social-political movements, such as the divestment campaigns led by Palestinian activists in the diaspora, and these movements links to transnational Palestinian identity, demonstrates the needs to understand the influence of transnational Palestinian music on this community. This research serves the purpose of better defining the Palestinian identity and what is means to be Palestinian,[10] as well as how contemporary Palestinian music has influenced this process. Once a better understanding of Palestinian identity is established, a better understanding of their experiences, their needs, desires, hopes and political aspirations as a collective can be recognised. As Palestinian youth become more influential in their societies, their shared transnational experiences and identity will shed insight onto the socio-political future of Palestinians and Israelis.    

Works Cited

1. P. Katzenstein, The Culture of National Security: Norms and Identity in World Politics, (Columbia University Press, 1996 ).

2. Bennett, Andy. Popular Music and Youth Culture: Music, Identity, and Place. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave, 2000. Print.

3. DAM. Stranger in My Own Country. 2007. MP3.

4. Keri E. Iyall Smith and Patricia Leavy (eds.), Hybrid Identities,  (Haymarket Books 2009), 267.

5. Jamal, Amaney and Nadine Naber, Race and Arab Americans Before and After 9/11: From Invisible Citizens to Visible Subjects , (Syracuse University Press, 2008).

6. Kahf, Usama. “Arabic Hip-Hop: Claims of Authenticity and Identity of a New Genre.”That’s the Joint!: The Hip-hop Studies Reader. By Murray Forman and Mark Anthony. Neal. New York: Routledge, 2012. N. pag. Print.

7. Bennett, Andy. Popular Music and Youth Culture: Music, Identity, and Place. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave, 2000. Print.

8. Jamal, Amal. The Arab Public Sphere in Israel: Media Space and Cultural Resistance. P. 23-24, Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2009. Print.

9. Kitwana, Bakari. That’s the Joint!: The Hip-hop Studies Reader. Ed. Mark Anthony. Neal and Murray Forman. New York: Routledge, 2012. N. pag. Print.

10. Darcy Zabel, Arabs in the Americas: Interdisciplinary Essays on the Arab Diaspora, (Peter Lang Publishing, 2006), 35-39.

Dartmouth’s Action Plan for Inclusive Excellence

President Phil Hanlon ’77 <presidents.office@dartmouth.edu>

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To the Dartmouth community:

We write to you today to present our commitments to advance diversity and inclusion at Dartmouth.

Over the last weeks, we have studied the reports from the three Inclusive Excellence working groups. We have reviewed the Community Study report. We have taken stock of many previous reports and surveys. We have listened to your feedback on calls, at community forums, and in meetings and office hours, and we have read your emails.

We have identified many previous efforts over the years to enhance diversity and inclusion in our community. And we have concluded that Dartmouth needs no more reports, task forces, or initiatives that occur in isolation. Rather, Dartmouth needs action, alignment, accountability, and transparency. Today we stand together and commit our institution to cultural change. This change is both possible and necessary, on behalf of the highest academic standards that are integral to this institution.

Dartmouth’s capacity to advance its dual mission of education and research depends upon the full diversity and inclusivity of this community. We have work to do. We must increase diversity, particularly among our faculty and staff. As we do so, we must also create a community in which every individual, regardless of gender and gender identity, race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, disability, nationality, political or religious views, or position within the institution, is respected. On this close-knit and intimate campus, we must ensure that every person knows that he, she, or they is a valued member of our community.

Diversity and inclusivity are necessary partners. Without inclusivity, the benefits of diversity—an increase in understanding, improvement in performance, enhanced innovation, and heightened levels of satisfaction—will not be realized. We commit to investments in both, to create a community in which difference is valued, where each individual’s identity and contributions are treated with respect, and where differences lead to a strengthened identity for all.

In 2015, we launched the Moving Dartmouth Forward initiative to enhance the student experience and heighten learning outside the classroom, making the campus safer, more diverse, and more inclusive. The actions announced today build on Moving Dartmouth Forward with an expanded focus on diversity and inclusivity among staff and faculty, as well as students. As we did with Moving Dartmouth Forward, we commit to transparency and accountability in our actions. We will create a permanent home on Dartmouth’s website to allow you to track our progress across all dimensions of diversity and inclusivity, to ask questions, and to contribute ideas. We will appoint an external review committee to evaluate our work in fulfilling our commitments to diversity and inclusivity. And we will link that external review committee with the external committee already in place to evaluate our Moving Dartmouth Forward commitments.

Creating the culture we need and value will require a permanent commitment by the Dartmouth community. The actions we outline in the Action Plan for Inclusive Excellence mark that commitment with a period of focused action, supported by clear, accessible communication about our progress. We recognize that this effort is a marathon and not a sprint. We commit ourselves to constant vigilance and clarity regarding our efforts and their results.

See the full report.

Sincerely,

Phil Hanlon ’77, President

Carolyn Dever, Provost

Evelynn Ellis, Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity

Rick Mills, Executive Vice President

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Remembering Rachel Corrie on the anniversary of her death

contact@ifamericansknew.org

 

 

Dear Friend,

On this day 13 years ago, American peace activist Rachel Corrie was crushed to death by Israeli soldiers driving a military bulldozer. She was trying to prevent the demolition of a Palestinian family’s home. According to numerous witnesses and photographic documentation, she was killed intentionally.

Representative Brian Baird from Washington State introduced a resolution in Congress calling on the federal government to “undertake a full, fair, and expeditious investigation” into Rachel’s death. The bill was co-sponsored by 77 representatives, but Congress took no action. 

The Corrie family then filed a lawsuit against Caterpillar Inc in 2005, alleging that Caterpillar supplied Israelis with bulldozers even though they knew they were being used to commit war crimes. The lawsuit was dismissed.

The Corrie family’s appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit was also dismissed. The court acknowledged that the U.S. government paid for the bulldozer that killed Rachel, but said that they didn’t have the jurisdiction to rule on the “political question” of U.S. military aid to Israel. 

In 2010, the Corrie family filed a lawsuit in Israel against the Israeli Defense Forces. Israeli officials prevented the physician who had examined Rachel’s wounds from testifying in the case. The court ruled that Rachel was responsible for her own death. In 2014, the Corrie family’s appeal was rejected by the Supreme Court of Israel, and the IDF was absolved of any wrongdoing.

Keep Rachel’s message alive by sharing her story with your community. We have cards, a booklet of Rachel’s letters, and posters available for download and order.

#SupportPalestineInDC2016

U.S. taxpayers send Israel over $3 billion a year in military aid with virtually no strings attached, and now the prime minister of Israel wants $5 billion a year.

The majority of Americans oppose taking sides in the Israel-Palestine conflict, but virtually all Democratic and Republican members of Congress continue to supply Israel with more and more weapons each year (Palestinians do not receive military aid).

American taxpayer dollars have enabled Israel to continue its decades-long illegal occupation of Palestinian land and deny Palestinians basic legal and human rights. With our money, Israeli forces have killed over 9,200 Palestinians as well as numerous international journalists and peace activists since 2000.

We are driving the violence in this region, and we must stop it.

This weekend, AIPAC kicks off its annual policy conference in Washington, D.C., with Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, and Donald Trump scheduled to give speeches. We hope you will join us this Sunday at noon at the White House to protest AIPAC’s influence on American politics and support Palestinian human rights. Your voice is urgently needed!

As always, thank for your commitment to peace, justice, and equality for all people.

The If Americans Knew team

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Quick Links

Order or download Rachel Corrie cards, letters, and posters on our site

Protest AIPAC in DC on March 20th! Join this rally spearheaded by Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition.

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Human Rights Newsletter

mazin@qumsiyeh.org

Gratitude blog available here where you can leave comments

http://popular-resistance.blogspot.com/2016/02/grateful.html

“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming

gardeners who make our souls blossom.” Marcel Proust

I am so grateful for all that is happening in resistance to the incredible

odds and repression practiced by the elites in power. While some may get

activism or compassion “fatigue” , there are literally millions of people

deciding to leave their apathy behind and put their hands with other people

to work.  Our tiny little small part of the world (Palestine now an

apartheid sate called a “Jewish state”) has become a major center of global

activism. This centrality can be due to many factors:

1.Religious centrality to three main religions, one of which was hijacked

for political purposes locally in the past (Christianity –> Crusaderism),

the other hijacked in the past 150 years and is still strongly hijacked

(Judaism –>Zionism) and the other more recently and in nearby areas

beginning to be hijacked (Islam –> Isis and Wahhabism).

2. Nowhere else on earth is Western government hypocrisy more evident than

in Palestine. While the western leaders speak of democracy and human

rights, they support an apartheid racist “Jewish state” that engaged and

engages in racism, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing

(so far 7 million of us Palestinians are refugees or displaced people).

Thus, this is the Achilles heel of Western propaganda.

3. The 12 million Palestinians in the world, most refugees and others

squeezed into bantustans have been remarkably peaceful and tolerant and had

a long history of popular resistance for the past 130 years that provided a

stellar example to the world (see my 2012 book “Popular Resistance in

Palestine: A history of hope and empowerment”).

4. Israeli citizens and the global community are increasingly joining hands

with us to demand justice as the only road to peace.

5. More and more people realize that peace in the “Middle East” (Western

Asia) and around the world is dependent on peace for Palestine. Zionism

with its (sometimes dominant, sometimes subservient) twin US imperialism

are and have been most destructive forces in causing global conflict.

But what really gives us optimism daily are the people we interact with.

Students at the universities who see the importance of knowledge (power)

and come to school with enthusiasm even in the face of suppression of their

movement. Farmers that work hard in their fields even as land and water are

being taken from them by the occupiers. Unarmed young demonstrators showing

bravery in challenging the heavily armed Israeli forces (who occasionally

murder them). Thousands of political prisoners and “administrative

detainees” who resist the prisoners (one on hunger strike is close to

death). Activists who sometimes sacrifice comforts to be with us.

Organizers of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) activities around the

world who refuse to be silenced by illegal measures their governments try

to impose on them to suppress free speech. Volunteers at our activities

from refugee camp youth centers like Al-Rowwad to our Institute of

Biodiversity and Sustainability (http://www.palestinenature.org/about-us/ ).

Sometimes small actions make us retain our sanity and gives joy and meaning

to our lives. Just this past week:

– A small village of Izbet al-Tabib managed to gather 300 demonstrators

protesting the illegal confiscation of land and resources to serve settlers.

-We saved a cattle egret (bird with long legs and beak from the heron

group) which had been shot and with a macerated wing. We did an operation

that saved its life (unfortunately the wing had to be amputated).

-We released a fox that was drowning in a water treatment pool in the

Bethlehem garbage dump site.

– My tourism class did an exercise to help in a local tourism promotion

project.

-We noted several species of butterflies in our botanic garden already and

the flowers of rare orchids and even the Star of Bethlehem

-We had our first class in biodiversity for the new master program in

environmental biology at Birzeit University.

-We received dozens of visitors to our facilities and added to our very

large network of friends (now tens of thousands)

-We submitted two small grant proposals (we hope to start to do major

fundraising soon for our museum, botanical garden, and institute of

biodiversity and sustainability)

-Our aquaponic system is doing great and we expect our first harvest next

week (lettuce)

– We said goodbye to some volunteers and we welcomed others who helped us

build this institution.

We expect to receive more volunteers next week including a professor from

Jordan and an aquaponics researcher from Switzerland and at least 10

students from Bethlehem University doing their community service. We are so

grateful for all the above and we welcome volunteers and supporters with

all backgrounds and skills. We are guided by love and respect (to

ourselves, to others, then to nature). We are strengthened amid all the

suffering (here in Gaza, in Syria, in Yemen etc) by human connections and

by caring for each other.

Israeli soldiers beat detained Palestinian teenaged boys

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mzw2D5iL0bg

Palestinian Teacher Among World’s Top 10

http://www.palestinechronicle.com/palestinian-teacher-among-worlds-top-10/

Reconstruction Of Gaza: Zero Buildings, Massive Profit

http://www.whoprofits.org/content/reconstruction-gaza-zero-buildings-massive-profit

Should Jews Have To Pay Reparations for Slavery? Richard Kreitner

http://forward.com/culture/213776/should-jews-have-to-pay-reparations-for-slavery/

“Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have

roses.” Alphonse Karr

Stay human

Mazin Qumsiyeh

Professor and (Volunteer) Director

Palestine Museum of Natural History

Palestine Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability

Bethlehem University

Occupied Palestine

http://qumsiyeh.org

http://palestinenature.org

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The Left in Israel: Zionism vs Socialism

For a presentation of Zachary Lockman’s article go here

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#LoveMe Challenge: Day 9

Day 9

img_1974-10

Share something beautiful:

IMG_1617 IMG_1764 FullSizeRender

Meet my Muslim Sister Doll Squad

From Left to Right:

Razanne- She’s a convert/revert and the most chill of the sisters. She’s from Philadelphia and is all about giving back to the community.

Fullah- She’s Palestinian, from Nazareth. She’s a tough young woman that loves fashion and the arts. She’s goal-oriented and always hits while the iron’s hot.

Dalila- She’s Bosnian. She’s totally the manner/polite police.  She’s keeping the rest of them in line with a smile, wisdom and love.

No, I’m not crazy– I promise. When I was a little girl there were all these Barbies and other dolls, but none of them looked like me or believed in the same things I do. So when I come across a doll that portrays a part of life I can connect and resonate with, I like to bring it into my life and give the dolls a bit of a backstory.

It’s cool. They just hang out on my shelf and I guess I’m waiting for the time when I meet a young girl who is in need of a doll that relates to her. Then she can have them. And that is beautiful.

TRANSCRIPT: Foreign Press Center Briefing with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and Senior Official for APEC Matt Matthews

FOREIGN PRESS CENTER BRIEFING WITH DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE AND SENIOR OFFICIAL FOR APEC MATT MATTHEWS

TOPIC:  PREVIEW OF APEC 2015

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 2, 2015, 10:30 A.M. EDT

THE WASHINGTON FOREIGN PRESS CENTER, WASHINGTON, D.C.

MR ZIMMER:  Good morning.  Welcome to the Foreign Press Center.  My name is Mark Zimmer.  I’m one of the Media Relations Officers here.  We’re very pleased to welcome you this morning to a pre-brief of the APEC 2015 meeting with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matt Matthews. 

Before we start, I’d like to take a moment to mention International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists.  That’s today, November 2nd.  I don’t have to tell this group about the importance of a free press as part of every vibrant democracy regardless of location or culture.  This commemoration, which the UN General Assembly initiated in 2013, reminds all of us of our responsibility to prevent violence against members of the media and to ensure accountability for those who do commit violence.  The United States Government commends all of you for your role in promoting free speech, and we recognize the importance of journalists being able to do their work without fear.

With that, let me please welcome Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matt Matthews.  He will have some opening remarks, and then we’ll take questions.  I will moderate that session.  We’ll welcome colleagues in New York as appropriate.  Thank you.

MR MATTHEWS:  Good morning.  I’m very happy to be here with you all to just preview a few items in the lead-up to our APEC senior officials meeting, the APEC ministerial, and of course, the APEC leaders meeting, which will conclude our APEC year. 

I think as all of you know, APEC is a critical piece of our economic architecture in the Asia Pacific region, and we see it as the premier organization for advancing free and open trade and investment.  It’s also used to foster cooperation in promoting sustainable and equitable growth.  One of the most important parts of our Rebalance agenda is for shared prosperity in the region, and APEC contributes directly to that agenda.  There are a number of things that go into it, but APEC basically is structured to help regional integration, stability, and to support rules conducive to U.S. economic competitiveness both for us and the region as a whole.

There are a couple of reasons why APEC really does work and works effectively.  Number one, it’s the institution in the region that we use where we can cooperate on freer and more open trade and investment.  It’s the right environment for holding those discussions.  We have the right experts together both from government and from business to create substantial and workable, practical measures that help move us forward in that area. 

It’s also a good institution for capacity building.  The United States participates in that, but so do other economies in APEC.  And the purpose of that capacity building is to make sure our participatory economies in APEC or developing countries have the capabilities that enable them to take advantage of the trade liberalization that we move forward on in APEC.

And, lastly, I’d say that it’s key to ensuring economic growth that is sustainable and that benefits everyone.  That’s a key element in the themes that you’ll hear time and again during the Philippines’ year, is inclusive growth.  It’s really something that APEC has been working on for some time, but it is being highlighted during the Philippine host year. 

So, we see APEC being able to move forward on all these fronts because it’s an incubator for new ideas, for innovative approaches, and for tackling challenges in the region that other folks haven’t thought of or tried before.  That’s facilitated, as I said, by the level of frank and open discussion that we can have in APEC.  And we can have that kind of frank and open discussion because it’s an organization that’s based on consensus, and the outcomes that we reach are non-binding except inasmuch as each and every member economy commits to doing the things that we all have agreed make sense to do, that we all agree will expand trade, will create greater prosperity, and create benefits across our economies.

So what you’ll see over time is each and every economy coming to a conclusion, coming to a consensus within APEC, and then going home and doing the things they need to do to make those proposals fact, to make them real, to actually open their economies in ways that actually have spurred growth in the region.

I believe that APEC not only has but will continue to play essential role in enabling agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership and those of the WTO by helping economies envision and prepare for high-standard rules-based economic systems throughout the region.  I think one perfect example of how APEC has done that is in the area of environmental goods and services. 

So I just thought I’d highlight it for you because this year is the year in which all economies have committed to implementing commitments to either reduce tariffs on 54 items in the environmental goods and services list to below 5 percent or zeroing them out completely.  That’s an amazing step forward, and it’s a step that inspired the WTO to try to pick up a similar process.  And it’s moving forward now on a global framework.

So, again, incubator of ideas, effective means of communication within APEC where we have open discussions and plenty of time to examine the consequences of what a policy move might mean, then consensus and moving forward on it to implementation and providing that idea for others in the global economic community as a point of reference and, perhaps, adoption as in the case of environmental goods and services.

So that environmental goods and services list and the implementation of it is one of the real key highlights for deliverables this year.  But there is much more on the APEC agenda, and first and foremost I would say is work on digital economy.  This is something we’ve been working on for the past couple of years and we’re continuing to prepare it to ensure that the internet and the dissemination of new technologies that have led to rapid change is, in fact, possible within the APEC environment. 

What does this really mean for us?  It means that the internet needs to be open for markets and for free flow of information.  The free flow of information is critical to firms making rapid and accurate decisions.  So anything that prevents the free flow of information on the internet really is an impediment to growth.  It’s an impediment to prosperity. 

So we’re supporting a discussion in APEC that looks to identify those barriers and, as we move forward not only just this year but in the years to come, to thinking about ways we can move forward of dealing with the digital economy as a major trade issue for APEC, one that will allow us to address barriers in an effective way across the board.

The goal here, of course, is to make sure that we have a 21st economy in the Asia Pacific that continues to drive growth for the globe, and we’ll do that by making sure that we’re on that cutting edge, that we’re taking advantage of all the tools and all the benefits that the internet has that we can apply to our economic systems.

Another thing, of course, moving forward is work on the free trade area of the Pacific.  There is a study going on now and … working chapters are being developed by various economies.  That is something that will be progressing year by year as we look at ways of even broadening out the degree of integration within APEC.

There’s also, as I said, a key agenda on prosper – maintaining prosperity through sustainable, healthy, and resilient communities.  So what are we talking about there?  In APEC, we’ve come up with practical applications for dealing with marine debris.  There are better programs going out now where cities are undertaking very pragmatic programs that will take debris, waste material, and turn it into energy – just a creative and effective and economically viable approach.  Again, we’re doing it as an example, not only to the Asia Pacific region, but for the globe as well.

Fossil fuel subsidy reviews – we’re taking a look in APEC at those fossil fuel subsidies and asking each economy to take a clear look and ask themselves whether it’s delivering economic benefit or is it perhaps counterproductive.  And in those cases where they identify a counterproductive subsidy – that means a subsidy that doesn’t work to that – the goal that we have in mind or that – or there are other policy options that might be more efficient.  Folks are then encouraged to pursue those other options. 

On the environment, we’ve got a number of initiatives but, of course, first and foremost was the environmental goods and services agreement.  And I’d just highlight for you, in terms of environment, that the reason why that’s important is we are encouraging businesses and encouraging economies to adopt the best available technologies that allow us to grow, but to grow greener by reducing our carbon footprint.  One key way to do that is by zeroing out the tariff, cutting the tax on those items so that businesses are more likely to adopt those technologies sooner and on a broader scale.  That means that we can grow and reduce our carbon footprint at the same time.  But in addition to that, we’re also doing work on electric vehicles and, as I said, we’re doing this fossil fuel subsidy study.  So there’s that element on environment.

Again, there’s an element covering health.  And in health, we’ve done work on both reducing the barriers – or not reducing but at last identifying barriers to trade in health care products.  Again, looking forward, what we’ve got in mind here is this:  What we’re trying to do is improve the health outcomes in each and every economy, and one of the best ways of doing that is to take a look and see where are the tariff rates inconsistent with that goal?  Where are they so high that they’re actually preventing good health care products from getting to consumers who need them?  And, ultimately, what we’ll try to do is work together with our other APEC economies and come up with approaches of how we can reduce those barriers.

But another thing that we’re doing is working in public-private partnerships on infection prevention and the control that is working in conjunction with the global health security agenda.  

And a third area of work in APEC, which is very important and which requires private sector assistance – and one reason why APEC is so effective is it brings the private sector together with government – is to take a look at innovative medical products and take a look at the kind of global standards we’re adopting in applying them.

I’ll give you a following-up area for work that we’re doing, is in women’s economic empowerment.  Here, the most basic thing we’re trying to achieve is ensuring that each and every economy in APEC grows at its optimum level, but the only way you can really do that is by ensuring that women have a full right to participate in the workforce and to contribute to our economic growth. 

So in a broad range of measures, both on – by identifying policy frameworks that can facilitate and encourage full participation of women in the economy through a digital dashboard, and through a number of other specific measures, including this year we had one on transportation – women and transportation, which took a very clear look at this key node, making sure that women have safe transportation systems to get them to and from work, to make sure that that doesn’t become a barrier to their participation in the workforce.  And as a kind of ripple effect, allow economies to say, okay, that’s the way it worked in transportation; are there other areas in our economy that are, unbeknownst to us or without us having really thought through them, creating barriers that we didn’t intend but are in fact there?  As we take a look at the policy settings, we can say here are things, practical things, we can do to make sure that there’s nothing that stands between a woman and her desire to participate in that economy and generate income for her family and help that economy grow.

So one last thing I would mention to you is our work on disaster preparedness.  This is something that was particularly poignant, I think, for the Philippines here because the Philippines, of course, is subject to as many if not more disasters than any other economy in APEC, whether it’s volcanoes, whether it’s earthquakes, whether it’s typhoons.  But all economies in APEC to some degree or other have to handle these kinds of challenges.  And what we want to do, particularly in APEC, is make sure that we’re coordinating in ways that, number one, ensure that we can get humanitarian goods to and from any disaster zone as efficiently and effectively as possible.  This means over time dealing with the customs regulations and restrictions that might slow down that process.  Our goal here is to make sure we alleviate suffering as much as we possibly can, as soon as we possibly can.  And a second element of the APEC’s work on disaster preparedness is, again, I think unique to APEC because it takes a look at what happens after you’ve dealt with the immediate humanitarian crisis:  What about getting our supply chains back in business?  What about getting our businesses back up and running?  What about making sure we have resilient energy systems that can be either sustained through a disaster scenario or be returned to service as quickly as possible?  We’re looking at all those kinds of elements within the framework of discussions in APEC.  So I think you can see we have a really broad agenda, but it’s focused on delivering economic improvement and greater prosperity and greater equity throughout the system.

So I think with those opening remarks, I’ll just open it up.

MR ZIMMER:  Thank you.  Please identify yourself and your outlet.  If any guests in New York come to the microphone, we’ll recognize them.

Please, in the middle here.

QUESTION:  Thank you.  Welcome to the Foreign Press Center.  I have a question about India.  India has applied for membership of APEC and Philippines said it’s considering it.  What’s U.S. position on that?

MR MATTHEWS:  I don’t believe that there’s any active consideration within APEC for expanded membership at the current time.  From time to time, countries and economies will register interest and – at present, though, there’s been no significant discussion along those lines.  But at a future date, those things may be reviewed and we will see where they go.

One thing I would suggest is for any economy that’s interested in APEC, a great way to start is to go into – identify sub-fora or working groups that work on particular areas across our APEC agenda that are of particular interest to them and apply as a guest to send experts in to participate, both to help understand how APEC works and to get a better understanding of how we process and turn out good outcomes that help APEC be that organization that pushes for leading-edge and innovative ways of expanding a more open and free trade and investment environment.

MR ZIMMER:  In the middle here, please.

QUESTION:  Hi, I’m Alexander Panetta from the Canadian Press.  So there will be a new member of APEC this year – Canada has a new prime minister in two days.  So I’m just wondering whether there are any plans for either a bilateral or a pull-aside with Canada’s new Prime Minister Trudeau and any issues that might be priorities for the United States in dealing with a new government.

MR MATTHEWS:  Well, Canada has a new prime minister and we welcome the prime minister into the APEC family, but Canada is not a new member.  And Canada is a very significant and important member of APEC, one which we work with very closely.  We anticipate having a tremendous amount of continuity in the APEC agenda and that Canada, if it does have new priorities that it would like to raise or address, I’m sure we’ll be hearing from the prime minister and his team when we go into the ministerial and leaders agenda period during these discussions coming up.  But nothing’s been raised as of yet that I’m aware of.

MR ZIMMER:  Thanks very much.  Let’s go to the side here, please.

QUESTION:  My name is Varughese George.  I have a follow-up question on India.  I’m from India, The Hindu newspaper.  India has already been an observer since 2011 and President Obama, when he visited India last year, did say that the U.S. would support India’s membership in APEC.  So are you suggesting that there is no forward movement at all on that – India’s request for membership?

MR MATTHEWS:  I think it’s just important to be very careful and accurate about describing the President’s comments.  The President has welcomed India’s interest in APEC, and I think that speaks for itself.  We are welcoming your interest.  We welcome India’s examination of what APEC’s all about, but we have not entered into a discussion and I don’t believe India is formally pressing for actual membership now in APEC.  And remember, keep this in mind, APEC is an organization that’s consensus-based.  So each and every member of APEC has to agree to an expansion of APEC membership, and no discussions in APEC this year have focused on that topic – just so you’re focused on that, okay?  You’re welcome.

MR ZIMMER:  We’ll do the front and then we’ll go to the back, please.

QUESTION:  Thank you, Matt.  Rita Cheng from Central News Agency, Taiwan.  Every year the U.S. delegation will meet with the Taiwan’s counterpart during the APEC.  I wondered is there any meeting confirmed during this year?  And any other topic that you will be discuss with Taiwan’s counterpart? 

And also, not every country in – of APEC has been included in TPP.  I wonder the America – how America and in what way will put the – cooperate the TPP (inaudible) with the – like the region’s economic framework?  Thank you.

MR MATTHEWS:  Okay, I’m not sure if I got all of that.  But first and foremost, Taipei is a full member in APEC – Chinese Taipei is a full member in APEC, and it works across the whole APEC agenda with every other economy in APEC and we work with Chinese Taipei in those various sub-fora and working groups, in senior official meetings that I participate in with, and of course during ministerials and even the leaders meeting.  So I think you can anticipate that, just as in prior years, Chinese Taipei will be an active participant in all those elements and we look forward to that.

MR ZIMMER:  In the back, please.

QUESTION:  Good morning.  My name is Adam Xu from Voice of America, Mandarin service.  I have two questions.  You mentioned the U.S. will support the discussion on the free flow of information on the internet.  I’m wondering:  Do you have a list of participants in the (inaudible) or is this discussion going to be carried out?  And can you elaborate on the focus of such discussion, and what are your expectations?

And my second question is about the South China Sea.  Given the recent tensions in South China Sea, is it going to be on the agenda in the APEC discussions?

MR. MATTHEWS:  Thank you.  So, on digital economy, right now we’re at an early stage in the APEC process on discussing the digital economy and digital trade issues, so I would say that this is essentially a working-level process.  But both at ministerial and, I believe hopefully, at the leaders level there will be acknowledgement that this is an important issue that has to be discussed and engaged in, but it primarily has to be engaged at this working level to make sure we kind of start to flesh out all the different specifics that we think are critical to ensuring that we have a free and open internet that supports future economic growth.  So I guess that’s where I’d say we’re on that one.

And I have nothing for you on the South China Sea, except I would just reiterate that APEC is an organization that focuses on economic issues. 

MR ZIMMER:  How about on the side for this one.

QUESTION:  Hi, 21st Century Business Herald.  About TPP, some trade experts told me that among the TPP members in the ASEAN countries, Malaysia will be the one, the country that will face a lot of challenge during the TPP ratification process in terms of the prime minister’s challenge from his own party and from parliament.  So is this the case, or do you optimistic about the ratification process of TPP in Malaysia as there will be a trade minister session in the APEC?  Thanks.

MR MATTHEWS:  Well, I am optimistic about ratification of the TPP agreement by all the participating economies.  It doesn’t mean that it won’t take a lot of work.  Even in our own country we anticipate it’s going to be a major effort to make sure we do a good job of explaining the actual outcomes of TPP and what the benefits are.  But we remain optimistic and I think we remain optimistic across all the participating economies. 

MR ZIMMER:  In the middle, please, then we’ll go to the back.

QUESTION:  Hi, Maria Garcia, Notimex, the Mexican news agency.  As – Mexico as a member of APEC has started ambitious economic reforms.  Do you think that the Mexican model could be – to what extent the Mexican model could be regarded as a model for other members of the APEC?

MR MATTHEWS:  Other members of APEC?  Well, I would say this, that we have a very broad agenda of issues in APEC, and I would say it’s probably fair to say that almost every economy participating in APEC has at some point introduced innovative ideas or good policy suggestions that get discussed by APEC and ultimately adopted by APEC.  And Mexico, of course, is one of them.  But it’s part and parcel of the way in which we operate, so particularly in every host year whenever an economy decides to host, they have a chairmanship role which allows them to help highlight issues that they think are of critical importance, and they naturally do this in consultation with other economies.  But it does give them a chance to provide some additional input. 

But even in non-host years every economy has the ability to introduce at working levels at the senior official level new ideas that they think will help all the economies at APEC to grow more effectively.  And Mexico has participated in that and they are an active and helpful player in helping us move towards a more liberal and open system.  So I can only say thank you to Mexico.

MR ZIMMER:  All the way in the back, please.

QUESTION:  Hi, I’m Marion with NHK Japan Broadcasting Corporation.  I have two questions about two major economic developments in the region this year, first of all the TPP and then also economic uncertainty coming out of China and the resulting financial market volatility.  And I’m wondering if those two things would specifically be on the agenda for the leaders’ summit.  TPP, I assume, would definitely be a focus in the trade minister summit, but I’m wondering if there would be a sort of separate TPP meeting at the leaders’ level as well. 

QUESTION:  Well, there’s been no decision, I think at this point, on whether or not there will be a TPP sidebar meeting at the ministerial or at the leaders’ meeting, but I refer to USTR on that.  As we get closer to the date they may have something more for you on that. 

In terms of China, China is pursuing a broad-based economic reform agenda.  It’s a challenging process of shifting the growth model – one dependent on investment and exports to domestic demand – and it’s a natural process you would anticipate that when you go through a major economic policy transition like this that issues will arise.  They seem committed to the process.  I think though the IMF and other economies understand their commitment and are supportive of their commitment to that reform process. 

MR ZIMMER:  Do we have more in the back?  (Inaudible.)

QUESTION:  Thank you very much.  My name is Tatsuya Mizumoto from Jiji Press.  About digital economy: so, are you discussing about cyber security?  And then about TPP, I know you have no TPP agreements, so what kind of the impact you will have to (inaudible) by this?

MR MATTHEWS:  Okay, cyber security does get raised in certain fora within APEC, and – but it’s – we have a pretty strong economic focus for the discussions.  So what you want to do is make sure that you have systems in place that preserve trade secrets, that preserve the integrity of business information, et cetera.  You want to make sure that economies are protected against potential economic downside of cyber hacking, et cetera. 

But I’ll get back to you with more detail that would probably help you, because I don’t have the specifics in front of me but I’d be happy to give you more information on that in a follow-up.

And then your second question was?  I’m sorry.

QUESTION:  (Off-mike.)

MR MATTHEWS:  Yeah.  So APEC’s agenda is separate – TPP is a separate negotiating group of economies.  They’re all APEC members, but it’s done separately.  So we’re not driving the APEC agenda based on what happens in the TPP negotiations.  The APEC agenda keeps moving forward on trade liberalization processes regardless.  So – but obviously, we all welcome the successful conclusion of the TPP, but it won’t directly affect the APEC discussion process.

MR ZIMMER:  Do you have a short follow-up?

QUESTION:  Yes, I want to follow that, so on the TPP.  But I think as – to your final (inaudible) that you are going to write a TPP standard to – in the APEC area, right?  So —

MR MATTHEWS:  Right.  So there are two things.  There’s a free trade agreement of the Pacific discussion group, which basically is starting to flesh out what chapters in an APEC-wide agreement might look like.  That discussion process will go forward, and is going forward, and chapters are being worked on by individual economies who have raised their hands and volunteered to help contribute.  And I guess that’s what I can tell you.  That’s an ongoing discussion process and ongoing drafting process.  That continues. 

MR ZIMMER:  Any final questions?  Okay.

QUESTION:  I am Grigory Dubovitskiy, Russian news agency RIA Novosti.  Are you aware of any plans, maybe possible, to discuss any questions with Russian delegation on the sidelines while SOM meet, maybe you aware of what level it could be?

MR MATTHEWS:  I don’t know about – and I can say to you that I meet with the Russian delegation for the senior officials level on a regular basis and at every SOM basically – and my predecessors did.  So those discussions continue because we have points of discussion that need close communication on a regular basis.  And my team that does APEC issues is, of course, working with our counterparts in the Russian delegation to APEC.  As for more senior-level meeting schedules, I don’t have the specifics for you on that.

MR ZIMMER:  One here, and then a final couple in the back.

QUESTION:  Two quick follow-up questions.  Alexander Panetta, again, from the Canadian Press.  Can you give an example or two of some of the environmental goods and services you’re talking about, and what a change in tariffs might mean or an elimination of tariffs might mean in terms of their proliferation?  That’s the first follow-up.

And the second thing I wanted to ask was, if I understand correctly, that you don’t know yet whether there might be a meeting with the new Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada?

MR MATTHEWS:  Well, I’d refer you to the White House on their scheduling of bilateral meetings for the President during the period of the leaders’ meeting. 

As for your other question on environmental goods and services, well some obvious ones that come to mind that are covered are wind turbines and solar panels – things that you’d say just – inherently you’d say anybody who wants to operate more greenly and wants to generate green power will want to make sure we can get those products to every market in APEC with the lowest tariff possible, if not zero tariff, so that a greater number of firms and a greater number of households can actually adopt the use of those technologies to reduce their energy intake and their carbon footprint.

MR ZIMMER:  Okay.  Maybe one more after this one.

QUESTION:  All right, thank you.  Rob Gentry with TV Asahi.  I had a follow-up on your question about – on your point about reducing tariffs for health care products.  Is it tariffs or is it also non-tariff barriers that you’re interested in on that? 

And then as a general question for the leaders’ meeting, what does the U.S. hope to have in terms of discussion on currency in the region, in terms of its effect on trade?  Thanks.

MR MATTHEWS:  So for healthcare products let me just be clear, we’re in very early stages of discussions on health care products.  Really what we’re doing at this current stage in APEC is agreeing to kind of identify barriers.  But one other thing that I’d like mention to you that we’re doing with regard to healthcare products in APEC is having private sector and governmental cooperation on helping to identify substandard health care products that can enter the market or even fraudulent ones, and then making sure each economy has effective means of taking those substandard products out of the pharmaceutical system to make sure we’re not delivering products which don’t help improve the health outcomes for our citizens.  But so we’re really at an early stage on that healthcare initiative, and we’re not to the point of, I think, identifying tariffs or talking about tariff reductions but just basically doing a study of the overall picture on barriers.

And I’m sorry, what was your other question?

QUESTION:  Currency.

MR MATTHEWS:  Currency.  I can’t give you anything on that.  I don’t know that there’s – yeah, I just don’t have an answer for you on that one.

MR ZIMMER:  Do we have a final question?  Over here, one more.  Last question, please.

QUESTION:  Sorry, it’s still a follow-up to the TPP.  I just wondered, is that like the similar, that during the APEC the discussion group will have a meeting and any country who would like to join the TPP, that they will have the chance to talking about that?  It’s something like that?  Thank you.

MR MATTHEWS:  Yeah, well, thanks for that question.  I don’t believe it’s envisioned right now.  Remember, every economy that’s in the Trans-Pacific Partnership at present is focused on one thing.  It’s getting from the conclusion of the negotiation to ratification within their own system, and that’s precisely where the United States is.  So our focus is completely dedicated to preparing everything we need to do to get ratification by the U.S. Congress.  And until we get that done, we’re not really going to be focusing on other economies.

We welcome the interest of other economies in APEC who are interested in TPP, but we just have to tell folks, please understand our focus right now is getting to ratification.

MR ZIMMER:  Okay, we appreciate Mr. Matthews joining us this morning out of his busy schedule.  We appreciate your joining us.  We’ll see you next time.  Thank you.

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