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.


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?


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.

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



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


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.

# # #

Fact Sheet on the Trans-Pacific Partnership




Office of the Press Secretary


October 5, 2015


FACT SHEET: How the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Boosts Made in America Exports, Supports Higher-Paying American Jobs, and Protects American Workers


Today, the United States reached agreement with its eleven partner countries, concluding negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.



The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a new, high-standard trade agreement that levels the playing field for American workers and American businesses, supporting more Made in America exports and higher-paying American jobs. By eliminating over 18,000 taxes – in the form of tariffs – that various countries put on Made in America products, TPP makes sure our farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, and small businesses can compete – and win – in some of the fastest-growing markets in the world. With more than 95 percent of the world’s consumers living outside our borders, TPP will significantly expand the export of Made in America goods and services and support American jobs.


TPP Eliminates over 18,000 Different Taxes on Made in America Exports


TPP levels the playing field for American workers and American businesses by eliminating over 18,000 taxes that various countries impose on Made in America exports, providing unprecedented access to vital new markets in the Asia-Pacific region for U.S. workers, businesses, farmers, and ranchers. For example, TPP will eliminate and reduce import taxes – or tariffs – on the following Made in America exports to TPP countries:


·         U.S. manufactured products:  TPP eliminates import taxes on every Made in America manufactured product that the U.S. exports to TPP countries.  For example, TPP eliminates import taxes as high as 59 percent on U.S. machinery products exports to TPP countries. In 2014, the U.S. exported $56 billion in machinery products to TPP countries.


·         U.S. agriculture products: TPP cuts import taxes on Made in America agricultural exports to TPP countries. Key tax cuts in the agreement will help American farmers and ranchers by expanding their exports, which provide roughly 20 percent of all farm income in the United States. For example, TPP will eliminate import taxes as high as 40 percent on U.S. poultry products, 35 percent on soybeans, and 40 percent on fruit exports. Additionally, TPP will help American farmers and ranchers compete by tackling a range of barriers they face abroad, including ensuring that foreign regulations and agricultural inspections are based on science, eliminating agricultural export subsidies, and minimizing unpredictable export bans.


·         U.S. automotive products: TPP eliminates import taxes as high as 70 percent on U.S. automotive products exports to TPP countries. In 2014, the U.S. exported $89 billion in automotive products to TPP countries.


·         U.S. information and communication technology products: TPP eliminates import taxes as high as 35 percent on U.S. information and communication technology exports to TPP countries. In 2014, the U.S. exported $36 billion in information and communication technology products to TPP countries.


TPP Includes the Strongest Worker Protections of Any Trade Agreement in History


TPP puts American workers first by establishing the highest labor standards of any trade agreement in history, requiring all countries to meet core, enforceable labor standards as stated in the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.


The fully-enforceable labor standards we have won in TPP include the freedom to form unions and bargain collectively; prohibitions against child labor and forced labor; requirements for acceptable conditions of work such as minimum wage, hours of work, and safe workplace conditions; and protections against employment discrimination. These enforceable requirements will help our workers compete fairly and reverse a status quo that disadvantages our workers through a race to the bottom on international labor standards.


In fact, TPP will result in the largest expansion of fully-enforceable labor rights in history, including renegotiating NAFTA and bringing hundreds of millions of additional people under ILO standards – leveling the playing field for American workers so that they can win in the global economy.


TPP Includes the Strongest Environmental Protections of Any Trade Agreement in History


TPP includes the highest environmental standards of any trade agreement in history. The agreement upgrades NAFTA, putting environmental protections at the core of the agreement, and making those obligations fully enforceable through the same type of dispute settlement as other obligations.


TPP requires all members to combat wildlife trafficking, illegal logging, and illegal fishing, as well as prohibit some of the most harmful fishery subsidies and promote sustainable fisheries management practices. TPP also requires that the 12 countries promote long-term conservation of whales, dolphins, sharks, sea turtles, and other marine species, as well as to protect and conserve iconic species like rhinos and elephants. And TPP cracks down on ozone-depleting substances as well as ship pollution of the oceans, all while promoting cooperative efforts to address energy efficiency.


TPP Helps Small Businesses Benefit from Global Trade


For the first time in any trade agreement, TPP includes a chapter specifically dedicated to helping small- and medium-sized businesses benefit from trade. Small businesses are one of the primary drivers of job growth in the U.S., but too often trade barriers lock small businesses out of important foreign markets when they try to export their Made in America goods.  While 98 percent of the American companies that export are small and medium-sized businesses, less than 5 percent of all American small businesses export. That means there’s huge untapped potential for small businesses to expand their businesses by exporting more to the 95 percent of global consumers who live outside our borders.


TPP addresses trade barriers that pose disproportionate challenges to small businesses, such as high taxes, overly complex trade paperwork, corruption, customs “red tape,” restrictions on Internet data flows, weak logistics services that raise costs, and slow delivery of small shipments.  TPP makes it cheaper, easier, and faster for American small businesses to get their products to market by creating efficient and transparent procedures that move goods quickly across borders.


TPP Promotes E-Commerce, Protects Digital Freedom, and Preserves an Open Internet


TPP includes cutting-edge rules to promote Internet-based commerce – a central area of American leadership, and one of the world’s great opportunities for growth. The agreement also includes strong rules that make sure the best innovation, not trade barriers and censorship laws, shapes how digital markets grow. TPP helps preserve the single, global, digital marketplace.


TPP does this by preserving free international movement of data, ensuring that individuals, small businesses, and families in all TPP countries can take advantage of online shopping, communicate efficiently at low cost, and access, move, and store data freely.  TPP also bans “forced localization” – the discriminatory requirement that certain governments impose on U.S. businesses that they place their data, servers, research facilities, and other necessities overseas in order to access those markets. 


TPP includes standards to protect digital freedom, including the free flow of information across borders – ensuring that Internet users can store, access, and move their data freely, subject to public-interest regulation, for example to fight spamming and cyber-crime.


TPP Levels the Playing Field for U.S. Workers by Disciplining State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs)


TPP protects American workers and businesses from unfair competition by State-owned companies in other countries, who are often given preferential treatment that allows them to undercut U.S. competitors. This includes the first-ever disciplines to ensure that SOEs compete on a commercial basis and that the advantages SOEs receive from their governments, such as unfair subsidies, do not have an adverse impact on American workers and businesses.


TPP Prioritizes Good Governance and Fighting Corruption


TPP includes the strongest standards for transparency and anticorruption of any trade agreement in history. As such, TPP strengthens good governance in TPP countries by requiring them to ratify or accede to the U.N. Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), commit to adopt or maintain laws that criminalize bribing public officials, adopt measures to decrease conflicts of interest, commit to effectively enforce anticorruption laws and regulations, and give citizens the opportunity to provide input on any proposed measures relating to issues covered by the TPP agreement. TPP also requires regulatory transparency policies based on standard U.S. practice.


TPP Includes First Ever Development Chapter


For the first time in any U.S. trade agreement, TPP includes stand-alone chapters dedicated to development and capacity-building, as well as a wide range of commitments to promote sustainable development and inclusive economic growth, reduce poverty, promote food security, and combat child and forced labor.


TPP Capitalizes on America’s Position as the World Leader in Services Exports


TPP lifts complex restrictions and bans on access for U.S. businesses – including many small businesses – that export American services like retail, communications, logistics, entertainment, software and more. This improved access will unlock new economic opportunities for the U.S. services industry, which currently employs about 4 out of every 5 American workers.





TRANSCRIPT: Remarks by President Obama to the United Nations General Assembly


Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release                                                                                  September 28, 2015






United Nations Headquarters

New York, New York



10:18 A.M. EDT



PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Mr. President, Mr. Secretary General, fellow delegates, ladies and gentlemen:  Seventy years after the founding of the United Nations, it is worth reflecting on what, together, the members of this body have helped to achieve. 


Out of the ashes of the Second World War, having witnessed the unthinkable power of the atomic age, the United States has worked with many nations in this Assembly to prevent a third world war — by forging alliances with old adversaries; by supporting the steady emergence of strong democracies accountable to their people instead of any foreign power; and by building an international system that imposes a cost on those who choose conflict over cooperation, an order that recognizes the dignity and equal worth of all people. 


That is the work of seven decades.  That is the ideal that this body, at its best, has pursued.  Of course, there have been too many times when, collectively, we have fallen short of these ideals.  Over seven decades, terrible conflicts have claimed untold victims.  But we have pressed forward, slowly, steadily, to make a system of international rules and norms that are better and stronger and more consistent.


It is this international order that has underwritten unparalleled advances in human liberty and prosperity.  It is this collective endeavor that’s brought about diplomatic cooperation between the world’s major powers, and buttressed a global economy that has lifted more than a billion people from poverty.  It is these international principles that helped constrain bigger countries from imposing our will on smaller ones, and advanced the emergence of democracy and development and individual liberty on every continent.


This progress is real.  It can be documented in lives saved, and agreements forged, and diseases conquered, and in mouths fed. And yet, we come together today knowing that the march of human progress never travels in a straight line, that our work is far from complete; that dangerous currents risk pulling us back into a darker, more disordered world. 


Today, we see the collapse of strongmen and fragile states breeding conflict, and driving innocent men, women and children across borders on an epoch scale.  Brutal networks of terror have stepped into the vacuum.  Technologies that empower individuals are now also exploited by those who spread disinformation, or suppress dissent, or radicalize our youth.  Global capital flows have powered growth and investment, but also increased risk of contagion, weakened the bargaining power of workers, and accelerated inequality. 


How should we respond to these trends?  There are those who argue that the ideals enshrined in the U.N. charter are unachievable or out of date — a legacy of a postwar era not suited to our own.  Effectively, they argue for a return to the rules that applied for most of human history and that pre-date this institution: the belief that power is a zero-sum game; that might makes right; that strong states must impose their will on weaker ones; that the rights of individuals don’t matter; and that in a time of rapid change, order must be imposed by force.


On this basis, we see some major powers assert themselves in ways that contravene international law.  We see an erosion of the democratic principles and human rights that are fundamental to this institution’s mission; information is strictly controlled, the space for civil society restricted.  We’re told that such retrenchment is required to beat back disorder; that it’s the only way to stamp out terrorism, or prevent foreign meddling.  In accordance with this logic, we should support tyrants like Bashar al-Assad, who drops barrel bombs to massacre innocent children, because the alternative is surely worse.


The increasing skepticism of our international order can also be found in the most advanced democracies.  We see greater polarization, more frequent gridlock; movements on the far right, and sometimes the left, that insist on stopping the trade that binds our fates to other nations, calling for the building of walls to keep out immigrants.  Most ominously, we see the fears of ordinary people being exploited through appeals to sectarianism, or tribalism, or racism, or anti-Semitism; appeals to a glorious past before the body politic was infected by those who look different, or worship God differently; a politics of us versus them.


The United States is not immune from this.  Even as our economy is growing and our troops have largely returned from Iraq and Afghanistan, we see in our debates about America’s role in the world a notion of strength that is defined by opposition to old enemies, perceived adversaries, a rising China, or a resurgent Russia; a revolutionary Iran, or an Islam that is incompatible with peace.  We see an argument made that the only strength that matters for the United States is bellicose words and shows of military force; that cooperation and diplomacy will not work. 


As President of the United States, I am mindful of the dangers that we face; they cross my desk every morning.  I lead the strongest military that the world has ever known, and I will never hesitate to protect my country or our allies, unilaterally and by force where necessary.


But I stand before you today believing in my core that we, the nations of the world, cannot return to the old ways of conflict and coercion.  We cannot look backwards.  We live in an integrated world — one in which we all have a stake in each other’s success.  We cannot turn those forces of integration.  No nation in this Assembly can insulate itself from the threat of terrorism, or the risk of financial contagion; the flow of migrants, or the danger of a warming planet.  The disorder we see is not driven solely by competition between nations or any single ideology.  And if we cannot work together more effectively, we will all suffer the consequences.  That is true for the United States, as well.  


No matter how powerful our military, how strong our economy, we understand the United States cannot solve the world’s problems alone.  In Iraq, the United States learned the hard lesson that even hundreds of thousands of brave, effective troops, trillions of dollars from our Treasury, cannot by itself impose stability on a foreign land.  Unless we work with other nations under the mantle of international norms and principles and law that offer legitimacy to our efforts, we will not succeed.  And unless we work together to defeat the ideas that drive different communities in a country like Iraq into conflict, any order that our militaries can impose will be temporary. 


Just as force alone cannot impose order internationally, I believe in my core that repression cannot forge the social cohesion for nations to succeed.  The history of the last two decades proves that in today’s world, dictatorships are unstable. The strongmen of today become the spark of revolution tomorrow.  You can jail your opponents, but you can’t imprison ideas.  You can try to control access to information, but you cannot turn a lie into truth.  It is not a conspiracy of U.S.-backed NGOs that expose corruption and raise the expectations of people around the globe; it’s technology, social media, and the irreducible desire of people everywhere to make their own choices about how they are governed. 


Indeed, I believe that in today’s world, the measure of strength is no longer defined by the control of territory.   Lasting prosperity does not come solely from the ability to access and extract raw materials.  The strength of nations depends on the success of their people — their knowledge, their innovation, their imagination, their creativity, their drive, their opportunity — and that, in turn, depends upon individual rights and good governance and personal security.  Internal repression and foreign aggression are both symptoms of the failure to provide this foundation. 


A politics and solidarity that depend on demonizing others, that draws on religious sectarianism or narrow tribalism or jingoism may at times look like strength in the moment, but over time its weakness will be exposed.  And history tells us that the dark forces unleashed by this type of politics surely makes all of us less secure.  Our world has been there before.  We gain nothing from going back.


Instead, I believe that we must go forward in pursuit of our ideals, not abandon them at this critical time.  We must give expression to our best hopes, not our deepest fears.  This institution was founded because men and women who came before us had the foresight to know that our nations are more secure when we uphold basic laws and basic norms, and pursue a path of cooperation over conflict.  And strong nations, above all, have a responsibility to uphold this international order.


Let me give you a concrete example.  After I took office, I made clear that one of the principal achievements of this body — the nuclear non-proliferation regime — was endangered by Iran’s violation of the NPT.  On that basis, the Security Council tightened sanctions on the Iranian government, and many nations joined us to enforce them.  Together, we showed that laws and agreements mean something.


But we also understood that the goal of sanctions was not simply to punish Iran.  Our objective was to test whether Iran could change course, accept constraints, and allow the world to verify that its nuclear program will be peaceful.  For two years, the United States and our partners — including Russia, including China — stuck together in complex negotiations.  The result is a lasting, comprehensive deal that prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, while allowing it to access peaceful energy.  And if this deal is fully implemented, the prohibition on nuclear weapons is strengthened, a potential war is averted, our world is safer.  That is the strength of the international system when it works the way it should.


That same fidelity to international order guides our responses to other challenges around the world.  Consider Russia’s annexation of Crimea and further aggression in eastern Ukraine.  America has few economic interests in Ukraine.  We recognize the deep and complex history between Russia and Ukraine.  But we cannot stand by when the sovereignty and territorial integrity of a nation is flagrantly violated.  If that happens without consequence in Ukraine, it could happen to any nation gathered here today.  That’s the basis of the sanctions that the United States and our partners impose on Russia.  It’s not a desire to return to a Cold War.


Now, within Russia, state-controlled media may describe these events as an example of a resurgent Russia — a view shared, by the way, by a number of U.S. politicians and commentators who have always been deeply skeptical of Russia, and seem to be convinced a new Cold War is, in fact, upon us.  And yet, look at the results.  The Ukrainian people are more interested than ever in aligning with Europe instead of Russia. Sanctions have led to capital flight, a contracting economy, a fallen ruble, and the emigration of more educated Russians. 


Imagine if, instead, Russia had engaged in true diplomacy, and worked with Ukraine and the international community to ensure its interests were protected.  That would be better for Ukraine, but also better for Russia, and better for the world — which is why we continue to press for this crisis to be resolved in a way that allows a sovereign and democratic Ukraine to determine its future and control its territory.  Not because we want to isolate Russia — we don’t — but because we want a strong Russia that’s invested in working with us to strengthen the international system as a whole. 


Similarly, in the South China Sea, the United States makes no claim on territory there.  We don’t adjudicate claims.  But like every nation gathered here, we have an interest in upholding the basic principles of freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce, and in resolving disputes through international law, not the law of force.  So we will defend these principles, while encouraging China and other claimants to resolve their differences peacefully.


I say this, recognizing that diplomacy is hard; that the outcomes are sometimes unsatisfying; that it’s rarely politically popular.  But I believe that leaders of large nations, in particular, have an obligation to take these risks — precisely because we are strong enough to protect our interests if, and when, diplomacy fails. 


I also believe that to move forward in this new era, we have to be strong enough to acknowledge when what you’re doing is not working.  For 50 years, the United States pursued a Cuba policy that failed to improve the lives of the Cuban people.  We changed that.  We continue to have differences with the Cuban government. We will continue to stand up for human rights.  But we address these issues through diplomatic relations, and increased commerce, and people-to-people ties.  As these contacts yield progress, I’m confident that our Congress will inevitably lift an embargo that should not be in place anymore.  (Applause.)  Change won’t come overnight to Cuba, but I’m confident that openness, not coercion, will support the reforms and better the life the Cuban people deserve, just as I believe that Cuba will find its success if it pursues cooperation with other nations.


Now, if it’s in the interest of major powers to uphold international standards, it is even more true for the rest of the community of nations.  Look around the world.  From Singapore to Colombia to Senegal, the facts shows that nations succeed when they pursue an inclusive peace and prosperity within their borders, and work cooperatively with countries beyond their borders. 


That path is now available to a nation like Iran, which, as of this moment, continues to deploy violent proxies to advance its interests.  These efforts may appear to give Iran leverage in disputes with neighbors, but they fuel sectarian conflict that endangers the entire region, and isolates Iran from the promise of trade and commerce.  The Iranian people have a proud history, and are filled with extraordinary potential.  But chanting “Death to America” does not create jobs, or make Iran more secure.  If Iran chose a different path, that would be good for the security of the region, good for the Iranian people, and good for the world.


Of course, around the globe, we will continue to be confronted with nations who reject these lessons of history, places where civil strife, border disputes, and sectarian wars bring about terrorist enclaves and humanitarian disasters.  Where order has completely broken down, we must act, but we will be stronger when we act together.


In such efforts, the United States will always do our part. We will do so mindful of the lessons of the past — not just the lessons of Iraq, but also the example of Libya, where we joined an international coalition under a U.N. mandate to prevent a slaughter.  Even as we helped the Libyan people bring an end to the reign of a tyrant, our coalition could have and should have done more to fill a vacuum left behind.  We’re grateful to the United Nations for its efforts to forge a unity government.  We will help any legitimate Libyan government as it works to bring the country together.  But we also have to recognize that we must work more effectively in the future, as an international community, to build capacity for states that are in distress, before they collapse. 


And that’s why we should celebrate the fact that later today the United States will join with more than 50 countries to enlist new capabilities — infantry, intelligence, helicopters, hospitals, and tens of thousands of troops — to strengthen United Nations peacekeeping.  (Applause.)  These new capabilities can prevent mass killing, and ensure that peace agreements are more than words on paper.  But we have to do it together.  Together, we must strengthen our collective capacity to establish security where order has broken down, and to support those who seek a just and lasting peace.


Nowhere is our commitment to international order more tested than in Syria.  When a dictator slaughters tens of thousands of his own people, that is not just a matter of one nation’s internal affairs — it breeds human suffering on an order of magnitude that affects us all.  Likewise, when a terrorist group beheads captives, slaughters the innocent and enslaves women, that’s not a single nation’s national security problem — that is an assault on all humanity.


I’ve said before and I will repeat:  There is no room for accommodating an apocalyptic cult like ISIL, and the United States makes no apologies for using our military, as part of a broad coalition, to go after them.  We do so with a determination to ensure that there will never be a safe haven for terrorists who carry out these crimes.  And we have demonstrated over more than a decade of relentless pursuit of al Qaeda, we will not be outlasted by extremists. 


But while military power is necessary, it is not sufficient to resolve the situation in Syria.  Lasting stability can only take hold when the people of Syria forge an agreement to live together peacefully.  The United States is prepared to work with any nation, including Russia and Iran, to resolve the conflict. But we must recognize that there cannot be, after so much bloodshed, so much carnage, a return to the pre-war status quo. 


Let’s remember how this started.  Assad reacted to peaceful protests by escalating repression and killing that, in turn, created the environment for the current strife.  And so Assad and his allies cannot simply pacify the broad majority of a population who have been brutalized by chemical weapons and indiscriminate bombing.  Yes, realism dictates that compromise will be required to end the fighting and ultimately stamp out ISIL.  But realism also requires a managed transition away from Assad and to a new leader, and an inclusive government that recognizes there must be an end to this chaos so that the Syrian people can begin to rebuild. 


We know that ISIL — which emerged out of the chaos of Iraq and Syria — depends on perpetual war to survive.  But we also know that they gain adherents because of a poisonous ideology.  So part of our job, together, is to work to reject such extremism that infects too many of our young people.  Part of that effort must be a continued rejection by Muslims of those who distort Islam to preach intolerance and promote violence, and it must also a rejection by non-Muslims of the ignorance that equates Islam with terror.  (Applause.)   


This work will take time.  There are no easy answers to Syria.  And there are no simple answers to the changes that are taking place in much of the Middle East and North Africa.  But so many families need help right now; they don’t have time.  And that’s why the United States is increasing the number of refugees who we welcome within our borders.  That’s why we will continue to be the largest donor of assistance to support those refugees. And today we are launching new efforts to ensure that our people and our businesses, our universities and our NGOs can help as well — because in the faces of suffering families, our nation of immigrants sees ourselves.


Of course, in the old ways of thinking, the plight of the powerless, the plight of refugees, the plight of the marginalized did not matter.  They were on the periphery of the world’s concerns.  Today, our concern for them is driven not just by conscience, but should also be drive by self-interest.  For helping people who have been pushed to the margins of our world is not mere charity, it is a matter of collective security.  And the purpose of this institution is not merely to avoid conflict, it is to galvanize the collective action that makes life better on this planet.


The commitments we’ve made to the Sustainable Development Goals speak to this truth.  I believe that capitalism has been the greatest creator of wealth and opportunity that the world has ever known.  But from big cities to rural villages around the world, we also know that prosperity is still cruelly out of reach for too many.  As His Holiness Pope Francis reminds us, we are stronger when we value the least among these, and see them as equal in dignity to ourselves and our sons and our daughters.


We can roll back preventable disease and end the scourge of HIV/AIDS.  We can stamp out pandemics that recognize no borders. That work may not be on television right now, but as we demonstrated in reversing the spread of Ebola, it can save more lives than anything else we can do.


Together, we can eradicate extreme poverty and erase barriers to opportunity.  But this requires a sustained commitment to our people — so farmers can feed more people; so entrepreneurs can start a business without paying a bribe; so young people have the skills they need to succeed in this modern, knowledge-based economy.


We can promote growth through trade that meets a higher standard.  And that’s what we’re doing through the Trans-Pacific Partnership — a trade agreement that encompasses nearly 40 percent of the global economy; an agreement that will open markets, while protecting the rights of workers and protecting the environment that enables development to be sustained.


We can roll back the pollution that we put in our skies, and help economies lift people out of poverty without condemning our children to the ravages of an ever-warming climate.  The same ingenuity that produced the Industrial Age and the Computer Age allows us to harness the potential of clean energy.  No country can escape the ravages of climate change.  And there is no stronger sign of leadership than putting future generations first.  The United States will work with every nation that is willing to do its part so that we can come together in Paris to decisively confront this challenge. 


And finally, our vision for the future of this Assembly, my belief in moving forward rather than backwards, requires us to defend the democratic principles that allow societies to succeed. Let me start from a simple premise:  Catastrophes, like what we are seeing in Syria, do not take place in countries where there is genuine democracy and respect for the universal values this institution is supposed to defend.  (Applause.)  


I recognize that democracy is going to take different forms in different parts of the world.  The very idea of a people governing themselves depends upon government giving expression to their unique culture, their unique history, their unique experiences.  But some universal truths are self-evident.  No person wants to be imprisoned for peaceful worship.  No woman should ever be abused with impunity, or a girl barred from going to school.  The freedom to peacefully petition those in power without fear of arbitrary laws — these are not ideas of one country or one culture.  They are fundamental to human progress. They are a cornerstone of this institution. 


I realize that in many parts of the world there is a different view — a belief that strong leadership must tolerate no dissent.  I hear it not only from America’s adversaries, but privately at least I also hear it from some of our friends.  I disagree.  I believe a government that suppresses peaceful dissent is not showing strength; it is showing weakness and it is showing fear.  (Applause.)  History shows that regimes who fear their own people will eventually crumble, but strong institutions built on the consent of the governed endure long after any one individual is gone. 


That’s why our strongest leaders — from George Washington to Nelson Mandela — have elevated the importance of building strong, democratic institutions over a thirst for perpetual power.  Leaders who amend constitutions to stay in office only acknowledge that they failed to build a successful country for their people — because none of us last forever.  It tells us that power is something they cling to for its own sake, rather than for the betterment of those they purport to serve.


I understand democracy is frustrating.  Democracy in the United States is certainly imperfect.  At times, it can even be dysfunctional.  But democracy — the constant struggle to extend rights to more of our people, to give more people a voice — is what allowed us to become the most powerful nation in the world. (Applause.) 


It’s not simply a matter of principle; it’s not an abstraction.  Democracy — inclusive democracy — makes countries stronger.  When opposition parties can seek power peacefully through the ballot, a country draws upon new ideas.  When a free media can inform the public, corruption and abuse are exposed and can be rooted out.  When civil society thrives, communities can solve problems that governments cannot necessarily solve alone.  When immigrants are welcomed, countries are more productive and more vibrant.  When girls can go to school, and get a job, and pursue unlimited opportunity, that’s when a country realizes its full potential.  (Applause.)  


That is what I believe is America’s greatest strength.  Not everybody in America agrees with me.  That’s part of democracy.  I believe that the fact that you can walk the streets of this city right now and pass churches and synagogues and temples and mosques, where people worship freely; the fact that our nation of immigrants mirrors the diversity of the world — you can find everybody from everywhere here in New York City — (applause) — the fact that, in this country, everybody can contribute, everybody can participate no matter who they are, or what they look like, or who they love — that’s what makes us strong. 


And I believe that what is true for America is true for virtually all mature democracies.  And that is no accident.  We can be proud of our nations without defining ourselves in opposition to some other group.  We can be patriotic without demonizing someone else.  We can cherish our own identities — our religion, our ethnicity, our traditions — without putting others down.  Our systems are premised on the notion that absolute power will corrupt, but that people — ordinary people  — are fundamentally good; that they value family and friendship, faith and the dignity of hard work; and that with appropriate checks and balances, governments can reflect this goodness. 


I believe that’s the future we must seek together.  To believe in the dignity of every individual, to believe we can bridge our differences, and choose cooperation over conflict — that is not weakness, that is strength.  (Applause.)  It is a practical necessity in this interconnected world.


And our people understand this.  Think of the Liberian doctor who went door-to-door to search for Ebola cases, and to tell families what to do if they show symptoms.  Think of the Iranian shopkeeper who said, after the nuclear deal, “God willing, now we’ll be able to offer many more goods at better prices.”  Think of the Americans who lowered the flag over our embassy in Havana in 1961 — the year I was born — and returned this summer to raise that flag back up.  (Applause.)  One of these men said of the Cuban people, “We could do things for them, and they could do things for us.  We loved them.”  For 50 years, we ignored that fact. 


Think of the families leaving everything they’ve known behind, risking barren deserts and stormy waters just to find shelter; just to save their children.  One Syrian refugee who was greeted in Hamburg with warm greetings and shelter, said, “We feel there are still some people who love other people.”


The people of our United Nations are not as different as they are told.  They can be made to fear; they can be taught to hate — but they can also respond to hope.  History is littered with the failure of false prophets and fallen empires who believed that might always makes right, and that will continue to be the case.  You can count on that.  But we are called upon to offer a different type of leadership — leadership strong enough to recognize that nations share common interests and people share a common humanity, and, yes, there are certain ideas and principles that are universal.


That’s what those who shaped the United Nations 70 years ago understood.  Let us carry forward that faith into the future — for it is the only way we can assure that future will be brighter for my children, and for yours.


Thank you very much.  (Applause.) 


                        END               11:00 A.M. EDT  



TRANSCRIPT: Remarks by President Obama and President Xi of the People’s Republic of China at Arrival Ceremony



Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release                         September 25, 2015







South Lawn




9:22 A.M. EDT


     PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Good morning.  Ni hao.  President Xi, Madame Peng, members of the Chinese delegation, on behalf of Michelle and myself, welcome to the White House.  And on behalf of the American people, welcome to the United States. 


     Across more than two centuries, Americans and Chinese have traded together.  Chinese immigrants helped build our railroads and our great cities.  The United States is enriched by millions of proud Chinese Americans, including those who join us here this morning.  So this visit reflects a history of friendship and cooperation between our two great peoples. 


     This is also an opportunity for Michelle and me to reciprocate the hospitality shown to us during our visits to China.  Michelle, our daughters and my mother-in-law were warmly welcomed last year as they traveled across the country, as was I when I made a state visit to Beijing.  And I’m told that news about Michelle’s trip got some one billion views online.  (Laughter.)  President Xi, I believe that we are both accustomed to being outshone by our dynamic spouses.  (Laughter.)   


     As I have said many times, the United States welcomes the rise of a China that is stable, prosperous and peaceful — because that benefits us all.  Our work together — to increase our trade, boost the global economy, fight climate change and prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon — shows that when the United States and China work together, it makes our nations and the world more prosperous and more secure. 


     Even as our nations cooperate, I believe — and I know you agree — that we must address our differences candidly.  The United States will always speak out on behalf of fundamental truths.  We believe that nations are more successful and the world makes more progress when our companies compete on a level playing field, when disputes are resolved peacefully, and when the universal human rights of all people are upheld.  


     During our multiple visits together, I believe that we have made significant progress in enhancing understanding between our two nations and laying the foundation for continued cooperation. 

President Xi, you’ve spoken of your vision of China’s peaceful development.  During my visit to Beijing last year, you said that there were “wide areas” where our two nations “need to and can cooperate with each other.”  And I fully agree. 


     In fact, I believe that our two great nations, if we work together, have an unmatched ability to shape the course of the century ahead.  President Xi, Madame Peng, members of the Chinese delegation — in that spirit, with the eyes and hopes of the world upon us, welcome to the United States of America.  (Applause.)  


     PRESIDENT XI:  (As interpreted.)  Mr. President, Mrs. Obama, ladies and gentlemen, dear friends — in this golden season of autumn, my wife and I are very pleased to come to the beautiful city of Washington, D.C. 


     At the outset, I wish to thank you, Mr. President, for your kind invitation and gracious hospitality.  I also wish to convey to the American people the warm regards and the best wishes of over 1.3 billion Chinese people. 


China and the United States are both great nations.  The Chinese and American people are two great peoples.  Since we established diplomatic relations 36 years ago, China-U.S. relations have forged ahead despite twists and turns, and have made historic advances. 


At our Sunnylands meeting in the summer of 2013, President Obama and I made the strategic decision of building a new model of major-country relations.  More than two years have passed, and we have made important progress in various areas of exchange and cooperation.  This has been welcomed by people of our two countries and the world at large.


Working together, China and the United States can make a greater impact than our individual efforts.  To grow our relationship under the new conditions, we must adapt to the changing times and to seize the positive momentum.  I come to the United States this time to promote peace and advance cooperation.  We would like to work with the U.S. side to make great advances in our relationship, and deliver more benefits to people of our two countries and the whole world.


We must uphold the right direction of building a new model of major-country relations; make sure our relationship is defined by peace, respect and cooperation; and see to it that it keeps moving forward on the soundtrack of steady growth.  We must enhance strategic trust and mutual understanding, respect each other’s interests and concerns, be broad-minded about our differences and disagreements, and to strengthen our people’s confidence in China-U.S. friendship and cooperation.


We must pursue win-win cooperation, update the model, and broaden the scope of our collaboration, and improve the well-being of people of our two countries and the world through concrete actions and outcomes of cooperation.  We must enhance friendship and promote interactions between our people, encourage our two societies to meet each other halfway, and cement the social foundation of China-U.S. relations.


We must promote world peace and development, improve coordination on major international and regional issues, make concerted efforts to address global challenges, and work with other nations to build a better world.


     Thirty years ago, during my first visit to the United States, I was hosted by an American family in Muscatine, Iowa.  My hosts were so warm, sincere, and friendly.  We had cordial conversations and we hugged tightly when we had to say goodbye. To this day, those moments are still fresh in my memory. 


     Three years ago, I went back to Muscatine, and had a reunion with my old friends there.  They said to me, friendship is a big business.  Well, from these old friends, and from many other American friends, I can feel firsthand the genuine friendship between the Chinese and American people.  We do share each other’s feelings.  And this gives me every confidence about the future of our relations. 


     Mr. President, and Mrs. Obama, ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, success comes with dedicated efforts.  China-U.S. relations have reached a new starting point in the 21st century. For further growth of our relations, we have no choice but to seek win-win cooperation.  Let us work hand-in-hand with great resolve to write a new chapter in China-U.S. relations. 


     Thank you.  (Applause.) 


                                           END                9:40 A.M. EDT   









TUESDAY, MARCH 3, 2015, 2:00 P.M. EST


MODERATOR:  Good afternoon, folks.  Welcome to the Foreign Press Center.  It’s our pleasure this afternoon to have with us Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Cathy Novelli, who will be talking with us about the President’s trade agenda for 2015.

You already have the Under Secretary’s bio, so without further ado, I’ll turn the podium over to here.  After that, we’ll come back to you guys for questions.

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI:  Thanks so much, and thank you all for being here.  This is a very timely week to be having this discussion with you, and I just thought I would make a few remarks and really take your questions so we can have a discussion.

But as you know, Trade Promotion Authority is front and center right now with our Congress, and we hope that we will be seeing a bill very soon.  And Trade Promotion Authority is the procedural authority that Congress would use to discipline itself to vote yes or no on trade agreements that are submitted to it by the Administration.  And it also contains also consultation and transparency provisions so that the two branches of the government can work together most effectively.

And the reason why that is important is because that is what will greatly facilitate our ability to move forward with our trade agenda, including on two agreements that are under active negotiation, the Transpacific Partnership, or TPP, and the Transatlantic Agreement, the TTIP.

And so with respect to those agreements, the TPP is the one that is closest to being concluded.  We made a great deal of progress there.  It is obviously with countries that border the Pacific.  It comprises 40 percent of the world’s GDP.  And we are very much making progress towards a very high quality, market-opening, transparent, comprehensive agreement.  And so we’re looking forward to locking in those kind of rules, rules that give a level playing field to everyone, including to U.S. companies and to every other company who’s in that TPP process.

In addition, we have the TTIP, which is our agreement that we’re negotiating between the United States and the EU.  And there we have a $1 trillion relationship that is an ongoing and very deep relationship, a very old relationship, with a lot of cross-investment.  And we feel that we have a real chance there to get rid of barriers that are impeding efficient cross-border trade, investment, et cetera, as well to set a new bar on things like regulation, where we can make sure that we are achieving the twin objectives of protecting our health and safety, both for ourselves and for the citizens of Europe, but also doing that in a way that is most efficient and best for our citizens.

So we’re looking forward to concluding both of these agreements, and we’re looking forward to being able to submit them to the Congress under the rubric of trade promotion authority, should it pass the Congress.

And I’ll stop there and be glad to take questions on these things or any other trade issues that you have.

MODERATOR:  So please raise your hands if you have a question.  And when – wait for the microphone.  Identify yourself and your media outlet before you ask your question, if you could.

We’ll start here in the front.

QUESTION:  Thank you.  Jennifer Lee with Hong Kong Phoenix TV.   I have two question – first about the TPA and the second is about China.   So about the TPA, as we know, an increasing number of the congressmen want to address the currency manipulation issues in the TPA bill, which is obviously opposed by the Administration.  So I wonder if they really include the currency manipulation language in the bill, is this going to affect the timing of the final conclusion of the TPP?

And then this lead to my second questions.  So the Treasury want to convince the Congress that diplomacy is working, so he’s saying to Congress that through the bilateral trade talks diplomacy is working and China has reduced its currency intervention.  Does the State Department share the same view?  Thank you.

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI:  Well, Secretary Lew speaks for the Administration, and we very much support the engagement that Treasury has had on currency issues with the Government of China and with many other governments.  And we believe that progress has been made.

In terms of what’s in the TPA, our concern about this is that traditionally currency has not been something that’s been the subject of trade agreements, and trade agreements really aren’t something that are supposed to be the grab basket of every single conceivable issue that could, in fact, could affect our relationship.  And so we believe the proper channel for that is really the treasury-to-treasury finance channel.

And what will be worked out with the Congress will have to remain to be seen, but we feel very strongly that we would not want to be in a situation where we would have our own independent Federal Reserve Bank, for example, being subjected to binding international dispute settlement about decisions it makes.  And so that is the reason why we have been resisting having currency as part of the binding obligations of the TPP.

QUESTION:  Thank you.  My name’s Andrei Sitov.  I’m a Russian reporter here in D.C. with TASS.  Thank you, Secretary, for doing this.  And thanks to our friends at the FPC, as always, for hosting the briefing.  I have also a couple of questions.

First, very simply, is anything to do with trade and investment relations cooperation with Russia – is anything a part of the President’s agenda for the current year?  Is anything left standing basically from what we used to have?

And secondly, since the goal of the sanctions that the Administration currently has against Russia is to hurt the Russian economy, don’t you realize that by hurting the Russian economy you, by definition, hurt the Ukrainian economy because the two are closely linked, especially in trade?  Thank you.

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI:  Well, in the answer to your first question I would say that we have  had a history of a very long economic relationship even in our most challenging times in the history of our countries, and we have companies that are still doing business, American companies still doing business in Russia.  We have Russian companies still doing business in the United States.  And as long as those things are taking place within the law, we absolutely support the continuation of that.  So to the extent that we are going to be helping our own businesses, which is our job, to continue to do what they’re doing, we will be doing that.

We have a number of areas where we’re working constructively with Russia.  One of them is in the Arctic Council and there are a number of economic issues that are at stake there, including how will natural resources be developed at the same time as preserving the environment in such a pristine and delicate area.  And so we are robustly working with the Russian Government in those areas, also with the Iran talks where we’re cooperating.  So we do have areas where we are continuing to cooperate.

In terms of sanctions, I think there’s not a lot new to be said about that.  We have tried to be very targeted in the sanctions that we have taken because our quarrel is not with the Russian people, and so we have tried to use sanctions in a way that will send a message, that will have an impact, and to do that in solidarity with our allies in Europe so that we are all acting together to undertake the actions that are being taken.

QUESTION:  And I have a follow-up, a brief follow-up.  Since there was a question already thrown at you about the Treasury, I wanted to talk about the sanctions, the SWIFT.  Would that be economically helpful?  Would that be effective if Russia is switched off from the SWIFT system?  Thank you.

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI:  I can’t comment on actions that might be taken in the future.

MODERATOR:  Let’s keep moving along the front.  Jane.

And by the way, I see that our New York DVC has come back up, so colleagues in New York, if you can please step up to the podium.

QUESTION:  Thank you, Catherine.


QUESTION:  (Inaudible) news.  We know that TPP is the heart, the center of President Obama’s rebalance strategy.  And while China is raising the One Belt and One Road in Asia Pacific, which include developing the FTAAP and the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank.  And so far, how do you evaluate this strategy might, in fact, affect —

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI:  The strategy of developing the Asia Infrastructure Bank or the rebalance, or which strategy?

QUESTION:  The One Belt and One Road.

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI:  Well, I think from our perspective, we think that there are many avenues.  Countries have many interests; they cooperate with many neighbors on lots of different things.  So we don’t think there’s only one mode of cooperation.  We don’t think there’s only one area of cooperation.  And we support China being robust in that region.  That’s where China is.

At the same time, we have very old ties there.  And as I said, for us it’s a very important and growing region, so we want to be able to make sure that we’re able to also have our companies do well there as well.  So – and I don’t think that these things are mutually exclusive, and so we support a robust engagement.  And we are also engaged directly with China.  We have our bilateral investment treaty talks that are ongoing and are actually going very well and progressing.  So we are not just only engaging with countries that are members of TTIP*.



QUESTION:  John Zang with CTI TV of Taiwan.  Madam Secretary, I have a couple of questions.  First off, do you expect the U.S.-Japan negotiations to conclude before Prime Minister Abe’s visit here to Washington?  That’s the first one.

The second one:  What aspect of the President’s trade agenda for 2015 have something to do with Taiwan?  We understand that Taiwan wants very much to join the next wave of partners to negotiate full membership in the TPP.  In what way will the United States help in that regard?

And also, there will be TIFA talks in the second half of this year.  Are there any specific objectives that the U.S. has with regard to those talks?  Thank you very much.

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI:  Sure.  Well, so with regard to the timing of TPP, as said maybe ad nauseum, substance will drive the conclusion of the negotiations.  But what I can say is I think you all know that Wendy Cutler, the chief negotiator, is on her way, actually, to Japan right now.  I think she’s on a plane as we speak, in fact.  And so the negotiations are continuing.  They are making progress.  They’re not finished yet.  We are the two largest economies in the TPP and it’s natural that we’re going to have to work things out.  But I think people feel optimistic that we will be able to do that.  I can’t tell you a date by which that’s going to happen, and I think it will be driven by getting to the right place for both ourselves and Japan, and not by when somebody is visiting some other place.

In terms of Taiwan and other countries – and others who have expressed interest in becoming part of TPP, because Taiwan isn’t the only entity that’s expressed interest – basically, what we’re saying is that we need to finish the negotiation that we have in front of us.  My dad used to always tell me to saw the wood in front of me, and I think that’s really good advice in general, that we can’t get so far ahead of ourselves.  So we’ve got to conclude what we have now, which is a big amount of things that we have to conclude, and that’s going to take some time, even once the negotiation itself is concluded, to rectify texts and translate it, et cetera, et cetera.  So we really haven’t gone beyond and sort of designated, okay, here’s the next wave of entities who will be on the list.  And – but we are certainly open to the idea that TPP is not a closed system and we’ll have to see where that goes from there.

You asked about the TIFA talks.  So the TIFAs are very important.  We have them with a number of entities and we have them regionally, we have them bilaterally, and they’re very important because they provide us a framework for talking in very concrete terms about things that are going to enhance our relationship, both our trade and our investment relationship.  And they can be everything from policy questions to how do our companies work better together to how are we more transparent about regulations.  So it will be a very robust discussion, and I think we very much welcome it.

QUESTION:  Any specific issues, like the beef, pork imports into —

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI:  I’m not steeped in all of the particulars of beef and pork, so I would hesitate to say.

QUESTION:  Brian Beary, Washington correspondent, Europolitics.  You mentioned TPP and not being a closed shop, but what about TTIP, because it – to my knowledge, neither side has ever said anything about the ability at some point of other countries to join TTIP.  I know Turkey has – is very keen to join, so can you say anything about that?

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI:  We really haven’t crossed that bridge, nor have we put it off the table.  We are less far along because we started much later on TTIP than we did on TPP, which was going on for many years before we got to the place that we’re at right now.  And so I think it’s very early on to say how we perceive it.  And I will say, I think given the things that we have on our plate on TTIP, we really do have to focus on that before we think about what’s next and who would be next and if anybody would be next, and that just wasn’t part of the contemplation when we started it, but it doesn’t mean that that can’t be part of the contemplation once we’re finished.

QUESTION:  (Inaudible.)  Just any further elaboration on the timeline for TPA?

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI:  For TPA?  Well, I think that’s really going to be up to the Congress.  This is a congressional piece of legislation.  As I said, we really hope that we’ll see a draft bill soon and then Congress will have to either vote on it or – hopefully – and we’re working very hard, the President is personally working hard, all of the Cabinet are working hard to make the case for why having TPA and having a robust trade agenda is good for the American people, for our workers, for our companies, for our small businesses, for the environment, and generally for lifting up all boats that will help global prosperity.

So we are all making that case very strongly, and we certainly hope that enough members of Congress will agree with us and pass the bill.

QUESTION:  Thank you.  My name’s Daisuke Igarashi from Japanese newspaper, Asahi Shimbun.  Related to this TPA issue, so do you think that Congress should pass a TPA bill before Japan and the U.S. reach agreement, or before TPP 12 countries reach an agreement?  Do you think TPA bill comes first?  Should it come first?

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI:  I don’t know if there’s a “should.”  I think we would hope that the TPA bill would pass soon, and the timing of TPP may be that because of the complexity of the negotiations, that it isn’t concluded because – just because of that, but we don’t think that those negotiations should be held up waiting for TPA to pass.  And we don’t have any indication that that would be something that would prevent TPP from moving forward.  We do think that it is much cleaner to be able to vote yes or no once an agreement is submitted, but having an agreement concluded, as I had said before, isn’t the same as submitting it to the Congress, because there’s a lot of lawyers pouring through every comma, making sure the text is the same, making sure that all the languages have the exact same words in them that mean the same things, and that’s a laborious process.  So it will be some time before the actual agreement is submitted to the Congress in any event.

QUESTION:  Thank you.  I’m Qi Gao from CCTV America.  I know it might be too early to raise this question, but I’m still wondering that if TPP – it’s an open system to more countries, and as you might heard that some Chinese official, including the vice minister of secretary of the treasury, has expressed the willingness to let China join this TPP agreement so that we can push forward the ongoing reform of China’s economy.  How do you reply those request?

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI:  Well, as I was saying, we need to conclude the negotiation that’s in front of us first before we move on with any other countries becoming part of it.  And I guess what I would say is we have not foreclosed the possibility of any country in the region who borders the Pacific becoming a part of it.  The idea is that we’re going to have a very, very stringent, high-quality agreement.  And so countries who are willing to buy into that high-quality, very stringent kind of agreement and make those kind of obligations for themselves, those are the ones that are – that would have the best fit with TPP.  So I think it’s a question for down the road.

QUESTION:  Thank you, Madam Secretary.  Gulbin Yildirim from Anadolu Agency.  IMF recently released a report that raised some concerns regarding these regional agreements.  They actually warned the countries involved in these regional agreements not to let them to take over the global trade policy agenda.  So how are you trying to address those concerns?  And I know that you said you are waiting to conclude the negotiations, but isn’t there a risk to be too late for reversing such effects, if they happen to exist?  Thank you.

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI:  I think that it’s possible to have multiple kinds of agreements.  I don’t think that the only kind of agreement is a multilateral WTO agreement.  The WTO is extremely important, having a multilateral system is extremely important.

But in the terms of the WTO itself, it contemplates that there are going to be countries or groups of countries that want to go beyond what is the base that’s set by the WTO, and it contemplates the idea of free trade agreements.  So when people founded the GATT way back when at the end of World War II, they understood that there was going to be more than just the ability to do things where everybody agrees.  And I think the value of the multilateral – of the sort of plural-lateral TPP-type things or the bilateral TTIP things, is that it can show a path forward that can get ideas out there, that can get ways forward out there, practically speaking, where countries can raise the bar.  And those can then become the platform for the rest of the world to look at.  And as somebody who’s worked in trade policy for many, many, many years, I think the results are pretty clear that open trade is much better for economies than closed trade.  So whatever we can do to push that forward, I think, is a good thing, and I don’t really see that there’s a danger by being able to set a higher bar in some circumstances, even if every single country isn’t included.

QUESTION:  Is there anything you are planning to do for countries that are left out in the cold, like Turkey, for instance?

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI:  Well, I think we’ve had a lot of discussions with Turkey about this, and as I was saying when we started the TTIP, we didn’t sort of sit down and say, “Okay, after we’re done with this, this country, this country, this country.”  However, I think we’re not precluding the possibility that Turkey could join TTIP once it is concluded, if everybody is comfortable.

So I think Turkey is in a bit of a unique situation, to be honest, because it has the customs union, unlike the EFTA countries, who just have sort of a free trade agreement.  There’s really not other countries that are in that same situation as Turkey, and so we will have to discuss how we’re going to take all of that forward, including with our allies in the EU and including with Turkey.

MODERATOR:  We can go in the back.

QUESTION:  Alfonso Fernandez from the Spanish newswire EFE.  You talk about the TTP – the TPP as the closest deal, and this briefing is called Presidential Trade Agenda.  Do you think that the trade agreement with Europe could be done before Obama leaves the White House?

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI:  Well, once again, I would say substance is going to have to drive when things are finished.  I think it’s possible that the agreement could be done before the – President Obama leaves the White House.  I think it’s possible.  There’s a lot of work to do.  And like I said, the TPP began many years ago, and so it’s been going on, and it’s gradually – when Japan joined, that added a level of complexity, but there is also a large base of negotiations that have been going on.  And TTIP is a newer negotiation, so it’s not that it’s behind; it just started later, and we’ll have to see.  I think our colleagues in the EU are committed to moving things forward, and now that there’s a new commission, that gives new impetus, and so we’re very hopeful.  And we’re ready to move as quickly as our colleagues in Europe are ready to move.

QUESTION:  Hi, I’m Gretel Johnston with the German Press Agency.  Hi.  I just wonder if you could go into TTIP just a little bit more.  I understand the ninth round is coming in April and it will be here in Washington.  And I wonder if you have identified what the major topics will be during that round, and if you’ve also set the dates – the specific dates for it.  And then if you could also say what else is coming in terms of the number of rounds coming this year that are planned.

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI:  I’m not aware that there are – that all the rounds for the rest of the year are planned out.  In terms of the exact dates, I don’t know what – whether those have been agreed to yet.  And when (inaudible) occur, actually everything is discussed.  There’s certain things that are emphasized, but everything is discussed, and the idea is to move things forward.  So there are not “Oh, we’re only going to talk about this one or this other thing.”  We try to just keep everything moving and all the plates spinning, and that’s the way you really can advance things to try to get them done before the President leaves office in 2016.

QUESTION:  Michael Vincent.  I’m Michael Vincent, ABC Australia, hi.  You talk about open trade and you’ve talked about the transparency of this agreement, but there’s extraordinary criticism here in the U.S. and in Australia about this deal being done behind closed doors, covering such a wide array of issues beyond trade – environment, human rights, labor conditions.  How do you address that concern?

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI:  Well, all negotiation – you cannot negotiate with other governments by having the negotiations televised to the general public, or you would never get to a conclusion.  What we’ve set up in the United States is a system of advisory committees that are representative of our industries, of our civil society.  They have access to the text of the negotiations and they provide advice to us about what kind of things they think belong in the agreement.  We have robust consultations with members of Congress, with congressional staff about what’s happening.  So it’s not that this is going on in a complete vacuum.  There’s a great deal of consultation that’s going on.

I think it’s the most consultative agreement of all time.  And I’ve spent my career negotiating agreements, so I feel comfortable saying that.  And I think that there’s a limit to what you can do in the public, but I think it’s important that the representatives of the public, who are their elected members of Congress, who are these representative folks on our advisory committees, do have a say in what happens in the negotiations.

QUESTION:  But it is a take-it-or-leave-it deal at the end of the day?  A deal’s going to be made and it has to be agreed by the Congress?

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI:  Well, the idea behind having the TPA – the Trade Promotion Authority – which is something every president has had for 40 years, is that when you negotiate complex international agreements, trying to bring an agreement to the Congress and then having every provision of it picked apart by individual members and amended would mean that you would be in an endless negotiation.  And so I think it’s really a practical measure to say that as we have a constitutional system of government here with separation of powers, that part of the role of the Executive is to negotiate these agreements.

And the idea behind having all these consultations is that you would be negotiating something that you believe the majority of the members of the Congress would support, that you would take their views into account as you’re doing the negotiations, and so that voting yes or no would not be such a difficult task at that point because the end result is something that has occurred because of intense actual cooperation between these two branches of the government.

QUESTION:  And sorry, final one.  Australia already has an FTA with the United States, and as part of that, as you know, it rejected an investor-state dispute settlement mechanism.  Why should Australia, as part of a TPP, accept such a mechanism?

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI:  Because we are trying to do a very high-standard agreement.  Investor-state dispute settlement is something that’s been in over 3,000 agreements globally.  We have, I believe in cooperation with our colleagues in Australia, tried to make sure that the provisions that are in the investor-state make very clear that the ability of governments to regulate for health and safety are sacrosanct, and so that some of the pitfalls and things that have been pointed out along the way – we’ve tried to make sure that this agreement is going to deal with those.  And I think it is very important that if we’re going to have disciplines, that we think about TPP going just beyond the U.S. and Australia but to a lot of other countries and being opened up to more countries over time, that we really do want to have that level of discipline on investor-state in the agreement.

QUESTION:  But you know the case involving Australia and the tobacco companies.

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI:  Yes, I’m well aware of that, and that’s why we have, in negotiating this agreement, tried to make very clear that regulating for health and safety is not something that would be subjected to investor-state dispute settlement.

MODERATOR:  We have a question here from —

QUESTION:  (Inaudible) News Agency Taiwan.  According to the USTR, the U.S. keep regularly update the TPP process to China.  I just wondered:  Do you have any information to – you would like to share to us regarding China’s attitude to join TPP?

And my second question is follow up the Taiwan’s join TPP – is willing.  According to the Heritage Foundation’s report, the Taiwan get a higher score in freedom of the economy and the market access than Vietnam, the one of the member of the TPP.  I just wonder:  Is there any political issue or concern for Taiwan’s join the second round negotiation?  Do you have any suggestion for Taiwan to – for the second negotiation?  Thank you.

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI:  Well, so there is no second round of negotiations.  So I just want to be very clear that, as I said, there is only a current ongoing negotiation of the countries that are part of the TPP.  And what’s going to happen in the future in terms of countries that would dock onto the TPP has not been determined.  And so it’s really not possible for me to say this or that country is going to be in another round because we’ve just haven’t gotten there yet.  We do keep China regularly informed on what’s going on, and as I said, I think there is plenty of room for everybody to have economic and commercial interests in Asia.  And so we will look forward to making those kind of decisions about expanding the TPP once we have a TPP that can be expanded.

MODERATOR:  If there are no more questions – we do have another one in the back.

QUESTION:  (Off-mike.)


QUESTION:  (Off-mike.)

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI:  He’s been sent on a mission.  (Laughter.)

QUESTION:  I have, actually.  Sorry, if I could just let my camera be set back up.


QUESTION:  Good?  Sorry, thanks.  I appreciate this.  You mentioned health and safety, but what about other issues like the environment?  If Australia changes its environment laws, won’t those – can’t those be challenged under a dispute mechanism?

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI:  Well, like I said, I mean, what we’re trying to do is tighten up how this is all working.  And I would posit that I think a lot of environmental regulations also are related to health and safety.  That’s a big frame.  So I don’t want to be categorical about things, but I think a lot of things that people would think about as belonging to environment are subsumed in the phrase that I just used.

QUESTION:  What about – Australia has a trade relationship – an FTA with Japan, with South Korea, with China, with the U.S.  Why would you recommend Australia accept the TPP if it reduces our trade outcomes (inaudible)?

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI:  Because I don’t think that it would.  I don’t think that it would reduce the trade outcomes with your countries.  I think, in fact, what it will do is provide a regularized platform for Australian investors in other countries.  Just thinking about it from not just a purely defensive position, which the questions that you’ve been asking – I think if you think about it from the point of view of Australian companies who are investing elsewhere, it could be hugely beneficial to them.  So I think – I don’t think that this will result in any diminution of Australia’s ability to protect its citizens on any issue.

And I would note that at least for the United States, we’ve had 18 cases taken against us and nobody has prevailed on any of those.  So I think there is a – I think we have a good record in terms of recognizing that there is a legitimate ability of government to regulate and that that is not something that should be being challenged under investor-state dispute settlement.

QUESTION:  (Inaudible) Madam Secretary.  Maria Garcia with Notimex, a Mexican news agency.  Organizations who worked for the rights of immigrants are planning to protest against the TPP in these dates because they think that the TPP could take jobs to the cheaper countries in Asia.  What could you say to them?

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI:  You mean organizations in the United States who support immigrants?

QUESTION:  Yes.  Here.  They are planning on protesting these dates here in D.C.

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI:  Well, we believe very, very strongly that providing a level playing field for our companies is only going to help create more jobs for our middle class, for our small businesses, and making rules less bureaucratic, more transparent is going to aid that.  And the actual net benefit is going to be a benefit to our workers, or we wouldn’t be doing this.  So that’s what I would say back.

It’s true that manufacturing has spread out because we are in a global world, but we aren’t going to be able to go backwards.  We’re going to have to face the fact that we’re in a global world and we want to make sure that we are able to as the United States be as competitive as possible in that world, and we believe laying down these rules is going to actually help keep jobs at home.

QUESTION:  A simple question on the TPP.  So you said the TPA won’t prevent the TPP going forward.  So are you optimistic that the TPP can be done by June – this June?

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI:  I’m not going to give a deadline, but I hope that we will be done sometime in the spring, broadly defined.  (Laughter.)  Broadly-defined, broadly-defined.

And given the weather here, who knows when spring will come.  (Laughter.)

QUESTION:  Spring is coming.

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI:  No, I heard we’re getting snow on Thursday.  We’re all hoping for that.



UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI:  When is snow coming?

QUESTION:  No, the TPP.  (Laughter.)  Weather isn’t one of my things.  (Laughter.)

QUESTION:  Like April —

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI:  I can’t give you an exact date, but I think we are very far along in the negotiations and we’re very optimistic that we will be done sometime in the near future.  That’s the best I can say.

QUESTION:  Ma’am, since you mentioned the WTO, I wanted to ask you about the fact that the Europeans tried to bring WTO action against the counter-sanctions that the Russians bring against them.  So does it make sense to you?  Basically, countries sanction someone, and then are unhappy that there are some responsive measures.  Are sanctions allowed by the WTO?

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI:  I am not a WTO lawyer, so I hesitate to answer that last question.  I think that’ll be something that’ll have to be decided by a panel, and it’s – obviously, one of the things about the WTO is anyone who believes that there is a violation has the right to bring a case and see what happens, and that’s really the most I can say.

QUESTION:  Frankly, I don’t think I heard an answer to the question about sanctions actually hurting Ukraine – not the Russian people, but Ukraine.  Thanks.

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI:  We – as I said, we have tried to be very careful with the sanctions that we put on.  We put them on for specific purposes.  We have tried not to use a broad brush.  And so we hope that the targeted sanctions will have the effect that we desired, which is really a change in the situation on the ground with regard to what is happening with the separatists and the military action that’s going on in Ukraine.  And that’s really what we want.  We want Ukraine to – sovereignty to be respected and for their economy to be able to grow without conflict.

MODERATOR:  Last time I said no more, there was still one more.

QUESTION:  When you were asked about transparency, I think you said something about the texts being provided to a committee, and I just wanted clarification on that.  Are you saying that then those texts are public, and are they – I just need to understand what you mean by that committee and whether those texts are ever made public.

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI:  Those are – you mean the cleared advisors?


UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI:  There are cleared – there are advisors that are appointed.  They have security clearances.  They are allowed to look at the texts and to comment, but they are not allowed to – those are not public.  The idea is that that’s a way to have representatives of companies, of organized labor, of NGO community, of other civil society be able to have an input.  But it’s done in a situation that is confidential because, as I explained before, this is not – putting out negotiating texts in the newspaper is not going to be a recipe for ever coming to a conclusion on anything.  And I would defy you to find any major international agreement that was negotiated in that manner.  I think you have to be able to talk to people frankly and find solutions to problems that are presented so that both sides feel that they are getting what they need to get.

QUESTION:  The advisors then are actually – as you’re saying, they are representatives of companies and labor?

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI:  Organized labor.  These are – there’s a – these are set up by a U.S. law, under U.S. law, and they’ve been in existence since the ‘60s, I think, but maybe the ‘70s.  I don’t know the exact dates, but they’ve been in existence for a long time under this law.  And there are members of all of these groups that are part of these committees, and they don’t just advise on these negotiations, they advise on – generally on trade policy issues.

MODERATOR:  That seems like a really good point for us to wrap up with a plug for our next program, which is coming up on Thursday morning at 10:30.  It’s another chance for you to ask questions about TPA and about the free trade agreement.  That will be with Jane Harman, who is a former congresswoman and currently the president of the Wilson Center here in Washington.  Thank you very much for today, and that’s the end of our briefing.