San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee, Secretary LaHood, honorable ministers, chair, ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of the APEC Secretariat, I would like to thank APEC U.S. 2011, the host economy, and the City of San Francisco for hosting this ministerial meeting and for the hospitality extended to us.
Today, I would like to take the opportunity to congratulate the Transport Working Group of APEC on its 20th anniversary and to recognize the work of the group, which has been instrumental to implementing both APEC leaders' and ministers' goals and directions pertaining to the movement of people and goods in our region.
The transportation sector is critical to our economic prosperity. Just last week, in his address to a joint session of Congress, U.S. President Obama said that building a world-class transportation system is part of what made America an economic super-power.
The transportation minister meeting today and the first joint energy-transport minister conference yesterday are crucial to APEC's 2011 priorities. As APEC’s host in 2011, the United States has prioritized concrete initiatives that built a seamless regional economy by achieving outcomes in specific priority areas, including strengthening regional economic integration and expanding trade, promoting green growth, and expanding regulatory cooperation and advancing regulatory convergence.
All three desired priority areas are deeply interconnected with the transportation sector.
From yesterday's joint meeting of transport and energy ministers, we note that the transportation sector accounts for more than 60 percent of global oil, 5.9 percent of global gas, and some 1.6 percent of global electricity consumption. As you can see, this sector is heavily dependent on energy, and the APEC energy and transportation ministers had a day of fruitful discussions to address many issues such as transportation's role for a clean energy future, greening the supply chain, and energy and transportation for low-carbon and liveable communities.
This has a direct and meaningful impact on APEC's priority to promote green growth.
Today, we are going to delve further into the transportation sector, focusing on how to balance safety, security, and sustainability for the APEC region. The efficient and safe transportation of people and goods is a key component of APEC's Bogor goals of free and open trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region. This is because the facilitation of trade involves improving the procedures regulating the international movement of goods, which, in turn, depends on the reduction of cost of doing business across borders, including, notably, transportation costs.
In a world where supply chains are becoming increasingly globalized, regional connectivity is a high priority among APEC. In fact, issues pertaining to the global supply chain, including participation in it, are among the next generation trade issues which have been identified for attention by APEC this year.
In February 2009, APEC's Committee on Trade and Investment, together with the Economic Committee, had a Trade Policy Dialogue to identify the elements to be included in a work program on trade logistics and supply chain connectivity. Under the rubric of APEC's Supply Chain Connectivity Initiative, a framework has been developed to identify chokepoints in the existing supply chain networks and to identify work streams to address these chokepoints.
The Supply Chain Connectivity Initiative identified eight chokepoints to the smooth flow of goods, services, and business travellers throughout the region. Specifically, three of the eight chokepoints are trade-impeding bottlenecks related to the transportation sector.
Ladies and gentlemen, in the interest of time, please allow me to now switch gears and talk about another key priority of APEC, security in global trade.
In the aftermath of 9/11, APEC leaders could see that terrorism -- a direct challenge to APEC's vision of free, open, and prosperous economies and to the fundamental values that APEC members hold. We declare to implement individual and joint actions to counter terrorism.
In 2003, the APEC Counter-Terrorism Task Force was established to build capacity and monitor progress in this area, but even before the establishment of the group, leaders launched in 2002 the Secure Trade in the APEC Region, or STAR initiative, in response to the potential threat of terrorism, potential threat of terrorism to global trade. To date, there have been seven STAR conferences where the discussions were focused on policies and procedures to enhance security and efficiency in the APEC's regions' seaports, airports, and other access points.
The STAR initiative also fosters coordination between public and private entities that is necessary to counteract terrorist threats throughout the supply chain.
The next STAR conference, to be held on Thursday and Friday here in San Francisco, will review the APEC regions' progress in securing regional trade and travel over the last 10 years, and will define the key priorities going forward.
In 2005, the APEC framework for secure trade was adopted, which is a set of principles and standards that provide uniformity and predictability within the supply chain. By having one set of standards, the APEC framework facilitates trade by making security requirements less burdensome to businesses and the international trade community.
A number of major counter-terrorism initiatives related to secure trade and APEC have gotten underway since then.
Ladies and gentlemen, as we pursue our goals of free and open trade in the Asia-Pacific region, we should continue to strengthen regional and multilateral efforts to bolster trade security in the region while promoting trade efficiency. The APEC Secretariat looks forward to a successful APEC transportation ministry meeting and to the directions and agenda that the ministers will set.
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