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Region's growth must be 'transparent,' Clinton says

By William Cole

LAST UPDATED: 2:00 a.m. HST, Nov 12, 2011

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says global trends and world events "have given us a full and formidable agenda, and the stakes are high for all of us."

"We are each trying to generate balanced, inclusive, sustainable growth that delivers with jobs for our citizens; economic, social and environmental progress for our nations; and shared prosperity for this region," Clinton said at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation ministerial meeting kickoff Friday at the Hawai'i Convention Center.

To carry out those goals, member economies have to create a "rules-based system that is open, free, transparent and fair," and that effort has been the focus this year as the United States has hosted a series of APEC meetings leading up to the Honolulu summit, Clinton said.

In meetings in Washington, D.C.; Montana; San Francisco; and now here in Hawaii, APEC members have pursued those tasks with the unofficial slogan of "Get Stuff Done," Clinton said.

"And we have," she added. Clinton, co-chairwoman of the APEC ministerial meeting today, spoke to foreign and U.S. dignitaries who sat in 48 chairs arranged in a large oval in a meeting room at the convention center, with other officials sitting behind them.

Clinton said "tangible progress" has been made in three areas: integrating markets and expanding trade; promoting green growth; and deepening regulatory cooperation.

APEC's 21 member economies have focused on "next-generation" issues such as working to help owners of small and medium-size businesses reach new customers beyond their borders.

A trade initiative for environmental goods and services "will help spur industries investing in green growth," she said.

"I think that the steps we have taken have moved us forward," Clinton said, but she added she is "well aware that we all have differences in our individual approaches to economic policymaking -- but I also know that we share the belief that market trade and investment are vital to our prosperity."

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, co-chairman of the ministerial meeting, said Honolulu is the "ideal place to conclude our year as APEC host for the United States."

"It is a place that underscores the world's most dynamic economies," he said.

Kirk said APEC trade ministers hope to reach agreement today on key issues that can be presented to leaders this weekend and have "concrete and meaningful outcomes" in the three areas of focus mentioned by Clinton.

Clinton also chaired an APEC "disaster resiliency" meeting that was open to the media only briefly.

Clinton noted that the Asia-Pacific region in recent years "has endured a series of devastating natural disasters," including this year an earthquake and tsunami in Japan, earthquakes in New Zealand, floods in Australia and China, and the current flooding in Thailand -- the worst in that nation's history.

The U.S. military has offered significant disaster relief in the region in recent years. Clinton was asked Thursday during a speech at the East-West Center whether there was a plan by the United States to increase trade in Thailand after the flooding. She said she is heading to Thailand after APEC, "and I will be bringing with me a strong message of support and solidarity and specific measures of assistance."

"We are very willing to help the Thai government and the Thai people, but we want to be sure that we are responding to the help requested," Clinton said.

She said she has been working with Adm. Robert Willard, head of U.S. Pacific Command headquartered at Camp Smith, and the Pentagon, to coordinate any possible relief efforts.

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