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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Readout of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Senior Officials Meeting in Ningbo, China

Robert S. Wang
U.S. Senior Official for APEC 

Washington, DC
March 5, 2014




2:00 P.M. EST

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

DR. WANG: Okay, thank you very much. A couple more people coming in, it seems. But as Stephanie said, I just came back from Ningbo, where the [Senior Official Meeting] SOM One was held. I had a chance also after that to stop by in Beijing and met with a number of people from the foreign ministry, as well as people from commerce, where we sort of discussed a little bit more the agenda for the year in APEC, as well as other things.

So let me just quickly – I was trying to figure out a little bit more of what you think would be useful for your reporting. In terms of what came out of SOM One, I thought it was a very, very useful meeting. We met there – essentially SOM One was the last two days in February – the 27th, 28th – but there were a whole series of about two weeks of meetings on different working groups and so on across all of the topics that APEC is involved with. So the last two days were the actual SOM meetings. And I think the – maybe the best thing to say is that it was very clear at the SOM meeting that the Chinese hosts are very interested this year in trying to come up with a vision for FTAAP, the Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific. And as you know, this idea or concept had been enunciated in the past – initially, I think, by the U.S. in 2006; afterwards, in Japan in 2010. And of course, last year the leaders essentially instructed the senior officials to begin an intellectual discussion, policy discussion, of where FTAAP will lead, or how we get to FTAAP.

So I think this year the Chinese would like to start the process in Beijing at the end of the year. And what I can report on that front is that the United States and China cosponsored a paper on FTAAP. And essentially, this paper was tabled at the CTI, which is the Committee on Trade and Investment, and it formed a “Friends of the Chair for the CTI”. “Friends of the Chair” simply means that all the APEC economists get together to provide some advice to the chairman of the CTI, the committee, and that this advice would eventually go up to the senior officials’ level, and essentially advise the ministers and the leaders on the next steps to take to try to realize a free trade area of the Asia Pacific.

So I think the Friends of the Chair has now been formed, and was formed in SOM One in Ningbo, and they are working together – again, led by the Chinese and the Americans, but also supported by a lot of the others – Japan, Australia, Indonesia, et cetera, all the other economies. And their job now is to start working on trying to discuss and understand what an FTAAP could be, and then make recommendations to the senior officials, and then afterwards to the leaders by November this year – November 10th and 11th, as you know.

So that, I think, was one of the key points, because this, I think, showed that China and the United States and others were all working together to try to realize this primary focus of the Chinese with regard to APEC this year.

Apart from that, I think the other key maybe more newsworthy item would be the fact that a number of economies – Japan, and China to some extent, but Japan and the United States and Australia – cosponsored some papers that were not tabled actually at the SOM level, but that were tabled again at the committee level, to try to expand APEC into the services. In other words, as you know, we had done a few things on IT goods as well as more recently on environmental goods. And there was a feeling that we ought to now focus a little bit more, especially as tariffs themselves are dropping on average in the region, that we ought to focus a little bit more on trying to open up the services market so that basically countries or economies would be more open to having foreign companies and so on, technology or others, come into their market to do services.

And so the specific papers that were tabled were in the areas of environmental services, for example, because we already have an environmental goods agreement. And the question then is, what if the different companies want to come into different countries or economies to try to provide services in environmental areas, to try to improve this or that? So a paper was tabled – again, at the committee level – exchanged on trying to open up the environmental services market.

The other one was manufacturing-related services. As you know, there are a lot of investments in different economies that are manufacturing-oriented, building factories and whatever else, but there are a lot of what we call services that are associated with that; meaning, even building a factory could be a service, or the technology provided, or the maintenance after you finish your goods and you produce your goods in a country, maintaining it in some form, would all be sort of manufacturing-related services.

So I think this is an important area for APEC to go into, because it’s expanding beyond goods into services. And I think more and more, as you know, for example in the case of the United States, some 70 to 80 percent of our GDP is actually in services, not in goods. And the more developed economies all have the same pattern where, again, 70 to 80 percent or more are actually in the services market rather than the goods market. For China, it’s still not as high up, but the more you develop, the higher the percentage goes in terms of services. So there’s a lot of interest in this. And so those, I think, were the two main areas that I think are newsworthy in terms of what happened in Ningbo.

The other thing is there was a call in Ningbo for support. And interestingly, this was a Chinese proposal to try to encourage APEC economies to call for the expansion of the ITA, the Information Technology Agreement, in terms of products coverage. As you know, WTO is working on this issue, trying to expand the ITA coverage in terms of products, and so far they have not succeeded. And so the Chinese and everyone else, I think, we’re planning, hopefully in May and perhaps in the course of the year, to either actually – well, to either issue various statements encouraging APEC economies to support ITA expansion, or, in fact, if we can, the best thing is to actually be able to complete the ITA expansion sometime this year, which would, again, include hundreds and hundreds of more of new products that are going to be included in the agreement that would allow the tariffs for these products to be dropped sharply.

And we’re hoping, in discussion with the Chinese and others, that this expansion could occur this year so we don’t need to actually call for the expansion, but actually acknowledge that the expansion has occurred this year. So I think that would be a very important thing, and there was a lot of discussion about this in SOM One on this issue.

I think most of you already know that in terms of the APEC structure for this year, in terms of the themes, the Chinese had divided it into three themes. The first theme was the regional economic integration, and so a lot of the things I’ve just discussed fall under that category, including discussion of FTAAP, services, and of course a lot of the work we’re doing in facilitation – trade facilitation.

The second category is a more general one called sort of promoting innovation, economic reforms and growth, and so on. And in that area, the Chinese actually provided some – about a dozen papers or proposals where they would hope that we would consider in the course of the year. A lot of it really, I think, pertaining to how we, as a whole, in terms of our economies, sustain economic growth. So a lot of them were in the areas of green development, oceans, urbanization, forest coverage, and we have also proposed quite a few other areas, and I’ll talk about this in more detail a little bit later, but the Chinese there actually tabled three papers at the SOM level on urbanization. There is a discussion of urbanization, holding a conference in Tianjin, I think, sometime in May – I’m not sure, but – I forget the exact date now, but where we would all try to deal with the issue, bring in experts, deal with the issue of urbanization, and how – especially as China is trying to urbanize more rapidly, and Asia is – how we promote more efficient cities, cleaner cities, how we manage population flow, how we design cities, things of that nature that would be helpful to a lot of the APEC economies that are rapidly urbanizing. And again, the other areas are all in the areas of trying to sustain growth.

Our own priorities in terms of this particular area have to do with energy security and clean environment, so for example, this year, between the U.S. and China, we’re hoping to be able to announce that our two countries are going to be doing or conducting fossil fuel subsidies peer reviews. And what that is, essentially, for those of you who may or may not know, essentially it’s volunteering to have experts come into your economy to study the extent to which your fiscal policies and other policies actually subsidize the use of fossil fuel, either consumption or production of fossil fuels, so coal and oil and all that.

And the idea of doing this is simply because a lot of countries actually do subsidize fossil fuel. And when you subsidize fossil fuel, of course, on one hand, you are, I guess, encouraging the production of and the use of fossil fuels, which, of course, oftentimes are pollutants, although you can have clean coal as well, but most of the time it’s not that clean. And so by subsidizing it, also you’re lowering the price of fossil fuel which makes the renewable fuels, the clean fuels, which are newer and maybe technologically more advanced – makes them even more expensive than they actually are. So the idea is that if you were to lower fossil fuel subsidies, then you will also make them more market-oriented and allow renewable fuels to compete against them. So the whole idea is to try to improve the environment, and at the same time as taking care of energy security.

We’re hoping that this year the U.S. and China can announce that we’re both going to be undertaking these reviews. New Zealand and Peru already did last year in Bali, and we’re hoping that a few other economies can also join us in doing this so that we have a broader number of countries who would be willing to do these peer reviews. And I think, again, from the environmental point of view, I think it’s very important. And of course, a lot of us are now, including Secretary Kerry, very much focused on encouraging international efforts and regional efforts to address climate change. And so this is part of that effort. And we hope that – we were considering the possibility that by the end of the year we could also do a few more things in support of the UN’s effort to address climate change issues.

And also in this area, at least for the United States, we’re also very interested in promoting other things. For example, one of the key priorities for the U.S. is in anti-corruption, and we think that to sustain development in a fair way, as well as in a more predictable way and a more transparent way, we need to have the APEC economies take more action to try to fight corruption, bribery, money laundering, and so on. So we hope this year to be able to make this a very important area within APEC and work with the Chinese, work with all the other economies, to highlight the issue and the problems of corruption and bribery and to try to come together with a statement of principles and commitments on how we can fight against bribery as a whole.

And also last year we, in Bali, established for the first time what we call the ACT network. ACT means the Anti-Corruption and Transparency working group, essentially. This for the first time established this network of law enforcement officials that are committed to working with each other within APEC to cooperate on cross-border cases, to work on training and capacity building, to try to essentially cooperate and increase our capability to fight corruption and bribery.

So we’re hoping this would be a key part of the APEC agenda. And in fact, the minister of supervision and others actually went to Ningbo and attended the workshop in the days prior to the SOM, showing how China really does in this case want to focus on this problem within China, which of course, as you know, President Xi since he took office has been quite focused on, with former Vice Premier Wang Qishan and others, working on this problem.

So we’re hoping this year to use APEC to expand this effort not just within China or within any individual economy but across the economies. And similarly in this area – I’ll leave time for questions, so don’t worry – and within this area we’re also very much focused on continuing what former Secretary Clinton did in 2011, in our year, which is to highlight the importance of women’s empowerment, women in the economy. So we’re proposing, for example, in some of our papers to create a women’s entrepreneurs network around the APEC economies where the women organizations can get together, communicate on ways on how to promote women in the economy, promote women’s access to finance, to promote women’s roles at management levels, and – because we all know not only is this important in terms of from the moral perspective and from the inclusiveness perspective, but this is also important because, for example, the case of Japan, the aging society requiring more and more utilization of the women in these societies to provide, to contribute to the growth of the economy. And I think this works across the board for most of the Asian economies as well. And so that’s one area.

And the last thing is, I would say just to – again, to have some time for questions – the last category is what the Chinese called comprehensive connectivity, which is: How do we bring APEC economies closer together in various ways through physical infrastructure, transportation, or through people to people? For example, more travel facilitation, more educational exchanges, things of that nature, to bring APEC economies more into the community.

And in that regard, we have quite a number of really good proposals, from my point of view, on trying to improve or increase private sector investment in physical infrastructure. The Australians are taking the lead on this. They’ve already set up a pilot center in Jakarta, and this pilot center is essentially a center that will advise the governments on how to attract private sector investment into infrastructure, meaning you have to change certain regulations, you have to make things more transparent, you have to make the investment environment more predictable so that people are willing to invest in infrastructure that oftentimes takes about 20 years or more to get your returns – 10 to 20 years. So it’s important to make sure that you create the right kind of environment for the private sector to be willing to invest.

And we hope to replicate this pilot center, associated with APEC, in a number of other economies that are seeking private sector investment. And I think, in fact, the Chinese are also very much on board. They’ve created their own investment bank, but at the same time they have asked the Australians, for example, to see whether a pilot center could be set up in China as well to attract private sector investment into this, because the amount that is needed is huge. ADB, the Asian Development Bank, estimates about $8 trillion worth of money needs to be put in to develop infrastructure to make sure that the Southeast – especially the Southeast Asian countries continue to grow. They’re now beginning to grow, but one of the major problems is that they lack infrastructure and that might really push down their growth in the years ahead.

The last thing I’ll say is, again, there are so many things. The more I work with APEC, the more I realize how much there is there and how little I actually know about all of the things that it actually does. So a very broad area – 40 working groups in every area that you can think of – food security, health security – so I’m not even discussing those at this point. But I don’t want to bore you all to death, for one thing.

But the last thing I will say is that we are very focused on – especially the U.S. and the Australians–cosponsoring an effort to improve cross-border education. And we’ve talked with a lot of other economies. There’s a great deal of support for this, and that is why we’re trying to, for example, establish a APEC education and training scholarship program where we will, hopefully by the end of the year, be able to gather all the information we have about all of the educational and training scholarships that are available for students especially from developing APEC economies to go to school or internships or training in other parts of the APEC region. And so Taiwan, for example, we’ve talked to China, Japan, Australia – were all very interested in doing this.

And so by the end of the year, what we’re hoping to do in very concrete terms is to actually establish it as a website, part of the APEC website, APEC.org. And if a student from, let’s say, the Philippines wanted to look for a way to go somewhere to study engineering or study whatever he or she wants to study, they can simply go onto this website and then download from there a wiki – I guess what they call it, a wiki something or other, I forget now. But anyway, you go in there, and then you will find a list there for China, U.S., and so on. Under each you will see all of the – not all, but a lot of the scholarships that are available for each country.

And in our case, for example, I was in Auckland about a couple weeks ago in New Zealand attending an ABAC meeting, which is the APEC Business Advisory Council meeting, and I had the chance to talk with a lot of American businesses. And what I suggested to them was if they would be willing to set up scholarships, perhaps a company like – I spoke to Qualcomm, for example – set up a Qualcomm scholarship and say that if you want to go to study masters in IT somewhere, computer, or something like that, you can go there and Qualcomm will support you and give you, let’s say, a year’s scholarship to go to a school that you apply to, and – or beyond that, perhaps, to, if they would like to have an internship with a company, Qualcomm could offer three or four internships where you can work with Qualcomm for three months or half a year to increase your ability to work and to learn how to actually operate in the business environment.

So hopefully, we’ll put all this together and put it on this website and have people who are looking for some support, financial support especially, to go somewhere to be able to look at this and then take advantage of it, know where to apply and therefore increase cross-border education opportunities.

So all of these things are being done. We also have wildlife trafficking that we’re working on. We have a whole set of things. But I won’t go into details because, again, it’ll take a long time. But I think someone tells me that – sometimes I joke with people. As you know, I used to be the DCM in Beijing, and sometimes when I was back in Beijing my colleagues would ask me, “What’s the difference between your work now and your work in Beijing?” And I would actually say that in Beijing I would oftentimes be called in at 3 o’clock in the morning to be given a demarche on some hot issue. But in this job, I am almost never called in the morning to talk about APEC. (Laughter.) So this is more like gardening, it’s grooming, it’s nurturing, it’s building a lot of things. But nobody seems to really want to bother me early in the morning to talk about some issue. So that’s a big difference.

Okay, I think I’ve gone on for a little long, so if you would like to start the Q&As, I’d be glad to respond.

MODERATOR: Great. Just a reminder, of course, to wait for the microphones, and be sure and give your name and your outlet before you ask your question. For our colleagues in New York, if you have a question, please go the podium so we can tell that you have one.

So, yes.

QUESTION: John Zang with CTI TV of Taiwan. Dr. Wang, welcome.

DR. WANG: Thank you.

QUESTION: I have a couple of questions I’m sure the answers to which you know. The first one --

DR. WANG: But may not be able to tell you. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: All right. (Laughter.)

DR. WANG: All right. Okay.

QUESTION: That may be true, too. While in Ningbo, did you detect any decrease in interest or in enthusiasm in APEC because of the fact that there is a final push for the TPP negotiations? That’s the first question. The second question: Are there any issues this year that will be important for Taiwan or involve Taiwan, either multilaterally or bilaterally between the United States and Taiwan? Thank you.

DR. WANG: On the first question, I – it’s hard for me to compare, but I felt that – again, in terms of APEC itself, I felt that there’s a lot of interest in it. Li Baodong, for example, the vice minister, was there for almost the entire two days, and we met with him. I had about over a dozen bilaterals, and we met with Vice Minister Li Baodong as well. And, of course, that would suggest a great deal of interest on their part. And apart from that, Zhang Jun, the Director General was there, and of course, my counterpart, Tan Jian.

It was very active. Again, two weeks of meetings; again, all of these different areas. So I don’t know that it detracted away – I mean, I didn’t see any reporters, in terms of people coming directly to talk about it with me. So that might be an issue. I don’t really know. But I’m trying to think now if there were, in fact. I think there were a set of a – well, there were reporters. In fact, I gave a report that came out in China Daily, if you look at the Saturday issue, on investment. And I was also interviewed by CCTV over there. I’m not sure if that came out or not, but I think it did because one of my wife’s friends said they saw me on television. So I – so yeah. There was a report. (Laughter.) So yeah, it was reported. I just wasn’t thinking, but yeah, there was.

So on the Chinese part, clearly, I think because it’s in China they really wanted to make it a really big success. And we had a really great gala dinner hosted by Ningbo government and Zheijiang provincial government. So I thought – again, that was my first SOM One, so I can’t compare it other SOMs before, but I would say that clearly, I thought it was done really well and very active.

Yeah. On Taiwan, I think – I forget exactly what the question is, if there’s any issue.

QUESTION: Yeah, if there are any issues --

MODERATOR: Get him a microphone.

QUESTION: -- that are either important to Taiwan or will involve Taiwan, either bilaterally between the United States and Taiwan or multilaterally?

DR. WANG: Okay.

QUESTION: Obviously, we all know now that President Ma is not going.

DR. WANG: Okay, well, I don’t know whether he is or isn’t going. That’s a matter of fact. I don’t. I know there’s been some discussion of that. But I don’t sense that in this case there’ll be anything very different, it seems to me, in terms of Taiwan’s participation, because in 2001, I think there were a lot of issues that came up when it was hosted in Shanghai, because that was fairly early on. But by now, since 2001 it’s now been 13 years, and every year Taiwan has been involved in a very normal sort of way. And to be fair, I would say that – and to be completely honest, I think I would say that perhaps our Taiwan colleagues are still a little concerned that something may not be exactly correct. But I think having been through this since the 1990s, I think we’ve pretty much established a pattern in terms of Taiwan’s involvement and participation in APEC forums. So I don’t expect that there’ll be any major issues as far as that’s concerned.

And of course between – and a lot of things have happened since 2001, including Ma Ying-jeou’s visit to Nanjing more recently. But to cross straits, a lot of this has changed dramatically. So I think that also gives me a lot of hope and expectation that everything will be very smooth in China this year.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: Hi. Chen Weihua, China Daily. I want to ask, you earlier talked about China’s interest in about Asia Pacific free trade agreement – I mean, the future, right? I think they raised this issue. I mean, how far is this? I mean, it seems that in China, U.S. is talking about BIT (ph). I don’t know when it’s going to conclude. China is not even part of the TPP. So there is – I don’t know. Is that some kind of – I don’t – wouldn’t want to say a pipe dream or – how far down the road? What is the roadmap if we are talking about this free trade agreement for Asia Pacific? I mean, what’s the U.S. response to Chinese on this issue? Thank you.

DR. WANG: Sure, yeah. First of all, just to make a slight correction which is an important correction, the FTAAP, F-T-A-A-P, is not an agreement per se. It could be. I’m not really sure. But the formal term for it is the Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific. It’s not the free trade agreement of the Asia Pacific. And that’s an important distinction because we really don’t know exactly what this Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific will be. As you said, we already have TPP, which is, in fact, an agreement in the sort of normal trade jargon. And we have RCEP that’s also the negotiation of a free trade agreement among other economies that China is part of.

So I think at this point the issue is whether or not we’re going down the road of trying to do more free trade agreements because there are now 75 in the region. So everyone’s going down the road. The question now we have is: How do all these agreements coexist with each other? Is it a problem to have so many agreements? Because ASEAN already has one, then ASEAN + 3, ASEAN + 1, ASEAN + 6, then RCEP, which includes India. And then you have a lot of the bilateral ones: Taiwan, Singapore, New Zealand, China now doing their CKG or CJK or something like that – China, Japan, Korea. So it’s not that nothing is happening. It’s that too many things are happening in terms of trying to negotiate free trade agreements among all of the regions.

So I think the Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific is, I think, starting off with perhaps a stock taking basically to find out among all of these – first of all, what are they? A lot of people still don’t know what TPP is in terms of its final version. And of course, that’s still being negotiated. And same thing with RCEP. So the idea is maybe this exercise of the FTAAP is a way of trying to understand better what all of these different processes – where they’re leading, what are they, how do they coexist with each other – and then decide where to move after that to try to arrive at something that’s more coherent, maybe, across the board.

So I can’t say when we’re going to reach it, but certainly a lot of movements have already started. And so perhaps after we do the stock taking – stock taking means just to inventory and understand – then all of us then can better understand how we want to shape the region to try to make it, in fact, more effective in terms of trade and investment liberalization.

MODERATOR: Gentleman here. Yeah.

QUESTION: Hi. Thank you. Xiaoyang Xia, from Wen Hui Daily, Shanghai, China.

DR. WANG: From where?

QUESTION: Wen Hui Daily, Shanghai, China. You mentioned – you’ve talked a lot of topics during the SOMs. And the question is: What would you foresee or expect will be the most noteworthy progress, achievement to be reaching during this APEC, especially from the U.S. perspective view? And secondly, there’s been no mention about the Bogor Goal, so are you still working on that or are you still optimistic about the realizing of that Bogor Goal? Thank you.

DR. WANG: Well, I think – I really like sports, so let me just use a sports analogy. Your first question about what’s the single largest achievement and so on for APEC, it’s very difficult to answer that. In other words, you’re asking for what is the home run in baseball, are there going to be home runs and so on. And maybe from the Chinese perspective, it could be because of – maybe FTAAP is something that they think is very important, that it could be the start of something that’s historically very significant.

For us, I think we have a lot of goals, and so there’s not one single home run that we think everything is based on achievement of this particular goal. We think that energy, environment, women, education, health, food, anticorruption – all of those things are very important to sustain the growth of the region, and not any single one. So my answer maybe is that from our perspective, the greatest achievement of APEC would be to be able to make progress in many of these different areas to push it ahead, so that our economies as a whole can continue to grow in a sustainable, clean, and green fashion. And in the long term, that’s what’s going to be important, whether our growth can continue with infrastructure as well or not.

So I don’t think it rests on one single thing. And as you know, in baseball, you may hit a few home runs, but you won’t necessarily win the game. If you hit 10 doubles and 12 singles, you’ll probably win the game, rather than if you hit two home runs. So I think that’s our focus. I think it’s a very broad-based focus. And not to rush too rapidly, because whenever you do rush too rapidly, oftentimes you find that you come up with problems like air pollution and so on as you’re rushing forward to try to achieve that one goal. So I think that’s my answer to that.

In terms of Bogor Goals, I think it was established in ’94 before I came on board, of course, and I would say that it’s more an idea of free and open trade. So everything we’re doing – for example, I talked about trying to open up the services – that’s all a movement towards – it’s open and free trade. That’s the Bogor Goal. So everything we’re doing in step by step are ways to reach the goals. Whether we’ve reached it or not is another matter, but it establishes direction.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) been delayed.

DR. WANG: My throat’s bad. I arrived last night around 11 o’clock from China. But you say it’s been delayed. I guess it’s been delayed, and it depends. And people have questions about what actually the Bogor Goal is. It’s not like a legal contract. It’s a sort of a vision of moving towards free trade – free and open trade. Well, I don’t know when the end goal is, when we can actually arrive at completely free and open trade in the region or in the world. So I think it’s a work in progress. So I would say that the Bogor Goals to me set out a direction that we should strive for. Have we reached it or not? You could say no. But have we made progress? Yes, definitely. Yeah.

MODERATOR: Okay. There in the back, and I think this will be our last question.

QUESTION: Thank you. My name is Daisuke Igarashi from the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun. I have a question about – on TPP. So they – ministers met in Singapore, but they couldn’t reach an agreement. So how do you see the latest progress on the TPP? Do you still expect to see kind of agreement anytime soon?

And the second question is that: Do you think the fact that U.S. Government doesn’t have TPA is actually affecting, like, other TPP member countries --

DR. WANG: Sure.

QUESTION: -- and slowing down negotiations, you think? Thanks, sir.

DR. WANG: I’ll answer the second one first. As far as we know, it has not. The lack of a TPA at this point has not affected, from our point of view in terms of negotiations, progress towards TPP. Because there are a lot of other issues that are more important in terms of just the actual issues themselves, market access and so on, that are, I think, more key to the concern. The fact that TPA has not yet been done was not expected to begin with until afterwards. In fact, ratification, for example, is going to happen after the TPP is done. So the fact that you don’t have guaranteed ratification doesn’t mean you cannot move forward on trying to get the agreement, because after all, none of the other 11 members have ratified it either or can guarantee ratification either. So I think one step at a time is the most important thing, and at this point, we’re not seeing any real impact. People are driven by the other substantive issues within TPP.

And on the TPP itself, I think you’ve seen the statements already issued by USTR, and of course, we’ve kept essentially abreast of everything that’s going on there. I do think, clearly, from what you can see from the USTR, what they’ve said – and it’s true – I think we’ve made very significant strides forward on this. But as everybody expected, it’s really the most difficult part of the negotiation, the hard part of the negotiation.

So, yes, we did not complete it. That’s very clear. It’s also very clear that progress was made. I think significant progress was made. When do you expect it to be finished? It’s hard for me to predict, but I think it’ll be finished. And of course, once it’s finished and we look back perhaps ten years from now or five, ten years from now, we look back, whether it was finished one year later, one year earlier, several months later or earlier, really is not that important from a historic perspective if you – if we do complete it. And I think we’re very close to completing a very high-level agreement. I think that if history were to judge it, it would not be the issue of whether or not it was done one year earlier or one year later in terms of the actual agreement.

So our intent clearly is still to complete it this year and as soon as we can, but again, as we’ve said oftentimes, we want a good agreement. We don’t want just any agreement. We want a good agreement. Earlier, we spoke about the fact that there were already 75 agreements out there, so it’s not a matter of just doing an agreement. It’s a matter of having one that is historically important, that actually makes a significant improvement over existing ones.

MODERATOR: All right.

DR. WANG: Well, thank you so much. Appreciate your coming. I hope you guys stayed awake, at least. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Thank you.

MODERATOR: Thank you. That ends the briefing.

DR. WANG: Thank you.

 

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