Delivering remarks at the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) luncheon  in Tokyo today, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke discussed strengthening the U.S.-Japan economic relationship, noting the ongoing work between the U.S. Commerce Department and Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, as well as the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry.
Locke reiterated the United States’ commitment to strengthening U.S.-Japanese trade, and the desire to see continued export expansion into Japan. Bilateral trade between the two countries totaled nearly $147 billion in 2009.
Locke also remarked on the need to ease trade barriers, calling for open investment and trade environment that allows businesses, entrepreneurs and policy makers to bring their respective strengths to the table and spur the type of innovation and economic growth the U.S. cannot achieve alone. He defined economic success as the ease with which policies make it possible for innovators to exchange ideas, as well as to invest and trade.
The ACCJ luncheon marked Locke’s first stop in Japan while attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit, which is being chaired this year by Japan in Yokohama.
APEC is an intergovernmental group comprised of 21 member economies which account for approximately 54 percent of world GDP and nearly 44 percent of world trade. Established in 1989 to further enhance economic growth and prosperity for the region, APEC has worked to reduce tariffs and other trade barriers across the Asia-Pacific region, creating efficient domestic economies and dramatically increasing exports.
U.S. trade to the APEC region totaled $1.6 trillion in 2009, and $1.3 trillion year-to-date through August 2010.
Exports represent a critical part of the economy and are a key component of the Obama administration’s efforts to spur new job creation. Earlier this year, President Obama outlined his National Export Initiative (NEI), which seeks to double exports by 2015, in support of several million new U.S. jobs. The NEI enhances the U.S. government’s trade promotion efforts, increases available credit for businesses – especially small and medium-sized businesses – looking to export and continues to improve efforts to remove trade barriers for U.S. companies in foreign markets.