George W. Bush photo

Remarks at the Closing Session of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Santiago

November 20, 2004

Thank you very much. Sientese. Gracias. Thank you for the warm welcome. It is such an honor to be in Chile. Who is ever responsible for the weather, thank you very much. Laura and I are delighted to be here. Chile is such a fabulous country. It's a great place to talk about entrepreneurship and the entrepreneurial spirit. It's a country which shows the world what is possible when you create the right conditions for economic vitality and economic growth. And we're so honored to be here.

I want to thank my friend Ricardo Lagos for organizing this summit. I appreciate the business leaders who are here. I thank you for your interest in working collaboratively with business leaders from around the world. And as a result of vision and hard work, we meet today on the eastern rim of an incredibly dynamic region.

In our lifetimes, we've seen the Asia-Pacific region grow in wealth and freedom beyond many—beyond that which many thought was possible. If you think back about 20 years ago, what people thought about the Asian-Pacific region, they couldn't imagine such prosperity and such wealth and such freedom. And that's what APEC is all about, as far as I'm concerned. And that's why it's an honor to be here at this summit with my fellow leaders.

Incredibly enough, APEC economies account for nearly half of all the world trade and half of the world's economic output. For somebody who is interested in prosperity for my own citizens, it's a good place to hang out, with that much trade, commerce. And I believe that this new century, with the right policies, can extend the prosperity even further. And that's what we're here to discuss.

I believe we must increase the flow of trade and capital. I know our societies must reward enterprise and open societies and open markets. I know we've got to reject the blocks and barriers that divide economies and people. And I believe, with the right policies, we can continue to grow.

I'm honored to be here today with a man who has served our country so well, a great United States Secretary of State, Colin Powell. Right after my speech, he's headed to the Middle East. That's a heck of a retirement, Mr. Secretary. [Laughter] I look forward to your report when you get back.

I want to thank the U.S. members of the APEC Business Advisory Council. I want to thank you for your hard work. I want to thank you for representing our country so well. I appreciate Gary Benanav and Mike Drucker—Mike Ducker and Robert Prieto for your hard work in organizing this summit and representing the business leaders who are here.

You know, what's interesting about our country is that for years, we were isolated from the world by two great oceans, and for a while we got a false sense of security as a result of that. We thought we were protected forever from trade policy or terrorist attacks because oceans protected us. What's interesting about today's world is that the oceans now connect us. It didn't take all that long in the march of history for that change to take place. And therefore, America must respect and value the friendships that we're able to make as a result of our transatlantic and transpacific ties. Right after I'm inaugurated, I'll go to Europe to renew our transatlantic ties, to remind the people of Europe how important my administration regards our vital Atlantic alliance.

And of course, our Nation is Pacific country as well. And that's why the APEC * conferences are so important. Do you realize, the capital of our 50th State is nearly as close to Sydney and Manila as it is to Washington, DC? That's a Pacific Rim nation. More than 15 percent of Americans claim Hispanic or Asian-Pacific heritage. Our APEC partners account for nearly two-thirds of all American exports and imports. America's future is inseparable from our friends in the Pacific. And by working together and by continuing to foster reasonable progrowth economic policies, the fellowship of Pacific nations will continue to be strong. That's what I'm here to tell you.

There is a different attitude in the world about foreign policies, particularly if you happen to be an influential nation. In the past, many powerful nations preferred others to remain underdeveloped and therefore dependent. It was a cynical doctrine. And that doctrine is unsuited for our times. In this century, countries benefit from healthy, prosperous, confident partners. Weak and troubled nations export their ills—problems like economic instability and illegal immigration and crime and terrorism. America and others sitting around the table here at APEC understand that healthy and prosperous nations export and import goods and services that help to stabilize regions and add security to every nation. So we've got three clear goals to help spread prosperity and hope and to secure the peace.

We want to seek wider trade and broader freedom and greater security for the benefit of our partners and for the benefit of all. That's what I'm going to do over the next 4 years. The first goal is to lower barriers to trade and investment and to promote sound fiscal policies for all our governments. Free and fair trade combined with prudent fiscal discipline are the foundation of the region's remarkable prosperity, and I'm committed to staying on the path to progrowth—proeconomic growth—economic growth by progrowth policies. We're doing our part.

You know, we've overcome a lot in the U.S. economy. We faced a recession, coupled with terrorist attacks, which affected our capacity to grow. But we stimulated our economy by cutting taxes. And America is growing again, and people are working. And the question ahead is, how do we make sure we maintain growth?

We need legal reform in the United States. We got to make sure that those who risk capital are rewarded for taking risk and not subject to needless and frivolous lawsuits. We need regulatory reform in the United States. Our Tax Code is too complex. So I'm going to work with members of both political parties to simplify the Tax Code.

But I also understand there is concern about whether or not our Government is dedicated to dealing with our deficits, both short term and long term. I look forward to standing up in front of the Congress in my State of the Union and telling them why I submitted a budget that will help us deal with the short-term deficit of the United States, and I will do that. And I'll also work with Members of Congress to deal with the unfunded liabilities of our entitlement systems, so that we can say clearly to the world, the United States of America is committed to deficit reduction, both short term and long term.

Overall, the economy of this part of the world is expected to grow by nearly 5 percent this year. And that's good news, and the United States wanted to be a part of that growth. We can add to that progress by reducing trade barriers that I believe are an obstacle to economic growth everywhere, especially in the developing world. And so this Government and our country is strongly committed to the WTO's Doha round of negotiations. And my trade minister will be strongly committed to ensure the success of the WTO round. And we need your help in making sure that nations around the APEC table are focused on the benefits of global trade, that we put aside some differences that could prevent Doha from going forward.

We will continue to assist our Asia-Pacific partners in meeting their WTO obligations. We are encouraging Russia and Vietnam in their efforts to join the WTO. The history between our countries has changed dramatically between America and Vietnam and Russia. The tensions are no longer existing. Conflict is behind us, and we have a chance to work with those countries for the common good, and we will.

We're going to be aggressive about our bilateral trade agreements and our regional trade agreements. We've completed trade agreements with nations throughout Asia and the Americas, including Australia, Singapore, Chile, the five nations of Central America, and the Dominican Republic. We are working on new agreements with Thailand, Panama, the Andean nations of South America. We're moving ahead with the enterprise for the ASEAN initiative, which is lowering trade barriers and strengthening economic ties in Southeast Asia. We're committed to the Bogor goals, which call for free trade among developed nations of the Asian-Pacific region by 2010 and free trade among all APEC economies by 2020. We seek free trade in the Americas, uniting the markets of all 34 free nations in the Western Hemisphere.

I think you can tell that I believe free trade is necessary for economic development, that free trade is essential to prosperity. But it is not sufficient, and we understand that. All governments in the region must make the difficult choices needed to stabilize economies and to keep public finances on foot. We have been impressed by the reform programs in Chile and Colombia and Uruguay that have spurred growth and investment in those countries and throughout the region.

My Nation and many others have acted to lift the crushing burden of debt that limits the growth of developing economies and holds millions of people in poverty, and we will continue to do so. We will continue working to relieve the current debt of those highly indebted poor countries that pursue sound fiscal policy. We will continue to encourage our large trading partners to adopt flexible market-based exchange rates for their currencies. Expanding prosperity has lifted millions in our region out of poverty, has bound our nations closer together, and has benefited all our people. And my administration will continue to promote pro-growth, pro-trade economic policies for the good of all.

Our second goal is to spread the benefits of freedom and democracy and good government across parts of the world. We've seen progress toward these goals in the recent history of the Asia-Pacific region. We've seen some interesting lessons of history as free markets take hold: The demand for limited government and self-rule builds. That's why it's important to promote free trade and open market policies.

In the long run, economic freedom and political liberty are indivisible, and the advance of freedom is good for all, as free societies are peaceful societies. My Government and many others are working with countries to lay the foundations for democracy by helping them institute the rule of law and independent courts and a free press and political parties and trade unions. We have joined with other members of the Organization of American States to create the Inter-American Democratic Charter. This charter recognizes democracy as a fundamental right of all peoples in the Americas and pledges our governments to promoting and defending the institutions and habits of liberty.

Because political liberty and economic freedom go hand in hand, America and many nations have changed the way we fight poverty, curb corruption, and provide aid. In 2002, we created the Monterrey Consensus, a bold approach that links new aid from developed nations to real reform in developing ones. We created the Millennium Challenge Account in America that says we'll increase aid and help to nations which are willing to fight corruption, which are willing to educate their people, which are willing to spend money on the health of their citizens, and nations which are willing to expand economic freedom. We owe that to the taxpayers of the United States, to promote the habits necessary for free societies to develop. And we believe every nation is capable of fighting corruption, is capable of putting good economic policies in place, is capable of educating their people and helping defeat the scourge of bad health care.

Developing nations have responded, and we appreciate that, but not nearly as much as the people who live in their countries. They've responded by fighting corruption, by building schools and hospitals, and passing new laws that reward enterprise from their people.

The United Nations also has an important role, and America has proposed a democracy fund to help countries lay the foundations of democracy and help set up voter precincts and polling places and support the work of election monitors.

The growth of free and hopeful societies depends on controlling the spread of deadly diseases, especially AIDS and tuberculosis and malaria. HIV/AIDS cases are growing in the Asian-Pacific region. It's an issue we just discussed with the leaders around the table. Last year more than 1 million new HIV infections occurred in Asia, one out of every five infections worldwide. My Nation is working to fight this disease through a $15 billion Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief—15 billion over 5 years, which helps—provides help for 100 nations around the world. Earlier this year, we expanded the focus of this effort by committing new resources to Asia.

As part of this effort, the United States is supporting the United Nations Global Fund, and other nations need to participate in that fund. It's not the United States global fund; it is the world global fund. And so I'm going to continue to urge nations here at this APEC Summit to contribute to that fund, to help defeat this pandemic that has swept across the continent of Africa and now threatens nations in Asia. It is the greatest—AIDS is the greatest health crisis of our time, and all nations must join in a united effort to turn the tide against this terrible disease.

The spread of liberty is our most powerful weapon in the fight against hatred and terror. And we've seen some amazing events take place in the history of liberty. Perhaps the most amazing of all took place in Afghanistan when millions of people showed up to vote for the President of that country some 3 years after that country had been ruled by the barbarians called the Taliban. And the most amazing moment of all in this march of democracy was the fact that the first voter was a 19-year-old woman. Freedom has taken place in parts of the world where people never dreamt freedom is possible, and as a result, the world is better for it.

Our third great goal is to help keep up the fight against the forces of terror that threaten the success of our economies and the stability of the world. Every nation represented here has a stake in this conflict. Terrorism is a threat not just to the West or to the wealthy but to all of us. And all of us must do everything we can to defeat the murderers.

We're determined to end the state sponsorship of terror. And my Nation is grateful to all that participated in the liberation of Afghanistan. We're determined to prevent the proliferation of deadly weapons and materials and to enforce the just demands of the world. And my Nation is grateful to the soldiers of those nations who've helped to deliver the Iraqi people from an outlaw dictator. We're determined to destroy terrorist networks wherever they operate, and the United States is grateful to every nation that is helping to seize terrorist assets and to track down their operatives and to disrupt their plans.

APEC nations are playing a crucial role in the war on terror, for which we are very grateful. We'll continue to work with nations that have the will to fight terror but need help in developing the means. We're sharing intelligence and increasing our cooperation in customs and law enforcement to stop terrorists before they can strike. We're moving forward on the initiatives of last year's summit in Bangkok to strengthen the security of our ports and transportation networks, to defend our aircraft from the threat of portable missiles, and to end the flow of terrorist finances.

America has joined with Singapore to found a new research institute, which opened this year, dedicated to stopping the spread of deadly diseases and combating the threat of bioterrorism. We're working to ensure that the shores of the Pacific remain peaceful. In Santiago, APEC leaders committed to signing by 2005 the additional protocol of the IAEA safeguards agreements, which requires nations to declare a broad range of nuclear activities and facilities and allows the International Atomic Energy Agency to inspect those facilities. And I appreciate that cooperation and that commitment.

We also agreed to further strengthen our Nation's export controls and to develop a new system to track and stop the travel of suspected terrorists using forged or stolen documents. Through the Proliferation Security Initiative, many nations are also fighting the trade in deadly weapons. And over the past years we've had notable successes, most particularly the disruption of the A.Q. Khan network and its willingness and capacity to spread deadly technology to nations that would like to inflict harm on the—to inflict harm on nations like APEC members.

Five APEC members are working to convince North Korea to abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons, and I can report to you today, having visited with the other nations involved in that collaborative effort, that the will is strong, that the effort is united, and the message is clear to Mr. Kim Chong-il: Get rid of your nuclear weapons programs.

In all our efforts, we'll maintain and strengthen the alliance among our nations that have served the peace so well. By making our countries safer, these steps will also create a more secure business environment and boost confidence in our economies. You know as well as I know that terrorist attacks affect the capacity of people to make a living. We discovered that firsthand in the United States of America when we lost nearly a million jobs in the 3 months after the September the 11th attacks. The people of Bali, Indonesia, know what I'm talking about when it comes to terrorist attacks. We have an obligation as nations to work together to stop terrorism.

And you in the private sector have an important role to play. The new inspection technologies that you create can shorten delays and reduce insurance costs and cut redtape. By working closely with customs officials of APEC governments to establish better procedures, you can make the delivery of goods and services more secure and more efficient.

These are great goals that I've just talked about: goals to advance our common prosperity, goals to spread freedom and dignity, and goals to strengthen our common security. And I have come here to Chile to tell my colleagues and friends, the United States of America is committed to achieving those goals for the next 4 years.

Thank you for your interest. Thank you for coming.

NOTE: The President spoke at 4:47 p.m. at the Casa Piedra. In his remarks, he referred to President Ricardo Lagos of Chile; Gary Benanav, Mike Ducker, and Robert Prieto, United States members, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Business Advisory Council (ABAC); A.Q. Khan, former head of Pakistan's nuclear weapons program; and Chairman Kim Chong-il of North Korea.

* White House correction.

George W. Bush, Remarks at the Closing Session of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Santiago Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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