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Washington urged to engage more in Asia, complete TPP

TAIPEI--The United States administration should stay engaged in Asia at the highest level and try to complete the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade bloc as soon as possible, the Asia Pacific Council of American Chambers of Commerce (APCAC) urged Friday.

“The world has changed. The world really has shifted to Asia,” said Tami Overby, vice president for Asia at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, at the APCAC spring conference in Taipei.

Two decades ago, the U.S. was almost every Asian country's No. 1 trading partner, but its ranking has slipped to third, fourth or even fifth recently, Overby added.

Although the U.S. is selling more in Asia, its market share is reducing, she noted.

“We've got to do a better job, and we need leadership from the government to help us,” Overby said, encouraging the U.S. administration to meet with local American Chambers of Commerce (AmChams), wherever they go.

In addition, Overby suggested that the U.S. administration improve its international communication and phrase its conversations with its Asian partners better.

Although the TPP trade bloc is “on a good track,” it has to be completed soon, or the U.S. could “miss an enormous (business) opportunity,” Overby said.

As for its China policy, Overby said, Taiwan can play an important role in this huge task, as the two sides have close relations.

Tom Clark, the APCAC's vice chairman, also echoed Overby's views, saying the U.S. can provide solutions to many of Asia's problems.

“A firm and increasing commitment to the Asia-Pacific region, including via a strong and expanding TPP, will allow companies to eliminate duplicative and unnecessary barriers, and disseminate regional and international best practices,” he said.

The commitment can also enhance connectivity to most of the world's fastest-growing economies and customers, he added.

The two-day 2013 Spring Conference of the APCAC is being held on March 21 and 22 and is themed “A 2020 Vision for U.S.-Asia Partnership.” It was attended by over 200 delegates from Taiwan, the Asia-Pacific region and the U.S., as well as about 600 guests and AmCham members.

Founded in 1968, the APCAC now consists of 28 AmChams located in 22 economies in the Asia-Pacific region. It brings together hundreds of executives for in-depth discussions on key issues facing the multinational business community.

The APCAC membership manages a trade volume of more than US$400 billion and foreign direct investment of over US$200 billion.

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