The United States just wrapped up their year of hosting the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation(APEC) Summit and I was fortunate enough to be on hand in Hawaii for the finale. So, what’s left after the Summit? That is the burning question on the minds of all Hawaiian people as the largest event in the State’s history comes to a close. Over the past week, dignitaries, officials, and business executives from APEC’s 21 member economies descended on Honolulu to discuss the path forward in expanding trade, investment, and economic growth in order to create employment and raise living standards across the region. And, this was not just any group. Combined, they represent 40 percent of the world’s population, 56 percent of global gross domestic product, and approximately 50 percent of international trade. No, not just any group. Rather, the world’s most powerful coalition of economies that have agreed upon promoting open trade and investment across a region spanning thousands of miles on both sides of the Pacific Ocean. The United States, China, Japan, Russia, Canada, Mexico and 15 other major economies, they were all here in Honolulu last week. What’s left after APEC? I have plenty of answers.
For starters, Hawaii-based companies met new international business partners. SKAI Ventures, one of our best clients, is now in deep discussions with a number of potential distributors met during APEC. And, deals were done. Sopogy, Inc., another one of our top clients, signed a memorandum of understanding with Sichuan Dongjia Investment Company outlining how this new partner will market Sopogy’s world-class micro concentrated solar power technology in China. In addition to the business deals happening at APEC, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s senior leadership honored local businesses and brought the message of expanded exports to the local economy. Recently-confirmed Secretary of Commerce John Bryson returned to his boyhood stomping grounds of Honolulu where he attended 7th grade at Kaimuki Middle School, this time for his first bilateral meetings with APEC counterparts on a range of trade and investment issues. Secretary Bryson also presented two U.S. Department of Commerce Certificates of Appreciation for Achievement in Trade during his visit; one commending the Hawaii Pacific Export Council for its role in developing export opportunities for Hawaii-based companies and a second to Lieutenant Governor Brian Schatz recognizing the State’s leadership in achieving President Obama’s National Export Initiativegoals by promoting tourism in the Hawaiian Islands as a service export.
Our Under Secretary for International Trade Francisco Sánchez and Assistant Secretary for Market Access and Compliance Michael Camuñez with their Indonesian counterparts launched the first-ever U.S.-Indonesian Commercial Dialogue that will pay close attention to harmonizing standards in the energy sector. And, Japan announced that it intends to join the 21st Century Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement that promises unprecedented opportunities for U.S. exporters doing business in the Asia-Pacific region.
The State of Hawaii has always been a surf-and-sand tropical paradise. That won’t change after APEC but what APEC surely did is transform the Hawaiian Islands into an international commercial hub, where doing business beyond the reef is an everyday part of life. Our office, the Hawaii U.S. Export Assistance Center, stands ready to make sure Hawaii companies take advantage of this new frontier.