THE VICE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon. Please have a seat. Good afternoon. I know we’ve been a bit delayed arriving, but thank you all very much. And I know that it’s been a productive day. And I want to —
(Loud sound of dishes clanking.) (Laughter.) That’s either auspicious or it’s not. (Laughter.) Is everyone okay? Yeah? Okay.
Well, thank you all for the warm welcome. And to the government of Thailand, thank you for hosting us and for the exceptional leadership that you have provided during your APEC host year.
This is my third trip to the Indo-Pacific since taking office as Vice President. Last year, I traveled to Singapore and Vietnam. In September, I was in Japan and South Korea. And these trips are in recognition of the critical importance of Southeast Asia and the broader Indo-Pacific to America’s security and prosperity.
Throughout these visits, I’ve made clear the United States is a proud Pacific power, and we have a vital interest in promoting a region that is open, interconnected, prosperous, secure, and resilient.
In the newly — in the nearly two years since President Joe Biden and I took office, we have strengthened our alliances and partnerships throughout the Indo-Pacific. We have reinforced our defense and deterrence commitments, as well as our security presence — a longstanding security presence that has enabled the region to develop and prosper for more than 70 years.
The Biden-Harris administration has also joined with allies and partners to uphold international rules and norms. And, importantly, our administration has made significant progress on an ambitious and affirmative economic agenda for the region, one that has already delivered results for individuals, for communities, and for entire economies.
Our message is clear: The United States has an enduring economic commitment to the Indo-Pacific, one that is measured not in years, but in decades and generations. And there is no better economic partner for this region than the United States of America.
The Biden-Harris administration has proved this again and again, through our actions, our investments, and the principles that we stand for each and every day.
Under our administration, the United States is more engaged with the Indo-Pacific than we have ever been as a nation. We have infused new energy and leadership into our unrivaled network of global alliances and partnerships.
Under President Biden, we have seen an unprecedented expansion of ties between the United States and ASEAN, hundreds of millions of dollars in assistance and new initiatives across three leader summits, including last week in Cambodia. In the Pacific Islands, we have committed to provide nearly a billion dollars in assistance.
We expanded our presence on the ground and elevated our engagement to the leader level. I participated in the Pacific Islands Forum in July of this year, and President Biden convened Pacific leaders in Washington, D.C., for a first-of-its-kind summit in September.
Our engagement in the Indo-Pacific also includes newer configurations, such as the Quad. Together, Quad members pledged $5.2 billion to COVAX and donated 265 million COVID vaccines to the Indo-Pacific, which helped save lives, keep businesses running, and recover faster from the pandemic.
Throughout these partnerships, we are bringing significant resources to the table in areas such as electric vehicles, infrastructure, education, and entrepreneurship. And last year in Singapore, I announced the United States’ offer to host APEC in 2023.
During our host year, we will build on the strong foundation Thailand has set for sustainable economic growth. And to that end, we look forward to partnering with all of you here throughout the next several months.
In a further demonstration of our enduring commitment and economic commitment, the Biden-Harris administration is pioneering new models of economic cooperation that will strengthen our economic footprint in the long term.
Together with Australia and Japan, we are financing new telecom networks in the Pacific. And we are working to mobilize $2 billion in financing under the Southeast Asia Smart Power Program to decarbonize power and those systems throughout the region.
I believe the private sector will play a vital role in all of this. In order to bridge the infrastructure gap in the Indo-Pacific, we need your expertise. We need to work with you and the capital that you bring forward in these projects. And we need your innovation, especially when it comes to clean energy and digital infrastructure.
Simply put, governments cannot do this alone. And in recognition of the impact on global companies and economies, the Biden-Harris administration is building resilient supply chains. We are working through IPEF, the Quad, and bilateral relationships, including a significant supply chain agreement reached with Thailand just a few months ago.
In the last year, I have convened business leaders in Singapore, in Tokyo, and the United States to advance our work on supply chains. And I know you all agree: The public and private sectors must work hand-in-hand on this together.
And the impact is clear. In collaboration with businesses, our administration is leading work across the region to develop early warning systems and diversify suppliers.
As a strong partner to the economies and companies of the Indo-Pacific, America’s approach to these relationships is based on collaboration, sustainability, transparency, and fairness.
Through all of our efforts, we will continue to uphold and to strengthen international economic rules and norms that protect a free market and create predictability and stability, which, of course, is essential to protect companies from arbitrary interference, protect nations from economic coercion, and protect workers’ rights.
In addition, we stand against market distortions and unfair competitive advantages. And we prioritize inclusivity.
We also know that economies will reach their full potential when all segments of a society can fully participate.
The United States adheres to these values and these principles not only because we believe it is the right thing to do, but because it makes economic sense.
In addition, regarding the climate crisis, an existential crisis for us all, the United States is doing our part and leading with action.
Our administration recently made the largest climate investment in our history through the Inflation Reduction Act. More than $370 billion to invest in electric vehicles, battery supply chains, and solar, wind, and hydrogen power. This puts the United States on a direct path to reduce our emissions by at least 50 percent by 2030 and net zero by 2050.
We have committed to increase climate finance to more than $11 billion annually and are investing billions of dollars to help communities adapt to a warming planet globally.
As we act to avert this threat and protect our planet, we will also drive economic growth.
As we accelerate the transition to clean energy, we will create new jobs, spur innovation, and unlock new industries.
So let me be clear on another point: America is a strong partner to the economies and the companies of this region because America is and will remain a major engine of global growth reinforced by our administration’s approach, which has been record job creation, a revitalized manufacturing sector, a booming clean energy sector, resilient consumer spending, an unprecedented small-business creation.
We have enacted historic legislation, the CHIPS and Science Act, which will strengthen global supply chains and spur innovation around the world, and the Inflation Reduction Act with its clean energy investment, which will help bring down the costs of energy globally.
And we believe that when we prosper at home, the entire Indo-Pacific region benefits. In fact, nearly 30 percent of our exports go to the Indo-Pacific, and American companies currently invest around a trillion dollars a year in this region.
So, supported by that track record, we will continue to work with our partners in this region to increase foreign direct investment, to increase the free flow of capital, and to increase the already high level of goods and services that flow between the United States and the Indo-Pacific.
As a member of the Indo-Pacific, America has a profound stake in the future of this region. Commerce between the United States and the Indo-Pacific supports millions of American jobs. We have then a shared commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. And the United States has historic bonds and common values with the nations and the people of this region.
All of this to say: The United States is here to stay.
Strengthening our economic relationships in this region and partnering with the private sector is a top priority for the United States and a bipartisan one.
As we go forward together, the companies and economies in this region will find a United States that brings immense opportunities for growth, a United States that will uphold the rules of the road, and a United States that will help build prosperity for everyone.
Thank you all. (Applause.)
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