Secretary Statements & Remarks

Remarks by Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen at APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) Gala Dinner in San Francisco, California

As Prepared for Delivery

Thank you to Lieutenant Governor Kounalakis for your remarks and introduction. And to Dominic for your remarks and leadership. To all ABAC delegates: Thank you for your hard work to make the United States’ host year a success, and welcome to San Francisco. This evening, I’ll discuss the importance of the Asia-Pacific region, APEC’s evolving mission, and the absolutely vital role of the private sector in advancing APEC’s work.

Over the past few decades, the Asia-Pacific region has steadily increased in importance for the global economy. The region is a key driver of global innovation, opportunity, and growth. And its economic importance is only poised to increase. We all recognize this, and the Biden-Harris Administration has made engaging with the region a key strategic priority. The United States’ economic approach has included deepening our regional economic ties, with tremendous potential benefits for the U.S. economy and for APEC economies. I’ve personally visited six APEC members in the past two years. I’ve seen firsthand their economic dynamism and promise, and I’ve engaged with authorities, citizens, and the private sector to deepen the United States’ ties.

The United States is also deeply committed to APEC itself. 30 years ago, we convened the first APEC Leaders’ Meeting on Blake Island in the state of Washington, and leaders first outlined APEC’s vision of economic cooperation to promote shared prosperity. Since, APEC members have reaffirmed and updated that mission, most recently in the 2020 Putrajaya Vision, where we recommitted ourselves to our shared vision of an open, dynamic, resilient, and peaceful Asia-Pacific community.

30 years after Blake Island, this year’s APEC Economic Leaders’ Week is an opportunity for us to accelerate progress toward this shared vision. Today, during the Finance Ministers’ Meeting, my fellow ministers and I discussed the significant strides we’re making to unlock more growth and dynamism across the region. We focused on our three finance track themes: the responsible development of digital assets; support for effective energy transitions and sustainable finance; and economic policies to enable stronger growth while supporting inclusion and environmental sustainability. Across each theme, we recognized engagement with the private sector was key. 

Indeed, one of APEC’s core strengths is that it not only recognizes the integral role the private sector plays in achieving our mission; it fully integrates the private sector in its work. ABAC, through its formal role in APEC, connects authorities with private sector actors to share viewpoints and find ways to advance our common goals. 

I especially appreciate ABAC’s focus on equity and sustainability, themes that align closely with this year’s finance track priorities. As I discussed with ministers earlier today, reducing inequality is key to unlocking the untapped potential of our economies. And the post-pandemic recovery offers APEC members a critical opportunity to drive inclusive growth. Doing so will not only improve the lives of our citizens; more inclusive economies are also stronger and more resilient. For example, we must continue to look for ways to enable women’s participation in the workforce—to fuel their full participation in society and to unlock a critical source of economic dynamism. The private sector has a key role to play here.

Sustainability is another focus for both APEC Finance Ministers and ABAC. Many APEC economies are highly vulnerable to climate change.  Given the interconnectedness of our economies and our shared vision of the future, we have no choice but to join together to address this challenge and to realize the opportunities of the transition to net zero. In today’s meeting, Finance Ministers discussed the need for continued efforts to support just energy transitions and explored how to strengthen mechanisms that enable carbon reduction across our economies, including voluntary carbon markets. And we focused on promoting climate-aligned financing approaches to harness private sector investment.

As leaders in the private sector, ABAC members are a critical partner in these initiatives. And looking across the private sector more broadly, I am heartened by the increasing numbers of firms working to increase equity and address climate change, among many other shared priorities.

With that, thank you again to all of you for your work to advance APEC’s vision. It’s been a productive host year for the United States, and we look forward to continued strong partnership with the private sector to drive much more progress in the years to come.