May 18,2011

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Baucus Remarks at the APEC Welcome Reception

I’d like to thank Montana Host Committee President Jim Scott for much more than his introduction.  As the CEO of our Montana APEC Host Committee, Jim is responsible for making this event happen.

He, the Host Committee, and our sponsors are the reason we’re here today, and I’d like to extend my heartfelt gratitude for all they’ve done.

While you’re here in Montana, I hope you’re able to see some of the landscapes that make our state so beautiful.  And this evening, I’d like to tell you a little bit about our beautiful vistas that you may not know.  It’s a bit about Montana that helps illustrate all that APEC can achieve.

In a small town, about 60 miles from here, three rivers converge.  The powerful Gallatin River begins as a trickle in the Rockies.  It gains speed as it rushes past Lone Mountain and courses through the Gallatin Canyon. 

The swift Madison River begins as a small stream in Yellowstone Park, but it becomes one of the fastest rivers in Montana as it flows through Bear Trap Canyon. 

The placid Jefferson River begins in the foothills of the Centennial Mountains.  It curves through western Montana, where it sustains and irrigates our ranches and farms.

These three rivers converge in a town called Three Forks.  There, they form the headwaters of the mighty Missouri River. 

For thousands of years, the Missouri has sustained our heartland and its people.  For thousands of years, it has served as a catalyst for trade.  Barges on the Missouri carried goods from the heartland to our coasts, and from there American exports reached the world.  

But just as the Missouri grows stronger with each tributary it meets along its 2,000 mile path,  APEC finds its source in its 21 member economies.  And it finds its strength in the people and businesses that populate its membership.  Like the Missouri and the three rivers that form it, APEC must adapt its course to a changing landscape over time.

Since APEC was founded in 1989, the global economy has changed.  Today, an architect in Chile can instantly receive a blueprint from a smartphone in Vietnam.  With the click of a mouse, an event planner in New Zealand can hire the services of in Harlowton, Montana.

Today’s economy must focus not on the successes of the past, but the opportunities of the future.  And to help create these opportunities, APEC must do three things.

First, APEC must demonstrate that the currents of trade can work for businesses of all sizes – not just large ones.  This week, we are proud to host the Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises meeting and the Trade Ministers meeting in Montana.

Montana has a greater percentage of workers employed by small businesses than any other state in the United States.  By bringing the world to Montana, we can ensure that APEC focuses on increasing exports from rural regions as well as urban areas.  And we can ensure that APEC focuses on the most pressing issues that small- and medium-sized businesses face.

Through these meetings, we have brought Montana to the world.  I am proud to note that more than 100 Montana companies are participating in these APEC meetings.  This level of involvement on the part of local businesses is the greatest APEC has ever seen.  It is only through exchanges like these that we can learn from and teach one another.

Second, APEC must pay attention to the direction the currents are flowing in the global economy.  APEC must anticipate and create opportunities for the next generation of exports.  For example, we must reduce barriers to green technology exports as we grapple with how to supply energy to an ever-growing population. 

APEC can successfully tackle this task.  But to do so, APEC economies must open, not protect, their markets.  Finding creative solutions to our energy needs can only be accomplished by opening our markets to cutting edge technologies. 

Third, APEC must divert the currents that slow the flow of our exports. 

Supply chains now span the globe.  Products that are invented in one APEC economy are assembled in another, and components are produced in a third.  When one piece of the chain grinds to a halt because of burdensome or nontransparent regulations, the ripples are felt across the region. 

APEC must identify and eliminate the most nefarious non-tariff barriers.  Regulations must be transparent and foster compliance.  They should be designed to achieve legitimate policy goals, such as health and safety, and not to block legitimate imports.

These three forks of the APEC agenda are essential to ensuring that APEC creates opportunities for our businesses and jobs for our people. 

Just as 60 miles from here, the three forks of the Missouri River help build and strengthen that mighty body of water, I am confident these three forks will help build and strengthen this mighty organization.

Thank you all for being here this evening.  I hope you enjoy your time in our great state.