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Remarks to Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Auto Dialogue Meeting

Friday, March 4, 2011

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke
Remarks to Asia-Pacific Economic Auto Dialogue Cooperation Meeting

Hello, everybody. Thanks, James, for those kind words.

I want to start by thanking all the participants of the Auto Dialogue who I know have worked hard in recent years to expand trade throughout the APEC region.

It’s important work, and it does not go unrecognized by us in the Commerce Department.

In particular, I’m excited to see the Auto Dialogue expanding trade through the growth of green technologies, which have such immense potential to generate new ideas, new businesses and new jobs.

I’m glad that I could be here to introduce your day’s discussion on the Advanced Technological Demonstration Vehicle Project.

Before I turn the microphone over to Keith Cole from General Motors to lead this important conversation, I’d like to say a few quick words in support of this valuable project.

New advanced green automotive technologies such as plug-in hybrid, battery electric, and fuel cell technologies are already playing a vital role in lowering or even eliminating carbon emissions while increasing fuel efficiency.

But the green automotive industry is still very much in its infancy.  For all the progress made over the last few years, there’s still a need for breakthrough technologies that will help green autos compete on cost and quality with traditional vehicles.

That’s why I’m so excited for the Advanced Technology Demonstration.

Streamlining the importation process of these demonstration vehicles for all APEC member economies will enable the type of global collaboration that is so essential to the development of advanced technologies.

To get the green automotive industry to scale, we’ll need the best minds in engineering, science and information technology from all over the world contributing their best ideas and building off one another's innovations.

And because we want plug-in hybrid, battery electric, and fuel cell vehicles to be accepted globally, this program will help us better understand the preferences of consumers in individual markets.

After all, the ultimate measure of these vehicle success will be how many people that are willing to buy them.

As you all know, some countries already allow for duty-free and tax-free importation of a small number of vehicles built specifically for research, training and public demonstrations.

By broadening this benefit to include all APEC economies, we’ll significantly increase the chances of spurring the cutting-edge innovations we need in the automotive sector. 

Back in 2009, the APEC Ministers said they wanted to see greater “dissemination” of “environmental goods.” 

This program is a big step in the right direction. 

Vehicles are one of the biggest contributors to global climate change, and with hundreds of millions of people in APEC countries set to join the middle class in the years ahead, the demand for cars and trucks will be immense.

This program can help ensure that more of those vehicles are cleaner and greener.

I’m sorry I can't stay longer but I look forward to hearing what you all discuss here today.

Thank you very much, and I wish you good luck with your important discussion. . . .