Delivering on the Promise of Economic Statecraft

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Singapore Management University
November 17, 2012

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you very much. Thank you, President De Meyer, for welcoming all of us here to SMU. Thank you, Ambassador Adelman, for your exemplary service here in Singapore, strengthening and deepening the already very strong relationship between our two countries. Thank you also for the Minister of State and the Minister for Education and the Speaker of the Parliament for being here with us. And thanks to the American Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. ASEAN business council for helping to cosponsor this event.

It has been three years since I was last here with President Obama, when we came for our first APEC meeting. And that trip helped launch what has been called our pivot to the Asia Pacific. As Secretary of State, I have visited the region many times. And I was just in Australia with Secretary of Defense Panetta for our annual AUSMIN consultations with our Australian counterparts. Tomorrow I will join President Obama in Thailand. And then we will go together to Burma and on to Cambodia for the East Asia Summit.

Now, I think one of the questions that may be on your and others’ minds is: “Why is the American President spending all this time in Asia so soon after winning re-election?” Well, the answer for us is very simple. Because so much of the history of the 21st century will be, is being, written in this region. America’s expanded engagement represents our commitment to help shape that shared future. The strategic and security dimensions of our efforts are well known. But the untold story that is just as important is our economic engagement. Because it is clear that not only in the Asia Pacific but across the world, increasingly, economics are shaping the strategic landscape. Emerging powers are putting economics at the center of their foreign policies, and they are gaining clout less because of their size of their armies than because of the growth of their GDP.

For the first time in modern history, nations are becoming major global powers without also becoming global military powers. So, to maintain our strategic leadership in the region, the United States is also strengthening our economic leadership. And we know very well that America’s economic strength at home and our leadership around the world are a package deal. Each reinforces and requires the other.

I must say this is a lesson that Singapore learned long ago. Today the non-stop flow of people, goods, and capital through this small nation is proof that a country does not need to be big to be mighty, to be respected, to be a real leader. Every country wants to do business in Singapore, so every country has a stake in cultivating good relationships with Singapore. With only 1/60 of the population of the United States, Singapore is our 15th largest trading partner. More than 2,000 American companies base their regional headquarters here. Two-way trade exceeded $50 billion for the first time last year. And U.S. direct investment surpassed $116 billion over the last decade. That makes Singapore’s security and stability a vital interest for the United States. This connection between economic power and global influence explains why the United States is placing economics at the heart of our own foreign policy. I call it economic statecraft.

Now, these ideas are hardly new. After all, it was Harry Truman who said our relations, foreign and economic, are indivisible. But today that carries renewed urgency. Last year I laid out America’s economic statecraft agenda in a series of speeches in Washington, Hong Kong, San Francisco, and New York. Since then, we have turned this vision into action in four key areas: first, updating our foreign policy priorities to take economics more into account; second, turning to economic solutions for strategic challenges; third, stepping up commercial diplomacy — what I like to call jobs diplomacy — to boost U.S. exports, open new markets, and level the playing field for our businesses; and fourth, building the diplomatic capacity to execute this ambitious agenda. MORE.

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