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Asia-Pacific Regional Economic Integration: U.S. Strategy and Approach
Region: Asia
Theme: Economics
Published August 18, 2014
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America’s economic engagement in the Asia-Pacific predates the republic itself. In February 1784, the merchant ship Empress of China set sail from New York to Canton seeking to trade coins and ginseng for Chinese tea.1 The profitable 15-month expedition sparked a wave of American merchant trade in the region.2 It was not long before commercial considerations began to shape U.S. foreign policy in the region, as epitomized in 1853 by Commodore Perry’s arrival in Tokyo Bay in his “black ships” seeking refueling rights for the American whaling fleet and the opening of Japan to trade. Over the ensuing 150 years, as trade and investment across the Pacific have grown to trillions of dollars a year, economic policy has become a central feature of broader U.S. strategy in the Asia-Pacific. Washington today pursues a robust, multilayered economic policy in the region that is designed both to promote U.S. growth and jobs and to underpin regional peace and stability.

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