The United States is eager to improve connections among producers and consumers in the United States and East Asia to benefit all trading partners.

That was the message Under Secretary of Commerce Stefan Selig carried on his “Rebalance to Asia” trip that concluded in Hanoi, Vietnam, January 22. He also visited Beijing and Hong Kong for meetings with public officials and private sector representatives.

“Trade and investment has emerged as a diplomatic tool to achieve our strategic interests, and the TPP [Trans-Pacific Partnership] is nothing short of the economic leg of the president’s rebalance to Asia priority,” Selig said. “With an estimated 2.7 billion middle-class consumers projected by 2030, the Asia-Pacific region also plays an essential role in our economic growth now and in the future.”

West Coast ports like Long Beach, California, are America’s gateway for hundreds of billions of dollars of trade with Asia. (© AP Images)

In China, Selig reported on outcomes of the recent U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade high-level meeting in Chicago in December 2014, which he said deepened connections between U.S. products and China’s robust export market.

While in Hong Kong, Selig focused on ways to improve the strong and mutually beneficial economic partnership during engagements with his government counterparts. Selig participated in the annual Asia Financial Forum, where he highlighted the role of government in the digital economy.

Through the TPP, the United States is working to establish a trade and investment framework in the dynamic Asia-Pacific region. The United States also aims to establish innovative rules under the agreement that promote core U.S. values such as transparency and good governance, and strong, enforceable labor and environmental standards.