2016 was a busy year for eBay’s Kristen Foster, eBay Director of Government Relations for Australia, New Zealand, Japan & Southeast Asia. She led eBay’s envoy participation in trade missions throughout Australasia, South East Asia and an annual APAC American Chambers of Commerce “Doorknock” to Washington, DC. All of these activities focused on leveraging ecommerce to benefit SMEs and the positive impact that cross border trade, underpinned by free trade agreements, has on local and global economies, jobs and growth. Here is an overview of several of these highly important trade missions:
Indonesia – American Innovation Roadshow
The year kicked off with Kristen selected by the US State Department to be a delegate on its launch of the first leg of its “American Innovation Roadshow” across Asia, to Indonesia, as announced by Secretary of State John Kerry during his speech on “America and the Asia-Pacific: Partners in Prosperity" in Singapore in late 2015 (click here to see the official announcement regarding participants)
Senior members of Secretary Kerry's economic team led the business delegations showcasing innovation and entrepreneurship, with the goal to promote shared prosperity and inclusive growth. Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State, Ambassador David H. Thorne led the first segment of the Roadshow to Jakarta, alongside the US Ambassador to Indonesia Robert Blake. Meetings were held at the highest levels of Government and the Roadshow included visits to Innovation Schools where students were learning how to utilise ecommerce to export their goods.
Malaysia – US ASEAN Business Council Mission
In April, the US-ASEAN Business Council led a delegation of 23 U.S Companies, including eBay, on an annual business mission to Malaysia. The group focussed on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and encouraged the government to continue to play a leading role in the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) and to pursue regional trade initiatives such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
The delegation was received by senior government officials, including Prime Minister YAB Dato' Sri Najib Razak, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Mustapa bin Mohamed. The delegation was briefed by U.S. Ambassador to Malaysia Joseph Yun before the meetings, hosting a reception at his residence for the US-ABC business leaders.
Thailand – US ASEAN Business Council Mission
In July, the US ASEAN Business Council conducted its Thailand Business Mission in Bangkok. The delegation was comprised of 26 companies, including eBay. The delegation met with Prime Minister H.E. General Prayut Chan-o-cha, Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Somkid Jatusripitak, Minister of ICT H.E. Uttama Savanayana, amongst other key Government officials. A reception was hosted by theHonorable Glyn T. Davies, U.S. Ambassador to Thailand and the mission also featured a Q&A briefing session with US Embassy officials.
Washington, DC - APCAC Doorknock
The Asia-Pacific Counsel of American Chambers of Commerce (APCAC) visits Washington, DC annually with business representatives from APAC, including eBay, to meet with senior Administration officials, major think tanks, and a large number of members of Congress and senior Hill staff.
This year's Doorknock was held in late June. Singaporean Ambassador Ashok Mirpuri hosted a reception for all delegation members to mark the commencement of the Doorknock. eBay also participated in a special Australian delegation at the end of the Doorknock, visiting with the Australian Ambassador to the United States, the Hon Joe Hockey.
The meetings on the Hill with members of Congress and their staff focused on the TPP, tax and FATCA reform. eBay looks forward to attending again in 2017.
Strengthening Trans-Tasman Relations
The year of trade missions wrapped up with a Trans-Tasman trade mission with the American Chambers of Commerce (Australia and New Zealand) in Auckland in October which focussed on the importance of free trade to nations such as Australia and New Zealand. The delegation participated in roundtables and Q&A sessions with US Embassy officials based in Australia and New Zealand, including US Ambassador to New Zealand, Mark Gilbert and Mike Heath, Counsellor at the U.S. Embassy in Australia.
eBay’s representations on all trade missions focused on issues impacting SMEs and cross border trade, importance of free trade agreements, as well as de minimis issues in the region. eBay also highlighted our work on Commerce 3.0 and enabling ASEAN SMEs and the eBay Policy Labs report on small online business growth.
We look forward to continuing our envoy program, working constructively with the US ASEAN Business Council and the American Chambers of Commerce in the region, throughout 2017 to promote and protect the interests of eBay sellers and buyers.