A high-profile, "big deal" event will take place Gallatin County in May, involving ambassadors and cabinet-level trade officials from 21 Pacific Rim nations, Sen. Max Baucus said Friday.
The 2011 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Trade Ministers' meetings will bring together high-level officials from key economic regions -- including Japan, China, Russia, Mexico, Australia, the U.S., and 15 others -- for meetings, negotiations and talks to be held at Big Sky, Baucus said.
The trade summit will also include meetings of the Small-and-Medium-Sized Enterprises Ministers, focused on supporting economic opportunities for small businesses, Baucus said.
The Montana Host Committee, led by the Big Sky Chamber of Commerce, will be responsible for organizing logistical support and "will play an enormous role in ensuring the meetings' success for Montana and the world," Baucus said in a statement following a Friday morning press conference at Gallatin Field airport.
"The APEC meetings in Big Sky next year will give us the opportunity to bring the world to Montana, and for the world to witness all that this great state has to offer," the Montana Democrat said. "We will have to pull out all the stops to bring this event together and make sure we throw open Montana's arms to the world. We will have to build support and show everyone just why we're so excited about hosting this great event in our great state, and I will help in any way that I can."
Baucus called the event "a big deal," and said representatives from all 21 APEC nations will be attending the Big Sky event.
"To give you a sense of what a big deal this is, these nations represent 21 global economies and 40 percent of the world's population," Baucus said at Friday's press conference. "There are 195 countries in the world, and these 21 produce over half of the world's gross domestic product. They'll all be here."
The event is a precursor to the annual APEC summit, to be held in Honolulu in November 2011.
Baucus' Friday press conference was well attended by members of the local and state business community, including the Montana Department of Commerce, Montana World Trade Center, Montana Chamber of Commerce and others. A representative from the U.S. State Department was on hand, as well as the ambassadors of five nations -- China, Japan, Ireland, Chile and New Zealand -- who are in Montana to attend Baucus' economic development conference in Butte this week.
The Montana Host Committee is made up of representatives from the state's leading business organizations and agencies, along with others. The Big Sky Chamber of Commerce is the "lead agency," Baucus said.
For May's summit, 1,000 people "will descend on Big Sky" for three to four weeks, Baucus said. The event will mean a short- and long-term economic shot in the arm for the state.
"I'm so excited to be continuing to develop our U.S.-Montana relationship with Asia," Baucus said. "Montana benefits from APEC (because) the top five export markets for Montana products are in Asia."
Several dignitaries joined Baucus in making the announcement Friday, including Ambassador Demetrios Marantis, a former Baucus aide, now a deputy U.S. trade representative for President Obama.
"Montana is a natural choice for this conference," Marantis said of the Big Sky summit. "This is the largest and most important trade forum in the world."
The countries attending will represent 50 percent of the world's economic output, he said, adding,. "Max (Baucus) has brought the Asia Pacific to Montana.
"The Asia Pacific region is a critical export market for America's farmers, ranchers and manufacturers," Marantis added. "The APEC 2011 Trade Ministers meeting in Big Sky is a tremendous opportunity to identify new ways to strengthen our trade and investment ties to the region. Stronger and better ties to Asia's growing economies will help create and sustain export-related jobs in Montana and across the United States.
"Trade ministers from 21 countries ... will have Sen. Baucus and 900,000 of the best cohosts in the world" at the trade summit next year, Marantis added, referring to Montana's population.
Also on hand at Friday's press conference was Francisco Sanchez, Under Secretary for International Trade for the U.S. Department of Commerce.
"This is a very important announcement," he said of the APEC summit. "Max Baucus understands the critical role exports play in the economy ... and is a prime supporter of APEC."
Sanchez said the Big Sky event will give Montana companies an opportunity to showcase the goods they produce, and to become exposed to trade opportunities in the Pacific Rim.
"Big Sky has a unique opportunity to promote Montana's goods and services to Asia," he said.