Secretary Andrew Cuomo Opening Remarks
Ministry of Construction, Beijing
U.S. China Housing Initiative Meeting
May 24, 2000
Thank you very much. First, let me express our pleasure at being here and our gratitude for the tremendous hospitality that the Ministry that has shown us. It has been a very special trip that has given us all many memories that I am sure that we will treasure. I told your Minister that we learned much but we also enjoyed ourselves while we were doing it. And everyone was very, very kind. Mr. Shen was even kind enough to laugh at my jokes, which my staff will tell you it is no easy thing many times.
Let me also congratulate you on all the good work that you are doing. It is truly an impressive story what we saw in Shanghai --the numbers of units-- what we saw in Jinan. There is a tremendous energy in your housing initiatives. And you can feel the synergy from the national level working with local level and the provincial level. Everyone wants this done and you get a very real sense that it is going to be done. And the numbers, the scale that you produce are truly impressive compared to the number of units that we deal with. Your scale is very, very high.
The issue--the specific issue we are here to talk about is housing, obviously--but at the same time no issue presents itself in a vacuum and we are here talking about housing at a specific time and in a specific context. This week there will be the vote of the PNTR. The Ambassador has excused himself because he going to attend to some matters around the vote of the PNTR. And I'd also like to thank the Embassy for all their great work. They have been of tremendous help to my Department, the Department of Housing and Urban Development. I told them I going to make them all honorary housing officials. They are that good because there is no higher honor that making someone an honorary housing official.
But the PNTR, I think, and I am optimistic that it will pass the WTO. And that will then be a different world in many ways economically. It will be a different experience. I don't know that we can even begin to imagine the ramifications that that is going to bring. Certainly, you have been living with dramatic change for a period of time. But I think the economic change will be even accelerated by the PNTR and the WTO. And I think in many ways housing is typifying that economic change. And it is in some ways just getting there first.
Housing is unique -- in your country is as it is in our country-- that everyone needs one. Everyone wants to have one. Everyone wants to improve their condition through their housing. And the many of these abstract issues of the economy are manifested very practically in a person's housing. And much of the transition to a different economy is going to be felt through housing. I was fascinated with some of the conversations I had with people. The Minister and I were chatting earlier. They are concern with how much they would have to pay for housing when in years past they had it for free. But when you broach the concept of being able to sell the house at the other end, then paying for it isn't so bad if there is a market to sell it and possibly see the appreciation and the profit increase. I think many of these issues of the new economic are going to be played on the stage of housing and I think that makes our work even more exciting and of more potential benefit to your country and to my country.
In my country we have learned many lessons in the area of housing. We have learned most lessons the hard way by making mistakes and by seeing the pain from those mistakes. So we have learned lessons the hard way and any time that we can save you, any pain that we can save your country by sharing the mistakes we made, that would be our pleasure.
(We) can point to people and say this is what we can do together. There are two specific projects that we are framing for completion by the end of the year. In many ways I think can embody the best of our relationship. The first, the joint design projects which can be a sharing of the technology, the expertise, the construction methodology, what's the most efficient ways to build? That is a very worthwhile project. It's on track. It's being pursued. The charts, the work that was done in Washington, D.C. Everyone seems very pleased with and we are very excited about that. And the second project, the securitization, the mortgage backed securities, I think has even more potential. Because housing, housing is a social condition. It is a place for family. But it is also an economic commodity. And it can be a tremendous driver of the economy. In the United States 20 percent of the GDP is and around the housing industry. Twenty percent. In my country they say, "As goes housing goes the economy." And when the rate of home building is high, the economy is strong. And when the rate of home building is slow, the economy is slow. It is that link to the economy. So it can be a tremendous driver for economic growth. It can also be a tremendous driver to take wealth that is in personal savings accounts and bring it into the economy in a more functional way. So I think the economic consequences of housing are also something that is something we should pursue and this quote unquote secondary market mortgage back securities start to do just that. By definition it can bring money either from individuals within the country into the housing system or money from private companies into the system which then circulates the capital, creates more housing, more jobs, more growth, and the cycle continues.
I think we have set an aggressive but a doable timetable to accomplish these projects by the end of the year. I am more enthused after having made this visit. I am surer that it is our responsibility as officials of our respective housing departments at this moment in history that we actually make this happen by the end of the year. Because this moment in history is too precious in many ways and it is fortuitous that we are here. It is fortuitous that we have had the relationship precedent to today and precedent to PNTR. So in some ways we have been blessed with the opportunity to have been working together before this moment of PNTR and this new relationship and I am looking forward to capitalizing on it, building the relationship, and making the relationship stronger, making these projects come to fruition because I think there is no teacher like an example. There is no more powerful communication than a model that is actually executed where we can show people this is the product of our relationship. This is what we are talking about. This is the potential. Letting people seeing it and touch it literally in the case of housing. Doing a secondary offering once so we have a model and we.
So we are excited and we are grateful. And again, thank you sincerely for the hospitality that you have shown. I am looking forward to a good session today and then looking forward to an energized relationship going forward.
Content Archived: January 20, 2009