Full Text Obama Presidency November 16, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Press Conference at the End of the G20 Summit in Brisbane Australia — Transcript

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Obama at G20 Press Conference | November 16, 2014

Source: WH, 11-16-14 

Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Center
Brisbane, Australia

4:19 P.M. AEST

PRESIDENT OBAMA:Thank you, everybody.Please have a seat.Good afternoon.I want to begin by thanking Prime Minister Abbott, the people of Brisbane, and the people of Australia for being such extraordinary hosts for the G20.All the arrangements were terrific and, as always, the people of Australia could not have been friendlier and better organized.So I very much appreciate everything that you have done.

We had a lot of good discussions during the course of the G20, but as our Australian friends say, this wasn’t just a “good old chinwag.”I really love that expression.(Laughter.)It was a productive summit.And so I want to thank Tony for his leadership, and the people of Brizzy truly did shine throughout this process with their hospitality.

This is the final day of a trip that has taken me across the Asia Pacific — a visit that comes against the backdrop of America’s renewed economic strength.The United States is in the longest stretch of uninterrupted private sector job growth in its history.Over the last few years, we’ve put more people back to work than all the other advanced economies combined.And this growing economic strength at home set the stage for the progress that we have made on this trip.It’s been a good week for American leadership and for American workers.

We made important progress in our efforts to open markets to U.S. goods and to boost the exports that support American jobs.We continue to make progress toward the Trans-Pacific Partnership.Our agreement with China to extend visas for business people, tourists and students is going to boost tourism, grow our two economies and create jobs for Americans and Chinese alike.We also agreed with China to pursue a bilateral investment treaty, as well as agreeing on an approach to the Information Technology Agreement that is estimated would support some 60,000 American jobs.And here at the G20, China committed to greater transparency on its economic data, including its foreign exchange reserves.And this is a step toward the market-driven exchange rate that we’ve been pushing for because it would promote a level playing field for American businesses and American workers.

Here in Brisbane, all the G20 countries announced strategies to increase growth and put people back to work, including a new initiative to support jobs by building infrastructure.Our nations made commitments that could bring another 100 million women into our collective workforce.We took new steps toward strengthening our banks, closing tax loopholes for multinational companies, and stopping tax evaders and criminals from hiding behind shell companies.And these were all very specific provisions.These were not just goals that were set without any substance behind them.We have made very concrete progress during the course of the last several G20 sessions in preventing companies from avoiding the taxes that they owe in their home countries, including the United States, and making sure that we’ve got a financial system that’s more stable and that can allow a bank to fail without taxpayers having to bail them out.

Meanwhile, the breakthrough the United States achieved with India this week allows for a resumption of talks on a global trade deal that would mean more growth and prosperity for all of us.

This week, we also took historic steps in the fight against climate change.The ambitious new goal that I announced in Beijing will double the pace at which America reduces its carbon pollution while growing our economy and creating jobs, strengthening our energy security, and putting us on the path to a low carbon future.Combined with China’s commitment — China for the first time committed to slowing and then peaking and then reversing the course of its emissions — we’re showing that there’s no excuse for other nations to come together, both developed and developing, to achieve a strong global climate agreement next year.

The $3 billion contribution to the Green Climate Fund that I announced yesterday will help developing nations deal with climate change, reduce their carbon pollution and invest in clean energy.I want to commend, by the way, Prime Minister Abe and Japan for their $1.5 billion pledge to the Fund.And following the steps we’ve taken in the United States, many of the G20 countries agreed to work to improve the efficiency of heavy-duty vehicles, which would be another major step in reducing emissions.

And finally, I’m pleased that more nations are stepping up and joining the United States in the effort to end the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.Coming on the heels of our Global Health Security Agenda in the United States, the G20 countries committed to helping nations like those in West Africa to build their capacity to prevent, detect and respond to future outbreaks before they become epidemics.

So from trade to climate change to the fight against Ebola, this was a strong week for American leadership.And the results will be more jobs for the American people; historic steps towards a cleaner and healthier planet; and progress towards saving lives not just in West Africa, but eventually in other places.If you ask me, I’d say that’s a pretty good week.The American people can be proud of the progress that we’ve made.I intend to build on that momentum when I return home tomorrow.

And with that, I am going to take a few questions.I’ve got my cheat-sheet here.And we’re going to start with Matt Spetalnick of Reuters.

Q Thank you, Mr. President.Some of your fellow G20 leaders took an in-your-face approach with President Putin.You had conversations —

PRESIDENT OBAMA:I’m sorry, with President —

Q With President Putin.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:Oh, I see.

Q Took a kind of confrontational approach to him.You had brief discussions with him at APEC.How confrontational or not were those encounters?Did you have any further exchanges with him here?What, if any, progress did you make with him on the Ukraine issue?And, of course, you’ve now just met with EU leaders.Did you agree on further sanctions?

One other question, sir, on a domestic subject.Are you prepared to state unequivocally that if Congress does pass a Keystone pipeline bill, that you would veto it if it comes to your desk?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:I had naturally several interactions with President Putin during the course of the APEC Summit and then here at G20.I would characterize them as typical of our interactions, which are businesslike and blunt.And my communications to him was no different than what I’ve said publicly as well as what I’ve said to him privately over the course of this crisis in Ukraine, and that is Russia has the opportunity to take a different path, to resolve the issue of Ukraine in a way that respects Ukraine’s sovereignty and is consistent with international law.That is our preference, and if it does so then I will be the first to suggest that we roll back the sanctions that are, frankly, having a devastating effect on the Russian economy.

If he continues down the path that he is on — violating international law; providing heavy arms to the separatists in Ukraine; violating an agreement that he agreed to just a few weeks ago, the Minsk Agreement, that would have lowered the temperature and the killing in the disputed areas and make providing us a pathway for a diplomatic resolution — then the isolation that Russia is currently experiencing will continue.

And in my meeting with European leaders, they confirmed their view that so far Russia has not abided by either the spirit or the letter of the agreement that Mr. Putin signed — or agreed to, and that as a consequence we are going to continue to maintain the economic isolation while maintaining the possibility of a diplomatic solution.

It is not our preference to see Russia isolated the way it is.We would prefer a Russia that is fully integrated with the global economy; that is thriving on behalf of its people; that can once again engage with us in cooperative efforts around global challenges.But we’re also very firm on the need to uphold core international principles.And one of those principles is, is that you don’t invade other countries or finance proxies and support them in ways that break up a country that has mechanisms for democratic elections.

Q Did you discuss or agree with them on further sanctions?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:At this point, the sanctions that we have in place are biting plenty good.We retain the capabilities, and we have our teams constantly looking at mechanisms in which to turn up additional pressure as necessary.

With respect to Keystone, I’ve said consistently — and I think I repeated in Burma, but I guess I’ve got to answer it one more — we’re going to let the process play itself out.And the determination will be made in the first instance by the Secretary of State.But I won’t hide my opinion about this, which is that one major determinant of whether we should approve a pipeline shipping Canadian oil to world markets, not to the United States, is does it contribute to the greenhouse gases that are causing climate change.

Q What were your comments on the pipeline —

PRESIDENT OBAMA:Matt, I got to move on, man.Everybody wants to go home.All right?Other people have questions.Jim Acosta, CNN.

Q Thank you, Mr. President.I wanted to ask you about the climate deal that you agreed to with Chinese President Xi, and on that front but also adding in your expected executive action on immigration, that you’re taking executive actions on a multitude of fronts.And I wanted to ask you, sir, what is stopping a future Republican President, or even a Democratic President, from reversing your executive orders?And are you expanding the powers of the presidency in ways that could potentially backfire on your agenda down the road?

And on the battle against ISIS — your Joint Chiefs Chairman, Martin Dempsey, is in Iraq right now, but at a congressional hearing last week he said he could envision a scenario in which ground forces could be engaged in combat in Iraq alongside Iraqi security forces.I know you’ve ruled out the possibility of having ground forces — U.S. ground forces engaged in combat going house to house and so forth.Has your thinking on that changed somewhat, and might General Dempsey be able to convince you otherwise?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:Okay.With respect to the climate agreement, the goal that we’ve set — a 26 to 28 percent reduction by 2025 — we shaped that target based on existing authorities rather than the need for additional congressional action.

And I want to be clear here, Jim, that that’s based not on particular executive actions that I’m taking, but based on the authority that’s been upheld repeatedly by this Supreme Court for the EPA, the Environmental Protection Agency, to be able to shape rules to regulate the emission of greenhouse gases.

Obviously it’s supplemented by a bunch of stuff that we’re doing that nobody suggests isn’t within our authority.For example, the doubling of fuel-efficiency standards on cars is something that we negotiated with the car companies and with labor groups, and is working really well and we’re selling a lot of American cars domestically as well as internationally.And they are more fuel-efficient cars and, as a consequence, more popular cars.

With respect to executive actions generally, the record will show that I have actually taken fewer executive actions than my predecessors.Nobody disputes that.What I think has changed is the reaction of some of my friends in Congress to exercising what are normal and, frankly, fairly typical exercises of presidential authority.

You are absolutely right that the very nature of an executive action means that a future President could reverse those actions.But that’s always been true.That was true when I came into office; if President Bush had a bunch of executive actions that he had signed, it was part of my authority to reverse them.That’s why, for example, on immigration reform it continues to be my great preference to see Congress pass comprehensive legislation, because that is not reversed by a future President, it would have to be reversed by a future Congress.That’s part of the reason why I’ve argued consistently that we’re better off if we can get a comprehensive deal through Congress.That’s why I showed extraordinary patience with Congress in trying to work a bipartisan deal. That’s why I was so encouraged when the Senate produced a bipartisan immigration deal and why I waited for over a year for Speaker Boehner to call that bipartisan bill in the House.

But as I’ve said before, I can’t wait in perpetuity when I have authorities that, at least for the next two years, can improve the system, can allow us to shift more resources to the border rather than separating families; improve the legal immigration system.I would be derelict in my duties if I did not try to improve the system that everybody acknowledges is broken.

With respect to Syria, Chairman Dempsey I think has consistently said in all his testimony, and I would expect him to always do this, to give me his best military advice and to not be constrained by politics.And he has not advised me that I should be sending U.S. troops to fight.What he said in testimony, and what I suspect he’ll always say, is that, yes, there are circumstances in which he could envision the deployment of U.S. troops.That’s true everywhere, by the way.That’s his job, is to think about various contingencies.And, yes, there are always circumstances in which the United States might need to deploy U.S. ground troops.

If we discovered that ISIL had gotten possession of a nuclear weapon, and we had to run an operation to get it out of their hands, then, yes, you can anticipate that not only would Chairman Dempsey recommend me sending U.S. ground troops to get that weapon out of their hands, but I would order it.So the question just ends up being, what are those circumstances.I’m not going speculate on those.Right now we’re moving forward in conjunction with outstanding allies like Australia in training Iraqi security forces to do their job on the ground.

Q — your thinking on that has not changed?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:My thinking has not changed currently.

Ed Henry of Fox.

Q Thank you.One question, I promise.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:That’s great.(Laughter.)

Q At your Burma town hall a couple days ago you tried to inspire young leaders by saying governments need to be held accountable and be responsive to the people.I wonder how you square that with your former advisor, Jonathan Gruber, claiming you were not transparent about the health law?Because in his words, the American people, the voters are stupid.Did you mislead Americans about the taxes, about keeping your plan, in order to get the bill passed?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:No, I did not.I just heard about this.I get well briefed before I come out here.The fact that some advisor who never worked on our staff expressed an opinion that I completely disagree with in terms of the voters, is no reflection on the actual process that was run.

We had a year-long debate, Ed.I mean, go back and look at your stories.The one thing we can’t say is that we did not have a lengthy debate about health care in the United States of America, or that it was not adequately covered.I mean, I would just advise all of — every press outlet here:Go back and pull up every clip, every story, and I think it’s fair to say that there was not a provision in the health care law that was not extensively debated and was fully transparent.

Now, there were folks who disagreed with some of these various positions.It was a tough debate.But the good news is — and I know this wasn’t part of your question — but since some folks back home who don’t have health insurance may be watching, open enrollment just started, which means that those who did not take advantage of the marketplaces the first time around, they’ve got another chance to sign up for affordable health care; they may be eligible for a tax credit.

So far, there were over half a million successful logins on the first day.Healthcare.gov works really well now — 1.2 million people using the window-shopping function since Sunday.There were 23,000 applications completed in just the first eight hours, and tens of thousands more throughout the day.

Health care is working.More than 10 million people have already gotten health insurance; millions more are eligible.And contrary to some of the predictions of the naysayers, not only is the program working, but we’ve actually seen health care inflation lower than it’s been in 50 years, which is contributing to us reducing the deficit, and has the effect of making premiums for families lower that they otherwise would have been if they have health insurance.

All right?Kristen Welker.

Q Thank you, Mr. President.I’d like to ask you again about Syria.When you were recently asked about the U.S. campaign against ISIS, you said, “It’s too early to say whether we are winning.”You went on to say, “This is going to be a long-term plan.”There are now reports that you have ordered a review of your entire Syria policy.So I’d like to put the question to you today:Are you currently recalibrating your policy in Syria?And does that include plans to remove President Bashar al-Assad?And was it a miscalculation not to focus on the removal of Assad initially?Thank you.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:We have a weekly meeting with my CENTCOM Commander, with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, with all our diplomatic personnel related to the region, as well as my national security team, and Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense, intelligence teams, to assess what kind of progress are we making both in Iraq and in Syria with respect to ISIL.And I will be having weekly meetings as long as this campaign lasts, because I think it’s very important for us to get it right.

We have not had a comprehensive review of Syria.We’ve had a comprehensive review of what are we doing each and every week — what’s working, what’s not.Some of it is very detailed at the tactical level.Some of it is conceptual.We continue to learn about ISIL — where its weaknesses are; how we can more effectively put pressure on them.And so nothing extraordinary, nothing formal of the sort that you describe has taken place.

Certainly no changes have taken place with respect to our attitude towards Bashar al-Assad.And I’ve said this before, but let me reiterate:Assad has ruthlessly murdered hundreds of thousands of his citizens, and as a consequence has completely lost legitimacy with the majority of the country.For us to then make common cause with him against ISIL would only turn more Sunnis in Syria in the direction of supporting ISIL, and would weaken our coalition that sends a message around the region this is not a fight against Sunni Islam, this is a fight against extremists of any stripe who are willing to behead innocent people or kill children, or mow down political prisoners with the kind of wanton cruelty that I think we’ve very rarely seen in the modern age.

And so we have communicated to the Syrian regime that when we operate going after ISIL in their air space, that they would be well-advised not to take us on.But beyond that, there’s no expectation that we are going to in some ways enter an alliance with Assad.He is not credible in that country.
Now, we are looking for a political solution eventually within Syria that is inclusive of all the groups who live there — the Alawite, the Sunni, Christians.And at some point, the people of Syria and the various players involved, as well as the regional players — Turkey, Iran, Assad’s patrons like Russia — are going to have to engage in a political conversation.

And it’s the nature of diplomacy in any time, certainly in this situation, where you end up having diplomatic conversations potentially with people that you don’t like and regimes that you don’t like.But we’re not even close to being at that stage yet.

Q But just to put a fine point on it — are you actively discussing ways to remove him as a part of that political transition?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:No.

Major Garrett.

Q Thank you, Mr. President.As you well know, the continuing resolution expires on December 11th.Many things you’ve talked about on this trip are related to that:funding for coalition operations in Iraq and Syria, the Ebola outbreak, not to mention day-to-day government operations.What are the odds the country will see itself in a shutdown scenario?How much do you fear the government will shut down?And to what degree does your anxiety about this or your team’s anxiety about this influence the timing of your decision on immigration and executive action?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:I take Mitch McConnell at his word when he says that the government is not going to shut down.There is no reason for it to shut down.We traveled down that path before.It was bad for the country, it was bad for every elected official in Washington.And at the end of the day, it was resolved in the same way that it would have been resolved if we hadn’t shut the government down.So that’s not going to be productive, and I think that Leader McConnell and Speaker Boehner understand that.

But this goes to a broader point that I’ve made previously and I’ll just reiterate:It is in the nature of democracy that the parties are going to disagree on certain issues.And in our system, because we don’t have a parliamentary system, it means that you can have a Congress of one party and a President of another, and they disagree on some really fundamental issues.And the question then is, how do you deal with that?Well, the sensible way to deal with it is to say here are the issues we don’t agree on, and we’ll fight like heck for our position and then we’ll work together on the issues that we do agree on.And that’s how it’s always been; that’s how it was with Ronald Reagan when he was dealing with a Democratic Congress.There was no — at no point did the Democrats say, well, because we don’t agree with Ronald Reagan on X,Y,Z issue, then we can’t work with him on Social Security reform or tax reform or other issues.He said, okay, we’ll fight on that, we’ll join together on that, and as a consequence the co
ntry will make progress.

And I would expect that same attitude in this instance.I understand that there are members of the Republican Party who deeply disagree with me and law enforcement and the evangelical community and a number of their own Republican colleagues about the need for immigration reform, I get that.And they’ve made their views clear and there’s nothing wrong with them arguing their position and opposing legislation.But why they would then decide we’re going to shut down the government makes about as much sense as my decision to shut down the government if they decide to take a vote to repeal health care reform for the — is it 53rd or 55th time?I mean, I understand that there’s a difference there, but let’s keep on doing the people’s business.

Q Does the shutdown anxiety in any way affect your timing at all on immigration action?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:No, I think the main concern I have is making sure that we get it right, and that’s what we’re focused on at this point, because any executive action that I take is going to require some adjustments to how DHS, the Department of Homeland Security, operates where it’s deploying resources, et cetera; how are folks processed; what priorities are set up.And so I want to make sure that we’ve crossed all our T’s and dotted all our I’s — that that’s my main priority.

And we are going to close with Jim Avila.

Q Thank you, Mr. President.Following up on immigration — in 2010, when asked by immigration reform advocates to stop deportations and act alone on providing legal status for the undocumented, you said, “I’m President, I’m not king.I can’t do these things just by myself.”In 2013, you said, “I’m not the emperor of the United States.My job is to execute laws that are passed.”Mr. President, what has changed since then?And since you’ve now had a chance to talk since July with your legal advisors, what do you now believe are your limits so that you can continue to act as President and not as emperor or king?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:Well, actually, my position hasn’t changed.When I was talking to the advocates, their interest was in me, through executive action, duplicating the legislation that was stalled in Congress.And getting a comprehensive deal of the sort that is in the Senate legislation, for example, does extend beyond my legal authorities.There are certain things I cannot do.There are certain limits to what falls within the realm of prosecutorial discretion in terms of how we apply existing immigration laws.

And what we’ve continued to do is to talk to Office of Legal Counsel that’s responsible for telling us what the rules are, what the scope of our operations are, and determining where it is appropriate for us to say we’re not going to deport 11 million people.On the other hand, we’ve got severe resource constraints right now at the border not in apprehending people, but in processing and having enough immigration judges and so forth.And so what’s within our authority to do in reallocating resources and reprioritizing since we can’t do everything.And it’s on that basis that I’ll be making a decision about any executive actions that I might take.

I will repeat what I have said before:There is a very simple solution to this perception that somehow I’m exercising too much executive authority.Pass a bill I can sign on this issue.If Congress passes a law that solves our border problems, improves our legal immigration system, and provides a pathway for the 11 million people who are here working in our kitchens, working in farms, making beds in hotels, everybody knows they’re there, we’re not going to deport all of them.We’d like to see them being able, out in the open, to pay their taxes, pay a penalty, get right with the law.Give me a bill that addresses those issues — I’ll be the first one to sign it and, metaphorically, I’ll crumple up whatever executive actions that we take and we’ll toss them in the wastebasket, because we will now have a law that addresses these issues.

Q But in those five months, sir, since you said you were going to act, have you received the legal advice from the Attorney General about what limits you have -–

PRESIDENT OBAMA:Yes.

Q — and what you can do?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:Yes.

Q And would you tell us what those are?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:No.(Laughter.)I will tell them when I make the announcement.But it’s a good try, though.That was a good angle.(Laughter.)Jim and I go way back, although he was famous, I was not.He used to be a broadcaster in Chicago, so I used to watch him on TV.You’ve aged a little better than I have.(Laughter.)

All right.The people of Australia, thank you again for your wonderful hospitality.(Applause.)

END
4:51 P.M. AEST

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Full Text Obama Presidency September 6, 2013: Joint Statement on Syria

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Joint Statement on Syria

Source: WH, 9-6-13

The Leaders and Representatives of Australia, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States of America made the following statement on the margins of the Group of 20 Nations Leader’s Meeting in Saint Petersburg, Russia:

The international norm against the use of chemical weapons is longstanding and universal.  The use of chemical weapons anywhere diminishes the security of people everywhere.  Left unchallenged, it increases the risk of further use and proliferation of these weapons.

We condemn in the strongest terms the horrific chemical weapons attack in the suburbs of Damascus on August 21st that claimed the lives of so many men, women, and children.  The evidence clearly points to the Syrian government being responsible for the attack, which is part of a pattern of chemical weapons use by the regime.

We call for a strong international response to this grave violation of the world’s rules and conscience that will send a clear message that this kind of atrocity can never be repeated. Those who perpetrated these crimes must be held accountable.

Signatories have consistently supported a strong UN Security Council Resolution, given the Security Council’s responsibilities to lead the international response, but recognize that the Council remains paralyzed as it has been for two and a half years.  The world cannot wait for endless failed processes that can only lead to increased suffering in Syria and regional instability.  We support efforts undertaken by the United States and other countries to reinforce the prohibition on the use of chemical weapons.

We commit to supporting longer term international efforts, including through the United Nations, to address the enduring security challenge posed by Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles.  Signatories have also called for the UN fact finding mission to present its results as soon as possible, and for the Security Council to act accordingly.

We condemn in the strongest terms all human rights violations in Syria on all sides.  More than 100,000 people have been killed in the conflict, more than 2 million people have become refugees, and approximately 5 million are internally displaced.  Recognizing that Syria’s conflict has no military solution, we reaffirm our commitment to seek a peaceful political settlement through full implementation of the 2012 Geneva Communique.  We are committed to a political solution which will result in a united, inclusive and democratic Syria.

We have contributed generously to the latest United Nations (UN) and ICRC appeals for humanitarian assistance and will continue to provide support to address the growing humanitarian needs in Syria and their impact on regional countries. We welcome the contributions announced at the meeting of donor countries on the margins of the G20.  We call upon all parties to allow humanitarian actors safe and unhindered access to those in need.

European signatories will continue to engage in promoting a common European position.

Full Text November 11-19, 2011: President Obama’s Asia Pacfic Tour — Trip to Hawaii, Australia, Indonesia

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President’s 2011 Asia Pacific Trip

Source: WH, 11-11

  • November 11th: President Obama attends the Carrier Classic in honor of Veterans Day.
  • November 12th: President Obama speaks before the first session of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit.
  • November 13th: President Obama makes remarks and takes questions about progress made at the APEC summit.
  • November 16th: President Obama meets with Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
  • November 17th: President Obama gives an address before the Australian Parliament.
  • November 17th: President Obama speaks to Australian troops and U.S. Marines.
  • November 18th: President Obama attends the East Asia Summit in Indonesia.
  • November 19th: President Obama returns to the United States.

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

  • November 19, 2011 at 5:30 AM EST

    Weekly Address: Creating an Economy Built to Last

    From Indonesia, President Obama talks about his administration’s work opening up markets to support thousands of American jobs and keep us on track to double American exports by 2014.

  • November 18, 2011 at 6:33 PM EST

    President Obama at the East Asia Summit

    In Indonesia, President Obama was able to announce business deals with countries in the Pacific that will help support 127,000 American jobs.

  • November 18, 2011 at 5:39 PM EST

    By the Numbers: 150 Percent

    Trade with nations in the Asia Pacific region has grown by 150 percent since 1994.

  • November 18, 2011 at 12:00 AM EST

    On the Road with the President

    We’ll be back next week with a special edition of West Wing Week, but for now, check out a few clips from the road.

  • November 17, 2011 at 1:05 PM EST

    President Obama Addresses the Australian Parliament

    The President discussed America’s future and what that means for the Pacific.

  • November 16, 2011 at 3:01 PM EST

    Expanded Military Ties in Australia

    When President Obama met with Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Wednesday, they announced plans for the first sustained American military presence in Australia.

  • November 15, 2011 at 7:15 PM EST

    Renewing Ties in the Pacific

    When President Obama touches down in Australia, he’ll arrive with two major goals: strengthening our relationships and promoting security in the Pacific.

  • November 14, 2011 at 4:17 PM EST

    The First Lady in Hawaii for APEC

    This weekend, First Lady Michelle Obama joined the President in Hawaii to help host the conference of Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders.

Full Text November 19, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Weekly Address on Creating Jobs by Opening Foreign Markets & Doubling American Exports

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

Weekly Address: Creating an Economy Built to Last

Source: WH, 11-19-11
From Indonesia, President Obama talks about his administration’s work opening up markets to support thousands of American jobs and keep us on track to double American exports by 2014.

President Obama tapes the Weekly Address
President Obama tapes the Weekly Address, White House Photo, Pete Souza, 11/18/11

Transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

WEEKLY ADDRESS: Creating an Economy Built to Last

In this week’s address, President Obama spoke from Indonesia and told the American people that during his trip to the Asia Pacific, he has made progress opening up markets to support thousands of American jobs and keep us on track to double American exports by 2014.  The President’s trip underscores his belief that our businesses will always be successful competing around the world and that he will continue to do everything possible to create jobs for the American people.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
Bali, Indonesia
Saturday, November 19, 2011

Today, I’m speaking to you from Indonesia as I finish up my trip to the Asia Pacific – the region where we do most of our trade and sell most of our exports.  And over the past week, the progress we’ve made in opening markets and boosting exports here will help create more jobs and more growth in the United States.

Here in Indonesia, I was proud to join leaders from some of our nation’s top companies as they announced trade deals that will support nearly 130,000 American jobs and potentially increase U.S. exports by up to $39 billion.  Boeing, for example, will sell more than 200 planes to Indonesia that are built with parts from suppliers in more than 40 states.  And a deal to export GE engines will support jobs at plants in Ohio and North Carolina.

These agreements will help us reach my goal of doubling American exports by 2014 – a goal we’re on pace to meet.  And they’re powerful examples of how we can rebuild an economy that’s focused on what our country has always done best – making and selling products all over the world that are stamped with three proud words:  “Made In America.”

This is important, because over the last decade, we became a country that relied too much on what we bought and consumed.  We racked up a lot of debt, but we didn’t create many jobs at all.

If we want an economy that’s built to last and built to compete, we have to change that.  We have to restore America’s manufacturing might, which is what helped us build the largest middle-class in history.  That’s why we chose to pull the auto industry back from the brink, saving hundreds of thousands of jobs in the process.  And that’s why we’re investing in the next generation of high-tech, American manufacturing.

But building an economy that lasts isn’t just about making things – it’s about opening new markets for people to buy them.  After all, 95% of the world’s consumers live outside our borders.  And as the fastest-growing region in the world, no market is more important to our economic future than the Asia Pacific – a region where our exports already support five million American jobs.

This is why we recently signed a landmark trade agreement with South Korea that will support tens of thousands of American jobs.  And it’s why I traveled here this week.  In Hawaii, I hosted leaders from across the Asia Pacific, and we agreed to make it easier for American companies to do business overseas.  I also worked with President Medvedev of Russia to pursue trade that would increase exports and jobs for American manufacturers and farmers.  And working with other leaders, we made progress toward our most ambitious trade agreement yet – a partnership with Pacific nations that holds the potential for more exports and more jobs in a region of nearly three billion consumers.

We may be going through tough times, but as I’ve said time and time again, the United States still has the world’s most dynamic economy, the finest universities, the most innovative companies, and the hardest-working people on Earth.  We can compete against anybody – and we can win.  As President, I intend to make sure that happens by doing everything I can to give American workers and businesses the chance to succeed.

White House Recap November 12-18, 2011: The Obama Presidency’s Weekly Recap — President Obama Embarks on 9 Day Asia Pacific Tour to Hawaii, Australia & Indonesia

WHITE HOUSE RECAP

WHITE HOUSE RECAP: NOVEMBER 12-18, 2011

Weekly Wrap Up: Strengthening Relationships Abroad

Source: WH, 11-18-11
President Barack Obama Delivers Remarks

President Barack Obama delivers remarks honoring 60 years of the U.S. and Australian Alliance to a crowd of some 2000 soldiers and guests at the Royal Army Air Force Base in Darwin, Australia, Nov.17, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The President in the Pacific: President Obama embarked on a nine day Asia Pacific tour  focused on strengthening economic ties and renewing strategic relationships in the region. From November 11th  through November 19th, the President visited Hawaii, Australia, and Indonesia. While on the road, he spoke at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperationmet with Australian Prime Minister, addressed Australian Parliament, spoke with Australian troops and U.S. Marines, and attended the East Asia Summit.

Cleaner Air: The Obama Administration announced a joint proposal to save American families money at the pump, reduce our country’s dependence on oil, and boost domestic manufacturing. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) announced the next steps toward setting stronger fuel economy and greenhouse gas pollution standards for model year 2017-2025 passenger cars and light-duty trucks.

Cancer Awareness: President Obama congratulated those who participated in American Cancer Society’s 36th annual  Great American Smokeout, a challenge to smokers to kick their tobacco habit.  An estimated 443,000 people in the United States die each year due to cigarettes and tobacco use is still considered one of the leading causes of death in the U.S.  President Obama–a former smoker himself–and his Administration continue to make progress in reducing the number of Americans who smoke.

Carrier Classic: Over Veterans Day weekend, President Obama and the First Lady attended the first-ever Carrier Classic aboard the USS Carl Vinson where they watched University of North Carolina men’s basketball team defeat Michigan State. The game had more than 8,000 people in the stands – most of whom were servicemembers.

Full Text November 17, 2011: President Barack Obama Addresses the Australian Parliament on Asia Pacific Tour — Transcript

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Addresses the Australian Parliament

Source: WH, 11-17-11
20111117 POTUS at Parliament

President Barack Obama addresses the Australian Parliament in the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, Nov.17, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Even as President Obama works to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, he’s laying the groundwork to prepare America for the decades ahead.

And yesterday afternoon, he told Australian lawmakers that means shifting our attention to the Pacific:

Here, we see the future. As the world’s fastest-growing region — and home to more than half the global economy — the Asia Pacific is critical to achieving my highest priority, and that’s creating jobs and opportunity for the American people. With most of the world’s nuclear power and some half of humanity, Asia will largely define whether the century ahead will be marked by conflict or cooperation, needless suffering or human progress.

As President, I have, therefore, made a deliberate and strategic decision — as a Pacific nation, the United States will play a larger and long-term role in shaping this region and its future, by upholding core principles and in close partnership with our allies and friends.

The President outlined a framework through which American military strength helps to guarantee security in the region, where growing economic ties help to deliver a shared prosperity, and where renewed diplomatic relationships promote human rights and freedom.

“History is on the side of the free — free societies, free governments, free economies, free people,” President Obama said in Canberra. “And the future belongs to those who stand firm for those ideals, in this region and around the world.”

Read the full remarks here.

See more: Check out a slideshow from the President’s trip to Australia.

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

President Obama says the United States will play a large role in shaping the Pacific and its future — in part through a renewed relationship with Australia.

President Obama addresses the Australian Parliament
President Barack Obama addresses the Australian Parliament, White House Photo, Pete Souza, 11/17/11

Remarks By President Obama to the Australian Parliament

Parliament House
Canberra, Australia

10:42 A.M. AEST

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Prime Minister Gillard, Leader Abbott, thank you both for your very warm welcome.  Mr. Speaker, Mr. President, members of the House and Senate, ladies and gentlemen, I thank you for the honor of standing in this great chamber to reaffirm the bonds between the United States and the Commonwealth of Australia, two of the world’s oldest democracies and two of the world’s oldest friends.

To you and the people of Australia, thank you for your extraordinary hospitality.  And here, in this city — this ancient “meeting place” — I want to acknowledge the original inhabitants of this land, and one of the world’s oldest continuous cultures, the First Australians.

I first came to Australia as a child, traveling between my birthplace of Hawaii, and Indonesia, where I would live for four years.  As an eight-year-old, I couldn’t always understand your foreign language.  (Laughter.)  Last night I did try to talk some “Strine.”  (Laughter.)  Today I don’t want to subject you to any earbashing.  I really do love that one and I will be introducing that into the vernacular in Washington.  (Laughter.)

But to a young American boy, Australia and its people — your optimism, your easy-going ways, your irreverent sense of humor — all felt so familiar.  It felt like home.  I’ve always wanted to return.  I tried last year — twice.  But this is a Lucky Country, and today I feel lucky to be here as we mark the 60th anniversary of our unbreakable alliance.

The bonds between us run deep.  In each other’s story we see so much of ourselves.  Ancestors who crossed vast oceans — some by choice, some in chains.  Settlers who pushed west across sweeping plains.  Dreamers who toiled with hearts and hands to lay railroads and to build cities.  Generations of immigrants who, with each new arrival, add a new thread to the brilliant tapestry of our nations.  And we are citizens who live by a common creed — no matter who you are, no matter what you look like, everyone deserves a fair chance; everyone deserves a fair go.

Of course, progress in our society has not always come without tensions, or struggles to overcome a painful past.  But we are countries with a willingness to face our imperfections, and to keep reaching for our ideals.  That’s the spirit we saw in this chamber three years ago, as this nation inspired the world with a historic gesture of reconciliation with Indigenous Australians.  It’s the spirit of progress, in America, which allows me to stand before you today, as President of the United States.  And it’s the spirit I’ll see later today when I become the first U.S. President to visit the Northern Territory, where I’ll meet the Traditional Owners of the Land.

Nor has our progress come without great sacrifice.  This morning, I was humbled and deeply moved by a visit to your war memorial to pay my respects to Australia’s fallen sons and daughters.  Later today, in Darwin, I’ll join the Prime Minister in saluting our brave men and women in uniform.  And it will be a reminder that — from the trenches of the First World War to the mountains of Afghanistan — Aussies and Americans have stood together, we have fought together, we have given lives together in every single major conflict of the past hundred years.  Every single one.

This solidarity has sustained us through a difficult decade. We will never forget the attacks of 9/11, that took the lives not only of Americans, but people from many nations, including Australia.  In the United States, we will never forget how Australia invoked the ANZUS Treaty — for the first time ever — showing that our two nations stood as one.  And none of us will ever forget those we’ve lost to al Qaeda’s terror in the years since, including innocent Australians.

And that’s why, as both the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader indicated, we are determined to succeed in Afghanistan.  It is why I salute Australia — outside of NATO, the largest contributor of troops to this vital mission.  And it’s why we honor all those who have served there for our security, including 32 Australian patriots who gave their lives, among them Captain Bryce Duffy, Corporal Ashley Birt, and Lance Corporal Luke Gavin.  We will honor their sacrifice by making sure that Afghanistan is never again used as a source for attacks against our people.  Never again.

As two global partners, we stand up for the security and the dignity of people around the world.  We see it when our rescue workers rush to help others in times of fire and drought and flooding rains.  We see it when we partner to keep the peace — from East Timor to the Balkans — and when we pursue our shared vision:  a world without nuclear weapons.  We see it in the development that lifts up a child in Africa; the assistance that saves a family from famine; and when we extend our support to the people of the Middle East and North Africa, who deserve the same liberty that allows us to gather in this great hall of democracy.

This is the alliance we reaffirm today — rooted in our values; renewed by every generation.  This is the partnership we worked to deepen over the past three years.  And today I can stand before you and say with confidence that the alliance between the United States and Australia has never been stronger. It has been to our past; our alliance continues to be indispensable to our future.  So here, among close friends, I’d like to address the larger purpose of my visit to this region — our efforts to advance security, prosperity and human dignity across the Asia Pacific.

For the United States, this reflects a broader shift.  After a decade in which we fought two wars that cost us dearly, in blood and treasure, the United States is turning our attention to the vast potential of the Asia Pacific region.  In just a few weeks, after nearly nine years, the last American troops will leave Iraq and our war there will be over.  In Afghanistan, we’ve begun a transition — a responsible transition — so Afghans can take responsibility for their future and so coalition forces can begin to draw down.  And with partners like Australia, we’ve struck major blows against al Qaeda and put that terrorist organization on the path to defeat, including delivering justice to Osama bin Laden.

So make no mistake, the tide of war is receding, and America is looking ahead to the future that we must build.  From Europe to the Americas, we’ve strengthened alliances and partnerships.  At home, we’re investing in the sources of our long-term economic strength — the education of our children, the training of our workers, the infrastructure that fuels commerce, the science and the research that leads to new breakthroughs.  We’ve made hard decisions to cut our deficit and put our fiscal house in order — and we will continue to do more.  Because our economic strength at home is the foundation of our leadership in the world, including here in the Asia Pacific.

Our new focus on this region reflects a fundamental truth — the United States has been, and always will be, a Pacific nation. Asian immigrants helped build America, and millions of American families, including my own, cherish our ties to this region.  From the bombing of Darwin to the liberation of Pacific islands, from the rice paddies of Southeast Asia to a cold Korean Peninsula, generations of Americans have served here, and died here — so democracies could take root; so economic miracles could lift hundreds of millions to prosperity.  Americans have bled with you for this progress, and we will not allow it — we will never allow it to be reversed.

Here, we see the future.  As the world’s fastest-growing region — and home to more than half the global economy — the Asia Pacific is critical to achieving my highest priority, and that’s creating jobs and opportunity for the American people.  With most of the world’s nuclear power and some half of humanity, Asia will largely define whether the century ahead will be marked by conflict or cooperation, needless suffering or human progress.

As President, I have, therefore, made a deliberate and strategic decision — as a Pacific nation, the United States will play a larger and long-term role in shaping this region and its future, by upholding core principles and in close partnership with our allies and friends.

Let me tell you what this means.  First, we seek security, which is the foundation of peace and prosperity.  We stand for an international order in which the rights and responsibilities of all nations and all people are upheld.  Where international law and norms are enforced.  Where commerce and freedom of navigation are not impeded.  Where emerging powers contribute to regional security, and where disagreements are resolved peacefully.  That’s the future that we seek.

Now, I know that some in this region have wondered about America’s commitment to upholding these principles.  So let me address this directly.  As the United States puts our fiscal house in order, we are reducing our spending.  And, yes, after a decade of extraordinary growth in our military budgets — and as we definitively end the war in Iraq, and begin to wind down the war in Afghanistan — we will make some reductions in defense spending.

As we consider the future of our armed forces, we’ve begun a review that will identify our most important strategic interests and guide our defense priorities and spending over the coming decade.  So here is what this region must know.  As we end today’s wars, I have directed my national security team to make our presence and mission in the Asia Pacific a top priority.  As a result, reductions in U.S. defense spending will not — I repeat, will not — come at the expense of the Asia Pacific.

My guidance is clear.  As we plan and budget for the future, we will allocate the resources necessary to maintain our strong military presence in this region.  We will preserve our unique ability to project power and deter threats to peace.  We will keep our commitments, including our treaty obligations to allies like Australia.  And we will constantly strengthen our capabilities to meet the needs of the 21st century.  Our enduring interests in the region demand our enduring presence in the region.  The United States is a Pacific power, and we are here to stay.

Indeed, we are already modernizing America’s defense posture across the Asia Pacific.  It will be more broadly distributed — maintaining our strong presence in Japan and the Korean Peninsula, while enhancing our presence in Southeast Asia.  Our posture will be more flexible — with new capabilities to ensure that our forces can operate freely.  And our posture will be more sustainable, by helping allies and partners build their capacity, with more training and exercises.

We see our new posture here in Australia.  The initiatives that the Prime Minister and I announced yesterday will bring our two militaries even closer together.  We’ll have new opportunities to train with other allies and partners, from the Pacific to the Indian Ocean.  And it will allow us to respond faster to the full range of challenges, including humanitarian crises and disaster relief.

Since World War II, Australians have warmly welcomed American service members who’ve passed through.  On behalf of the American people, I thank you for welcoming those who will come next, as they ensure that our alliance stays strong and ready for the tests of our time.

We see America’s enhanced presence in the alliance that we’ve strengthened:  In Japan, where our alliance remains a cornerstone of regional security.  In Thailand, where we’re partnering for disaster relief.  In the Philippines, where we’re increasing ship visits and training.  And in South Korea, where our commitment to the security of the Republic of Korea will never waver.  Indeed, we also reiterate our resolve to act firmly against any proliferation activities by North Korea.  The transfer of nuclear materials or material by North Korea to states or non-state entities would be considered a grave threat to the United States and our allies, and we would hold North Korea fully accountable for the consequences of such action.

We see America’s enhanced presence across Southeast Asia — in our partnership with Indonesia against piracy and violent extremism, and in our work with Malaysia to prevent proliferation; in the ships we’ll deploy to Singapore, and in our closer cooperation with Vietnam and Cambodia; and in our welcome of India as it “looks east” and plays a larger role as an Asian power.

At the same time, we’ll reengage with our regional organizations.  Our work in Bali this week will mark my third meeting with ASEAN leaders, and I’ll be proud to be the first American President to attend the East Asia Summit.  And together, I believe we can address shared challenges, such as proliferation and maritime security, including cooperation in the South China Sea.

Meanwhile, the United States will continue our effort to build a cooperative relationship with China.  All of our nations — Australia, the United States — all of our nations have a profound interest in the rise of a peaceful and prosperous China. That’s why the United States welcomes it.  We’ve seen that China can be a partner from reducing tensions on the Korean Peninsula to preventing proliferation.  And we’ll seek more opportunities for cooperation with Beijing, including greater communication between our militaries to promote understanding and avoid miscalculation.  We will do this, even as we continue to speak candidly to Beijing about the importance of upholding international norms and respecting the universal human rights of the Chinese people.

A secure and peaceful Asia is the foundation for the second area in which America is leading again, and that’s advancing our shared prosperity.  History teaches us the greatest force the world has ever known for creating wealth and opportunity is free markets.  So we seek economies that are open and transparent.  We seek trade that is free and fair.  And we seek an open international economic system, where rules are clear and every nation plays by them.

In Australia and America, we understand these principles.  We’re among the most open economies on Earth.  Six years into our landmark trade agreement, commerce between us has soared.  Our workers are creating new partnerships and new products, like the advanced aircraft technologies we build together in Victoria.  We’re the leading investor in Australia, and you invest more in America than you do in any other nation, creating good jobs in both countries.

We recognize that economic partnerships can’t just be about one nation extracting another’s resources.  We understand that no long-term strategy for growth can be imposed from above.  Real prosperity — prosperity that fosters innovation, and prosperity that endures — comes from unleashing our greatest economic resource, and that’s the entrepreneurial spirit, the talents of our people.

So even as America competes aggressively in Asian markets, we’re forging the economic partnerships that create opportunity for all.  Building on our historic trade agreement with South Korea, we’re working with Australia and our other APEC partners to create a seamless regional economy.  And with Australia and other partners, we’re on track to achieve our most ambitious trade agreement yet, and a potential model for the entire region — the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The United States remains the world’s largest and most dynamic economy.  But in an interconnected world, we all rise and fall together.  That’s why I pushed so hard to put the G20 at the front and center of global economic decision-making — to give more nations a leadership role in managing the international economy, including Australia.  And together, we saved the world economy from a depression.  And now, our urgent challenge is to create the growth that puts people to work.

We need growth that is fair, where every nation plays by the rules; where workers rights are respected, and our businesses can compete on a level playing field; where the intellectual property and new technologies that fuel innovation are protected; and where currencies are market driven so no nation has an unfair advantage.

We also need growth that is broad — not just for the few, but for the many — with reforms that protect consumers from abuse and a global commitment to end the corruption that stifles growth.  We need growth that is balanced, because we will all prosper more when countries with large surpluses take action to boost demand at home.

And we need growth that is sustainable.  This includes the clean energy that creates green jobs and combats climate change, which cannot be denied.  We see it in the stronger fires, the devastating floods, the Pacific islands confronting rising seas. And as countries with large carbon footprints, the United States and Australia have a special responsibility to lead.

Every nation will contribute to the solution in its own way — and I know this issue is not without controversy, in both our countries.  But what we can do — and what we are doing — is to work together to make unprecedented investments in clean energy, to increase energy efficiency, and to meet the commitments we made at Copenhagen and Cancun.  We can do this, and we will.

As we grow our economies, we’ll also remember the link between growth and good governance — the rule of law, transparent institutions, the equal administration of justice.  Because history shows that, over the long run, democracy and economic growth go hand in hand.  And prosperity without freedom is just another form of poverty.

And this brings me to the final area where we are leading — our support for the fundamental rights of every human being.  Every nation will chart its own course.  Yet it is also true that certain rights are universal; among them, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion, and the freedom of citizens to choose their own leaders.

These are not American rights, or Australian rights, or Western rights.  These are human rights.  They stir in every soul, as we’ve seen in the democracies that have succeeded here in Asia.  Other models have been tried and they have failed — fascism and communism, rule by one man and rule by committee.  And they failed for the same simple reason:  They ignore the ultimate source of power and legitimacy — the will of the people.  Yes, democracy can be messy and rough — I understand you mix it up quite well during Question Time.  (Laughter.)  But whatever our differences of party or of ideology, we know in our democracies we are blessed with the greatest form of government ever known to man.

So as two great democracies, we speak up for those freedoms when they are threatened.  We partner with emerging democracies, like Indonesia, to help strengthen the institutions upon which good governance depends.  We encourage open government, because democracies depend on an informed and active citizenry.  We help strengthen civil societies, because they empower our citizens to hold their governments accountable.  And we advance the rights of all people — women, minorities and indigenous cultures — because when societies harness the potential of all their citizens, these societies are more successful, they are more prosperous and they are more just.

These principles have guided our approach to Burma, with a combination of sanctions and engagement.  And today, Aung San Suu Kyi is free from house arrest.  Some political prisoners have been released, and the government has begun a dialogue.  Still, violations of human rights persist.  So we will continue to speak clearly about the steps that must be taken for the government of Burma to have a better relationship with the United States.

This is the future we seek in the Asia Pacific — security, prosperity and dignity for all.  That’s what we stand for.  That’s who we are.  That’s the future we will pursue, in partnership with allies and friends, and with every element of American power.  So let there be no doubt:  In the Asia Pacific in the 21st century, the United States of America is all in.

Still, in times of great change and uncertainty, the future can seem unsettling.  Across a vast ocean, it’s impossible to know what lies beyond the horizon.  But if this vast region and its people teach us anything, it’s the yearning for liberty and progress will not be denied.

It’s why women in this country demanded that their voices be heard, making Australia the first nation to let women vote and run for parliament and, one day, become Prime Minister.  It’s why the people took to the streets — from Delhi to Seoul, from Manila to Jakarta — to throw off colonialism and dictatorship and build some of the world’s largest democracies.

It’s why a soldier in a watchtower along the DMZ defends a free people in the South, and why a man from the North risks his life to escape across the border.  Why soldiers in blue helmets keep the peace in a new nation.  And why women of courage go into brothels to save young girls from modern-day slavery, which must come to an end.

It’s why men of peace in saffron robes faced beatings and bullets, and why every day — from some of the world’s largest cities to dusty rural towns, in small acts of courage the world may never see — a student posts a blog; a citizen signs a charter; an activist remains unbowed, imprisoned in his home, just to have the same rights that we cherish here today.

Men and women like these know what the world must never forget.  The currents of history may ebb and flow, but over time they move — decidedly, decisively — in a single direction.  History is on the side of the free — free societies, free governments, free economies, free people.  And the future belongs to those who stand firm for those ideals, in this region and around the world.

This is the story of the alliance we celebrate today.  This is the essence of America’s leadership; it is the essence of our partnership.  This is the work we will carry on together, for the security and prosperity and dignity of all people.

So God bless Australia.  God bless America.  And God bless the friendship between our two peoples.

Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

END
11:10 A.M. AEST

Full Text November 16, 2011: President Obama and Australia Prime Minister Julia Gillard Remarks at Joint Press Conference

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

Expanded Military Ties in Australia

Source: WH, 11-16-11
20111116 POTUS PM Gillard

President Barack Obama holds a joint press conference with Prime Minister Julia Gillard of Australia at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, Nov. 16, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

When President Obama met with Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Wednesday, they announced plans for the first sustained American military presence in Australia.

By the end of 2012, 250 Marines will begin six month rotations, and in the years ahead, that force will build out to 2,500. They’ll train alongside Australian troops and live on Australian bases. In addition, the U.S. Air Force will have additional access to Australian airfields.

At the news conference with the Prime Minister, President Obama said:

The United States of America has no stronger ally than Australia. We are bound by common values, the rights and the freedoms that we cherish. And for nearly a century, we’ve stood together in defense of these freedoms. And I’m very happy to be here as we celebrate the 60th anniversary of our alliance, and as we work together to strengthen it for the future.

Read the full remarks here.

See more: Check out a slideshow from the President’s trip to Australia.

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by President Obama and Prime Minister Gillard of Australia in Joint Press Conference

Parliament House
Canberra, Australia

6:10 P.M. AEST

PRIME MINISTER GILLARD:  Good evening, one and all.  I take this opportunity to very warmly welcome President Obama to Australia for his first visit as President.  President Obama is no stranger to our shores, having visited Australia before.  But it is a special delight to have him here for his first visit as President.  And it comes at an important time in our nation’s history and in the history of our region.

We will be looking back during this visit — we’ll be looking back at 60 years of the ANZUS alliance.  We’ll be looking back 10 years to the dreadful day of 9/11, a day we all remember with great sorrow.  And we will be reflecting on those events.  But we will be looking forward.

We live in the growing region of the world where its global — contribution to global growth is a profound one.  We live in a region which is changing, changing in important ways.  And as a result of those changes, President Obama and I have been discussing the best way of our militaries cooperating for the future.

So I’m very pleased to be able to announce with President Obama that we’ve agreed joint initiatives to enhance our alliance — 60 years old and being kept robust for tomorrow.  It is a new agreement to expand the existing collaboration between the Australian Defence Force and the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Air Force.  What this means in very practical detail is from mid-2012, Australia will welcome deployments of a company-size rotation of 200 to 250 Marines in the Northern Territory for around six months at a time.

Over a number of years, we intend to build on this relationship in a staged way to a full force of around 2,500 personnel — that is a four Marine Air Ground Task Force.

A second component of these initiatives which we have agreed is greater access by U.S. military aircraft to the Royal Australian Air Force facilities in our country’s north.  This will involve more frequent movements of U.S. military aircraft into and out of northern Australia.  Now, taken together, these two initiatives make our alliance stronger, they strengthen our cooperation in our region.

We are a region that is growing economically.  But stability is important for economic growth, too.  And our alliance has been a bedrock of stability in our region.  So building on our alliance through this new initiative is about stability.  It will be good for our Australian Defence Force to increase their capabilities by joint training, combined training, with the U.S. Marines and personnel.  It will mean that we are postured to better respond together, along with other partners in the Asia Pacific, to any regional contingency, including the provision of humanitarian assistance and dealing with natural disasters.

In addition to discussing this global force posture review by the United States and these new initiatives in our alliance, the President of the United States and I have had an opportunity to reflect on a number of other issues — to reflect on circumstances in the global economy; to reflect on a clean energy future for our nations and for our planet; to reflect on the forthcoming East Asia Summit.  President Obama will proceed from Australia to that summit in Indonesia, where he spent time growing up.

We’ve had a comprehensive discussion.  I very much welcome President Obama to Australia.  I think he’s already seen that the welcome he’s getting from Australians, including Australian schoolchildren, is a very warm one.  And I know that that is going to be sustained during tonight’s events and the events of tomorrow.

President Obama, over to you.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Good day, everybody.  And thank you, Madam Prime Minister, for your generous welcome, your friendship and your partnership.  I am thrilled to be Down Under.

As you may know, this is not my first visit to Australia.  In fact, I first visited Australia as a boy.  And I’ve never forgotten the warmth and kindness that the Australian people extended to me when I was six and eight.  And I can see that the Australian people have lost none of that warmth.

I very much wanted to take this trip last year, and although events back home prevented me from doing so, I was determined to come for a simple reason:  The United States of America has no stronger ally than Australia.  We are bound by common values, the rights and the freedoms that we cherish.  And for nearly a century, we’ve stood together in defense of these freedoms.  And I’m very happy to be here as we celebrate the 60th anniversary of our alliance, and as we work together to strengthen it for the future.

We are two Pacific nations, and with my visit to the region I am making it clear that the United States is stepping up its commitment to the entire Asia Pacific.  In this work, we’re deeply grateful for our alliance with Australia and the leadership role that it plays.  As it has been for six decades, our alliance is going to be indispensable to our shared future, the security we need and the prosperity that we seek not only in this region but around the world.

I’m also very grateful for my partnership with Prime Minister Gillard.  We’ve worked quite a bit together lately —

PRIME MINISTER GILLARD:  You bet.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  — spanning time zones — the G20 in Cannes, APEC, and TPP in Hawaii, now here in Australia, and next onto Bali for the East Asia Summit.  And this speaks to how closely our countries work together on a wide range of issues.  And in my friend, Julia, I see the quality that we Americans admire most in our Australian friends:  somebody who’s down to earth, easy to talk to, and who says it like it is — straight up.  And that’s why we achieved so much today.

We agreed to push ahead with our efforts to create jobs for our people by bringing our economies and those of the region even closer together.  Building on our progress at APEC, we’re going to keep striving for a seamless regional economy.  And as the two largest economies in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Australia and the United States are helping to lead the way to a new model for trade across the region.  And along with our G20 partners, we agreed that we have to stay focused on the growth that creates jobs, and that every nation needs to play by the same economic rules of the road.

As two global partners, we discussed the whole range of challenges where we stand shoulder to shoulder, including Afghanistan.  Obviously, this has not been an easy mission for either of our countries, and our hearts go out to the families that were affected on October 29th.  But we both understand what’s at stake — what happens when al Qaeda has safe havens.  We’ve seen the awful loss of life — from 9/11 to Bali.

So I thanked the Prime Minister for Australia’s strong commitment to this mission.  I salute the extraordinary sacrifices of our forces who serve together, including your Australian troops who’ve shown that no job is too tough for your “Diggers.”  Today, the Prime Minister and I reaffirmed the way forward.  The transition has begun.  Afghans are stepping into the lead.  As they do, our troops — American and Australian — will draw down responsibly together so that we preserve the progress that we’ve made, and by 2014, Afghans will take full responsibility for security in their country.

But our focus today, as the Prime Minister said, was on preparing our alliance for the future.  And so I am very pleased that we are able to make these announcements here together on Australian soil.  Because of these initiatives that are the result of our countries working very closely together as partners, we’re going to be in a position to more effectively strengthen the security of both of our nations and this region.

As Julia described, we are increasing our cooperation — and I’d add, America’s commitment to this region.  Our U.S. Marines will begin rotating through Darwin for joint training and exercises.  Our Air Force will rotate additional aircraft through more airfields in Northern Australia.  And these rotations, which are going to be taking place on Australian bases, will bring our militaries even closer and make them even more effective.  We’ll enhance our ability to train, exercise, and operate with allies and partners across the region, and that, in turn, will allow us to work with these nations to respond even faster to a wide range of challenges, including humanitarian crises and disaster relief, as well as promoting security cooperation across the region.

And this commitment builds upon the best traditions of our alliance.  For decades, Australians have welcomed our service members as they’ve come here to work, train, and exercise together.  And I’m looking forward to joining the Prime Minister in Darwin tomorrow to thank our troops — Australians and Americans — for the incredible work that they are doing.

Finally, as I’ll discuss more in my speech to Parliament tomorrow, this deepening of our alliance sends a clear message of our commitment to this region, a commitment that is enduring and unwavering.  It’s a commitment that I’ll reaffirm in Bali as the United States joins the East Asia Summit.  And I want to thank our Australian friends who supported our membership so strongly and have worked to make sure that the EAS addresses regional challenges that affect all of us like proliferation and maritime security.

So, again, I’m very pleased that we’re able to make these important announcements during my visit.  Madam Prime Minister, I thank you for being such a strong partner and a champion of our alliance.

And once again, I want to thank the Australian people for the kindness they showed me about 40 years ago, and the kindness that they’re showing me during my visit today.  It’s that friendship and that solidarity that makes and keeps our alliance one of the strongest in the world.

PRIME MINISTER GILLARD:  Thank you.

We’ll turn to taking some questions.  I think we’ll probably take one from the Australian media first.  Phil Hudson.

Q    Philip Hudson from the Melbourne Herald Sun.  Mr. President, welcome back to Australia.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Thank you very much.

Q    You and Prime Minister Gillard have outlined what is for us a significant new U.S. troop buildup.  How much of this is because you’re (inaudible) of China?  And as of today’s deal, U.S. Marines will be for the first time conducting exercises by themselves on Australian soil.  Why is that, and what will they be doing?

And, Mr. President, you also mentioned in your remarks that Afghanistan is not an easy mission.  In the past few months there have been three cases for Australia where our troops have been shot at by the Afghan soldiers who have been training and, sadly, four of our soldiers have died and many others have been injured. Australian public opinion is strongly against our involvement continuing.  You’ve outlined the — just then, the drawdown.  What can you say to the Australian people who don’t want to wait, who want to leave immediately?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, first, with respect to these new initiatives, this rotational deployment is significant because what it allows us to do is to not only build capacity and cooperation between our two countries, but it also allows us to meet the demands of a lot of partners in the region that want to feel that they’re getting the training, they’re getting the exercises, and that we have the presence that’s necessary to maintain the security architecture in the region.

And so, as Julia mentioned, this is a region that’s becoming increasingly important.  The economy in this area is going to be the engine for world economic growth for some time to come.  The lines of commerce and trade are constantly expanding.  And it’s appropriate then for us to make sure that not only our alliance but the security architecture of the region is updated for the 21st century, and this initiative is going to allow us to do that.

It also allows us to respond to a whole host of challenges, like humanitarian or disaster relief, that, frankly, given how large the Asia Pacific region is, it can sometimes be difficult to do, and this will allow us to be able to respond in a more timely fashion and also equip a lot of countries, smaller countries who may not have the same capacity, it allows us to equip them so that they can respond more quickly as well.

And I guess the last part of your question, with respect to China, I’ve said repeatedly and I will say again today that we welcome a rising, peaceful China.  What they’ve been able to achieve in terms of lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty over the last two decades has been nothing short of remarkable.  And that is good not just for China, but it’s potentially good for the region.  And I know Australia’s economy, obviously, has benefitted by the increased demand that you’re seeing in China.

The main message that I’ve said not only publicly but also privately to the Chinese is that with their rise comes increased responsibilities.  It’s important for them to play by the rules of the road and, in fact, help underwrite the rules that have allowed so much remarkable economic progress to be made over the last several decades.  And that’s going to be true on a whole host of issues.

So where China is playing by those rules, recognizing its new role, I think this is a win-win situation.  There are going to be times where they’re not, and we will send a clear message to them that we think that they need to be on track in terms of accepting the rules and responsibilities that come with being a world power.

With respect to Afghanistan, the impact of any loss of life among our troops is heartbreaking.  And obviously, as President of the United States, there’s no greater responsibility and nothing more difficult than putting our troops in harm’s way.  I think Prime Minister Gillard feels the same way that I do, which is we would not be sending our young men and women into harm’s way unless we thought it was absolutely necessary for the security of our country.

What we have established is a transition process that allows Afghans to build up their capacity and take on a greater security role over the next two years.  But it’s important that we do it right.  As some of you are aware, I just announced that all remaining troops in Iraq will be removed.  It would have been tempting, given that I have been opposed to the Iraq war from the start, when I came into office, to say, we’re going to get you all out right away.  But what I recognized was that if we weren’t thoughtful about how we proceed, then the enormous sacrifices that had been made by our men and women in the previous years might be for naught.

And what I’d say to the Australian people at this point is, given the enormous investment that’s been made and the signs that we can, in fact, leave behind a country that’s not perfect, but one that is more stable, more secure, and does not provide safe haven for terrorists, it’s appropriate for us to finish the job and do it right.

PRIME MINISTER GILLARD:  If I could just add to that and say, every time I have met President Obama and we’ve talked about our alliance, we’ve talked about our work in Afghanistan, and in our meetings, both formal and informal, the President has shown the greatest possible concern for our troops in the field.  The meetings we’ve had over the last few weeks at various international events have coincided with some of the most bitter and difficult news that we’ve had from Afghanistan, and every step of the way the President has gone out of his way to convey to me his condolences for the Australian people and particularly for the families that have suffered such a grievous loss.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Laura MacInnis, Reuters.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  Chancellor Merkel said this week that Europe is in its toughest hour since World War II.  Markets are now showing some anxiety about the possibility of instability spreading to France as well.  Are you worried that the steps European leaders are taking are too incremental so far? Do you think something bolder or a more difficult set of decisions need to be taken to fully (inaudible) that crisis?

I have a question for Prime Minister Gillard as well.  Are you concerned that the fiscal pressures the United States is under at the moment may compromise its ability to sustain its plans for the region, including the initiatives announced today? Do you have to take those with something of a grain of salt until the super committee process is concluded?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  With respect to Europe, I’m deeply concerned, have been deeply concerned, I suspect we’ll be deeply concerned tomorrow and next week and the week after that.  Until we put in place a concrete plan and structure that sends a clear signal to the markets that Europe is standing behind the euro and will do what it takes, we’re going to continue to see the kinds of turmoil that we saw in the markets today — or was it yesterday?  I’m trying to figure out what — (laughter) — what time zone I’m in here.

PRIME MINISTER GILLARD:  It’s all of the time.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  All of the — right.  (Laughter.)  We have consulted very closely with our European friends.  I think that there is a genuine desire, on the part of leaders like President Sarkozy and Chancellor Merkel, to solve this crisis.  But they’ve got a complicated political structure.

The problem right now is a problem of political will; it’s not a technical problem.  We saw some progress with Italy and Greece both putting forward essentially unity governments that can implement some significant reforms that need to take place in those countries.  But at this point, the larger European community has to stand behind the European project.  And for those American readers or listeners, and those Australian readers or listeners, I think we all understand at this point we’ve got an integrated world economy and what happens in Europe will have an impact on us.

So we are going to continue to advise European leaders on what options we think would meet the threshold where markets would settle down.  It is going to require some tough decisions on their part.  They have made some progress on some fronts — like their efforts to recapitalize the banks.  But ultimately what they’re going to need is a firewall that sends a clear signal:  “We stand behind the European project, and we stand behind the euro.”  And those members of the eurozone, they are going to have the liquidity they need to service their debt.  So there’s more work to do on that front.

And just — I don’t want to steal your question, but I do want to just say, with respect to our budget, there’s a reason why I’m spending this time out here in Asia and out here in the Pacific region.  First and foremost, because this is the fastest-growing economic region in the world, and I want to create jobs in the United States, which means we’ve got to sell products here and invest here and have a robust trading relationship here, and Australia happens to be one of our strongest trading partners.

But the second message I’m trying to send is that we are here to stay.  This is a region of huge strategic importance to us.  And I’ve made very clear, and I’ll amplify in my speech to Parliament tomorrow, that even as we make a whole host of important fiscal decisions back home, this is right up there at the top of my priority list.  And we’re going to make sure that we are able to fulfill our leadership role in the Asia Pacific region.

PRIME MINISTER GILLARD:  And I was just going to make what I think is the common-sense point — I’m not going to issue words of advice about the fiscal position in the United States — but the common-sense point from the point of view of the leader is, ultimately, budgets are about choices and there are hard choices about the things you value.  And I think, by President Obama being here, he is saying he values the role of the United States in this region and our alliance, and that’s what the announcement we’ve made today is all about.

We’ve got a question from Mark Riley from the Australian media.

Q    Thanks, Prime Minister.  Mark Riley from 7News, Australia.  Mr. President, I wanted to ask you about the other rising giant of our region — India — and the Prime Minister might like to add some comments.  How significant is it for the U.S. that Australia is now considering selling uranium to India? And could you clear up for us what influence or encouragement your administration gave Australia as it made that decision?  And also, the decision is so India can produce clean energy.  In that regard, you’re aware that our Parliament has passed a new bill, pricing carbon — a carbon tax, if you like.  But we’re intrigued about where America is going on this issue.

And countries like Australia don’t see a carbon trading system in the world working unless America is a big part of it.  Can you tell us, is it your wish that American will have an emissions trading scheme across the nation within the next five years or so?  How heavily do you want to see America involved in an emissions trading scheme globally, or has this become too politically hard for you?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, first of all, with respect to India, we have not had any influence, I suspect, on Australia’s decision to explore what its relationship in terms of the peaceful use of nuclear energy in India might be.  I suspect that you’ve got some pretty smart government officials here who figured out that India is a big player, and that the Australia-India relationship is one that should be cultivated.  So I don’t think Julia or anybody else needs my advice in figuring that out.  This is part of your neighborhood, and you are going to make bilateral decisions about how to move forward.

I think without wading into the details, the discussions that are currently taking place here in Australia around that relationship and the nuclear issue with India are ones that are compatible with international law, compatible with decisions that were made in the NPT.  And I will watch with interest what’s determined.  But this is not something between the United States and Australia; this is something between India and Australia.

With respect to carbon emissions, I share the view of your Prime Minister and most scientists in the world that climate change is a real problem and that human activity is contributing to it, and that we all have a responsibility to find ways to reduce our carbon emissions.

Each country is trying to figure out how to do that most effectively.  Here in Australia, under the leadership of the Prime Minister, you’ve moved forward with a bold strategy.  In the United States, although we haven’t passed what we call a cap-and-trade system, an exchange, what we have done is, for example, taken steps to double fuel efficiency standard on cars, which will have an enormous impact on removing carbon from the atmosphere.

We’ve invested heavily in clean energy research.  We believe very strongly that we’ve improved efficiencies and a whole step range of steps that we can meet and the commitments that we made in Copenhagen and Cancun.  And as we move forward over the next several years, my hope is, is that the United States, as one of several countries with a big carbon footprint, can find further ways to reduce our carbon emissions.  I think that’s good for the world.  I actually think, over the long term, it’s good for our economies as well, because it’s my strong belief that industries, utilities, individual consumers — we’re all going to have to adapt how we use energy and how we think about carbon.

Now, another belief that I think the Prime Minister and I share is that the advanced economies can’t do this alone.  So part of our insistence when we are in multilateral forum — and I will continue to insist on this when we go to Durban — is that if we are taking a series of step, then it’s important that emerging economies like China and India are also part of the bargain.  That doesn’t mean that they have to do exactly what we do.  We understand that in terms of per capita carbon emissions, they’ve got a long way to go before they catch up to us.  But it does mean that they’ve got to take seriously their responsibilities as well.

And so, ultimately, what we want is a mechanism whereby all countries are making an effort.  And it’s going to be a tough slog, particularly at a time when the economies are — a lot of economies are still struggling.  But I think it’s actually one that, over the long term, can be beneficial.

Jackie Calmes.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  Thank you, Prime Minister Gillard.  I wanted to double back to the topic of China.  It seems there’s a bit of a schizophrenic aspect to this week of summitry in the Asian Pacific, where China is participating from Hawaii to Indonesia, but then you have all the rest of you who are talking about, on one hand, a trade bloc that excludes China, and now this — and an increased military presence for the United States, which is symbolized most by this agreement the two of you have made for a permanent U.S. presence in Australia.

What is it everyone fears so much from China?  And isn’t there some risk that you would increase tensions in a way that would take some of the — China might take some of the very actions you fear?

PRIME MINISTER GILLARD:  I’m happy to start with that and then go to the President.  I don’t — I think there’s actually a theme throughout the work we’ve been involved with at APEC, some of the discussion here and what we will take to the East Asia Summit.  We may be on a journey from saying “aloha” to “good day” to “Bali hai*” or something like that.  But I actually think in terms of a strategic outlook, it remains the same — which is both of our nations deeply engaged with China as it rises and we want to see China rise into the global rules-based order.

That’s our aspiration.  I understand it to be the aspiration of the United States.  It’s something that we pursue bilaterally with China.  It’s something that we pursue multilaterally in the various forums that we work in.

This East Asia Summit will have a particular significance, coming for the first time with the President of the United States there and of course Russia represented around the table, so all of the players with the right mandate to discuss strategic, political and economic questions for our region.

So I actually believe there’s a continuity here:  APEC fundamentally focused on trade and economic liberalization; here in Australia, longtime allies, talking about the future of their alliance and building for that future, as you would expect, but also preparing for a set of discussions in Bali, which will bring us together again with our friends across the region.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Just to pick up on this theme, Jackie, I think the notion that we fear China is mistaken.  The notion that we are looking to exclude China is mistaken.  And I’ll take TPP as a perfect example of this.  We haven’t excluded China from the TPP.  What we have said is the future of this region depends on robust trade and commerce, and the only way we’re going to grow that trade is if we have a high-standards trade agreement where everybody is playing by the same rules; where if one set of markets is open then there’s reciprocity among the other trading partners; where there are certain rules that we abide by in terms of intellectual property rights protection or how we deal with government procurement — in addition to the traditional areas like tariffs.

And what we saw in Honolulu, in APEC, was that a number of countries that weren’t part of the initial discussions — like Japan, Canada, Mexico — all expressed an interest in beginning the consultations to be part of this high-standard trade agreement that could potentially be a model for the entire region.

Now, if China says, we want to consult with you about being part of this as well, we welcome that.  It will require China to rethink some of its approaches to trade, just as every other country that’s been involved in the consultations for the TPP have had to think through, all right, what kinds of adjustments are we willing to make?

And so that’s the consistent theme here.  This is a growing region.  It is a vital region.  The United States is going to be a huge participant in both economic and security issues in the Asia Pacific region, and our overriding desire is that we have a clear set of principles that all of us can abide by so that all of us can succeed.  And I think it’s going to be important for China to be a part of that.  I think that’s good for us.

But it’s going to require China, just like all the rest of us, to align our existing policies and what we’ve done in the past with what’s needed for a brighter future.

PRIME MINISTER GILLARD:  Thank you very much.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Thank you very much, everybody.

PRIME MINISTER GILLARD:  Thank you.

END
6:43 P.M. AEST

Full Text November 13, 2011: President Barack Obama Holds Press Conference on the APEC Summit’s progress in Hawaii

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Holds a Press Conference at the APEC Summit

 

President Obama makes remarks and takes questions about progress made at the 19th annual Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation leader’s summit.

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POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

News Conference by President Obama

JW Marriott Ihilani Resort & Spa
Kapolei, Hawaii

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Good afternoon, everybody.  Aloha.  I want to begin by thanking the people of Hawaii for their extraordinary hospitality.  Usually when Michelle and I and our daughters come back to visit, it’s just one President, and this time we brought 21.  So thank you so much for the incredible graciousness of the people of Hawaii — and their patience, because I know that traffic got tied up a little bit.

Now, the single greatest challenge for the United States right now, and my highest priority as President, is creating jobs and putting Americans back to work.  And one of the best ways to do that is to increase our trade and exports with other nations. Ninety-five percent of the world’s consumers are beyond our borders.  I want them to be buying goods with three words stamped on them:  Made in America.  So I’ve been doing everything I can to make sure that the United States is competing aggressively for the jobs and the markets of the future.

No region will do more to shape our long-term economic future than the Asia Pacific region.  As I’ve said, the United States is, and always will be, a Pacific nation.  Many of our top trading partners are in this region.  This is where we sell most of our exports, supporting some 5 million American jobs.  And since this is the world’s fastest growing region, the Asia Pacific is key to achieving my goal of doubling U.S. exports — a goal, by the way, which we are on track right now to meet.

And that’s why I’ve been proud to host APEC this year.  It’s been a chance to help lead the way towards a more seamless regional economy with more trade, more exports, and more jobs for our people.  And I’m pleased that we’ve made progress in three very important areas.

First, we agreed to a series of steps that will increase trade and bring our economies even closer.  We agreed to a new set of principles on innovation to encourage the entrepreneurship that creates new businesses and new industries.  With simplified customs and exemptions from certain tariffs we’ll encourage more businesses to engage in more trade.  And that includes our small businesses, which account for the vast majority of the companies in our economies.

We agreed to a new initiative that will make it easier and faster for people to travel and conduct business across the region.  And yesterday, I was pleased to sign legislation, a new travel card that will help our American businessmen and women travel more easily and get deals done in this region.

I’d note that we also made a lot of progress increasing trade on the sidelines of APEC.  As I announced yesterday, the United States and our eight partners reached the broad outlines of an agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  And today I’m pleased that Japan, Canada and Mexico have now expressed an interest in this effort.

This comes on the heels of our landmark trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Colombia, which will support tens of thousands of American jobs.

And in my meeting with President Medvedev, we discussed how to move ahead with Russia’s accession to the WTO, which will also mean more exports for American manufacturers and American farmers and ranchers.

Second, APEC agreed on ways to promote the green growth we need for our energy security.  We agreed to reduce tariffs on environmental goods and make it easier to export clean energy technologies that create green jobs.  We raised the bar on ourselves and we’ll aim for even higher energy efficiencies.  And we’re moving ahead with the effort to phase out fossil fuel subsidies.  This would be a huge step toward creating clean energy economies and fighting climate change, which is a threat to both the beauty and the prosperity of the region.

Third, we’re redoubling our efforts to make sure that regulations are encouraging trade and job creation, not discouraging trade and job creation.  And this builds on the work that we’re doing in the United States to get rid of rules and regulations that are unjustified and that are overly burdensome. Our APEC partners are joining us in streamlining and coordinating regulations so that we’re sparking innovation and growth even as we protect public health and our environment.

And finally, since many of the leaders here were also at the recent G20 summit, we continued our efforts to get the global economy to grow faster.  APEC makes up more than half the global economy, and it will continue to play a key role in achieving the strong and balanced growth that we need.

As I’ve said, as the world’s largest economy, the best thing that the United States can do for the global economy is to grow our own economy faster.  And so I will continue to fight for the American Jobs Act so that we can put our people back to work.

I was glad to see that Congress moved forward on one aspect of the jobs bill — tax credits for companies that are hiring veterans.  But we’ve got to do a lot more than that.

So, again, I want to thank the people of Hawaii for their extraordinary hospitality and for all that they’ve done to help make this summit such a success.  I want to thank my fellow leaders for the seriousness and sense of common purpose that they brought to our work.  And I believe that the progress we’ve made here will help create jobs and keep America competitive in a region that is absolutely vital not only for our economy but also for our national security.

So, with that, I’m going to take a few questions.  I’ll start with Ben Feller of AP.

Q    Thank you very much, Mr. President.  I’d like to ask you about Iran.  Did you get any specific commitments from Russia or China on tightening sanctions?  Did you move them at all?  And do you fear the world is running out of options short of military intervention to keep Iran from getting nuclear weapons?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  One of the striking things over the last three years since I came into office is the degree of unity that we’ve been able to forge in the international community with respect to Iran.  When I came into office, the world was divided and Iran was unified around its nuclear program.  We now have a situation where the world is united and Iran is isolated.  And because of our diplomacy and our efforts, we have, by far, the strongest sanctions on Iran that we’ve ever seen.  And China and Russia were critical to making that happen.  Had they not been willing to support those efforts in the United Nations, we would not be able to see the kind of progress that we’ve made.

And they’re having an impact.  All our intelligence indicates that Iran’s economy is suffering as a consequence of this.  And we’re also seeing that Iran’s influence in the region has ebbed, in part because their approach to repression inside of Iran is contrary to the Arab Spring that has been sweeping the Middle East.

So we are in a much stronger position now than we were two or three years ago with respect to Iran.  Having said that, the recent IAEA report indicates what we already knew, which is, although Iran does not possess a nuclear weapon and is technically still allowing IAEA observers into their country, that they are engaging in a series of practices that are contrary to their international obligations and their IAEA obligations.  And that’s what the IAEA report indicated.

So what I did was to speak with President Medvedev, as well as President Hu, and all three of us entirely agree on the objective, which is making sure that Iran does not weaponize nuclear power and that we don’t trigger a nuclear arms race in the region.  That’s in the interests of all of us.

In terms of how we move forward, we will be consulting with them carefully over the next several weeks to look at what other options we have available to us.  The sanctions have enormous bite and enormous scope, and we’re building off the platform that has already been established.  The question is, are there additional measures that we can take.  And we’re going to explore every avenue to see if we can solve this issue diplomatically.

I have said repeatedly and I will say it today, we are not taking any options off the table, because it’s my firm belief that an Iran with a nuclear weapon would pose a security threat not only to the region but also to the United States.  But our strong preference is to have Iran meet its international obligations, negotiate diplomatically, to allow them to have peaceful use of nuclear energy in accordance with international law, but at the same time, forswear the weaponization of nuclear power.

And so we’re going to keep on pushing on that.  And China and Russia have the same aims, the same objectives, and I believe that we’ll continue to cooperate and collaborate closely on that issue.

Dan Lothian.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  Last night at the Republican debate, some of the hopefuls — they hope to get your job — they defended the practice of waterboarding, which is a practice that you banned in 2009.  Herman Cain said, “I don’t see that as torture.”  Michelle Bachmann said that it’s “very effective.”  So I’m wondering if you think that they’re uninformed, out of touch, or irresponsible?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  That’s a multiple-choice question, isn’t it?  (Laughter.)  Let me just say this:  They’re wrong.  Waterboarding is torture.  It’s contrary to America’s traditions. It’s contrary to our ideals.  That’s not who we are.  That’s not how we operate.  We don’t need it in order to prosecute the war on terrorism.  And we did the right thing by ending that practice.

If we want to lead around the world, part of our leadership is setting a good example.  And anybody who has actually read about and understands the practice of waterboarding would say that that is torture.  And that’s not something we do — period.

Norah O’Donnell.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  If I could continue on that, the Republicans did have a debate on CBS last night.  A lot of it was about foreign policy, and they were very critical of your record —

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  That’s shocking.  (Laughter.)

Q    So if I could get you to respond to something that Mitt Romney said.  He said your biggest foreign policy failure is Iran.  He said that if you are reelected Iran will have a nuclear weapon.  Is Mitt Romney wrong?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  I am going to make a practice of not commenting on whatever is said in Republican debates until they’ve got an actual nominee.  But as I indicated to Ben in the earlier question, you take a look at what we’ve been able to accomplish in mobilizing the world community against Iran over the last three years and it shows steady, determined, firm progress in isolating the Iranian regime, and sending a clear message that the world believes it would be dangerous for them to have a nuclear weapon.

Now, is this an easy issue?  No.  Anybody who claims it is, is either politicking or doesn’t know what they’re talking about. But I think not only the world, but the Iranian regime understands very clearly how determined we are to prevent not only a nuclear Iran but also a nuclear arms race in the region, and a violation of nonproliferation norms that would have implications around the world, including in the Asia Pacific region where we have similar problems with North Korea.

David Nakamura.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  Yesterday in a speech before business leaders, you said that you want China to play by the rules.  And then your staff later said that, in a bilateral meeting with President Hu, that you expressed that American business leaders are growing frustrated with the pace of change in China’s economy.  What rules is China not playing by?  What specific steps do you need to see from China?  And what punitive actions is your administration willing to take, as you said it would yesterday, if China does not play by the rules?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, first of all, I also said yesterday that we welcome the peaceful rise of China.  It is in America’s interests to see China succeed in lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.  China can be a source of stability and help to underwrite international norms and codes of conduct.

And so what we’ve done over the last two years is to try to develop a frank, consistent, open relationship and dialogue with China, and it’s yielded considerable benefits — for example, support for issues like Iran.  But what I’ve also said to Chinese leadership since I came into office is that when it comes to their economic practices, there are a range of things that they have done that disadvantage not just the United States but a whole host of their trading partners and countries in the region.

The most famous example is the issue of China’s currency.  Most economists estimate that the RMB is devalued by 20 to 25 percent.  That means our exports to China are that much more expensive, and their imports into the United States are that much cheaper.  Now, there’s been slight improvement over the last year, partly because of U.S. pressure, but it hasn’t been enough. And it’s time for them to go ahead and move towards a market-based system for their currency.

We recognize they may not be able to do it overnight, but they can do it much more quickly than they’ve done it so far.  And, by the way, that would not necessarily be a bad thing for the Chinese economy, because they’ve been so focused on export-driven growth that they’ve neglected domestic consumption, building up domestic markets.  It makes them much more vulnerable to shocks in the global economy.  It throws the whole world economy out of balance because they’re not buying as much as they could be from other countries.

And this is not something that’s inconsistent with where Chinese leadership say they want to go.  The problem is, is that you’ve got a bunch of export producers in China who like the system as it is, and making changes are difficult for them politically.  I get it.  But the United States and other countries, I think understandably, feel that enough is enough.

That’s not the only concern we have.  Intellectual property rights and protections — companies that do business in China consistently report problems in terms of intellectual property not being protected.  Now, that’s particularly important for an advanced economy like ours, where that’s one of our competitive advantages, is we’ve got great engineers, great entrepreneurs, we’re designing extraordinary new products.  And if they get no protection and the next thing you know China is operating as a low-cost producer and not paying any fees or revenues to folks who invented these products, that’s a problem.

So those are two examples, but there are a number of others. These practices aren’t secret.  I think everybody understands that they’ve been going on for quite some time.  Sometimes, American companies are wary about bringing them up because they don’t want to be punished in terms of their ability to do business in China.  But I don’t have that same concern, so I bring it up.

And in terms of enforcement, the other thing that we’ve been doing is actually trying to enforce the trade laws that are in place.  We’ve brought a number of cases — one that the U.S. press may be familiar with are the cases involving U.S. tires, where we brought very aggressive actions against China and won.  And as a consequence, U.S. producers are in a better position, and that means more U.S. jobs.

So I think we can benefit from trade with China.  And I want certainly to continue cultivating a constructive relationship with the Chinese government, but we’re going to continue to be firm in insisting that they operate by the same rules that everybody else operates under.  We don’t want them taking advantage of the United States or U.S. businesses.

Jake Tapper.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  The other day you told ESPN that the scandal at Penn State — which you said was heartbreaking — should prompt some soul-searching throughout the nation.  I’m wondering if you could elaborate on that, what exactly you meant and — I know you’re a big fan of college sports — if this something you think that is an indictment not just of what happened at Penn State, allegedly, but how athletics are revered in universities.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, I think that’s the kind of soul-searching that I was referring to, Jake.  You’re right, I’m a big college sports fan.  I think that when it’s kept in perspective, college athletics not only provides a great outlet for competition for our young people, but helps to bring a sense of community and can help to brand a university in a way that is fun and important.  But what happened at Penn State indicates that at a certain point, folks start thinking about systems and institutions and don’t think about individuals.  And when you think about how vulnerable kids are, for the alleged facts of that case to have taken place and for folks not to immediately say, nothing else matters except making sure those kids are protected, that’s a problem.

It’s not unique to a college sports environment.  I mean, we’ve seen problems in other institutions that are equally heartbreaking.  Not all of them involve children, by the way.  There have been problems, obviously, with respect to sexual abuse or assault directed against women, where institutions sort of closed ranks instead of getting on top of it right away.  And that’s why I said I think all institutions, not just universities or sports programs, have to step back and take stock, and make sure that we’re doing everything we can to protect people who may be vulnerable in these circumstances, but also just keep in mind what’s important — making sure that our excitement about a college sports program doesn’t get in the way of our basic human response when somebody is being hurt.

And it’s been said that evil can thrive in the world just by good people standing by and doing nothing.  And all of us I think have occasion where we see something that’s wrong, we’ve got to make sure that we step up.  That’s true in college athletics.  That’s true in our government.  That’s true everywhere.

Julianna Goldman.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  In conversations that you’ve had over the past couple of days with Asia Pacific leaders, have any of them brought up the rhetoric that we’re seeing from Republican presidential candidates when it comes to China?  And does that kind of rhetoric or posturing jeopardize the progress that your administration has made with China and the Asia Pacific region as a whole?

THE PRESIDENT:  I think most leaders here understand that politics is not always measured or on the level, and so most of our discussions have to do with substance:  How do we put our people back to work right now?  How do we expand trade?  How do we expand exports?

I’ve been very frank with Chinese leaders, though, in saying that the American people across the board — left, right and center — believe in trade, believe in competition.  We think we’ve got the best workers in the world.  We think we’ve got the best universities, the best entrepreneurs, the best free market. We’re ready to go out there and compete with anybody.  But there is a concern across the political spectrum that the playing field is not level right now.

And so, in conversations with President Hu and others, what I’ve tried to say is we have the opportunity to move in a direction in which this is a win-win:  China is benefiting from trade with the United States; the United States is benefiting as well.  Jobs are being created in the United States and not just in China.  But right now things are out of kilter.  And that is something that is shared across the board, as we saw with the recent vote on the Chinese currency issue in the Senate.

And I think leaders in the region understand that as China grows, as its economic influence expands, that the expectation is, is that they will be a responsible leader in the world economy — which is what the United States has tried to do.  I mean, we try to set up rules that are universal, that everybody can follow, and then we play by those rules.  And then we compete fiercely.  But we don’t try to game the system.  That’s part of what leadership is about.

China has the opportunity to be that same type of leader.  And as the world’s second-largest economy, I think that’s going to be important not just for this region, but for the world.  But that requires them to take responsibility, to understand that their role is different now than it might have been 20 years ago or 30 years ago, where if they were breaking some rules, it didn’t really matter, it did not have a significant impact.  You weren’t seeing huge trade imbalances that had consequences for the world financial system.

Now they’ve grown up, and so they’re going to have to help manage this process in a responsible way.

Laura Meckler.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  Why did you get rid of the aloha shirts and the grass skirts?  (Laughter.)  Are you at all concerned that it not appear that you’re having a party over here while so many people are living with such a tough economy?  And I’m wondering if those perceptions were at all on your mind as you were making plans for this trip, which, by necessity, takes you to some pretty exotic and fun locations.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  I got rid of the Hawaiian shirts because I had looked at pictures of some of the previous APEC meetings and some of the garb that had appeared previously, and I thought this may be a tradition that we might want to break.  I suggested to the leaders — we gave them a shirt, and if they wanted to wear the shirt, I promise you it would have been fine.  But I didn’t hear a lot of complaints about us breaking precedent on that one.

With respect to this trip, look, this is a pretty nice piece of scenery here and I take enormous pride in having been raised in the state of Hawaii, but we’re here for business.  We’re here to create jobs.  We’re here to promote exports.  And we’ve got a set of tangible, concrete steps that have been taken that are going to make our economy stronger, and that’s part of what our leadership has been about.

When I went to Europe last week, our job was to help shape a solution for the European crisis.  And a lot of folks back home might have wondered, well, that’s Europe’s problem; why are we worrying about it?  Well, if Europe has a major recession, and the financial system in Europe starts spinning out of control, that will have a direct impact on U.S. growth and our ability to create jobs and people raising their living standards.

The same is true out here.  If we’re not playing out here in the world’s largest regional economy and the world’s fastest regional economy, if we’ve abandoned the field and we’re not engaged, American businesses will lose out and those jobs won’t be in the United States of America.

So part of my job is to make sure that the rules of the road are set up so that our folks can compete effectively.  Part of my job is to sell America and our products and our services around the world, and I think we’ve done so very effectively.

And as I said, just to take the example of exports, we’re on track to double our exports since I came into office.  That was a goal I set, and we’re on track to meet it.  That’s actually been one of the stronger parts of our economic growth over the last couple of years.  And I want to make sure that we keep on driving that.

Chuck Todd.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  The Republican co-chair of the super committee, Jeb Hensarling, went on TV today and said if the sequester happens — this idea of the automatic cuts in Medicare and defense — that there was plenty of motivation and plenty of votes to change the makeup of these automatic cuts.

I know you had a conversation with him about this and said that changing it in any way was off the table, that means you’re going to veto this bill, if that’s the case, if it ends up they can’t get a deal in the next 10 days.

And then, can you clarify your end of the “hot mic” conversation with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, as it involved Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Could I just say that Chuck is the only guy who asked two questions — so far.  So just — when I cut off here, whoever was next in the queue — I’m messing with you, Chuck.

With respect to the super committee, in August we negotiated to initiate a trillion dollars in cuts over the next 10 years — primarily out of discretionary spending — but we also said that in order for us to move towards a more stable fiscal condition that we’re going to have to get an additional $1.2 trillion — minimum.  I actually argued that we needed more than that.  And the whole idea of the sequester was to make sure that both sides felt obligated to move off rigid positions and do what was required to help the country.

And since that time, they’ve had a lot of conversations, but it feels as if people continue to try to stick with their rigid positions rather than solve the problem.

Now, I’ve put forward a very detailed approach that would achieve $3 trillion-plus in savings.  And it’s the sort of balanced approach that the American people prefer.  It says everything is on the table.  We’ve got to have discretionary spending cuts of the sort we’ve already put in place.  We’ve got to have non-defense cuts.  We’ve got to have defense cuts.  We’re going to have to look at entitlement programs.  We’ve got to reduce our health care costs.  And we’re going to need additional revenue.

And when we’re talking about revenue, if we’ve got to raise money, it makes sense for us to start by asking the wealthiest among us to pay a little bit more before we start asking seniors, for example, to pay a lot more for their Medicare.

Now, this is the same presentation that I made to Speaker Boehner back in August.  It’s the same kind of balanced approach that every single independent committee that’s looked at this has said needs to be done.  And it just feels as if people keep on wanting to jigger the math so that they get a different outcome.

Well, the equation, no matter how you do it, is going to be the same.  If you want a balanced approach that doesn’t gut Medicare and Medicaid, doesn’t prevent us from making investments in education and basic science and research — all the things we’ve been talking about here at APEC, that every world leader understands is the key for long-term economic success — then prudent cuts have to be matched up with revenue.

My hope is that over the next several days, the congressional leadership on the super committee go ahead and bite the bullet and do what needs to be done — because the math won’t change.  There’s no magic formula.  There are no magic beans that you can toss on the ground and suddenly a bunch of money grows on trees.  We got to just go ahead and do the responsible thing.  And I’m prepared to sign legislation that is balanced, that solves this problem.

One other thing that I want to say about this:  When I meet with world leaders, what’s striking — whether it’s in Europe or here in Asia — the kinds of fundamental reforms and changes both on the revenue side and the public pension side that other countries are having to make are so much more significant than what we need to do in order to get our books in order.

This doesn’t require radical changes to America or its way of life.  It just means that we spread out the sacrifice across every sector so that it’s fair; so that people don’t feel as if once again people who are well connected, people who have lobbyists, special interests get off easy, and the burden is placed on middle-class families that are already struggling.  So if other countries can do it, we can do it — and we can do it in a responsible way.

I’m not going to comment on whether I’d veto a particular bill until I actually see a bill, because I still hold out the prospect that there’s going to be a light-bulb moment where everybody says “Ah-ha! Here’s what we’ve got to do.”

With respect to the “hot mic” in France, I’m not going to comment on conversations that I have with individual leaders, but what I will say is this:  The primary conversation I had with President Sarkozy in that meeting revolved around my significant disappointment that France had voted in favor of the Palestinians joining UNESCO, knowing full well that under our laws, that would require the United States cutting off funding to UNESCO, and after I had consistently made the argument that the only way we’re going to solve the Middle East situation is if Palestinians and Israelis sit down at the table and negotiate; that it is not going to work to try to do an end run through the United Nations.

So I had a very frank and firm conversation with President Sarkozy about that issue.  And that is consistent with both private and public statements that I’ve been making to everybody over the last several months.

Ed Henry.

Q    Mr. President, I have three questions — (laughter) — starting with Mitt Romney.  Just one question, I promise.  (Laughter.)

You started with a $447-billion jobs bill.  Two months later, many speeches later, you’ve got virtually nothing from that.  You’ve got the veterans jobs bill — which is important, obviously — and a lot of executive orders.  Are you coming to the realization that you may just get nothing here and go to the American people in 2012 without another jobs bill, 9 percent unemployment, and then wondering about your leadership, sir?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, I think — I think, first of all, the American people, at this point, are wondering about congressional leadership in failing to pass the jobs bill, the components of which the majority of Americans, including many Republicans, think are a good idea.

And that’s part of the reason why the American people right now aren’t feeling real good about Congress.  Normally, by the way, the way politics works is if the overwhelming majority of the American people aren’t happy with what you’re doing you start doing something different.  So far that hasn’t happened in Congress — and the Republicans in Congress, in particular.  They don’t seem to have that same sense of urgency about needing to put people back to work.

I’m going to keep on pushing.  My expectation is, is that we will get some of it done now, and I’ll keep on pushing until we get all of it done.  And that may take me all the way to November to get it all done.  And it may take a new Congress to get it all done.  But the component parts — cutting taxes for middle-class families, cutting taxes for small businesses that are hiring our veterans and hiring the long-term unemployed, putting teachers back in the classroom — here in the state of Hawaii, you have a bunch of kids who are going to school four days a week because of budget problems.  How are we going to win the competition in the 21st century with our kids going to school basically halftime?
The jobs bill would help alleviate those budget pressures at the state level.

Rebuilding our infrastructure.  Every world leader that you talk to, they’re saying to themselves, how can we make sure we’ve got a first-class infrastructure?  And as you travel through the Asia Pacific region, you see China having better airports than us, Singapore having superior ports to ours.  Well, that’s going to impact our capacity to do business here, our capacity to trade, our capacity to get U.S. products made by U.S. workers into the fastest-growing market in the world.  And by the way, we could put a lot of people back to work at the same time.

So I’m going to keep on pushing.  And my expectation is, is that we will just keep on chipping away at this.  If you’re asking me do I anticipate that the Republican leadership in the House or the Senate suddenly decide that I was right all along and they will adopt a hundred percent of my proposals, the answer is, no, I don’t expect that.  Do I anticipate that at some point they recognize that doing nothing is not an option?  That’s my hope.  And that should be their hope, too, because if they don’t, I think we’ll have a different set of leaders in Congress.

All right?  Thank you very much, everybody.  Thank you.

END
5:50 P.M. HAST

Full Text November 12-13, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Remarks at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation APEC Summit in Hawaii

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)

Source: WH, 11-13-11
President Barack Obama meets with the Trans-Pacific Partnership at the APEC

President Barack Obama attends a meeting with the Trans-Pacific Partnership at the APEC summit in Honolulu, Hawaii, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2011. At left is Hassanal Bolkiah, the Sultan of Brunei, and right is U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Yesterday, President Obama kicked off the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Ministers and Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii.  In the morning, the President met with Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) leaders, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

President Obama announced in November 2009 the United States’ intention to participate in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations to conclude an ambitious, next-generation, Asia-Pacific trade agreement that reflects U.S. priorities and values.  This agreement will boost U.S. economic growth and support the creation and retention of high-quality jobs at home by increasing American exports to a region that includes some of the world’s most robust economies and that represents more than 40 percent of global trade.

As the President noted yesterday:

We just had an excellent meeting, and I’m very pleased to announce that our nine nations have reached the broad outlines of an agreement.  There are still plenty of details to work out, but we are confident that we can do so.  So we’ve directed our teams to finalize this agreement in the coming year.  It is an ambitious goal, but we are optimistic that we can get it done.

The TPP will boost our economies, lowering barriers to trade and investment, increasing exports, and creating more jobs for our people, which is my number-one priority.  Along with our trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Colombia, the TPP will also help achieve my goal of doubling U.S. exports, which support millions of American jobs.

Later in the day, President Obama participated in an APEC CEO Business summit, including a question and answer session with Boeing CEO, Jim McNerney.

President Barack Obama answers a question at the APEC CEO business summit

President Barack Obama, with Boeing CEO James McHenry, Jr., answers a question at the APEC CEO business summit in Honolulu, Hawaii, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

In the afternoon, President Obama hosted bilateral meetings with Prime Minister Noda of Japan, President Medvedev of Russia and President Hu of China.

Prime Minster Noda expressed Japan’s interest in the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, with President Obama welcoming and encouraging Japan’s interest in the TPP agreement, noting that eliminating the barriers to trade between our two countries could provide an historic opportunity to deepen our economic relationship, as well as strengthen Japan’s ties with some of its closest partners in the region.

President Barack Obama meets with Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda of Japan

President Barack Obama holds a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda of Japan at the APEC summit in Honolulu, Hawaii, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Next, President Obama met with President Medvedev of Russia, where they had a wide-ranging discussion, in particular focusing on a number of security issues where the U.S. and Russia had significant interested.  This included Afghanistan, and the importance of all regional parties assisting the Afghan government in stabilizing the country for the benefit of the Afghan people as well as Iran and its nuclear program.  President Obama also made an important announcement:

Although it’s not official yet, the invitation has been extended to Russia to join the WTO, as a testament to the hard work of President Medvedev and his team.  We believe this is going to be good for the United States, for the world, as well as for Russia, because it will provide increased opportunities for markets in which we can sell goods and products and services, as well as purchase good, products and services without some of the traditional barriers.

Finally, President Obama met with President Hu of China.  He noted that cooperation between the world’s two of the largest countries and largest economies was vital not only to the security and prosperity of our own people, but also vital to the world.

President Obama continued:

Such cooperation is particularly important to the Asia Pacific region, where both China and the United States are extraordinarily active.  We are both Pacific powers.  And I think many countries in the region look to a constructive relationship between the United States and China as a basis for continued growth and prosperity.

Lastly, in the evening the President and the First Lady welcomed APEC leaders and their spouses for a dinner and reception followed by a cultural performance at the Hale Koa Hotel in Hawaii.

Leaders and their spouses watch cultural performance at the APEC summit

Leaders and their spouses watch a hula performance at the APEC summit at the Hale Koa Hotel in Honolulu, Hawaii, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES










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