OTD in History… June 24, 1795, the Senate ratifies Jay’s Treaty establishing trade between America and Great Britain

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OTD in History… June 24, 1795, the Senate ratifies Jay’s Treaty establishing trade between America and Great Britain

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

On this in history June 24, 1795, the Senate ratified Jay’s Treaty, negotiated by Chief Justice of the United States John Jay for President George Washington to resolve the outstanding issues between the United States and Great Britain after the Revolutionary War. The treaty avoided war and established preferential trade with Britain, alienating France, America’s ally in their war for independence. Although residue issues were resolved with Britain, it contributed to tensions over trade between the US, Britain and France that would contribute to the War of 1812. Additionally, the treaty was divisive between the two emerging political parties, the Federalists, who supported the treaty and Democratic-Republicans, led by Thomas Jefferson, who distrusted the British and supported loyalties to France.

The Senate passed “The Treaty of Amity, Commerce, and Navigation, Between His Britannic Majesty and the United States of America” with a vote of 20–10, the two-thirds majority necessary to pass. In 1794, President Washington sent Chief Justice Jay to London to negotiate the outstanding issues from the Revolutionary War that were continually causing tensions between the two nations. The issues involved tariff and trade restriction on American exports, the British refusing to vacate their Northwestern forts although it was party of the 1783 Paris Peace Treaty, which Americans believed were contributing to attacks by natives on American settlers, and the impressments of American ships, sailors and naval supplies, although America was considered neutral on trade.

The issues were putting the two nations at the “brink of war,” and President Washington listened to his Secretary of the Treasury and Federalist Alexander Hamilton about resolving the problems with Britain. Washington sent the pro-British Chief Justice to negotiate. Jay had negotiated on America’s part in 1783. Hamilton advised Jay to use a threat to bargain with Britain, that the US would join the Scandinavians, the Danish and Swedish and would fight against impressments. Hamilton, however, betrayed Jay and told the British that America would not use military force or form the alliance. Jay was left without any advantages in his negotiations. Virginia Senator James Monroe later joined the mission to watch over the Democratic-Republican interests.

Among Washington’s demands, he wanted the British to vacate their army from forts in the Northwest Territories, compensate slaveholders for slaves abducted and ship owners, whose ships were confiscated. Washington also wanted free trade with the British West Indies.

The British were refusing to comply because the US was breaking two articles of the 1783 Paris Peace Treaty, refusing to pay debts to British creditors and keeping loyalists’ confiscated properties from the war.

The agreement Jay negotiated with British Foreign Secretary Lord Grenville in the fall of 1794, hardly favored the US but it would avoid war. In the agreement, Britain would vacate the Northwestern forts, and grant the US “most favored nation” status with trade but severely restrict trade in the British West Indies. The remainder would be resolved by arbitration including the “Canadian-Maine boundary, compensation for pre-revolutionary debts, and British seizures of American ships.” In return, the US would grant Britain preferential trade rights including trade access with the British West Indies, and the US would adhere to Britain’s “anti-French maritime policies” including allowing the British to seize American goods to be traded with France with pay and French goods without pay. The US would also ensure that private British war debts were all repaid. Britain’s King George III signed the treaty on November 19, 1794.

Britain favored Hamilton and the Federalists and that was the reason they negotiated at all with the US. Historian John C. Miller writing in his 1964 biography, Alexander Hamilton and the Growth of the New Nation noted, “The fact that the British were willing to make a treaty with the United States in 1794 was partly owing to their recognition that the strengthening of the ‘well-intentioned Party in America’ led by Hamilton was Great Britain’s best hope of stemming the tide of Jacobinism in the United States and upholding neutrality against the ‘French faction’ headed by Jefferson and Madison.” (Miller, 421)

Jay’s Treaty might have prevented war but it was a failure in American diplomacy, an observation made at the time and by historians. Historian Raymond Walters Jr. in his 1957 biography Albert Gallatin: Jeffersonian Financier and Diplomat writes, “The treaty Jay sent home represented a complete triumph for British diplomacy. The United States won modest concessions at a humiliating price.” More recently, historian Richard Norton Smith remarked, “Indeed, a first reading of the twenty-eight articles suggested that Washington’s experiment in secret diplomacy had blown up in his face. Instructed to secure American rights and open British markets; the chief justice did neither. Although agreeing to evacuate the northwestern posts no later than June 1, 1796, the British retained a share of the lucrative fur trade on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian boundary. In exchange for this concession, no more than a belated promise to carry out the terms of the old peace treaty, Jay had bargained away his country’s wartime rights as a neutral power.”

Historians, however, noted that Jay’s Treaty accomplished what it was supposed to in avoiding war with Britain. Historian Richard Brookhiser in his 1996 book, Founding Father: Rediscovering George Washington observed, “In the day time, your path through the woods is ambushed; the darkness of midnight … The ratification of Jay’s Treaty also assured that the country would not be tugged by sympathies with France into a showdown with Britain it could not afford.” (Brookhiser, 100) While historian Joseph J. Ellis concurred in his 2004 book, Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation, Jay’s Treaty “bet, in effect, on England rather than France as the hegemonic European power of the future, which proved prophetic. It recognized the massive dependence of the American economy on trade with England [and] it linked American security and economic development to the British fleet, which provided a protective shield of incalculable value throughout the nineteenth century.” (Ellis, 136)

The treaty divided the nation, with Hamilton’s Federalists supporting the pro-British deal and the Democratic-Republicans led by Jefferson and James Madison in opposition. Jefferson and Madison found that is favored Britain and put America’s trade interests at risk. With former Secretary of State Jefferson between posts, Madison as a Virginia Congressman was the official voice in opposition. After Washington signed the treaty, Jefferson wrote to Monroe on September 6, 1795, about the public opposition, “So general a burst of dissatisfaction never before appeared against any transaction. Those who understand the particular articles of it, condemn these articles. Those who do not understand them minutely, condemn it generally as wearing a hostile face to France.”

Neither was Washington satisfied with the treaty but he thought it was the country’s best chance to avoid another war with Britain, and opened up trade with Britain. Congress also opposed the treaty, and it was uncertain it would be ratified but the Senate passed it on June 24, and Washington signed it into law on August 18, 1795. Over the next year, Congress would remain divided as they worked on the appropriations bills to fulfill the treaty, and on April 30, 1796, the House passed with a vote of 51–48 the appropriations bills to fund the treaty.

In addition to keeping the nation out of war and increasing trade, it helped form the party-system in American politics. Historians Samuel Eliot Morison, Henry Steele Commager and William E. Leuchtenburg in The Growth of the American Republic, concluded, “The fight over appropriations for the Jay Treaty in the House marked the crystallization of the party system.” (Morison, Commager and Leuchtenburg, 308) Jay’s treaty staved off war as Washington hoped but was not a solution as Jefferson and Madison foresaw. The agreement threatened America’s trade neutrality, with Britain consumed in the Napoleonic Wars; America was caught in the middle. British impressments and blockades would only increase when Jefferson assumed the presidency and again put the country on the brink of war. Finally, Madison would take a stronger nation to war in 1812, to resolve finally British continual trade blockade and impressments.

Over 220 years later, the US is again confronted and divided by party over trade. Republican President Donald Trump’s protectionist and anti-trade America First policies, have his administration renegotiating or pulling out of the country’s free-trade agreements with its allies. Recently, Trump has taken his trade wars further imposing tariffs on trade partners unless they negotiate fair deals with the US. His policies contrast with the Democrats pro-free-trade ideology. Although the Democrats and the news media are treating Trump’s approach to trade as an abbreviation in American history, Jay’s Treaty and the uproar and opposition it caused proves trade agreements have always been controversial for the nation.

SOURCES AND READ MORE

Brookhiser, Richard. Founding Father: Rediscovering George Washington. New York: Free Press, 1996.

Ellis, Joseph J. Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2004.

Miller, John C. Alexander Hamilton and the Growth of the New Nation. New York: Harper and Row, 1964.

Walters, Raymond. Albert Gallatin, Jeffersonian Financier and Diplomat. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1969.

Wood, Gordon S. Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789–1815. New York [etc.: Oxford University Press, 2011.

Bonnie K. Goodman has a BA and MLIS from McGill University and has done graduate work in religion at Concordia University. She is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor, and a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

British-American Diplomacy
Jay Treaty : Senate Resolution June 24, 1795

Resolved, (two-thirds of the Senate concurring therein,) That they do consent to, and advise the President of the United States, to ratify the treaty of amity, commerce, and navigation, between his Britannic Majesty and the United States of America, concluded at London, the 19th day of November, 1794, on condition that there be added to the said treaty an article, whereby it shall be agreed to suspend the operation of so much of the 12th article, as respects the trade which his said Majesty thereby consents may be carried on, between the United States and his islands in the West Indies, in the manner, and on the terms and conditions therein specified.

And the Senate recommend to the President to proceed, without delay, to further friendly negotiations with his Majesty, on the subject of the said trade, and of the terms and conditions in question.

Source:
Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States of America.
Edited by Hunter Miller
Volume 2
Documents 1-40 : 1776-1818
Washington : Government Printing Office, 1931.
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Full Text Campaign Buzz 2016 June 28, 2016: Donald Trump’s trade and jobs plan speech transcript

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

2016 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN:

Donald Trump’s trade and jobs plan speech

Source: Politico, 6-28-16

Declaring America’s Economic Independence

It is great to be here. I’d like to thank Alumisource and all the amazing workers here for hosting us.

Today, I am going to talk about how to Make America Wealthy Again.

We are thirty miles from Steel City. Pittsburgh played a central role in building our nation.

The legacy of Pennsylvania steelworkers lives in the bridges, railways and skyscrapers that make up our great American landscape.

But our workers’ loyalty was repaid with betrayal.

Our politicians have aggressively pursued a policy of globalization – moving our jobs, our wealth and our factories to Mexico and overseas.

Globalization has made the financial elite who donate to politicians very wealthy. But it has left millions of our workers with nothing but poverty and heartache.

When subsidized foreign steel is dumped into our markets, threatening our factories, the politicians do nothing.

For years, they watched on the sidelines as our jobs vanished and our communities were plunged into depression-level unemployment.

Many of these areas have still never recovered.

Our politicians took away from the people their means of making a living and supporting their families.

Skilled craftsmen and tradespeople and factory workers have seen the jobs they loved shipped thousands of miles away.

Many Pennsylvania towns once thriving and humming are now in a state despair.

This wave of globalization has wiped out our middle class.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We can turn it all around – and we can turn it around fast.

But if we’re going to deliver real change, we’re going to have to reject the campaign of fear and intimidation being pushed by powerful corporations, media elites, and political dynasties.

The people who rigged the system for their benefit will do anything – and say anything – to keep things exactly as they are.

The people who rigged the system are supporting Hillary Clinton because they know as long as she is in charge nothing will ever change.

The inner cities will remain poor.

The factories will remain closed.

The borders will remain open.

The special interests will remain firmly in control.

Hillary Clinton and her friends in global finance want to scare America into thinking small – and they want to scare the American people out of voting for a better future.

My campaign has the opposite message.

I want you to imagine how much better your life can be if we start believing in America again.

I want you to imagine how much better our future can be if we declare independence from the elites who’ve led us to one financial and foreign policy disaster after another.

Our friends in Britain recently voted to take back control of their economy, politics and borders.

I was on the right side of that issue – with the people – while Hillary, as always, stood with the elites, and both she and president Obama predicted that one wrong.

Now it’s time for the American people to take back their future.

That’s the choice we face. We can either give in to Hillary Clinton’s campaign of fear, or we can choose to Believe In America.

We lost our way when we stopped believing in our country.

America became the world’s dominant economy by becoming the world’s dominant producer.

The wealth this created was shared broadly, creating the biggest middle class the world had ever known.

But then America changed its policy from promoting development in America, to promoting development in other nations.

We allowed foreign countries to subsidize their goods, devalue their currencies, violate their agreements, and cheat in every way imaginable.

Trillions of our dollars and millions of our jobs flowed overseas as a result.

I have visited cities and towns across this country where a third or even half of manufacturing jobs have been wiped out in the last 20 years.

Today, we import nearly $800 billion more in goods than we export.

This is not some natural disaster. It is politician-made disaster.

It is the consequence of a leadership class that worships globalism over Americanism.

This is a direct affront to our Founding Fathers, who wanted America to be strong, independent and free.

Our Founding Fathers Understood Trade

George Washington said that “the promotion of domestic manufactur[ing] will be among the first consequences to flow from an energetic government.”

Alexander Hamilton spoke frequently of the “expediency of encouraging manufactur[ing] in the United States.” The first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, warned that: “The abandonment of the protective policy by the American government… must produce want and ruin among our people.”

Our original Constitution did not even have an income tax. Instead, it had tariffs – emphasizing taxation of foreign, not domestic, production.

Yet today, 240 years after the Revolution, we have turned things completely upside-down.

We tax and regulate and restrict our companies to death, then we allow foreign countries that cheat to export their goods to us tax-free.

As a result, we have become more dependent on foreign countries than ever before.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s time to declare our economic independence once again.

That means reversing two of the worst legacies of the Clinton years.

America has lost nearly one-third of its manufacturing jobs since 1997 – even as the country has increased its population by 50 million people.

At the center of this catastrophe are two trade deals pushed by Bill and Hillary Clinton.

First, the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA. Second, China’s entry into the World Trade Organization.

NAFTA was the worst trade deal in history, and China’s entrance into the World Trade Organization has enabled the greatest jobs theft in history.

It was Bill Clinton who signed NAFTA in 1993, and Hillary Clinton who supported it.

It was also Bill Clinton who lobbied for China’s disastrous entry into the World Trade Organization, and Hillary Clinton who backed that terrible agreement.

Then, as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton stood by idly while China cheated on its currency, added another trillion dollars to our trade deficits, and stole hundreds of billions of dollars in our intellectual property.

The city of Pittsburgh, and the State of Pennsylvania, have lost one-third of their manufacturing jobs since the Clintons put China into the WTO.

Fifty thousand factories across America have shut their doors in that time.

Almost half of our entire manufacturing trade deficit in goods with the world is the result of trade with China.

It was also Hillary Clinton, as Secretary of State, who shoved us into a job-killing deal with South Korea in 2012.

As reported by the Economic Policy Institute in May, this deal doubled our trade deficit with South Korea and destroyed nearly 100,000 American jobs.

As Bernie Sanders said, Hillary Clinton “Voted for virtually every trade agreement that has cost the workers of this country millions of jobs.”

Trade reform, and the negotiation of great trade deals, is the quickest way to bring our jobs back.

To understand why trade reform creates jobs, we need to understand how all nations grow and prosper.

Massive trade deficits subtract directly from our Gross Domestic Product.

From 1947 to 2001 – a span of over five decades – our inflation-adjusted gross domestic product grew at a rate of 3.5%.

However, since 2002 – the year after we fully opened our markets to Chinese imports – that GDP growth rate has been cut almost in half.

What does this mean for Americans? For every one percent of GDP growth we fail to generate in any given year, we also fail to create over one million jobs.

America’s “job creation deficit” due to slower growth since 2002 is well over 20 million jobs – and that’s just about the number of jobs our country needs right now to put America back to work at decent wages.

The Transpacific-Partnership is the greatest danger yet.

The TPP would be the death blow for American manufacturing.

It would give up all of our economic leverage to an international commission that would put the interests of foreign countries above our own.

It would further open our markets to aggressive currency cheaters. It would make it easier for our trading competitors to ship cheap subsidized goods into U.S. markets – while allowing foreign countries to continue putting barriers in front of our exports.

The TPP would lower tariffs on foreign cars, while leaving in place the foreign practices that keep American cars from being sold overseas. The TPP even created a backdoor for China to supply car parts for automobiles made in Mexico.

The agreement would also force American workers to compete directly against workers from Vietnam, one of the lowest wage countries on Earth.

Not only will the TPP undermine our economy, but it will undermine our independence.

The TPP creates a new international commission that makes decisions the American people can’t veto.

These commissions are great Hillary Clinton’s Wall Street funders who can spend vast amounts of money to influence the outcomes.

It should be no surprise then that Hillary Clinton, according to Bloomberg, took a “leading part in drafting the Trans-Pacific Partnership”.

She praised or pushed the TPP on 45 separate occasions, and even called it the “gold standard”.

Hillary Clinton was totally for the TPP just a short while ago, but when she saw my stance, which is totally against, she was shamed into saying she would be against it too – but have no doubt, she will immediately approve it if it is put before her, guaranteed.

She will do this just as she has betrayed American workers for Wall Street throughout her career.

Here’s how it would go: she would make a small token change, declare the pact fixed, and ram it through.

That’s why Hillary is now only saying she has problems with the TPP “in its current form,” – ensuring that she can rush to embrace it again at her earliest opportunity.

If the media doesn’t believe me, I have a challenge for you. Ask Hillary Clinton if she is willing to withdraw from the TPP her first day in office and unconditionally rule out its passage in any form.

There is no way to “fix” the TPP. We need bilateral trade deals. We do not need to enter into another massive international agreement that ties us up and binds us down.

A Trump Administration will change our failed trade policy – quickly

Here are 7 steps I would pursue right away to bring back our jobs.

One: I am going to withdraw the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which has not yet been ratified.

Two: I’m going to appoint the toughest and smartest trade negotiators to fight on behalf of American workers.

Three: I’m going to direct the Secretary of Commerce to identify every violation of trade agreements a foreign country is currently using to harm our workers. I will then direct all appropriate agencies to use every tool under American and international law to end these abuses.

Four: I’m going tell our NAFTA partners that I intend to immediately renegotiate the terms of that agreement to get a better deal for our workers. And I don’t mean just a little bit better, I mean a lot better. If they do not agree to a renegotiation, then I will submit notice under Article 2205 of the NAFTA agreement that America intends to withdraw from the deal.

Five: I am going to instruct my Treasury Secretary to label China a currency manipulator. Any country that devalues their currency in order to take advantage of the United States will be met with sharply

Six: I am going to instruct the U.S. Trade Representative to bring trade cases against China, both in this country and at the WTO. China’s unfair subsidy behavior is prohibited by the terms of its entrance to the WTO, and I intend to enforce those rules.

Seven: If China does not stop its illegal activities, including its theft of American trade secrets, I will use every lawful presidential power to remedy trade disputes, including the application of tariffs consistent with Section 201 and 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 and Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962.

President Reagan deployed similar trade measures when motorcycle and semiconductor imports threatened U.S. industry. His tariff on Japanese motorcycles was 45% and his tariff to shield America’s semiconductor industry was 100%.

Hillary Clinton, and her campaign of fear, will try to spread the lie that these actions will start a trade war. She has it completely backwards.

Hillary Clinton unleashed a trade war against the American worker when she supported one terrible trade deal after another – from NAFTA to China to South Korea.

A Trump Administration will end that war by getting a fair deal for the American people.

The era of economic surrender will finally be over.

A new era of prosperity will finally begin.

America will be independent once more.

Under a Trump Presidency, the American worker will finally have a President who will protect them and fight for them.

We will stand up to trade cheating anywhere and everywhere it threatens an American job.

We will make America the best place in the world to start a business, hire workers, and open a factory.

This includes massive tax reform to lift the crushing burdens on American workers and businesses.

We will also get rid of wasteful rules and regulations which are destroying our job creation capacity.

Many people think that these regulations are an even greater impediment than the fact that we are one of the highest taxed nations in the world.

We are also going to fully capture America’s tremendous energy capacity. This will create vast profits for our workers and begin reducing our deficit. Hillary Clinton wants to shut down energy production and shut down the mines.

A Trump Administration will also ensure that we start using American steel for American infrastructure.

Just like the American steel from Pennsylvania that built the Empire State building.

It will be American steel that will fortify American’s crumbling bridges.

It will be American steel that sends our skyscrapers soaring into the sky.

It will be American steel that rebuilds our inner cities.

It will be American hands that remake this country, and it will be American energy – mined from American resources – that powers this country.

It will be American workers who are hired to do the job.

We are going to put American-produced steel back into the backbone of our country. This alone will create massive numbers of jobs.

On trade, on immigration, on foreign policy, we are going to put America First again.

We are going to make America wealthy again.

We are going to reject Hillary Clinton’s politics of fear, futility, and incompetence.

We are going to embrace the possibilities of change.

It is time to believe in the future.

It is time to believe in each other.

It is time to Believe In America.

This Is How We Are Going To Make America Great Again – For All Americans.

We Are Going To Make America Great Again For Everyone – Greater Than Ever Before.

Thank you.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2016/06/full-transcript-trump-job-plan-speech-224891#ixzz4D4zDJWJu
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Full Text Obama Presidency May 8, 2015: President Barack Obama’s Remarks on Trade at Nike

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President on Trade

Source: WH, 5-8-15

Nike, Inc.
Beaverton, Oregon

9:44 A.M. PDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Oregon!  (Applause.)  Well, who arranged this day?  (Applause.)  Every time I come to Oregon this is what it looks like.  (Laughter.)  Yeah!  It never rains in Oregon, does it?

AUDIENCE:  No!

THE PRESIDENT:  Never.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Don’t come to California.  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  All right.  Well, listen, it is wonderful to see all of you.  First of all, please give Mark another round of applause for his hospitality.  (Applause.)  And thanks to everyone at Nike for hosting us today, here in “Federer Platz.”  (Laughter.)  You know, the White House is cool.  (Laughter.)  We’ve got a basketball court — actually, it’s a tennis court that we repainted some lines — (laughter) — when I came into office.  So it’s a combination basketball-tennis court.  There is a putting green that President Eisenhower put in.  Can you imagine, by the way, if I had put in a putting green?  (Laughter.)  Things have changed.  (Laughter.)

But you’ve got all that and the 18th tee box from Pebble Beach.  (Applause.)  Come on.  I’m sure some of my staff is running around right now in the Michael Jordan and Mia Hamm buildings — (laughter) — they want to be lab rats for your new gear.  (Laughter.)

But it is wonderful to be here.  Please give it up for two people who fight every single day for Oregon workers — your Representatives in Congress — they do a great job — Earl Blumenauer and Suzanne Bonamici.  They are both here.  Give them a big round of applause.  (Applause.)  Yay!  And there are two people who couldn’t make it here today, but they’re doing a great job and you should give them a round of applause as well, and that’s Senator Ron Wyden and Representative Kurt Schrader.  (Applause.)

So it is great to be at the world headquarters of such an iconic company — a company that helps athletes succeed from the individual to the world stage.  And as you’ve heard, I’ve come to Oregon to talk a little bit about trade — which initially may have had some people thinking, what, is Mariota going someplace that we didn’t know about?  (Laughter.)  He’s going to be great. He’s an outstanding young man.  He’s going to be terrific — and from Hawaii, by the way.  (Applause.)  Local boy.

But this is important, and I want to tell you why I think trade deals and our willingness to go out there and compete on the global stage is so important.

Before I came out here, I had a chance to meet with some    small business owners from across Oregon, whose workers make everything from bikes to tea to stationery to wine.  And they know how important this is to them.  Sometimes when we talk about trade, we think of Nike, or we think of Boeing, or we think of G.E. — we think about these big multinational companies.  But those small business leaders came here today because they understood that these markets outside the United States will help them grow, and will help them hire more folks — just as all the suppliers to Nike or Boeing or G.E. or any of these other companies understand this is going to be critical to their growth and their ability to create new jobs.

In fact, that’s why Ron Wyden is not here — because he’s in Washington, D.C. as we speak quarterbacking this effort on behalf of Oregon’s small business owners and workers.

Now, small businesses are the backbone of our economy.  Eventually, like Nike, they grow sometimes into really, really big companies.  They employ millions of people; 98 percent of exporters are small businesses.  They’re the ones who make Made in Oregon and Made in the USA mean something.  And they represent something essential about this country — the notion that if you’ve got a good idea and you’re willing to work at it, you can turn that idea into a business, you can growth that business, and eventually, who knows what might happen.  You can give other people a chance to earn a living even as you do well.  That’s America’s promise.  And it’s up to us to keep that promise alive.

Now, that promise was threatened for almost everybody just about seven years ago, when the economy nearly collapsed, and millions of Americans lost their jobs and their homes and their life savings.  But thanks to the hard work of the American people and entrepreneurs like the ones who are here today — and some pretty good policies from my administration — (laughter) — we’re in a different place today.  (Applause.)  We’re in a different place today.

This morning, we learned that our economy created 223,000 new jobs last month.  (Applause.)  The unemployment rate ticked down again to 5.4 percent — which is the lowest it’s been in almost seven years.  (Applause.)  That’s 3 million new jobs over the past 12 months — nearly the fastest pace in over a decade.  And all told, over the past 62 months in a row, America’s businesses have created 12.3 million new jobs.

I should add, by the way, 62 months ago is when I signed the Affordable Care Act.  So, obviously, it hasn’t done too bad in terms of employment in this country.  (Applause.)  I just thought I’d mention that.  (Applause.)  Since there were a lot of predictions of doom and gloom, I would just suggest those who were making those predictions go back and check the statistics.  (Laughter.)  Just saying.  (Laughter.)

So small businesses deserve a lot of credit for that.  In fact, over the past several years, small businesses have created nearly two out of every three new American jobs.  And the question is, how do we build on that success?  We’ve got to be relentless in our efforts to support small businesses who are creating jobs and helping to grow the economy.

And that’s been the purpose behind many of the policies I’ve fought for as President.  I’ve cut taxes for small businesses more than a dozen times.  I’ve pushed for investments in infrastructure and faster Internet.  It’s why we’ve made health care more accessible, affordable, portable — to give people the freedom to change jobs or launch that startup without worrying about losing their health insurance.

And passing trade agreements is part of that agenda if those trade agreements are the right kinds of trade agreements; if they make sure that they’re growing our businesses, and helping American workers by selling goods Made in America across the rest of the world.

And I’ve been talking a lot about this lately, because I view smart trade agreements as a vital piece of middle-class economics.  Not a contradiction to middle-class economics, it’s a part and parcel of it.

I believe that our country does best when everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, everybody plays by the same set of rules.  And that means making sure everybody has got a good education.  It means making sure that women are getting paid the same as men for doing the same work.  (Applause.)  It means making sure that folks have to have sick leave and family leave and that they can balance work and family in a fair way.  It means, working to increase the minimum wage all across this country — because folks who have some of the toughest jobs oftentimes get the lowest pay.

That’s all part of middle-class economics, but, you know what, so is trade.  We strive to make sure our own economy lives up to high standards, but in a lot of parts of the world, the rules are unfair.  The playing field is uneven.  That puts American businesses and American workers at a disadvantage.  So the question is, what should we do about it?

Some folks think we should just withdraw and not even try to engage in trade with these countries.  I disagree.  We have to make sure America writes the rules of the global economy.  And we should do it today, while our economy is in the position of global strength.  (Applause.)  Because if we don’t write the rules for trade around the world — guess what — China will.  And they’ll write those rules in a way that gives Chinese workers and Chinese businesses the upper hand, and locks American-made goods out.

That’s the choice we face.  We’re not going to be able to isolate ourselves from world markets.  We got to be in there and compete.  And the question is, are we going to make sure that the rules are fair so that our businesses and our workers are on a level playing field.  Because when they are, we win every time.  When the rules are fair, we win every time.  (Applause.)

So this is why I’m such a strong supporter of new trade agreements.  They’re going to help our workers compete and our businesses compete.  This is not a left issue or a right issue, or a business or a labor issue.  It is about fairness and equity and access.  And like other issues that we’ve waged slow, steady fights on over the last seven years, this is also a question of the past versus the future.

So the Trans-Pacific Partnership that we’re working on, it’s the biggest trade deal that we’re working on right now — has to do with the Asia Pacific region.  And it reflects our values in ways that, frankly, some previous trade agreements did not.  It’s the highest-standard, most progressive trade deal in history.  It’s got strong, enforceable provisions for workers, preventing things like child labor.  It’s got strong, enforceable provisions on the environment, helping us to do things that haven’t been done before, to prevent wildlife trafficking, or deforestation, or dealing with our oceans.   And these are enforceable in the agreement.

And Nike operates in the Pacific region, so they understand the competitive pressures they’re under.  Nike has factories all around the world.  And let’s face it, Mark I think doesn’t mind me saying it that some of these countries, they don’t have the standards for wages and labor conditions that we have here.

So when you look at a country like Vietnam, under this agreement, Vietnam would actually, for the first time, have to raise its labor standards.  It would have to set a minimum wage. It would have to pass safe workplace laws to protect its workers. It would even have to protect workers’ freedom to form unions — for the very first time.  That would make a difference.  That helps to level the playing field — (applause) — and it would be good for the workers in Vietnam, even as it helps make sure that they’re not undercutting competition here in the United States.

So that’s progress.  It doesn’t mean that suddenly working conditions in Vietnam will be like they are here at Nike.  (Laughter.)  Or here in Portland right away.  But it moves us in the right direction.

And if Vietnam, or any of the other countries in this trade agreement don’t meet these requirements, they’ll face meaningful consequences.  If you’re a country that wants in to this agreement, you have to meet higher standards.  If you don’t, you’re out.  If you break the rules, there are actual repercussions.  And that’s good for American businesses and American workers, because we already meet higher standards than most of the rest of the world, and that helps level the playing field.

And this deal would strengthen our hand overseas by giving us the tools to open other markets to our goods and services and make sure they play by the fair rules we help write.  The truth is, we have one of the most open markets in the world.  Folks are already selling stuff here.  We got to be able to sell there.  That requires us to enter into trade agreements to open up their markets.

I hear Oregon wine is actually pretty good.  (Applause.)  Somebody told me that the pinot noir in Oregon is top-notch, right?  I’ve got some winemakers right here.  (Applause.)  Well, I want to make sure Japanese wine consumers have the opportunity to partake — (laughter) — in our excellent Oregon wine.

We got some Oregon beef producers and ranchers around here. (Applause.)  Beef is really expensive in Japan.  Let’s make sure they try some Oregon steaks.  (Applause.)  It’s good stuff.

And that’s one of the best things that can happen for our businesses and our workers — opening up markets that have previously been closed, particularly markets where they’re already selling stuff here.  There’s a lack of reciprocity.  It’s not a fair deal right now.  We want to make it fair.

Now, I want to acknowledge — because this looks like a very well-read and informed crowd — (laughter) — that there have been a bunch of critics about trade deals generally and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  And what’s interesting is typically they’re my friends, coming from my party, and they’re my fellow travelers on minimum wage and on job training and on clean energy.  On every progressive issue, they’re right there with me. And then on this one, they’re like whooping on me.  (Laughter.)

But I tell you what.  I’ve run my last election, and the only reason I do something is because I think it’s good for American workers and the American people and the American economy.  (Applause.)  I don’t have any other rationale for doing what I do than I think it’s the best thing for the American people.  And on this issue, on trade, I actually think some of my dearest friends are wrong.  They’re just wrong.  And here’s why.

First of all, they say that this trade agreement will cost American jobs.  And they’re really basing this on some past experience, looking at what happened in the ‘90s, over the last 20 years, as there was a lot of outsourcing going on.  And you know what, past trade agreements, it’s true, didn’t always reflect our values or didn’t always do enough to protect American workers.  But that’s why we’re designing a different kind of trade deal

And the truth is that companies that only care about low wages, they’ve already moved.  They don’t need new trade deals to move.  They’ve already outsourced.  They’ve already located in search of low wages.

What this trade agreement would do is open the doors to the higher-skill, higher-wage jobs of the future — jobs that we excel at.  It would make sure our manufacturers who are operating at the higher end of the value chain are able to access these growing markets.  And the fact is, over the past few years, our manufacturers have been steadily creating jobs for the first time since the 1990s — under my administration.  After more than a decade away from the top spot, business leaders around the world have declared the United States is the world’s number one place to invest for a third year in a row.  (Applause.)  Third year in a row.

So the point is, outsourcing is already giving way to insourcing.  Companies are starting to move back here to do more advanced manufacturing, and this is a trend we expect to continue.  This trade deal would help that.

Just this morning, as Mark may have mentioned, Nike announced that, with the Trans-Pacific Partnership, it will make new investments in advanced manufacturing — not overseas, but right here in the United States.  And far more Nike products would be made in the U.S.A.  (Applause.)  And that means thousands of new jobs in manufacturing and engineering and design at Nike facilities across the country, and potentially tens of thousands of new jobs along Nike’s supply chain here at home.  That’s what trade can do.  (Applause.)

Look, I’ve spent six and a half years trying to rescue this economy — six and a half years of trying to revitalize American manufacturing, including rescuing an American auto industry that was on its back and is now fully recovered.  So I would not risk any of that if I thought the trade deals were going to undermine it.  The reason I’m for this is because I think it will enhance it and advance it.  So that’s point number one.

Point number two — when you ask folks specifically, what do you oppose about this trade deal, they just say “NAFTA.”  NAFTA was passed 20 years ago.  That was a different agreement.  And in fact, this agreement fixes some of what was wrong with NAFTA by making labor and environmental provisions actually enforceable.  (Applause.)  I was just getting out of law school when NAFTA got passed.  (Laughter.)

Number three — you’ve got some critics saying that any deal would be rushed through; it’s a secret deal, people don’t know what’s in it.  This is not true.  Any agreement that we finalize with the other 11 countries will have to be posted online for at least 60 days before I even sign it.  Then it would go to Congress — and you know they’re not going to do anything fast.  (Laughter.)  So there will be months of review.  Every T crossed, every I dotted.  Everybody is going to be able to see exactly what’s in it.

There’s nothing fast-track about this.  This is a very deliberate track — (laughter) — which will be fully subject to scrutiny.  And I’m confident when people read the agreement for themselves, they’ll see that this is the most progressive trade deal in history.

Number four — critics warn that parts of this deal would undermine American regulation — food safety, worker safety, even financial regulations.  They’re making this stuff up.  (Applause.)  This is just not true.  No trade agreement is going to force us to change our laws.  This agreement would make sure our companies aren’t discriminated against in other countries.

We already treat companies from other countries fairly here. But our companies don’t always get treated fairly there.  So sometimes they need to have some way to settle disputes where it’s not subject to the whims of some government bureaucrat in that country.  That’s important.  We want our businesses to succeed in selling over there because that’s how our workers will get more jobs here in the United States.

And then finally, some critics talk about currency manipulation.  Now, this has been a problem in the past.  Some countries, they try to lower their currency so that it makes their goods cheaper, makes our more expensive.  There was a time when China was pretty egregious about this.  When I came into office, I started pounding on them.  Every time I meet with them, I’d be talking about currency.  And we pushed back hard, and China moved.  In real terms, their currency has appreciated about 30 percent since I came into office.  And we’re going to keep on going after it.  But that’s not an argument against this trade agreement.  If we give up the chance to help our businesses sell their stuff in the world’s fastest-growing markets, that doesn’t do anything to stop currency manipulation.

So the fact is, some folks are just opposed to trade deals out of principle, a reflexive principle.  And what I tell them is, you know what, if you’re opposed to these smart, progressive trade deals, then that means you must be satisfied with the status quo.  And the status quo hasn’t been working for our workers.  It hasn’t been working for our businesses.  And there are people here who will tell you why.

I’m going to just give you a couple of examples of small businesses who I had a chance to meet with today.  Egg Press is a Portland-based greeting card company.  (Applause.)  Really nice. They sell their cards in Australia, which is a member of this Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.  Their CEO, Tess Darrow — where’s Tess?  Raise your hand.  I saw her.  There she is.  (Applause.)  So Tess says that if they could more easily reach customers in Japan, as well, they’d sell half the volume that they do here in America.  That’s a lot.

Right now, the logistics of exporting to Japan are too complicated.  Products end up being held up for months at the border.  This agreement would help solve some of those problems so Tess can sell more greeting cards in Japan — presumably in Japanese.  (Laughter.)  Is there going to be — there will be a translation process, I assume.  Yes, absolutely.  I’m teasing.  (Laughter.)

So the trade deal would help eliminate barriers, and simplify customs, and hold countries accountable for getting products delivered swiftly.  The more Tess sells, the more she can grow, the more she can hire here in Oregon, here in the United States.

Oregon Fruit Products — makes canned fruits, berries, other products — depends on exports for 20 percent of its annual sales.  Right now, it exports to four members of this partnership that we’re putting together:  Japan, Australia, Singapore, and Canada.  Unfortunately, selling in these countries right now can mean dealing with unfair rules designed to prevent our products from being offered in their markets.  Under this agreement, that would change.  Exporting becomes simpler, more consistent.  That means more people around the world eating Oregon berries all year long.  Berry tasty.  (Applause.)

Sokol Blosser Winery — (applause) — we got a lot of drinkers here.  (Laughter.)  It’s a winery, family-run in Dayton, Oregon.  One of its top export markets is Japan.  Right now, there are high tariffs on American wine in that country.  Under this trade partnership, those tariffs would be eliminated, and wineries across America could see their sales grow overseas.  The brother–and-sister team that runs this vineyard — wave, guys — (applause) — they say, “If we can make it easier to do business with countries that are already our trading partners, countries that are allies, that’s a good thing.”

They’re right.  This deal would be a good thing.  So let’s “just do it.”  (Laughter and applause.)  It took a while for you to catch that, didn’t it?  (Laughter.)  I thought that was pretty obvious.  (Laughter.)

So, listen, I know a lot of folks who are skeptical about trade.  Past trade deals didn’t always live up to the hype.  Labor and environmental protections weren’t always strong enough. I saw for years, in Chicago and towns across Illinois, manufacturing collapsing, jobs drying up.  Outsourcing is real.  Folks didn’t just make that up.  Some of our manufacturing base shifted over the last 25 years, and it wasn’t good for manufacturing and it wasn’t good for those communities, and it wasn’t good for workers.  That’s the truth.  It had benefits — other jobs were created, we got cheaper goods.  But there was real displacement and real pain.  And so, for many Americans, this is not an abstraction; this is real.

But we’ve got to learn the right lessons from that.  The lesson is not that we pull up the drawbridge and build a moat around ourselves.  The lesson is, is that we’ve got to make sure that the trade deals that we do shape are ones that allow us to compete fairly.

So when I took office, I decided we could rethink the way we do trade in a way that actually works for working Americans.  I didn’t think this was the right thing to do just for companies.  If I didn’t think this was the right thing to do for working families, I would not be fighting for it.  If any agreement undercuts working families, I won’t sign it.  I ran for office to expand opportunity for everybody — the all-American idea that no matter who you are, or where you come from, or how you started out, or who you love, in America you can make it if you try.  (Applause.)

So, yes, we should be mindful of the past, but we can’t ignore the realities of the new economy.  We can’t stand on the beaches and stop the global economy at our shores.  We’ve got to harness it on our terms.  This century is built for us.  It’s about innovation.  It’s about dynamism and flexibility and entrepreneurship, and information and knowledge and science and research.  That’s us.  So we can’t be afraid of it; we’ve got to seize it.  We’ve got to give every single American who wakes up, sends their kids to school, rolls up their sleeves, punches in every day the chance to do what they do best:  dream up, innovate, build, sell the best products and ideas in the world to every corner of the world.  (Applause.)

Because, Nike, we do not just have the best athletes in the world.  We also have the best workers in the world.  (Applause.) We also have the best businesses in the world.  And when the playing field is level, nobody beats the United States of America.  (Applause.)  Nobody beats the United States of America.

Just do it, everybody.  Thank you.  God bless you.  Thank you, Oregon.  Thank you.  God bless America.  (Applause.)

END
10:14 A.M. PDT

Full Text Obama Presidency February 19, 2014: North American Leaders Summit Roundup

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS


OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

North American Leaders Summit Roundup

President Barack Obama delivers remarks alongside of President Enrique Peña Nieto and Prime Minister Stephen Harper during the North American Business, Civil Society and Education leaders during the North American Leaders Summit in Toluca, Mexico.President Barack Obama delivers remarks alongside President Enrique Peña Nieto and Prime Minister Stephen Harper to North American business, civil society, and education leaders during the North American Leaders’ Summit in Toluca, Mexico, Feb. 19, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

Full Text Obama Presidency February 19, 2014: President Obama, President Peña Nieto, and Prime Minister Harper’s Press Conference at Three Amigos Summit

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Press Conference by President Obama, President Peña Nieto, and Prime Minister Harper

Source: WH, 2-19-14

President Barack Obama delivers remarks alongside of President Enrique Peña Nieto and Prime Minister Stephen Harper during the North American Business, Civil Society and Education leaders during the North American Leaders Summit in Toluca, Mexico.President Barack Obama delivers remarks alongside President Enrique Peña Nieto and Prime Minister Stephen Harper to North American business, civil society, and education leaders during the North American Leaders’ Summit in Toluca, Mexico, Feb. 19, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

Patio Central
Palacio de Gobierno
Toluca, Mexico

7:25 P.M. CST

PRESIDENT PEÑA NIETO:  (As interpreted.)  Ladies and gentlemen, good evening.  Members of the media.  Your Excellency, President of the United States of America Barack Obama; Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper.  Once again, I would like to welcome you to our country.

It is a great honor to have hosted you for the North American Leaders Summit here in the State of Mexico, and Toluca, its capital city — a state that I had the great honor of being the governor of before I took office with the greatest honor in the world of politics, and that is to lead the course of my country.

That is why I am very glad that we have had the opportunity of having this meeting.  And I’d like to congratulate myself for creating a space where we have had dialogues, where we have outreach to our countries, and where we have strengthened our friendship.  I can be certain that the warm space where we have met is very different from what the teams of men and women representing Mexico in Sochi are having in Russia.  They are in very cold weather and fighting hard to win a medal.  So be welcome to this very warm weather.

I would like to summarize for the media and for your delegations the scope of our meetings.  I would like to share with you that we have two highlights in our meetings.  First we had a bilateral with President Barack Obama and with his delegation and their counterparts from Mexico to address the following, and I would like to share this with you.

First of all, we assessed the breakthroughs related to the agreements made during President Obama’s past visit in May to our country, and now during his fifth visit — and I must note that Mexico ranks top of the list of the most visited countries by President Obama during his term.  And we were able to identify the level of progress of the agreements made back then; how much we have advanced the exchange between high level officials to precisely boost the trade and commercial relationship that Mexico and the U.S. have.

We have also analyzed the possibility of setting forward new mechanisms to build and fund strategic projects.  We have agreed to work on a proposal that would help us find different mechanisms to fund projects so that we can give a new life to our infrastructure, to have more agile and have safer commercial transactions between our countries.

Specifically, we talked about education.  We have set the task to have more academic exchanges so that more Mexican students can study in the United States and, reciprocally, students from the United States come to Mexico to study.  The number of students so far is somehow low, considering the potential that we have.  And out of the 14,000 students from Mexico that go to the United States to study, we have set a goal and that is to increase year by year this figure and reach 100,000 students a year that visit the United States, and 50,000 students from the U.S. coming to Mexico to study.

We have revised our security agenda and we have agreed to maintain a strategic dialogue, to coordinate efforts so we can face a common issue — security in both of our countries and, specifically, security at the border.

On the other hand, I would like to refer to the outcome of the North American Leaders Summit.  Therefore, I would like to share with you highlights in terms of the agreements reached in this framework.  We have worked on four main topics.  The first one is to foster shared and inclusive prosperity.  We have agreed to work on a plan to boost competitiveness.  We also have agreed to work on a North America transport plan which would give us better infrastructure in our three countries to make the commerce that happens between our three nations thrive.

We also agreed to standardize and expedite all the procedures that take place in our customhouses.  We have also agreed to enable the movement of individuals, and by this have Trusted Travelers Programs.  We have, each one, a program of this nature with a purpose in mind that all the travelers that are part of the Trusted Travelers registers in our countries are considered as a vetted traveler in North America.

Additionally, in terms of the second topic, we have addressed areas of opportunity.  And I must insist, in terms of our binational agenda with the United States, we have added up Canada to work on a program to train professionals by increasing our academic exchanges and ensuring mobility of students between our three countries.

We have also agreed to foster sustainable development, working towards the mitigation of the effects of climate change. And in the area of sustainability, we have also agreed to work on the preservation of the Monarch butterfly.  It is a landmark species in North America.  This is a species present in our three countries, and we have agreed to work a taskforce with a presentation from our three countries to preserve the Monarch butterfly.

Then, another topic is citizen security and regional topics. We have agreed to give privilege to the exchange of information, and we have also privilege to coordinate efforts between law enforcement authorities.  We will reinforce the measures aimed to fight money laundering and illicit financial flows.  And for that purpose we need to integrate our financial systems further.

We have also restated our commitment to support and cooperate with the Central America region as well as the Caribbean because they are partners in this hemisphere.  We have committed to foster development, economic growth and citizen security as well.

Basically, I have summarized the commitments made during the summit.  And fourthly, we have committed, the three of us, to give follow-up to all the agreements made.  Besides making agreements, we have committed to give follow-up to each one of those agreements and we have committed to make them happen.

Finally, I would like to share with you that in order to reach our goals we need to identify that North America is quite valuable.  The Free Trade Agreement executed 20 years ago and the intense dialogue that we have between our three countries in the North American region is very valuable and every exchange is based on trust.  And we share a very good relationship between all of us who lead our countries.

This North America Leaders Summit has been a very good opportunity to specify what our commitments will be and what are the tasks for the future.  And it has also served as a space to restate our friendship, the good relationship that we have and the respect that we pay to each other.  And we have committed to work hard to make a significant contribution, to make North America a more competitive region — I would dare to say the most competitive region in the world.  And this is a region that has a true call for prosperity.  And we will work to provide better well-being to the citizens of our countries.

We have made great strides.  We create plenty of jobs due to the economic relationship that we have managed to achieve, but we want more.  We want more development.  We are aware of the potential that we find in North America.  And I make a pledge so that the seventh summit of leaders of North America serves its purpose.

Once again, we welcome, and I would like to say that I hope you have had a very pleasant stay in Toluca and I hope that this visit has been very fruitful.  And I hope that we have been able to build an even stronger relationship.

Thank you.  (Applause.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Buenas noches to President Peña Nieto.  To the people of Toluca and the people of Mexico, thank you so much for your extraordinary hospitality.  Thank you again, Enrique, for welcoming us to your hometown and home state, which — like the beautiful surroundings tonight — reflects Mexico’s proud history as well as the economic dynamism of today’s Mexico.

I want to thank President Peña Nieto and Prime Minister Harper for their partnership in deepening the extraordinary ties between our countries — especially the trade that supports good jobs for our people.  For the United States, Canada and Mexico are two of our largest trading partners with trade that supports millions of American jobs.  Thanks in part to our efforts to boost U.S. exports, American exports to Canada and Mexico continue to grow faster than our exports to the rest of the world.

Together, our countries have strengths that give North America a tremendous competitive advantage — the skills of our workers, manufacturing that’s growing, and new sources of energy. So we have to take advantage of these competitive advantages, and we need to do it together.  All of this positions us to be a powerhouse in the global economy.  And that’s why we’re here, to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to be more competitive and create more jobs in Canada, in Mexico, and in the United States.

First, we’re focused on making it easier to trade.  Earlier today, I signed a new executive order to make it easier for companies that want to export and import.  Instead of dealing with dozens of different federal agencies and long paper forms, we’re going to create a one-stop shop online, so companies can submit all their information in one place and save themselves time and money.  We’re going to keep investing in infrastructure — like roads, bridges, border crossings — so our goods are getting to market faster.  We’ve agreed to keep working to make it easier for our businesspeople and tourists to trade and travel.  And we’re going to step up our efforts to streamline and eliminate regulations or the red tape that can sometimes stifle trade and job creation.

We’ve agreed to keep working to complete negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, including strong protections for our workers and the environment, so that we can compete in the fast-growing markets of the Asia Pacific.  And because it will grow the U.S. economy and make the United States more attractive to investment — and because we have to do right by our families and our values — I’ve reiterated that immigration reform remains one of my highest priorities.

I’m also very pleased that we’ve agreed to keep expanding educational partnerships, as Enrique mentioned, so our young people develop the skills they need to succeed in the global economy.  And this builds on my initiative that we call 100,000 Strong in the Americas.  We want more students from the United States studying throughout the hemisphere, and we want more students from places like Mexico and Canada studying in the United States — so that they’re developing familiarity and partnerships and friendships that will serve them and serve our countries well for decades to come.

Second, we continue to deepen our clean-energy partnerships, which create jobs and combat climate change.  Yesterday, I announced that the United States will develop new fuel economy standards for heavy-duty trucks — standards that reduce carbon pollution.  And today, all three of our nations have agreed to work together to meet high fuel standards for these heavy-duty trucks.

And more broadly, we agreed to join with our Central American and Caribbean partners on a regional energy strategy.   And this builds on the commitment I made in Central America last year to help our partners across the region reduce their energy costs and become more competitive.  On a global level, we agreed to keep standing together as we push for an international agreement to phase down the production and consumption of dangerous hydrofluorocarbons.

Number three, we know that realizing our full potential as individual countries and as a region means confronting the criminals and narcotraffickers who unleashed so much violence on our citizens.  Here in Mexico, the security forces and the Mexican people continue to make enormous sacrifices in that fight, and our three nations are united against this threat.  In the United States, we continue to be committed to reduce the demand for illegal drugs and we’ll continue our unprecedented efforts to combat the southbound flow of illegal guns and cash.

And, finally, given our shared commitment to democratic values and human rights, I want to take this opportunity to address the situation in Venezuela and Ukraine, and the unacceptable violence in those two countries, which the United States strongly condemns.

In Venezuela, rather than trying to distract from its own failings by making up false accusations against diplomats from the United States, the government ought to focus on addressing the legitimate grievances of the Venezuelan people.  So, along with the Organization of American States, we call on the Venezuelan government to release protestors that it’s detained and engage in real dialogue.  And all parties have an obligation to work together to restrain violence and restore calm.

With regard to Ukraine, along with our European partners, we will continue to engage all sides.  And we continue to stress to President Yanukovych and the Ukrainian government that they have the primary responsibility to prevent the kind of terrible violence that we’ve seen, to withdraw riot police, to work with the opposition to restore security and human dignity and move the country forward.  And this includes progress towards a multiparty technical government that can work with the international community on a support package and adopt reforms necessary for free and fair elections next year.

Ukrainians are a proud and resilient people who’ve overcome extraordinary challenges in their history, and that’s a pride and strength that I hope they draw on now.  Meanwhile, I’ve urged the military in Ukraine to show restraint and to let civilians pursue the dialogue necessary for progress.  We’ve obviously seen reports of a truce between the government and the opposition.  If the truce is implemented, it could provide space for the sides to resolve their disagreements peacefully.

And going forward, we’ll continue to do whatever we can to support Ukrainians as they seek a peaceful resolution and respond to the aspirations of the Ukrainian people for a strong, unified democracy that’s fully integrated into the international community.

So, again, I want to thank Enrique and the people of Mexico, and the people of Toluca, for their wonderful hospitality.  If we stay focused on our shared vision — a North America that’s more integrated and more competitive — then progress in each of our countries will mean more prosperity and opportunity for everyone.

Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

PRIME MINISTER HARPER:  (As interpreted.)  Allow me to start out by thanking President Peña Nieto for his generous hospitality.  We have had a wonderful stay in this wonderful country, in Mexico, and we are eager to come back soon.

Today, I had fruitful meetings and dialogues with my commercial partners from Mexico in regard to services, information, and also shared and fundamental values and, of course, a democratic and peaceful world.

Today, we celebrate the 20th anniversary of NAFTA.  As time can tell us, this treaty was successful, and it started guaranteeing prosperity from one extreme to the other of the hemisphere.  The volume of exchanges is fourfold now, and is over $30 billion.  And we have now seen exponential growth and can hope for exponential growth in years to go.

We are in agreement to say that we can still grow the success of NAFTA, to implement new ways, for instance, in regard to the Trans-Pacific alliance.  And so these negotiations should be for the best.  We need to create employment.  This is the key to revitalize the economy and to foster prosperity not only for the Canadian populations, but for our populations at large.

That’s why our government will keep on working and expanding the free trade and commerce with our main partners in North America, as well as with Asia Pacific region and worldwide, since we want to have access on the other side of the Atlantic, since we have subscribed to the free exchange agreement with Europe.

Today, President Obama, President Peña Nieto and myself have discussed and have delved into many topics, especially the state of the world economy at a local, regional level, and competiveness — North American competitiveness.  We are truly enthusiastic to collaborate, with this idea of collaborating together.  We shall keep on working together with my homologues [counterparts] and to take a profit of all the occasions for the well-being of our populations.  And we will host the forthcoming population of the summit in Canada.

And I would like to add a word in regard to the situation in Ukraine.  There’s been a truce, but it is essential that we take action.  And at the end of the day, the Ukrainian government has to be held responsible for settling this situation.  The Ukrainian government took actions — actions that were not only unpopular, but actions that put at risk nature and the aspirations of becoming an independent nation.

(In English.)  My sincere thanks to President Peña Nieto and the Mexican people for their generous hospitality.  We’ve had a wonderful time here in beautiful Mexico, and I look forward to returning again soon.

Today we had productive meetings with Canada’s closest friends and trading partners — partners with whom we share goods, services and information, and also fundamental values and a vision for a democratic and peaceful world.

This year we mark the 20th anniversary of the North American Free Trade Agreement.  And as only time can reveal, the agreement — statistics alone — has been overwhelmingly successful and is responsible for creating prosperity from the bottom to the top of the continent.  There has been a fourfold growth in trilateral trade over the last 20 years that now exceeds a trillion dollars. And it is estimated that the NAFTA marketplace will continue to expand exponentially in the decades to come.

We all agree that there is enormous potential to build on the success of NAFTA in new ways, for example, most notably through the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  We’re therefore focused on bringing those negotiations to a successful conclusion.

Developing trade is one of the keys to job creation.  It is a key to economic vitality, and it is a key to long-term prosperity not just for the Canadian people, but for all of our peoples.  That’s why our government will continue to work to expand trade with our two core trading partners in North America, in the Asia Pacific region more generally, and around the world  — just as we did last year, when we expanded our access across the Atlantic through the conclusion of the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement.

In our meetings today, Presidents Peña Nieto, Obama and I discussed a range of topics as have already been detailed by my colleagues, including the state of the global economy, international regional security, and North American competitiveness.  We share a genuine enthusiasm for closer collaboration.

The Presidents and I will continue to work together to address the challenges of the 21st century and to seize the many promising opportunities that the future holds for our peoples.  And I do look forward to hosting the next North American Leaders Summit in Canada.

And I’d also just like to conclude with a word on the situation in Ukraine.  We obviously are encouraged to hear the news of a truce.  While this is good news, this kind of news, these kinds of words are only meaningful if they are put into action.  And ultimately, it is the regime that is responsible for resolving the current situation.  It is the regime that created this situation — not by taking decisions that were merely unpopular, but by undertaking decisions that went against the very nature and aspirations of Ukraine as an independent state.  And for that reason, we hold the government responsible and urge them to take all the steps necessary to resolve the situation and to put Ukraine back on the democratic and Euro-Atlantic path that the Ukrainian people desire.  (Applause.)

MODERATOR:  (As interpreted.)  We will have a round of questions.  Jason McDonald will introduce the Canadian journalist asking the question.

MR. MCDONALD:  Omar Sachedina from CTV News.

Q    Mr. President, good evening to you.  Canada has offered to work with the United States on joint rules to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the oil and gas sector.  You’ve said the Keystone XL pipeline won’t be approved if it significantly worsens climate change.  The State Department report has concluded that Keystone will not have a significant effect on climate change.  So my question to you is, what more needs to be done on both sides of the border for this project to go ahead?

And, Prime Minister, I’d love for you to be able to weigh on this as well.  Et en français aussi, s’il vous plaît.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, as I’ve stated previously, there is a process that has been gone through, and I know it’s been extensive, and at times I’m sure Stephen feels a little too laborious.  But these are how we make these decisions about something that could potentially have a significant impact on America’s national economy and our national interests.

So the State Department has gone through its review.  There is now a comment period in which other agencies weigh in.  That will be evaluated by Secretary of State Kerry, and we’ll make a decision at that point.

In the meantime, Stephen and I, during a break after lunch, discussed a shared interest in working together around dealing with greenhouse gas emissions.  And this is something that we have to deal with.  I said previously that how Keystone impacted greenhouse gas emissions would affect our decision, but, frankly, it has to affect all of our decisions at this stage, because the science is irrefutable.  We’re already seeing severe weather patterns increase.  That has consequences for our businesses, for our jobs, for our families, for safety and security.  It has the potential of displacing people in ways that we cannot currently fully anticipate, and will be extraordinarily costly.

So I welcome the work that we can do together with Canada.  One of the wonderful things about North America is we have this amazing bounty of traditional fossil fuels, and we also have extraordinary businesses that are able to extract them in very efficient ways.  And that’s something that we should welcome because it helps to promote economic growth.  But we only have one planet, and so I believe that ultimately we can both promote economic development and growth, recognizing that we’re not going to immediately transition off of fossil fuels, but that we do have to point to the future and show leadership so that other countries who will be the main emitters fairly soon — China, India, other emerging markets — so that they can look at what we’re doing and we have leverage over them in terms of them improving their practices as well.

So this will be a joint effort.  I’m very eager to consult with Stephen around those issues.  And Keystone will proceed along the path that’s already been set forth.

PRIME MINISTER HARPER:  Let me just say a couple of things. First of all, obviously, President Obama and I had an exchange on this.  My views in favor of the project are very well known.  His views on the process are also equally well known.  And we had that discussion and will continue on that discussion.

I would just say two things about the process.  First, on the issue of climate change, which is a shared concern, Canada and the United States have similar targets at the international level.  We already cooperate in several sectors in terms of emissions reductions.  But in terms of climate change, I think the State Department report already was pretty definitive on that particular issue.

The other thing I’d just draw attention to, just because I think it’s useful to point out the benefits to Canada, is the reform that we had done of environmental review and assessments of projects in Canada.  As you know, a couple years ago we moved to reform our system so that we have a single review wherever possible — a single review, a multi-dimensional review that happens over a fixed timeline.  And I think that is a process that is tremendously useful in giving investors greater certainty in terms of the kind of plans they may have in the Canadian economy.

(As interpreted.)  And now I shall repeat my comments in French.  (Speaks in French.)

MODERATOR:  From the traveling U.S. press, goes to Jim Kuhnhenn of the Associated Press.

Q    Señor Presidente, muchas gracias.  Ha sido un placer.  Prime Minister — do you worry that longstanding opposition to trade deals in the U.S. from both the President’s party and some Republicans pose a threat to the Trans-Pacific Partnership?  And do you — in your mind, is it essential that Congress approve it, or at least give the President fast track authority this year, or can it wait until after the U.S. elections in November?

Mr. President, if you’d like to chime in on that as well — you mentioned parochial interest today; I’d be interested in how you intend to bring your Democrats along.  But I had a question for you on something else that you raised.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  How many questions do you got, Jim?

Q    Just one, sir.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Okay.  (Laughter.)  Because you know I’ve got to answer that one, too, right?  That was a pretty slick move.  (Laughter.)

Q    The common denominator in the strife in Ukraine and Syria is the support that those two governments get from Russia, and I’m wondering, sir, if you believe that President Putin bears some responsibility for the intransigence of those two regimes.  And to some degree, has this gone beyond just those two countries, and has it become a tug of war between two world powers?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Let me answer very briefly on the trade issue.  It’s not accurate, Jim, to say that my party opposes this trade deal.  There are elements of my party that oppose this trade deal, there are elements of my party that oppose the South Korea free trade agreement, the Colombia free trade agreement and the Panama free trade agreement — all of which we passed with Democratic votes.

So what I’ve said to President Peña Nieto and Prime Minister Harper is we’ll get this passed if it’s a good agreement.  And the key at this point is to make sure that our countries, which hold ourselves up as champions of free trade, resolve our legitimate national interests in these negotiations so that we can present a united front against a number of the other participants in the TPP negotiations who don’t have as much of a tradition of free trade.  And that is to our advantage, precisely because North America has this amazing competitive advantage, and we are already relatively open markets.

And part of our goal here is to make sure that the Asia Pacific region — which is growing faster than anyplace else in the world, has a larger population than anyplace else in the world — that they have a model of trade that is free and fair and open and allows our businesses to compete and allows our workers to make goods and deliver services that those markets are purchasing.  And we can only do that if we raise the bar in terms of what our trade models look like.

And I’ve said this to some of my own constituents who are opposed to trade:  Those who are concerned about losing jobs or outsourcing need to understand some of the old agreements put us at a disadvantage.  That’s exactly why we’ve got to have stronger agreements that protect our intellectual property, that open up markets to our agricultural products; that make sure that when it comes to government procurement or sovereign wealth funds in these other countries, that they’re not taking advantage of our businesses and preventing us from competing there.  That’s exactly why we’ve got to get this done.  And I’m very appreciative of the shared vision and commitment that Prime Minister Harper and President Enrique Peña Nieto have on this issue.

Now, with respect to Syria and the Ukraine, I do think it is worth noting that you have in this situation one country that has clearly been a client state of Russia, another whose government is currently — been supported by Russia; where the people obviously have a very different view and vision for their country.  And we’ve now seen a great deal of turmoil there that arose organically from within those countries.

I don’t think there’s a competition between the United States and Russia.  I think this is an expression of the hopes and aspirations of people inside of Syria and people inside of the Ukraine who recognize that basic freedoms — freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, fair and free elections, the ability to run a business without paying a bribe, to not be discriminated against because of your religion or your beliefs — that those are fundamental rights that everybody wants to enjoy.

Now, Mr. Putin has a different view on many of those issues, and I don’t think that there’s any secret on that.  And our approach as the United States is not to see these as some Cold War chessboard in which we’re in competition with Russia.  Our goal is to make sure that the people of Ukraine are able to make decisions for themselves about their future, that the people of Syria are able to make decisions without having bombs going off and killing women and children, or chemical weapons, or towns being starved because a despot wants to cling to power.

Those express our values and our national interests, and we will continue to express those national interests.  There are times, I hope, where Russia will recognize that over the long term they should be on board with those values and interests as well.  Right now, there are times where we have strong disagreements.  And when I speak to Mr. Putin, I’m very candid about those disagreements, even as we will continue to pursue cooperation with Russia on areas where we had shared concerns.

But I want to emphasize this:  The situation that happened in Ukraine has to do with whether or not the people of Ukraine can determine their own destiny.  And my government and Vice President Biden, and I personally, have expressed to President Yanukovych the need for him to recognize the spirit of the Ukrainian people and work with that, as opposed to trying to repress it.  And so we’ll continue to stand on the side of the people.

My hope is, at this point, that a truce may hold, but Stephen is exactly right — ultimately, the government is responsible for making sure that we shift towards some sort of unity government, even if it’s temporary, that allows us to move to fair and free elections so that the will of the Ukrainian people can be rightly expressed without the kinds of chaos we’ve seen on the streets and without the bloodshed that all of us I think strongly condemn.

PRIME MINISTER HARPER:  On the issue of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, as I said, we are wanting to see and committed to seeing a good, comprehensive Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.  I think it’s in all of our interest for the reasons that have already been laid out.  That said, the government of Canada’s position is always clear in these matters that we will only come to an agreement when we are convinced the agreement is in the best interest of Canada.  And we will stay at the table as long as it takes to get to that particular situation.

And I think we have the track record to prove it.  Our government, the current government of Canada, has signed more trade agreements than all previous Canadian governments combined. What I would say is this — I’m not going to comment on the process in Congress.  What I would say is this — the reason I said what I said about working until we get an agreement that is in the interest of Canada is we will have to have an agreement that can be sold to the Canadian Parliament and ultimately to the Canadian people.  And that’s what we’re aiming for.

(The Prime Minister repeats his remarks in French.)

PRESIDENT PEÑA NIETO:  (As interpreted.)  The Mexican stand has been very clear, and specifically our take on the TPP have always stated it, it is of the interest of Mexico.  We have been part of the negotiation rounds to eventually reach an agreement of this important opportunity that the TPP offers.  We can expand the potential of North America into the Asia Pacific region.  Mexico would do its best for the sake of Mexico to be on the side of the solution.  We will overcome disagreements and eventual roadblocks that the negotiation rounds present.  And we hope that it is this spirit that we reach the agreement.

Mexico has made a commitment and has shown political will to be part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  We hope that the deal happens.  That is the Mexican stand, and we will work to the best of our ability to reach this goal.

Now, on behalf of Mexico, Miguel Reyes Razo, from the Mexican Editorial Organization, will ask a question.

Q    (As interpreted.)  Good evening, everyone.  By virtue of the fact that we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the efforts made by Mexico, the United States and Canada, we have NAFTA for 20 years.  I would like to ask Enrique Peña Nieto, the President of my country, what is the outlook of the northern part of this continent in terms of development?  And at the same time, Mr. President Peña Nieto, I would like to know, what are the challenges for the development that we have hoped for, that we are expecting?

And I would like to ask the President of the United States of America, Mr. Obama, and Mr. Harper, the Prime Minister of Canada — what is the engagement that we should expect from you? What is your actual commitment to make this region, North America, thrive in economical terms?  Now, we have 13 months and a half of your administration, Mr. Enrique Peña Nieto.  And you, Canada and the United States, partners and neighbors of this country, what is your take?  What is your take on this 13 months and a half of the Mexican President?  Thank you very much for your reply.

PRESIDENT PEÑA NIETO:  (As interpreted.)  Mr. Miguel, I believe that we have been very candid in terms of the huge strength that we see in North America after 20 years of the free trade agreement.  Our trade has been able to thrive.  We have more commercial exchanges.  We have more investment in the region.

And today we have integrated added value chains between our three countries.  That means that we are adding value to products that are offered in this great market.  We are fully aware of the economic growth since, so far, we are fully aware of the creation of jobs in North America.  That is why we have committed in this summit to take on actions that would help us strengthen our economic ties even further.  We have committed to enable trade, to have better infrastructure, to have safer exchanges, and to make our trade be easier.  So these are the agreements that we have made today.

And we have also acknowledged the enormous potential.  And the future that we see in the horizon would be based on the strengths that we have built upon over the course of the last 20 years.  And let us acknowledge that we are three countries that we are like-minded in terms of our values.  We are three democratic countries.  We are three countries who believe in free trade.  And our countries have found in this instrument a space to create jobs and to have more development in our nations.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, as we’ve said I think throughout our meetings today, America’s success, Mexico’s success, Canadian success are all bound together.  I think that if you just look at the facts, Mexico has made enormous strides over the last several decades.  And, in part, that is because we’ve seen a greater integration of Mexico in the world economy.  I think the United States and Canada have played constructive roles in that.  Our ability to trade and engage in commerce with Mexico obviously has created jobs and opportunities in our country, as well.  And so it has been a mutually beneficial partnership — based on self-interest, but also as Enrique said, based on common values.

We’ve seen a consolidation of democracy here in Mexico, and I think the kinds of reforms that Enrique has initiated over the last 13 months are ones that will put Mexico in an even stronger competitive footing in the world economy in the years to come.

And I recognize there are still implementation issues that will be involved, and there will be a healthy debate here in Mexico, but I’m confident, given the talent of the Mexican people, given the resources of the Mexican people, given the growing capacity of Mexican businesses, and given the fact that we, as a North American entity, constitutes a huge trading bloc and economic powerhouse around the world, that we should anticipate Mexico’s growth to continue, standards of living to continue, jobs and opportunities to continue.  And that’s what we hope for all our countries.

I’m confident that the partnership that we’ve developed is good for the United States, creates jobs in the United States, helps businesses in the United States.  And if we continue to cooperate and try to reduce some of the barriers that have in the past slowed down our commercial exchanges, as well as educational exchanges and scientific exchanges, then we’re going to be successful.

PRIME MINISTER HARPER:  (As interpreted.)  Allow me, this is our perspective.  While Canada has seen great success, but the development of Mexico throughout this time period that is 20 years has been unbelievable, socially, economically, politically. And Mexico is becoming a world of power.  And we see this accelerating process with the support of President Peña Nieto.

You have made comments on the challenges to meet.  I think that the greatest one is the need to keep on increasing the flow of goods and services and information across our borders at a time where risks and threats to security are also increased across the borders.  And that will be the greatest challenge to meet.

(In English.)  Look, I think the NAFTA relationship, as I’ve said before, has been tremendously successful for all of us. But I think, looking back 20 years, the development of Mexico on all levels — economic, social, political — over the period has been incredible.  It’s a process that is accelerating under President Peña Nieto’s very bold vision for the future, and Mexico is increasingly becoming a global economic player.

You asked about challenges.  I think the biggest single challenge is in an era where we are seeing and need to see even greater movement of goods, services, people, investments, information flows across our borders, that at the same time, the risks and the threats to security across those borders continue to rise.  So the big challenge will be how we continue to grow that human and trade flow, while at the same time minimizing the risks.

MODERATOR:  (As interpreted) President Peña Nieto, would you like to take the floor so you can officially close this meeting?

PRESIDENT PEÑA NIETO:  (As interpreted.)  Yes, I will.  Thank you very much.

Once again, I would like to congratulate myself for this summit.  We have built a climate that is based on trust, respect, and we have worked towards a relationship that it’s very clear in terms of the responsibilities of each one of the heads of state. And I am certain that this relationship will result in a greater integration, a stronger friendship, and whatever we do for the sake of North America will benefit our peoples.

I would like to bear testimony of how grateful I am towards the authorities of the state, the Governor of the State of Mexico, Eruviel Ávila.  I’d like to thank you for enabling the summit to take place here.  I would like to thank the Chief Justice of the State of Mexico.  They provided us with their facilities.

And I would like to thank the inhabitants of the capital city of the State of Mexico, Toluca, for their hospitality.  I thank them.  And I’d like to thank all of them for the inconveniences and all the preparation work and all the security operations needed for the summit.  I’m very grateful towards them.  And I’m very grateful for the hospitality given to the President of the United States, Barack Obama; and the Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper.

Thank you very much and have a safe trip home.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

END
8:20 P.M. CST

Full Text Obama Presidency February 19, 2014: President Obama, President Peña Nieto, and Prime Minister Harper’s Speech to North American Business, Civil Society and Education Leaders at Three Amigos Summit

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Travels to Mexico for the North American Leaders’ Summit

Source: WH, 2-19-14

President Barack Obama delivers remarks alongside of President Enrique Peña Nieto and Prime Minister Stephen Harper during the North American Business, Civil Society and Education leaders during the North American Leaders Summit in Toluca, Mexico.President Barack Obama delivers remarks alongside President Enrique Peña Nieto and Prime Minister Stephen Harper to North American business, civil society, and education leaders during the North American Leaders’ Summit in Toluca, Mexico, Feb. 19, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

Today, the President traveled to Toluca, Mexico for this year’s North American Leaders’ Summit, along with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper….READ MORE

Remarks by President Obama, President Peña Nieto, and Prime Minister Harper to North American Business, Civil Society and Education Leaders

Source: WH, 2-19-14 

Salon del Pueblo
Palacio de Gobierno
Toluca, Mexico

5:03 P.M. CST

PRESIDENT PEÑA NIETO:  (As interpreted.)  Your Excellency, Barack Obama, President of the United States of America; Your Excellency, Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada; ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests:  We are here gathered with representatives from the public, the private, and the social sectors.  All of you have walked along with us in the construction road to a more competitive North America.  And by this, we will have a higher level of development for our peoples.

Members of the media, Mexico welcomes you with open arms to celebrate the North America Leaders Summit, Toluca 2014.  Besides being Toluca, my hometown, this is the place where I was entrusted by the citizens to serve as the governor of this state, the state of Mexico.  The state of Mexico is a clear symbol of the productive integration of North America due to its geographic location and its connectivity.  Here we have seen the settlement of advanced automobile facilities and very important logistic hubs.  Both are a true example of value chains, global value chains that make North America excel.

That is why, from Toluca, the three leaders of North America confirm today our commitment to position our region as one of the most dynamic and competitive of the whole world.

I celebrate the fact that we have gathered here with prominent representatives from the academia, from the private sector, and from the civil society from North America.  Your contribution has been vital to bring Canada, the U.S. and Mexico closer.  With a clear vision in mind, all of you pushed from the onset the great idea that gathers us today — an integrated North America with goals and shared efforts.

(Drop in audio feed.)

Once, the Free Trade Agreement area was the largest free trade area with an unprecedented push of trade exchanges, regional investment, and the creation of millions of jobs.  With the same innovative spirit, two decades after, we are bound to go beyond and enhance all together the progress that each one of our countries has made, because individually all our countries have moved forward as well.

Therefore, the principal topics of this seventh summit are very clear:  First, inclusive and shared prosperity.  Number two, new opportunity areas.  Number three, citizen security.  And fourth, regional and global topics.  It is upon these four topics today we will work together to boost the economic growth of our countries and a generation of quality jobs, and by this, increase the wellbeing of our societies.

Ladies and gentlemen, Canada, the United States and Mexico share strengths that make us move forward.  We are a community of more than 450 million inhabitants where talent and creativity of our peoples excel.  Trade exchanges from the three countries are over $1 trillion; in Spanish we use billions, in English we use trillions.  We have the support and thrive of our entrepreneurs and the capabilities of technological innovation coming from our universities and large companies.

We have principles, we have institutions that make us be solid democracies.  We have natural resources, endless natural resources and new opportunities so we can take advantage of them sustainably.

All of these are factors that lay a solid groundwork for North America’s region, and this is how we will make it a more attractive and competitive region in the world for the upcoming years.  I would like to invite you, respectfully, so that each one of us from the area where you have the responsibility to act, let’s make North America a more competitive and a more prosperous region for the sake of the inhabitants of our countries.

Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Good afternoon.  Buenas tardes.  Bonjour.  I want to thank Enrique for his extraordinary hospitality and for bringing us here to his beautiful home city.  I want to thank the people of Toluca and of Mexico for your great hospitality.

We’re all here on business, which means I’m not here as long as I’d like.  I have not, for example, sampled some of Toluca’s legendary chorizo.  (Laughter.)  And hopefully the next time I stop by, I’m going to be able to have some of that.

All of us — Stephen, Enrique and I — are focused on how we can deepen what are already incredible ties between our three nations.  And I appreciate that all of you are here today, because governments cannot do it alone.  The strength of the relationship between Canada, Mexico and the United States is not just a matter of government policy; it’s not just a matter of legislation.  There is an incredible richness to the relationship that comes from our people, from our businesses, from our commercial ties, from the students who are traveling back and forth, from the cultures that are shared between us.

And that strength is in some ways unique throughout the world.  If you think about North America, to have three borders this long in which we share a common set of values, a common set of principles, a commitment to democracy, a commitment to free markets, a commitment to trade where we are allies and interact peacefully, that is a precious gift.  And it’s one that I think all three of us are committed to building and nurturing for future generations.

And for me this is very personal.  Some of my closest advisors and allies and political friends are the children of Mexican immigrants who have made an extraordinary life and contribution in the United States.  My brother-in-law is Canadian, so you know I have to like Canadians — (laughter) — although I will note that I think we are going to have both the men’s hockey teams and the women’s hockey teams battling it out.  (Laughter.)  So for a very brief period of time, I may not feel as warm towards Canadians as I normally do — at least until those matches are over.

But each of you experiences these connections in very concrete ways.  Enrique already spoke about the volume of trade that takes place, and the interactions between our businesses, and the subsidiaries of companies in each country that are operating in the other.  And so much of the cross-border trade that exists is part of an integrated supply chain that allows us, all three of us as countries, to successfully sell our products and services all around the world.

And so we have every incentive to make this work.  And so a lot of our conversation has focused on how do we reduce any continuing trade frictions; how do we make sure that our borders are more efficient; how do we make sure that the educational exchanges between our young people are expanded so that our young people understand their opportunities will be brighter and expanded if in fact they’ve had the opportunity to study in Canada or to study in Mexico, if they know Spanish, if they know French.

And we use these forums to make concrete progress.  Our staffs work incredibly hard to make them successful.  But, frankly, until our leaders come around, until the three of us meet, sometimes it doesn’t all get done.  And this becomes a forcing mechanism for us to move forward on commercial progress, joint security progress, progress on educational and scientific exchanges.

But — and this is the last point I want to emphasize — there are always going to be parochial interests in each of our countries, so that’s appropriate and that will express itself politically, and we have to be responsive to our own constituencies.  If, in fact, we’re going to continue to build and strengthen the ties between our three countries, then you can’t just leave it to politicians alone.  All of you are going to have to speak out and speak up on the importance of this relationship.

We want to make sure that we’re your partners and allies in this process, but when people understand what this means in terms of job creation in the United States, job creation in Canada, job creation in Mexico, how this relationship enhances our security, how it improves our capacity to heat our homes and grow our food and make sure that young people have opportunities in the future — when they hear that from you, it’s that much more persuasive.

And so I would encourage all of you to continue to make your voices heard.  You’ll have certainly a partner in me, and I’m sure that you’ll have a partner in Stephen and Enrique as well.

I thank you for participating here today.  And once again, Enrique, thank you for the extraordinary hospitality in this beautiful state and this beautiful city.  Muchas gracias.  (Applause.)

PRIME MINISTER HARPER:  Bon après-midi.  Buenas tardes.  Good afternoon, everybody — wonderful day and we’re delighted to be here in Toluca.  And it’s easy to see why you’re so proud of your hometown.  It’s a wonderful spot here.

And, Barack, it’s always great to see you.  And I like my brothers-in-law, too.  (Laughter.)  And I’ll probably like them no matter who wins the hockey game.  (Laughter.)  Anyway.

I want to also thank all of you being here, in particular, obviously, the delegation that has accompanied me from Canada.

(As interpreted.)  Today we have this opportunity to make this North American market more competitive.  You are entrepreneurs, you are job creators, employment creators all over this continent.

(In English.)  — with so many business people here, as well as academics and others, to discuss how to make North America, which is these three economies combined, which is nearly one-quarter of the world’s economy more prosperous and more competitive.

And it’s particularly fitting that it would be you as civil society and business leaders who would lead such a discussion, for although it was NAFTA and the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement before it that opened up the opportunities, this is a trade alliance that, in fact, consists of very little top-down infrastructure.  It has been businesses, people on the ground, social interactions, academic interactions which have advanced relations, particularly economic relations that go well beyond trade.

Today, Canadian, American and Mexican companies do much more than sell things to each other.  You increasingly make things together through integrated supply chains.  Now, for example, we talk about the fact, in Canada obviously, that the Canadian-American trade relationship is the largest in the world — certainly, the U.S. is our largest export market.  But Canadian exports to the United States contain an average of 25 percent American content.  Likewise, Mexican exports to the United States include an average of 40 percent U.S. content.

(As interpreted.)  So this is why we want to tighten our relationships and increase the competitiveness in the region.  And we call on the entrepreneurs — of course, the Canadian and U.S. companies are grabbing occasions and opportunities in Mexico — throughout the continent to create employment seedbeds.

(In English.)  Jobs include organizations as diverse as TransCanada, the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association and Beef Canada, the Canola Council, Linamar, Scotiabank and many others that I know are represented with us here today.  And they have tremendous growth prospects in fields such as energy, in education, agri-food, information and communications technologies, banking and financial services, and many, many others, particularly when one looks at not just the rapid transformation in this country over the past 20 years, but the very aggressive reforms that are being undertaken by President Peña Nieto’s administration.

(As interpreted.)  And having said this, the world, the entire world is not what it used to be in 1994.

(In English.)  Different realities from 20 years ago are realities we must adapt to today.  They include obviously the ongoing uncertainty, market uncertainty that remains from the global recession and also from a global economy that is much more competitive from many other regions.

(As interpreted.)  We must work together to be able to break barriers and for the benefit of our populations.

(In English.)  And so, as Canadians, Mexicans and Americans, we need to look for ways to work together and to look forward.

Thank you for being here.  (Applause.)

END                5:21 P.M. CST

Political Musings November 10, 2013: Obama tries to pivot the conversation to the economy by promoting infrastructure

POLITICAL MUSINGS

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/pol_musings.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Obama tries to pivot the conversation to the economy by promoting infrastructure

By Bonnie K. Goodman

After a terrible week dealing with his embattled health care law, the Affordable Care Act’s roll out, President Barack Obama has decided to turn his attention and the conversation back to the economy. The President delivered an address…READ MORE

Political Headlines May 2, 2013: In Mexico, President Barack Obama Says Immigration Reform Is Critical to Trade

POLITICAL HEADLINES

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

In Mexico, President Obama Says Immigration Reform Is Critical to Trade

Source: ABC News Radio, 5-2-13

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

President Obama arrived in Mexico City Thursday, where the economy and trade were intended to top the agenda of his three-day trip to Mexico and Costa Rica.

With Congress poised to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws, however, border security and immigration reform are overshadowing much of the public discussion….READ MORE

Full Text Barack Obama Presidency November 27, 2012: President Obama and President-Elect Enrique Peña Nieto’s of Mexico Speeches Before Bilateral Meeting

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Welcomes Mexico President-Elect Enrique Peña Nieto

Source: WH, 11-27-12

President Obama meets with President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto (November 27, 2012)President Barack Obama meets with President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico in the Oval Office, Nov. 27, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

This afternoon, President Obama welcomed Enrique Peña Nieto, the President-elect of Mexico, to the Oval Office.

By long-standing tradition, newly elected Mexican presidents hold early meetings with the United States, in part because it symbolizes the close relationship between our two countries.

And President-elect Peña Nieto is himself no stranger to the United States, having spent a year in Maine as a student.

“But I think that’s representative of the strength of the relationship between the United States and Mexico,” President Obama said. “It’s not just a matter of policy, but it’s a matter of people, as represented by the many U.S. citizens who travel to Mexico, who live in Mexico, and obviously the incredible contribution that Mexican Americans make to our economy, our society, and to our politics.”

President Obama noted that President-elect Peña Nieto’s reform agenda is one that Americans will watch closely — as what happens in Mexico affects our society as well.

The president-elect was also quick to draw parallels between himself and President Obama.

“We were both congressmen — legislators, as we say in Spanish — in our respective congresses in our own countries,” he said. “And this means we’re very sensitive to the needs of our peoples. And we also share a very important vision, the vision for instance of creating more jobs. We know this is very important, not only for the American people but also for the Mexican peoples, for both of our nations.”

On Saturday, Vice President Joe Biden will lead the U.S. delegation to the President-elect Peña Nieto’s inauguration.

Watch their full remarks here

Remarks of President Obama and President-Elect Peña Nieto of Mexico Before Bilateral Meeting

Oval Office

4:00 P.M. EST

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, it is my great pleasure to welcome President-elect Peña Nieto to the Oval Office and to the White House. This is a longstanding tradition where — almost unique I think in the relationship between countries — we meet early with the President-elect of Mexico because it symbolizes the extraordinarily close relationship we have between our two countries.

Over the last four years, I’ve been able to work with President Felipe Calderón and I think we established an excellent working relationship so I wish him all the best in his new life.

And I’m very confident that I’m going to establish a strong personal as well as professional relationship with the President-elect, who I know has an outstanding reputation for wanting to get things done.

Now, President Peña Nieto I think represents the close ties between our two countries because I understand that he lived in the United States in Maine for a year, where the winters are even worse than Chicago, my hometown. (Laughter.)

But I think that’s representative of the strength of the relationship between the United States and Mexico. It’s not just a matter of policy, but it’s a matter of people, as represented by the many U.S. citizens who travel to Mexico, who live in Mexico, and obviously the incredible contribution that Mexican Americans make to our economy, our society, and to our politics.

I know that President Peña Nieto has a very ambitious reform agenda, and we are very much looking forward to having a fruitful discussion here today about not only how we can strengthen our economic ties, our trades ties, our coordination along the border, improving our joint competitiveness, as well as common security issues. But I think what I know the President-elect is also interested in is a discussion about both regional and global issues, because Mexico has become not simply an important bilateral partner, but is today a very important multilateral, multinational leader on a whole range of issues from energy to climate change, and we look forward to working with Mexico not only on regional issues, but also on global issues.

And just as President-elect Peña Nieto’s reform agenda is of great interest to us because what happens in Mexico has an impact on our society, I know he’s interested in what we do as well on issues like comprehensive immigration reform. And I’ll be sharing with him my interest in promoting some issues that are important to the United States, but ultimately will be important to Mexico as well.

So Mr. President-elect, I want to welcome you. Congratulations on your outstanding victory. Vice President Biden will be leading our delegation to your inauguration. We only send the Vice President to inaugurations when the country is really at the top of the list in importance to us and so we just want to wish you well and I look forward to an excellent relationship in the years to come.

PRESIDENT-ELECT PEÑA NIETO: (As interpreted.) Thank you very much, President Barack Obama. It’s truly a great pleasure to be here with you. I feel so happy and thank you for your hospitality. This is of course my first visit as President-elect of Mexico and I also want to congratulate you for your victory last November 6th for your second term as President of the United States. I of course wish you great success and I know you have a great task before you, but I know, I trust that you will be doing a wonderful job.

And I also want to thank you so much, President Obama, for having Vice President Joseph Biden go to Mexico for my inaugural ceremony next Saturday, December first. I feel so pleased to be able to have Vice President Biden represent you in Mexico. And of course we’re waiting for him and your delegation with open arms.

And I find that this is an opportunity we only have every 12 years. We’re practically beginning our administration, same that you’ll be starting your next four-year term, I will be starting a six-year administration in Mexico, as you well know, and I think this is really a great opportunity for all of us to have a closer link of brotherhood, of sisterhood, of collaboration, and of course, of great accomplishments we might both have working together.

Yes, and I believe that we have very important tasks before us that are common, as a matter of fact. For instance, we have many common things. We were both congressmen — legislators, as we say in Spanish — in our respective congresses in our own countries. And this means we’re very sensitive to the needs of our peoples. And we also share a very important vision, the vision for instance of creating more jobs. We know this is very important, not only for the American people but also for the Mexican peoples, for both of our nations. These are two very important demands in our countries.

And we do have the opportunity to grow, but not only that, we also have the opportunity to integrate North America, to be participating in this part of the world. And I am so pleased that this is the situation we’re in.

And of course, as I said, to increase the integration of North America, to really take advantage of the open spaces we have for our work — and not only in this part of the world, but also with Asia, of course and just mentioning for instance the TPP, the Trans Pacific Partnership. And my government is of course very much interested in strengthening this, because we believe that this is going to be a great opportunity for all of us.

Yes, and of course in terms of security that’s another major challenge we all face. My government has set out to reduce the violence situation in our country. And for that, of course, we have set out to launch a strategy for this purpose. And I will do everything we can for this. We want to have — we have the will to have cooperation, efficient cooperation with respect, respect for our sovereign states. And of course in terms of the border, we want our border to be a safe, modern, connected border, legal border — that’s exactly what we’ve set out to accomplish.

Yes, and in terms of the reform for migration, the migration reform, we do have to tell you that we fully support your proposal, sir, for this migration reform. More than demanding what you should do or shouldn’t do, we do want to tell you that we want to contribute. We really want to participate with you. We want to contribute towards the accomplishment, so that of course we can participate in the betterment and the well-being of so many millions of people who live in your country and who are also participating. So we want to be part of this.

And I trust that we’ll be able to have a very close relationship in our work, Mr. President. And of course I want to invite you to come to Mexico, a state visit. And as you know, next year in 2013, we’re going to be holding the North American Summit, the leaders’ summit. And you’re of course invited. And we really hope to see you there. We’ll be waiting for you with open arms.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Any excuse to go to Mexico, I’m always game. In fact, I’m jealous of Joe Biden. (Laughter.) But anyway, thank you very much. Welcome. Thank you, everybody.

END
4:17 P.M. EST

Full Text Campaign Buzz July 5, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech Launching Rust Belt Campaign Tour on Economy & China Trade in Ohio

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

Remarks by the President at a Campaign Event

Wolcott House Museum Complex
Maumee, Ohio

12:00 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hey!  (Applause.)  Hello, Ohio!  (Applause.)  Hello!  It is good to be back in Ohio.  All right.  Well, everybody who’s got a chair, feel free to sit down.  Just go ahead and relax.  I know it’s a little warm out here, but this is how summer is supposed to feel like.

A couple of people I want to acknowledge.  First of all, please give Ina a big round of applause for the great introduction.  We’re proud of her.  (Applause.)  I am so pleased to see once again the outstanding Mayor of Maumee, Tim Wagener.  (Applause.)  There he is.  One of the best Senators in the country — your Senator, Sherrod Brown.  (Applause.)  One of your outstanding members of the congressional delegation — Marcy Kaptur is here.  And your former governor and my campaign co-chair — Ted Strickland is in the house.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We love you!

THE PRESIDENT:  I love you!  It’s great to see you.  (Applause.)  I hope everybody had a wonderful Fourth of July.  (Applause.)  We invited some people over for a barbecue — (laughter) — had a chance to say thank you to our incredible men and women in uniform.  (Applause.)  And we’re so proud of them.  And then it was Malia’s birthday yesterday.  (Applause.)  She’s 14 years old — I know, it happens too fast.  (Laughter.)  Don’t even remind me.  She’s going into high school next year.  Which means that she’s — see, when she was small I could say, all these fireworks I had arranged for her birthday.  (Laughter.)  But she doesn’t believe me anymore.  (Laughter.)

Now, unless you have been hiding out in the woods somewhere, you are aware of the fact that it’s campaign season.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We’re fired up and ready to go!

THE PRESIDENT:  You’re fired up!  (Applause.)

It’s campaign season again.  Look, I understand it’s not always pretty to watch.  There has been more money flooding into the system than we’ve ever seen before.  More negative ads, more cynicism.  Most of what you read about or hear about on the news has to do with who is up or down in the polls, instead of what these issues actually mean for you and for America.  So it can be frustrating.

And I know sometimes it may be tempting to kind of turn away from all of it, and just turn off the TV, TiVo everything that you want to watch so you can skip over the commercials.  It’s easy sometimes, I think, to lose interest and lose heart when you hear what’s going on in Washington.  And I’ll be honest with you — I think there are some folks who are betting that you will lose interest, that are betting that somehow you’re going to lose heart.  But here you are in the heat.  (Applause.)  I’m betting you’re not going to lose interest.

AUDIENCE:  No!

THE PRESIDENT:  I’m betting you’re not going to lose heart.

AUDIENCE:  No!

THE PRESIDENT:  I still believe in you.  I’m betting on you.  And the country is betting on you, Ohio.  (Applause.)  Because you understand that, even though politics may seem real small right now and may seem real petty, the choice in this election could not be clearer.  And it could not be bigger — the stakes could not be bigger.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  You can do it!

THE PRESIDENT:  I know — with you.  (Applause.)

What’s going on in this election is bigger than just a choice between two candidates or between two parties.  It’s about two fundamentally different visions of where we go as a country.

See, I believe in an America where no matter who you are, no matter what you look like, no matter where you come from, you can make it if you try.  (Applause.)

We’ve never been a country that — we’ve never been a country looking for handouts.  We’re a nation of strivers and risk-takers and entrepreneurs, workers.  (Applause.)  But what we ask for is that hard work pays off, that responsibility is rewarded.  The idea is if you take responsibility for your life, if you put in the effort, if you do the responsible thing, then you can find a job that pays a living wage, that you can look after your family, that you can buy a home, that you can retire with some dignity and some respect, that you won’t go bankrupt when you get sick — (applause) — that you have that core, middle-class security that built this country, and that you can pass that on to your kids so they can do things that you never even imagined.  That’s the essence of America.

And I believe in that basic promise of America because I lived it.  That’s my biography.  I had grandparents whose service at World War II was rewarded by them having a chance to go to college and buying their first house — because I had a hardworking mother who raised me and my sister right, but also had some help so that we could end up going to the best schools in the country even though we didn’t have a lot of money.

I got involved in politics.  I ran for President in 2008, and some of you joined me in 2008 — (applause) — because we believed in that basic bargain that built the largest middle class in history and the strongest economy in the world.  And we felt like that basic bargain was slipping away, that hard work wasn’t always rewarded, that being responsible didn’t always get you ahead, that folks who acted irresponsibly sometimes were making out like bandits while ordinary folks were having a tougher and tougher time.

So we came together in that election — Democrats, but also independents and, yes, some Republicans — to restore that basic bargain that built this country.  And we knew at the time it wouldn’t be easy.  We knew it would take more than one year or one term or maybe even one President.  But what we didn’t realize at the time was we were going to be hit by the worst economic crisis in our lifetimes.

And that’s been tough on a lot of folks, including people here in Ohio.  It robbed millions of people of their jobs and their homes and their savings.  And it pushed the American Dream even further from reach for a lot of people.

But you know what, this crisis has not changed the fundamental character of America.  It hasn’t changed the fundamental character of this town, or this state, or this part of the country.  We’ve still got people who are working hard.  We’ve still got people who are acting responsibly.  (Applause.)  It hasn’t diminished our belief in those ideals we were fighting for in 2008.  (Applause.)

And our mission right now isn’t just to recover from this economic crisis, although that’s job one.  Our mission is to give back to America, to Americans all across the country, what’s been lost — that sense of security.  Our goal isn’t just to put people back to work tomorrow; it’s also to build for the long haul an economy where hard work pays off — (applause) — an economy where everybody, whether you’re starting a business or punching a clock, has confidence that if you work hard, you will get ahead.  That’s what America is about.  That’s what Ohio is about.  (Applause.)

Now, I got to tell you, what’s holding us back is not —

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Where is Michelle?

THE PRESIDENT:  Where’s Michelle?  (Laughter.)  Look, I know I’m second fiddle — (laughter) — but I’ll have Michelle come back sometime.  (Applause.)  I’m just the warm-up act.  Michelle says hi.  (Laughter.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We love you, Mr. President!

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you so much.  I appreciate it.

Now, let me say this.  What’s holding us back from going ahead and meeting these challenges — (audience interruption) —

AUDIENCE:  Four more years!  Four more years!  Four more years!  Four more years!

THE PRESIDENT:  What’s holding us back from meeting our challenges — it’s not a lack of ideas, it’s not a lack of solutions.  What’s holding us back is we’ve got a stalemate in Washington between these two visions of where the country needs to go.  And this election is all about breaking that stalemate.  The outcome of this election will determine our economic future not just for the next year or the next two years, but maybe for the next decade or the next two.

And I want everybody to be clear about what this choice is.  My opponent and his allies in Congress, they believe prosperity comes from the top down.  They believe if we eliminate most regulations and we cut taxes for the wealthy by trillions of dollars, that somehow our whole economy will benefit, and all of you will benefit, and there’s going to be more jobs and better security for everybody.  That’s their basic economic plan.

Now, I think they’re wrong about their vision.  And part of the reason I think they’re wrong is because we tried it, remember, just a while back —

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  It didn’t work.

THE PRESIDENT:  — and it didn’t work.  We’re still paying for trillions of dollars in tax cuts that weren’t paid for and didn’t lead to better jobs or better wages for the middle class.  The lack of regulation on Wall Street, the kind of thing that they’re prescribing, that’s exactly what allowed people to game the system that caused this whole mess in the first place.

So, no, I don’t think that Mr. Romney’s plan to spend trillions of dollars more on tax cuts for folks who don’t need them and aren’t even asking for them is the right way to grow our economy — (applause) — especially since they want to pay for it by cutting education spending and cutting job training programs and raising middle-class taxes.

AUDIENCE:  No!

THE PRESIDENT:  And I sure don’t agree with his plan to keep giving tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas.  (Applause.)  I don’t think we’re better off by rolling back regulations on banks or insurance companies or oil companies —

AUDIENCE:  No!

THE PRESIDENT:  — regulations that are meant to protect workers and consumers and families and our economy.

So we don’t need more top-down economics.  We’ve tried it; it did not work.  What we need is somebody who is out there fighting for the middle class and wants to grow the middle class.  (Applause.)

When the American auto industry was on the brink of collapse, and more than one million jobs were on the line, Governor Romney said we should just let Detroit go bankrupt.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  That’s what he said!

THE PRESIDENT:  I refused to turn my back on communities like this one.  I was betting on the American worker and I was betting on American industry.  (Applause.)  And three years later, the American auto industry is coming roaring back.  (Applause.)  That Chrysler plant up the road bringing on another 1,100 employees to make the cars that the world wants to buy.  The Wrangler built right here in Toledo just set an all-time sales record.  (Applause.)

What’s happening in Toledo can happen in cities like Cleveland, can happen in Pittsburgh.  It can happen in other industries.  And that’s why I’m running for a second term as President, because I’m going to make sure that it does.  I want it happening all across this country.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE:  Four more years!  Four more years!

THE PRESIDENT:  Just like Ina said, I want goods shipped around the world, stamped with “Made in America.”  (Applause.)  Unlike my opponent, I want to stop giving tax breaks to companies that are shipping jobs overseas, start rewarding companies that are investing right here in Toledo, right here in Ohio, right here in Maumee.  That’s what I’m looking for.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We are, too!

THE PRESIDENT:  Governor Romney’s experience has been in owning companies that were called “pioneers” of outsourcing.  That’s not my phrase — “pioneers” of outsourcing.  My experience has been in saving the American auto industry.  And as long as I’m President, that’s what I’m going to be doing — waking up every single day thinking about how we can create more jobs for your families and more security for your communities.  (Applause.)

That’s why my administration brought trade cases against China at a faster pace than the previous administration — and we’ve won those cases.  Just this morning, my administration took a new action to hold China accountable for unfair trade practices that harm American automakers.  (Applause.)

And let me tell you something.  Americans aren’t afraid to compete.  We believe in competition.  I believe in trade.  And I know this:  Americans and American workers build better products than anybody else — (applause) — so as long as we’re competing on a fair playing field instead of an unfair playing field, we’ll do just fine.  But we’re going to make sure that competition is fair.  That’s what I believe.  That’s part of our vision for America.  (Applause.)

But that’s not all it takes to rebuild this economy.  I’m running to make sure that America once again leads the world in educating our kids and training our workers.  (Applause.)

Our tuition tax credit has saved millions of families thousands of dollars each — and now I want to extend it.  We won the fight in Congress to stop Congress from letting student loans double.  (Applause.)  And now we’re working with colleges and universities to start bringing tuition costs down.  (Applause.)

I want our schools to hire and reward the best teachers — (applause) — especially in math and science.  I want to give
2 million more Americans the chance to go to community colleges and learn skills that local businesses are looking for right now.  See, in the 21st century, a higher education is not a luxury; it is an economic necessity for every single one of our young people — (applause) — and folks who are retraining to get the jobs of the future, and our veterans who are coming home.  And we need to take care of all of them and give them those opportunities to work their way into the middle class.  (Applause.)

God bless you.  Thanks for your service.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  My pleasure, sir.

THE PRESIDENT:  God bless you.  Freedom is not free, and you fought for it.  (Applause.)

I’m running to give more responsible homeowners the chance to refinance their mortgage and save $3,000 a year.  (Applause.)  We’ve got low interest rates right now, but a lot of folks are having trouble refinancing with their banks.  We’ve said to Congress, let’s go ahead and help them refinance, because that extra — can you use an extra $3,000?

AUDIENCE:  Yes!

THE PRESIDENT:  And that means you’re spending at restaurants and you’re buying stuff at the store and — you’re buying some clothes, is that what you said?  (Laughter.)  That you’re putting that money back into circulation — that’s good for everybody.  It’s good for small businesses; it’s good for large businesses.  We’ve already given thousands of families the chance to do this.  My opponent, his plan for the housing market is to let it hit bottom.

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  That’s not a plan.  That’s a problem, that’s not a solution.

I’m running because I believe that in America, nobody should go bankrupt because they get sick.  (Applause.)  I’ll work with anybody who wants to work with me to continue to improve our health care system and our health care laws.  (Applause.)  But the law I passed is here to stay.  (Applause.)

And let me tell you something, Maumee.  It is going to make the vast majority of Americans more secure.  We will not go back to the days when insurance companies could discriminate against people just because they were sick.  We’re not going to tell 6 million young people who are now on their parent’s health insurance plans that suddenly they don’t have health insurance.  We’re not going to allow Medicare to be turned into a voucher system.

Now is not the time to spend four more years refighting battles we fought two years ago.  Now is the time to move forward and make sure that every American has affordable health insurance — (applause) — and that insurance companies are treating them fairly.  That’s what we fought for.  That’s what we’re going to keep.  We are moving forward.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE:  Four more years!  Four more years!  Four more years!

THE PRESIDENT:  And, Maumee, I’m running because after a decade of war, it’s time to do some nation-building here at home.  (Applause.)  We ended the war in Iraq.  We are transitioning out of Afghanistan.  My plan would take half the money that we’ve been spending on war, let’s use it to put people back to work rebuilding our roads, rebuilding our bridges, rebuilding our schools, getting those construction workers out and about rebuilding America.  (Applause.)  That’s how we build our future.  We can’t go backwards.  We’ve got to move forward.

I’m running to make sure that we can afford all this by paying down the debt in a balanced way, in a responsible way.  Keep in mind, we had a surplus last time there was a Democratic President.  (Applause.)  They ran up the tab, put two wars on a credit card, tax cuts not paid for, prescription drug plan not paid for, left us the tab.  Well, we’re going to clean it up, but we’re going to clean it up not on the backs of the middle class — we’re going to do it in a balanced and responsible way.

I’ll cut spending like we already have on things we can’t afford and aren’t helping people.  But unlike my opponent, I’ll ask the wealthiest Americans who enjoyed the biggest tax cuts over the past decade to do a little more.  (Applause.)

And by the way, just like we know what they did didn’t work, we know what I’m talking about did work, because what I’m talking about is what Bill Clinton did as President.  Our economy created 23 million new jobs, the biggest budget surplus in history, and by the way, we made a whole bunch of millionaires as well.  (Applause.)  It wasn’t like rich people were doing bad back in the ’90s.  They were doing just fine, right?

AUDIENCE:  Right.

THE PRESIDENT:  And you know what, there are plenty of patriotic, successful Americans who agree with us.  They want to do the right thing because they care about this country.

On jobs, on education, on housing, on health care, on retirement, on all these things that are the pillars of a middle-class life, we can’t go backwards.  We’ve got to go forwards.  And that’s the choice facing us this November.  And the choice could not be more clear.

Now, I’m not here to tell you, Ohio, that this is going to be easy, or it’s going to be quick.  Changes that we’re trying to bring about — we’re dealing with problems that happened over the course of decades.  They’re not going to be changed overnight.  And I know sometimes people feel like, well, Obama, he’s done some good things, but, boy, things are still tough out there, change hasn’t happened fast enough.  I understand that.  I get frustrated, too.  But what’s required are long-term solutions, not slick promises, not quick fixes.

And there are plenty of well-funded special interests in Washington, and their powerful allies in Congress, who want to keep things just the way they are.  But don’t ever buy the line that they’re selling that we can somehow accomplish more by doing less.  That might benefit their interests, but it won’t benefit yours.

That’s not how we became America.  Our parents, our grandparents, the founders of this country, didn’t set their sights lower.  They didn’t settle for something less.  And neither do we — because we’re Americans.  If we’re going to be the country we know we can be, we’ve got to keep doing the hard work of building the future of this country for our kids, just like our parents and grandparents did for us.  (Applause.)

And let me tell you something.  From now until November, the other side is going to spend more money than we’ve ever seen before, and they will be raining ads down on your head.  And they’ll tell you it’s all my fault — I can’t fix it because I think government is the answer to everything, or because I haven’t make a lot of money in the private sector, or I think everything is doing just fine.  That’s what all the scary voices in the ads will tell you.  That’s what Mitt Romney will say.  That’s what Republicans in Congress will say.

And that’s their plan for winning an election, but it’s not a plan to create jobs.  (Applause.)  It’s not a plan to provide you with greater security for you and your family.  It’s not a plan to restore the middle class or restore the American Dream.  And that’s the kind of plan we need right now, is a plan to build the middle class and restore the American Dream.

And if you agree with me — if you believe that our economy works best when everybody gets a fair shot and everybody is doing their fair share and everybody is playing by the same set of rules, then I’m going to need you out there working.  And you know what, I need you to talk to your friends and your neighbors.  Don’t just talk to Democrats.  Talk to independents, talks to Republicans.  (Applause.)  Because I want to work with anybody who believes that we’re in this together.  (Applause.)  I want to work with anybody who believes we’ve got to invest in our future.  I want to work with anybody who thinks we’ve got to give our kids a great education.  I want to work with anybody who believes that we’ve got to make sure that we’re building things here in America.  (Applause.)

I’m not a Democrat first; I’m an American first.  (Applause.)  I believe we rise or fall as one nation, as one people.  And I believe what’s stopping us is not our capacity to meet our challenges; what’s stopping us is our politics.  And that’s something you have the power to solve.

So hit the doors.  Make some phone calls.  Register your friends.  Talk to those family members who sometimes don’t vote.  Remind them where America’s strength comes from — it comes from our people.  Remind them how America came this far — it came because of our people.

All this money that’s being spent on negative ads in this campaign — they spent money in 2008.  I got outspent when I ran first time for Senate.  But you know what I have learned?  When the American people, when ordinary folks start standing up for themselves, start making their voices heard, start coming together, start believing again, nothing can stop them.  (Applause.)

Nothing can stop you.  Nothing can stop you, Maumee.  (Applause.)  Nothing can stop you, Ohio.  Nothing can stop us, America.  (Applause.)  Let’s remind the world just why it is we live in the greatest nation on Earth.  (Applause.)

God bless you.  God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

END
12:27 P.M. EDT

Full Text Obama Presidency April 14, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech at 6th Summit of the Americas Opening Plenary — Discusses Trade, Energy & Drugs, Woos Latin America

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS

President Obama at the Summit of the Americas

Source: WH, 4-14-12

President Barack Obama participates in the CEO Summit of the Americas panel discussion (April 14, 2012)

President Barack Obama participates in the CEO Summit of the Americas panel discussion at the Hilton Hotel, Cartagena, Colombia, April 14, 2012. President of Brazil Dilma Rousseff and President of Colombia Juan Manuel Santos took part. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama is in Cartagena, Columbia this weekend for the Summit of the Americas — a gathering of more than 30 leaders from North, South, and Central America.

In a panel discussion with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, President Obama discussed what he called enormous progress in the region:

Trade between the United States and Latin, Central — South America, Central America and the Caribbean has expanded 46 percent since I came into office — 46 percent.

Before I came to Cartagena, I stopped in Tampa, Florida, which is the largest port in Florida. And they are booming and expanding. And the reason is, is because of the enormous expansion of trade and commerce with this region. It’s creating jobs in Florida, and it’s creating jobs in Colombia, and it’s creating jobs in Brazil and throughout the region. Businesses are seeing that if they have an outstanding product or an outstanding service, they don’t have to restrict themselves to one market, they now have a regional market and ultimately a global market in which they can sell their goods and succeed.

Read the full remarks here.

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by President Obama at CEO Summit of the Americas

Gran Salon Bolivar

Hilton Hotel

Cartagena, Colombia

10:43 A.M. COT

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, first of all, I want to thank President Santos and the people of Colombia for the extraordinary hospitality in the beautiful city of Cartagena. We’re having a wonderful time. And usually when I take these summit trips, part of my job is to scout out where I may want to bring Michelle back later for vacation. So we’ll make sure to come back sometime in the near future. (Applause.)

I want to acknowledge Luis Moreno of IDB, as well as Luis Villegas of the National Business Association of Colombia, for helping to set this up, and everybody who’s participating.

As President Rousseff indicated, obviously we’ve gone through some very challenging times. These last three years have been as difficult for the world economy as anything that we’ve seen in our lifetimes. And it is both a result of globalization and it is also a result of shifts in technology. The days when we could think of each of our economies in isolation, those days are long gone. What happens in Wall Street has an impact in Rio. What happens in Bogota has an impact in Beijing.

And so I think the challenge for all of our countries, and certainly the challenge for this hemisphere, is how do we make sure that that globalization and that integration is benefiting a broad base of people, that economic growth is sustainable and robust, and that it is also giving opportunity to a growing, wider circle of people, and giving businesses opportunities to thrive and create new products and new services and enjoy this global marketplace.

Now, I think the good news is this hemisphere is very well positioned in this global economy. It is remarkable to see the changes that have been taking place in a relatively short period of time in Latin and Central America and in the Caribbean. When you look at the extraordinary growth that’s taken place in Brazil, first under President Lula and now under President Rousseff, when you think about the enormous progress that’s been made here in Colombia under President Santos and his predecessor, what you see is that a lot of the old arguments on the left and the right no longer apply.

And what people are asking is, what works? How do we think in practical terms about delivering prosperity, training our people so that they can compete in the global economy? How do we create rule of law that allows businesses to invest with some sense of security and transparency? How do we invest in science and technology? How do we make sure that we have open and free trade at the same time as we’re making sure that the benefits of free trade are distributed both between nations but also within nations?

And the good news is I think that, through various international organizations and organizations here within the hemisphere, we’ve seen enormous progress. Trade between the United States and Latin, Central — South America, Central America and the Caribbean has expanded 46 percent since I came into office — 46 percent.

Before I came to Cartagena, I stopped in Tampa, Florida, which is the largest port in Florida. And they are booming and expanding. And the reason is, is because of the enormous expansion of trade and commerce with this region. It’s creating jobs in Florida, and it’s creating jobs in Colombia, and it’s creating jobs in Brazil and throughout the region. Businesses are seeing that if they have an outstanding product or an outstanding service, they don’t have to restrict themselves to one market, they now have a regional market and ultimately a global market in which they can sell their goods and succeed.

A couple of things that I think will help further facilitate this productive integration: Number one, the free trade agreement that we’ve negotiated between Colombia and the United States is an example of a free trade agreement that benefits both sides. It’s a win-win. It has high standards — (applause) — it’s a high-standards agreement. It’s not a race to the bottom, but rather it says each country is abiding by everything from strong rules around labor and the environment to intellectual property protection. And so I have confidence that as we implement this plan, what we’re going to see is extraordinary opportunities for both U.S. and Colombian businesses.

So trade agreements of the sort that we have negotiated, thanks to the leadership of President Santos and his administration, I think point the way to the future.

In addition, I think there is the capacity for us to cooperate on problems that all countries face, and I’ll take just one example — the issue of energy. All of us recognize that if we’re going to continue to grow our economies effectively, then we’re going to have to adapt to the fact that fossil fuels are a finite resource and demand is going up much faster than supply. There are also, obviously, significant environmental concerns that we have to deal with. So for us to cooperate on something like joint electrification and electric grid integration, so that a country like Brazil, that is doing outstanding work in biofuels or hydro-energy, has the ability to export that energy but also teach best practices to countries within the region, create new markets for clean energy throughout the region — which benefits those customers who need electricity but also benefit those countries that are top producers of energy — that’s another example of the kind of progress that we can make together.

On the education front, every country in the region recognizes that if we’re going to compete with Asia, if we’re going to compete with Europe, we’ve got to up our game. We have to make sure that we’ve got the best-trained workers in the world, we’ve got the best education system in the world. And so the work that President Rousseff and I are doing together to try to significantly expand educational exchanges and send young people who are studying science and engineering and computer science to the United States to study if they’re Brazilian, down to Brazil to study best practices in clean energy in Brazil — there’s enormous opportunity for us to work together to train our young people so that this hemisphere is filled with outstanding entrepreneurs and workers, and allows us to compete more effectively.

So there are a number of areas where I think cooperation is proceeding. Sometimes it’s not flashy. I think that oftentimes in the press the attention in summits like this ends up focusing on where are the controversies. Sometimes those controversies date back to before I was born. (Laughter.) And sometimes I feel as if in some of these discussions or at least the press reports we’re caught in a time warp, going back to the 1950s and gunboat diplomacy and Yanquis and the Cold War, and this and that and the other. That’s not the world we live in today.

And my hope is, is that we all recognize this enormous opportunity that we’ve got. And I know the business leaders who are here today, they understand it; they understand that we’re in a new world, and we have to think in new ways.

Last point I want to make — I think when you think about the extraordinary success in Brazil, the success in Colombia, a big piece of that is governance. You can’t, I believe, have, over the long term, successful economies if you don’t have some basic principles that are being followed: democracy and rule of law, human rights being observed, freedom of expression. And I think — and also personal security, the capacity for people to feel as if they work hard then they’re able to achieve, and they have motivation to start a business and to know that their own work will pay off.

And I just want to compliment both Brazil and Colombia, coming from different political traditions, but part of the reason why you’ve seen sustained growth is governments have worked effectively in each country. And I think that when we look at how we’re going to integrate further and take advantage of increased opportunity in the future, it’s very important for us not to ignore how important it is to have a clean, transparent, open government that is working on behalf of its people.

And that’s important to business as well. The days when a business feels good working in a place where people are being oppressed — ultimately that’s an unstable environment for you to do business. You do business well when you know that it’s a well-functioning society and that there’s a legitimate government in place that is going to be looking out for its people.

So I just want to thank both of my outstanding partners here. They’re true leaders in the region. And I can speak, I think, for the United States to say that we’ve never been more excited about the prospects of working as equal partners with our brothers and sisters in Latin America and the Caribbean, because that’s going to be the key to our success. (Applause.)

* * * *

MR. MATTHEWS: President Santos, I guess there are some issues in America — we have a very large Hispanic population. Ten percent of our electorate is going to be Hispanic in background. We are the second-largest Spanish-speaking country in the world after Mexico. People have dual languages in the United States, of course, but there is so much Spanish speaking. You have the chance to sit next to President Obama now. Do you want to ask him about the ways you think the United States could help your country in the drug war?

* * * *

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Do you want me to respond?

MR. MATTHEWS: Yes, sir.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, this is a conversation that I’ve had with President Santos and others. Just as the world economy is integrated, so, unfortunately, the drug trade is integrated. And we can’t look at the issue of supply in Latin America without also looking at the issue of demand in the United States. (Applause.)

And so whether it’s working with President Santos or supporting the courageous work that President Calderón is doing in Mexico, I, personally, and my administration and I think the American people understand that the toll of narco-trafficking on the societies of Central America, Caribbean, and parts of South America are brutal, and undermining the capacity of those countries to protect their citizens, and eroding institutions and corrupting institutions in ways that are ultimately bad for everybody.

So this is part of the reason why we’ve invested, Chris, about $30 billion in prevention programs, drug treatment programs looking at the drug issue not just from a law enforcement and interdiction issue, but also from a public health perspective. This is why we’ve worked in unprecedented fashion in cooperation with countries like Mexico on not just drugs coming north, but also guns and cash going south.

This is one of the reasons why we have continued to invest in programs like Plan Colombia, but also now are working with Colombia, given their best practices around issues of citizen security, to have not just the United States but Colombia provide technical assistance and training to countries in Central America and the Caribbean in finding ways that they can duplicate some of the success that we’ve seen in Colombia.

So we’re mindful of our responsibilities on this issue. And I think it is entirely legitimate to have a conversation about whether the laws in place are ones that are doing more harm than good in certain places.

I personally, and my administration’s position, is that legalization is not the answer; that, in fact, if you think about how it would end up operating, that the capacity of a large-scale drug trade to dominate certain countries if they were allowed to operate legally without any constraint could be just as corrupting if not more corrupting then the status quo.

Nevertheless, I’m a big believer in looking at the evidence, having a debate. I think ultimately what we’re going to find is, is that the way to solve this problem is both in the United States, us dealing with demand in a more effective way, but it’s also going to be strengthening institutions at home.

You mentioned earlier, the biggest thing that’s on everybody’s minds — whether it’s the United States, Canada, Brazil, Colombia, Jamaica — is, can I find a job that allows me to support my family and allows my children to advance and feel secure. And in those societies where you’ve got strong institutions, you’ve got strong business investment, you’ve got rule of law, you have a law enforcement infrastructure that is sound, and an economy that’s growing — that country is going to be like a healthy body that is more immune than countries that have weak institutions and high unemployment, in which kids see their only future as participating in the drug trade because nobody has actually trained them to get a job with Google, or Pepsi, or start their own small business.

And so I think that it’s important for us not to think that if somehow we look at the drug issue in isolation, in the absence of dealing with some of these other challenges — institutional challenges and barriers to growth and opportunity and the capacity for people to climb their way out of poverty, that we’re going to be able to solve this problem. The drug issue in this region is, in some ways, a cause, but it’s also, in some ways, an effect of some broader and underlying problems. And we as the United States have an obligation not only to get our own house in order but also to help countries in a partnership to try to see if we can move in a better direction. (Applause.)

* * * *

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. President, do you want to respond? I think the question that seems to be apparent here in the last couple of days is, first of all, tremendous enthusiasm, a zeitgeist here that’s almost unusual in the world for positive optimism about the development in this part of the world. It’s not like it was — just isn’t the way it was we grew up with.

The challenge I think you just heard from the President of Brazil was the notion that Latin America is not interested in being our complementary economy anymore — the agricultural end while we do the industrial end; they do the provision of raw materials and we do the finest and highest-level high-tech work. How do we either respond to Brazil’s demand, really, to be partners and rivals — they want to use our educational resources, they want to come north to learn how to compete with us — right, Madam President? You want to be equals. You want to learn everything we know, and then take it back and shove it at us, right? (Laughter.) Isn’t that it?

Well, anyway, that’s the response — I’d ask you for your response. (Laughter.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Chris, I’m not sure you’re characterizing what President Rousseff said — (laughter) — but this is what happens when you get some of our U.S. political commentators moderating a panel. (Laughter.) They try to stir up things that may not always be there. (Applause.) And Chris is good at it. He’s one of the best. (Laughter.)

But, look, this is already happening. This is already happening. Brazil has changed, Colombia has changed — and we welcome the change. The notion somehow that we see this as a problem is just not the case, because if we’ve got a strong, growing, prosperous middle class in Latin America, those are new customers for our businesses. (Applause.)

Brazil is growing and that opportunity is broad-based, then suddenly they’re interested in buying iPads, and they’re interested in buying Boeing airplanes and — (laughter.)

PRESIDENT ROUSSEFF: Boeing — Embraer. (Laughter and applause.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I was just trying to see how she’d respond to that. (Laughter.) But the point is, is that that’s a market for us. So we in the United States should welcome not just growth, but broad-based growth, of the sort that President Rousseff described.

I’ll give you just — I said I was in Tampa. All those containers that are coming in, they have, in some cases, commodities coming from Latin America, but they also have finished products that are coming in from Latin America. We have commodities that are going into Latin America that we’re sending back on those containers, as well as finished products. And so this is a two-way street.

When I came into office, one of my first decisions was to say that the G20 was not a temporary thing to respond to the world economic crisis; this should be the permanent forum for determining and coordinating direction in the world economy. And frankly, there were some folks who were members of the G8 who were upset with me about that determination, but realistically you can’t coordinate world economic issues if you don’t have China and Brazil and India and South Africa at the table — and Mexico. That’s not possible.

So the world has changed. I think the United States and U.S. businesses stand to benefit from those changes. But it does mean that we have to adapt to that competitive environment. And all the advantages that President Rousseff mentioned we have as the United States — its flexibility, our scientific edge, our well-educated workforce, our top universities — those are the things that we continue to have to build and get better at. And that’s true for every country here.

Every one of the businesses here are going to be making determinations about where you locate based on the quality of the workforce, how much investment you have to make in training somebody to handle a million-dollar piece of equipment. Do you feel as if your intellectual property is going to be protected? Do you feel as if there’s a good infrastructure to be able to get your products to market? And so I think this is a healthy competition that we should be encouraging.

And what I’ve said at the first summit that I came to, Summit of the Americas that I came to, was we do not believe there are junior partners and senior partners in this situation. We believe there are partners. And Brazil is in many ways ahead of us on something like biofuels; we should learn from them. And if we’re going to be trying to mount a regional initiative, let’s make sure that Brazil is taking the lead. It doesn’t have to be us in every situation.

Now, the flip side is — and I’ll close with this — I think in Latin America, part of the change in mentality is also not always looking to the United States as the reason for everything that happens that goes wrong. (Applause.)

I was in an interview — several interviews yesterday. These were actually with Spanish-speaking television stations that have broadcast back in the United States. And the first interviewer said, why hasn’t the United States done more to promote democracy in the region, because you’ve done a lot in the Arab Spring but it seems as if you’re not dealing with some of the problems here in Latin America. The next questioner said, why are you being so hard on Cuba and promoting democracy all the time? (Laughter and applause.) That’s an example, I think, of some of the challenges we face that are rooted in legitimate historical grievances. But it gets — it becomes a habit.

When it comes to economic integration and exchanges, I am completely sympathetic to the fact that there are challenges around monetary policy in developed and less-developed countries. And Brazil, for example, has seen the Real appreciate in ways that had been hurtful. I would argue a lot of that has to do with the failure of some other countries to engage in rebalancing, not the United States. But having said that, I think there’s not a country in Latin America who doesn’t want to see the United States grow rapidly because we’re your major export market.

And so most of these issues end up being complicated issues. Typically, they involve both actions in the United States as well as actions in the other countries if we’re going to optimize the kind of growth and prosperity and broad-based opportunity that both President Santos and President Rousseff have spoken about.

And the United States comes here and says: We’re ready to do business. We are open to a partnership. We don’t expect to be able to dictate the terms of that partnership, we expect it to be a negotiation based on mutual interest and mutual respect. And I think we’re all going to benefit as a consequence of that. (Applause.)

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, President Rousseff, President Santos, and my President, President Obama. Thank you. It’s been an honor.

END

11:40 A.M. COT

Full Text Obama Presidency April 2, 2012: Three Amigos Summit: President Barack Obama Meets with Canadian PM Stephen Harper & Mexican President Felipe Calderon in One Day North American Leaders’ Summit — Speeches: Joint Statement & Press Conference

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

photo040212_01.jpg

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, US President Barack Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon meet at the White House. Photo by Paul Chiasson/CP

U.S., Canada and Mexico to Boost Trade

Source: AP, 4-2-12
President Obama, center, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, right, and Mexican President Felipe Calderon walked to a joint press conference at the White House on Monday.

President Barack Obama says the U.S., Canada and Mexico are launching a new bid to pare back regulation in hopes of boosting trade and creating more jobs.

At a three-way North American summit on Monday with Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexico’s President Felipe Calderón, Mr. Obama said the three will “go through the books” to simplify regulations and eliminate others that aren’t needed.

Three-way trade among the U.S., Canada and Mexico now exceeds $1 trillion, and President Obama says he wants to see that number rise.

The three leaders also discussed immigration and the war on drugs during their one-day summit. Mr. Obama praised Mr. Calderón for “great courage” in standing up to Mexico’s cartels….READ MORE

Boosting Economic Growth Throughout North America

Source: WH, 4-2-12

President Obama today hosted the leaders of Mexico and Canada at the White House for a summit aimed at promoting economic growth and and creating jobs in all three countries.

Last year, U.S. trade with Mexico and Canada exceed $1 trillion for the first time. And finding ways to continue boosting exports was one goal of today’s talks.

At a press conference in the Rose Garden, President Obama was able to point to an initative that will help to accomplish that objective:

I’m pleased to announce that our three nations are launching a new effort to get rid of outdated regulations that stifle job creation. Here in the United States, our efforts to cut red tape and ensure smart regulations will help achieve savings and benefits to businesses, consumers, and our country of more than $100 billion. And we’re already working to streamline and coordinate regulations with Canada and Mexico on a bilateral basis. So now our three nations are going to sit down together, go through the books and simplify and eliminate more regulations that will make our joint economies stronger.

This builds on conversations between the U.S. and Canada that were announced when Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited the White House back in December.

In today’s talks, the leaders also discussed security, energy, and efforts to combat drug cartels.

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Joint Statement by North American Leaders

Source: WH, 4-2-12

We, the Leaders of North America, met today in Washington, DC to advance the economic well-being, safety, and security of the United States, Mexico, and Canada.  Rooted in deep economic, historical, cultural, environmental, and societal ties, North American cooperation enhances our ability to face global challenges, compete in the international economy, and achieve greater prosperity.  We reaffirm our commitment to further develop our thriving political and economic partnership with a consistent and strategic long-term vision, as progress on our common agenda directly benefits the peoples of our region.

Broad-based, sustainable economic growth and job creation remains our top priority.  For the first time, in 2011 our total trilateral merchandise trade surpassed USD 1 trillion.  Our integration helps maximize our capabilities and makes our economies more innovative and competitive globally. Working together, we strive to ensure that North American economic cooperation fosters gains in productivity for all of our citizens, enhancing our respective national and bilateral efforts to achieve that goal.

To that end, we pledge to introduce timely and tangible regulatory measures to enable innovation and growth while ensuring high standards of public health, safety, and environmental protection.  We will continue to reduce transaction costs and improve the existing business environment.  We have launched the U.S.-Mexico High-Level Regulatory Cooperation Council and the U.S.-Canada Regulatory Cooperation Council during the past two years, pursuing a shared objective that we commit to complement trilaterally in four sectors:  certain vehicle emission standards, railroad safety, the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Workplace Chemicals, and aligning principles of our regulatory approaches to nanomaterials.  This is particularly important to small- and medium-sized businesses, which are the engines of growth.  By eliminating unnecessary regulatory differences, smaller businesses are better equipped to participate in an integrated North American economy.  Success in these efforts opens the way to additional North American regulatory cooperation.

Continued North American competitiveness requires secure supply chains and efficient borders.  We remain committed to achieving this through cooperative approaches.  To this end, the United States and Mexico released the Declaration Concerning Twenty-first Century Border Management in May 2010 and the United States and Canada released the Beyond the Border Action Plan:  A Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness in December 2011.  We are committed to the mutually-reinforcing goals of these important initiatives and to their full implementation.  By also supporting the work of multilateral organizations to foster improved collaboration, integration, and standards, we better identify and interdict threats before they reach our borders, as well as expedite the legitimate movement of goods and people throughout North America in a more efficient, secure, and resilient manner.  We also have instructed our trade and commerce ministers to identify sectors where we can deepen our regional cooperation through increased trade and investment.

As leading sources of innovation and creativity, our three countries are committed to the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPR).  We commit to promote sound enforcement practices and an effective legal framework for IPR enforcement in the areas of criminal enforcement, enforcement at the border, civil and administrative actions, and distribution of IPR infringing material on the Internet consistent with the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), which the United States and Canada have recently signed.  Mexico will continue to work on a comprehensive reform to its legal system to achieve the high standards pursued under ACTA.

Energy cooperation reduces the cost of doing business and enhances economic competitiveness in North America.  We recognize the growing regional and federal cooperation in the area of continental energy, including electricity generation and interconnection and welcome increasing North American energy trade.  We commit our governments to work with all stakeholders to deepen such cooperation to enhance our collective energy security, including the safe and efficient exploration and exploitation of resources.  We support coordinated efforts to facilitate seamless energy flows on the interconnected grid and to promote trade and investment in clean energy technologies.

Enhanced electricity interconnection in the Americas would advance the goals of the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas to reduce energy poverty and increase the use of renewable sources of energy.  We recognize Mexico’s leadership in supporting inter-connections in Central America and reaffirm our support to bring affordable, reliable, and increasingly renewable power to businesses and homes in Central America and the Caribbean while opening wider markets for clean energy and green technology.

We pledge to continue our efforts to advance a lasting global solution to the challenge of climate change.  We are pleased with the outcome of the climate conference in Durban, with respect to both operationalizing the Cancun agreements and laying the groundwork for a new legal agreement applicable to all Parties from 2020, support the activation of the Green Climate Fund, and underline the importance of climate finance and investment in the context of meaningful mitigation.  We plan to work together, including through the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, to secure a successful outcome at the 18th U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties in Doha, Qatar.  We continue to advance the transition to a clean energy economy and cooperate to reduce global rates of deforestation and land degradation.   We also intend to deepen our trilateral cooperation and work with other interested partners to accelerate efforts aimed at reducing emissions of “short-lived climate pollutants,” noting the recently launched Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-lived Climate Pollutants in which we are all actively engaged.  Reducing our emissions of these substances, which include methane, black carbon, and many hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), offers significant opportunities to reduce the rate of global warming in the near term, in the context of our broader efforts to address climate change, while also yielding many health, agricultural productivity, and energy security benefits.

As our societies and economies become more reliant on networked technology, we recognize the growing importance of an open, interoperable, secure, and reliable Internet.   We reaffirm the importance of multi-stakeholder governance bodies for the Internet and underscore that fighting cybercrime is essential to promoting economic growth and international security.   We recognize the seminal contribution of the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime, and believe the Convention should be adopted as widely as possible.  To that end, we look forward to Canada’s ratification and Mexico’s completion of the necessary preparations for its signature of the Convention.

At the 2009 North American Leaders’ Summit, we committed to build upon our successful coordinated response to the H1N1 pandemic, which stands as a global example of cooperation, to jointly prepare for future animal and pandemic influenza to enhance the health and safety of our citizens.  Today we announce the culmination of that effort—the North American Plan for Animal and Pandemic Influenza (NAPAPI)—which provides a collaborative and multi-sectoral framework to strengthen our response to future animal and pandemic influenza events in North America and commit to its implementation.

All of our citizens are adversely affected by transnational organized crime.  We commit to direct our national efforts and deepen our cooperation against all facets of this common challenge based on the principles of shared responsibility, mutual trust, and respect.  We intend to further share expertise and information and to cooperate in key areas such as countering arms trafficking and money laundering consistent with our laws and constitutions.

We are committed to strengthening security in the Americas through capacity building support.  We intend to enhance our cooperation with our partners in Central America.  In 2012, our governments will launch a consolidated Central America Integration System (SICA)-North America Security Dialogue to deepen regional security coordination and cooperation.   We will remain actively engaged in the ongoing SICA-Group of Friends of Central America collaborative process, to align international assistance and programs supporting the implementation of the Central American Regional Security Strategy.  We also welcome the recent High Level Hemispheric Meeting on Transnational Organized Crime, and recognize the relevance of closer collaboration and information sharing among all relevant national agencies.

We reiterate our commitment to Haiti and call upon Haitian political actors to work together and take concrete steps toward strengthening governance and the rule of law, which are fundamental to increased trade, investment, and long-term development and prosperity.  We note the urgency and importance of parliamentary confirmation of a new government, and for that government to confirm the timeline for Senate and local elections.  We also encourage Haiti to continue to pursue the development of the Haitian National Police so it can take full responsibility for Haiti’s security.

To further strengthen nuclear security on the North American continent, we worked together, along with the International Atomic Energy Agency, to convert the fuel in Mexico’s research reactor to low enriched uranium and provide new low enriched uranium fuel in exchange for the highly enriched uranium fuel, as pledged during the Washington Nuclear Security Summit in 2010 and announced at the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit in March 2012.

Our strengthened dialogue on priority issues in the North American agenda is reflected in the frequent formal and informal ministerial and technical meetings across a wide range of issues among our three countries, including the work of the NAFTA Free Trade Commission and the North American Commissions for Environmental Cooperation and for Labor Cooperation to continue to enhance our region’s prosperity, protect the environment, and improve working conditions in North America.  Taking into account our common security and defense challenges, such as transnational criminal organizations, as well as opportunities to strengthen cooperation in the field of disaster relief, we welcome the recent expansion of our ministerial-level dialogue through the North American Defense Ministers Meeting held March 26-27, 2012 in Ottawa.

As partners in the Americas, we are committed to work together within the Inter-American System and in the framework of the VI Summit of the Americas, to be held April 14-15 in Cartagena, Colombia.  We fully support the Summit’s theme of “Connecting the Americas:  Partners for Prosperity.”  The Summit provides an opportunity to leverage the ties that connect the Americas to advance democratic, transparent, accountable governance that promotes inclusive, sustainable, market-based economic growth in the decade ahead.  Deepening our shared interests and values will benefit the people of the Americas and bolster positive global engagement by countries from across the region.  We pledge to work together to ensure the Summit strengthens a shared commitment to work in equal partnership toward these goals.

In light of the importance of the Americas to our collective economic wellbeing, we are committed to working together to advance the principles approved by the Inter-American Competitiveness Network in Santo Domingo and to support the Pathways to Prosperity initiative which underscores the importance of empowering small businesses; facilitating trade; building a modern work force; and developing stronger labor and environmental practices to encourage inclusive economic growth.

We also recognize the value of our common understandings on the major challenges faced by the world today, and acknowledge the importance of promoting growth and of preserving and deepening trade as keys to the global economic recovery.  Canada and the United States support the efforts of the Mexican Presidency of the G-20 this year, and, together with Mexico, we commit ourselves to deepening our shared dialogue on economic governance therein, especially as we work to enhance North American competitiveness and prosperity.   The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) provides an opportunity to further deepen our trade relationship and create jobs.  The United States welcomes Canada’s and Mexico’s interest in joining the TPP as ambitious partners.

President Obama and Prime Minister Harper welcome President Calderon’s offer for Mexico to host the next North American Leaders’ Summit.

Joint Press Conference by President Obama, President Calderon of Mexico, and Prime Minister Harper of Canada

President Obama hosts the leaders of Mexico and Canada at the White House for a summit aimed at promoting economic growth and and creating jobs throughout North America.

President Obama holds a joint press conference
President Obama holds a joint press conference, White House Photo, Lawrence Jackson, 4/2/12

Rose Garden

1:54 P.M. EDT

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Please have a seat.  Good afternoon, everybody.  It is my pleasure to welcome two great friends and partners — President Calderón of Mexico and Prime Minister Harper of Canada.

Now, I’ve worked with Stephen and Felipe on many occasions.  We’ve joined our international partners from APEC to the G20.  From our last summit in Guadalajara, we remember Felipe’s hospitality and that of the Mexican people — including some very good mariachi and —

PRESIDENT CALDERÓN:  Mexican food.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  — some tequila, if I’m not mistaken.  (Laughter.)  I can’t reciprocate the music, but, Felipe, Stephen and I are proud to welcome you here today.

PRESIDENT CALDERÓN:  Thank you.

Between us, we represent nearly half-a-billion citizens, from Nunavut in the Canadian north to Chiapas in southern Mexico.  In between, the diversity of our peoples and cultures is extraordinary.  But wherever they live, they wake up every day with similar hopes — to provide for their families, to be safe in their communities, to give their children a better life.  And in each of our countries, the daily lives of our citizens are shaped profoundly by what happens in the other two.  And that’s why we’re here.

Today, we focused on our highest priority — creating jobs and opportunity for our people.  In the United States, our businesses have created nearly four million new jobs; confidence is up and the economy is getting stronger.  But with lots of folks still struggling to find work and pay the bills, we are doing everything we can to speed up the recovery.  And that includes boosting trade with our two largest economic partners.

As President, I’ve made it a priority to increase our exports, and I’m pleased that our exports to Canada and Mexico are growing faster than our exports to the rest of the world.  In fact, last year trade in goods with our two neighbors surpassed $1 trillion — for the first time ever.  This trade supports some 2.5 million American jobs, and I want more trade supporting even more jobs in the future.

So today, Prime Minister Harper led us in a very good discussion about how our three countries can improve our competitiveness.  We agreed to continue making our borders more efficient and more secure so it’s faster and cheaper to travel and trade.  We’re expanding cooperation to create clean energy jobs and combat climate change — an area in which President Calderón and Mexico have been a real leader.

I’m pleased to announce that our three nations are launching a new effort to get rid of outdated regulations that stifle job creation.  Here in the United States, our efforts to cut red tape and ensure smart regulations will help achieve savings and benefits to businesses, consumers, and our country of more than $100 billion.  And we’re already working to streamline and coordinate regulations with Canada and Mexico on a bilateral basis.  So now our three nations are going to sit down together, go through the books and simplify and eliminate more regulations that will make our joint economies stronger.

This is especially important, by the way, for our small and medium-sized businesses, which, when they start exporting, often start with Mexico and Canada.  So this is going to help create jobs, and it’s going to keep us on track to meet my goal of doubling U.S. exports.

More broadly, I reiterated my commitment to comprehensive immigration reform, which would be good for workers and good for business.  I’m pleased that Canada and Mexico have also expressed an interest in joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  Consultations with our TPP partners are now underway on how new members can meet the high standards of this trade agreement, which could be a real model for the world.  And I very much appreciated President Calderón updating us on preparations for the next G20 summit, which he will be hosting in June.

Our other major focus today was the security that our citizens deserve.  Criminal gangs and narco-traffickers pose a threat to each of our nations, and each of our nations has a responsibility to meet that threat.  In Mexico, President Calderón has shown great courage in standing up to the traffickers and cartels, and we’ve sped up the delivery of equipment and assistance to support those efforts.

Here in the United States, we’ve increased cooperation on our southern border, and dedicated new resources to reducing the southbound flow of money and guns, and to reduce the demand for drugs in the United States, which helps fuel — helped to fuel this crisis.  And today each of us reaffirmed our commitment to meeting this challenge together — because that’s the only way that we’re going to succeed.

Beyond our borders, these cartels and traffickers pose an extraordinary threat to our Central American neighbors.  So we’re teaming up.  Defense ministers from our three countries met last week as a group — for the first time ever.  And we’re going to be coordinating our efforts more closely than ever, especially when it comes to supporting Central America’s new strategy on citizen security, which will be discussed at the Summit of the Americas in Colombia next week.

So, again, I want to thank Stephen and Felipe for being here.  When I came to office I pledged to seek new partnerships with our friends in the Americas, a relationship of equality and shared responsibility built on mutual interest and mutual respect.  That’s what we’ve done.  And it wouldn’t have been possible without the leadership and sense of purpose that these two outstanding leaders have brought to all our efforts, including our efforts today.  As a result, I believe our nations and our citizens will be more secure, more prosperous and in a better position to give their children the lives that they deserve.

So with that, let me turn it over to President Calderón.

PRESIDENT CALDERÓN:  Thank you, President Obama.  (As interpreted.)  Your Excellency, Mr. Barack Obama, President of the United States of America; Right Honorable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, ladies and gentlemen of the press; Mr. Ambassadors; legislators; friends:  First of all, I would like to thank President Barack Obama for his extraordinary hospitality and that of his government in hosting this Summit of the Leaders of North America.

And briefly, I would also like to express on behalf of the government of Mexico, the people of Mexico, my family and my own behalf, my most sincere sympathies to the family and relatives of former President Miguel de la Madrid Hurtado for his lamentable death yesterday.  Tomorrow we will be rendering homage to him in Mexico.

The reasons for which we are here today at this Summit of North American Leaders with President Barack Obama and the Prime Minister of Canada, we’ve come through a work day that has been very fruitful and fluid with an exchange of opinions and progress to the benefit of our respective citizens.

I’m also very thankful to my two colleagues for the openness with which we have broached some very complex items on our working agenda.  I recognize and value their enormous commitment to our common region.

The leaders of North America share a vision of a strong, solidary, safe, competitive region that is able to successfully face head on the challenges of today.  We agree that our common challenges can only be faced together.  And therein lays the importance of having dialogue, strong dialogue, amongst our three countries.

The data that President Obama has just given us is very important, that our trade has exceeded $1 trillion for the first time.  And I think that that is not separate from a reality that has to be underscored.  In this very complex world full of economic problems and severe crises, Canada, the United States and Mexico are three countries that are growing right now and generating jobs today.

And that growth and those millions of jobs, many of them have to do precisely with the greatest trade exchanges that we have ever seen amongst these great nations.  I would say that the potential of North America tied to these three countries is such that within our own nations we have a great deal to do to make the most of these opportunities for greater exchanges amongst our peoples.

As we’ve mentioned today, we have progressed on various fronts.  For instance, we’ve advanced on the deregulation in our countries — in our own countries, as well as amongst our countries.  We have progressed as well in harmonization of certain standards that facilitate trade.  We’ve also progressed, in our case, on the bilateral relationship in border infrastructure.  And all of this has led, of course, to the benefit of Canadian, Mexican and American families.

Another line of ideas, I would also say that the three nations have renewed their decision to strengthen cooperation at the international level, particularly in issues as sensitive as the security of our citizens.  We have reiterated the values upon which our societies were founded:  democracy, liberty, justice, the respect for human rights.  And today the political dialogue amongst us is perhaps stronger than ever.

We have renewed certain principles of our existence and of our challenges:  The principle of shared responsibility, the exchange of information, and especially the strengthening of our institutions that has to be the guide of our cooperation.

Clearly, I expressed to President Obama and to Prime Minister Harper that the fight that Mexico is experiencing for a safer North America also requires a strengthening of national actions, amongst other things, to stop the traffic of weapons, to combat with greater strength money laundering, and, of course, to reduce the demand for drugs that strengthens criminal organizations.  I also expressed to President Obama and to Prime Minister Harper that Mexico recognizes the commitment that they have undertaken to progress along those lines.

It’s also necessary to strengthen the regional security focus, and in order to do this, we need to include our neighbors and Central American partners, who are also facing serious problems and who need our solidarity.  The three countries have agreed to establish a joint dialogue mechanism with the Central American Integration System — SICA — in support of the efforts undertaken by Central American nations to fight organized crime and in favor of regional security that benefits us all.

Of course, in this meeting, we have broached the topic of the regional economy.  The leaders of North America agree that the United States, Canada and Mexico must continue to delve deeper into our successful economic relationship so as to generate more jobs and greater well-being in all three countries.

Our governments recognize that it is absolutely necessary to continue to fully comply with the NAFTA, as well as to explore new means of strengthening regional competitiveness.  And I am convinced that if we work together, we will become much more competitive than many areas of the world that we are competing with today.

Mexico’s position is that the solution to the complex economic situation experienced by the world today is not a return to protectionist practices that only isolate countries, reduce competitiveness of economies, and send investment scurrying, but that part of the problem and part of the investment that we need to see in the world economy is to see a delving deeper into our economies and making the most of our advantages that show our economic complementarity in terms of investment, labor, technologies, natural resources.  And only then will we be able to have success in a world that competes ferociously by regions.

The three countries have renewed our commitment to broaden the productive — the supply chains of the region that will be even more interconnected, supporting especially the small and medium-scale companies.

Mexican exports to the world represent 37 percent of — or have, rather, 37 percent of American content.  In other words, so American exports are American exports, and they generate millions of jobs for the region.  And in that lays the need to work even more in this region on a clear trilateral deregulation, for instance, in nanomaterials and emissions standards for some vehicles.

Today we also agreed to work in a coordinated fashion on actions that we will be adopting to modernize infrastructure and for border management.  After 10 years — the last two years, we’ve seen three new border crossing areas between Mexico and the United States, after 10 years not having seen one new route.  And we continue to work in a coordinated fashion to make our border more dynamic so that it’s a border of opportunities for progress on both sides of that border.

Tomorrow, here in Washington, our ministers of economy and of trade will be meeting within the framework of the Free Trade Commission of the NAFTA so as to continue to work towards achieving these objectives.

Today, we’ve seen that prosperity in the region depends on greater integration with full respect of our sovereignties in all fields.  And in this context, I’d like to reiterate the interest of my country to join forces as soon as possible to the TPP, or the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and its negotiations.  Because we know that Mexicans can contribute to a quick and successful conclusion of this project.  If we join forces in this region where we see the greatest growth in the world, we will be generating benefits for our families, our workers, and also substantially improving the competitiveness of the three countries in this context.

We are convinced that the experience and participation of Mexico will enrich this free trade project of the latest generation that encompasses countries in Asia, Oceania, and America.  Our country has a clear commitment to economic freedom.  We even have the support of the private sector so as to enter into the TPP.  We are a nation that believes in free trade as a true tool to foster growth and development, and we have acted as a result of this.

I would also like to thank the United States and Canada for renewing their support to Mexico and its presidency of G20.  As you know, in June of this year Mexico will host the summit of the leaders of the G20 in Los Cabos.  We are convinced, over and above the topics that we will be dealing with there, that the complex international environment needs to be an opportunity so that the world can redefine its development models with a firm commitment to the well-being of peoples and the care for the environment.

Ladies and gentlemen, in this summit, the representatives of the United States, Canada and Mexico have undertaken an open, constructive dialogue, just as corresponds to countries that share values.  We’ve talked about the enormous challenges facing us so as to work together in a globalized world.  And as a result, we will be working on building a new era that consolidates the right conditions for development in North America on the basis of a successful partnership, as we have seen so far today.

My dear President Obama, thank you for your hospitality.  (Applause.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Mr. Harper.

PRIME MINISTER HARPER:  Well, first of all, I’d like to begin by thanking you, Barack, for so graciously and so warmly  — literally — hosting us here today.  And I’d also like to begin by offering my sincere condolences to you, Felipe, and through you, to the people of Mexico on the passing of former President Miguel de la Madrid, who I gather had much to do with the NAFTA partnership that we enjoy today.

Canada places the highest the value on the friendship and partnership among our three countries.  We form one of the world’s largest free trade zones, which has been of great benefit to all of our nations.  We’re also effective collaborators in the G20, in responding to the challenges of the global recession and instability of these past few years.

As affirmed in our budget last week, our government is focused on creating jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity for all Canadians.

I’m especially pleased that the United States has welcomed Canada’s and Mexico’s interest in joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  We also had useful discussions on continued cooperation in managing our borders, streamlining regulation, securing global supply chains, and advancing clean energy.

In addition, we’ve announced a broadened plan for North American pandemic preparedness, and a new North America-Central America dialogue on security to fight transnational organized crime.

Finally, we discussed the agenda for the upcoming Summit of the Americas in Colombia.  Canada looks forward to continue to working with the United States and Mexico to promote democratic principles, regional stability, and market-based economic growth with our partners in the Western Hemisphere.

And once again, Barack and Felipe, I look forward to continuing our useful discussions in Cartagena.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Outstanding.

All right, I think that we’re going to take a question from each press delegation.  So I’ll start with Julianna.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  After last week’s arguments at the Supreme Court, many experts believe that there could be a majority, a five-member majority, to strike down the individual mandate.  And if that were to happen, if it were to be ruled unconstitutional, how would you still guarantee health care to the uninsured and those Americans who’ve become insured as a result of the law?

And then a President for President Calderón and Prime Minister Harper.  Over the weekend, Governor Mitt Romney said that the U.S. used to promote free enterprise around the world, and he said, “Our President doesn’t have the same feelings about American exceptionalism that we do, and I think over the last three or four years, some people around the world have begun to question that.”  My question to the both of you is whether you think that American influence has declined over the last three to four years.

And, President Obama, if you’d like to respond to that, too.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, on the second part of your question, it’s still primary season for the Republican Party.  They’re going to make a decision about who their candidate will be.

It’s worth noting that I first arrived on the national stage with a speech at the Democratic Convention that was entirely about American exceptionalism, and that my entire career has been a testimony to American exceptionalism.  But I will cut folks some slack for now because they’re still trying to get their nomination.

With respect to health care, I’m actually — continue to be confident that the Supreme Court will uphold the law.  And the reason is because, in accordance with precedent out there, it’s constitutional.  That’s not just my opinion, by the way; that’s the opinion of legal experts across the ideological spectrum, including two very conservative appellate court justices that said this wasn’t even a close case.

I think it’s important — because I watched some of the commentary last week — to remind people that this is not an abstract argument.  People’s lives are affected by the lack of availability of health care, the inaffordability of health care, their inability to get health care because of preexisting conditions.

The law that’s already in place has already given 2.5 million young people health care that wouldn’t otherwise have it.  There are tens of thousands of adults with preexisting conditions who have health care right now because of this law.  Parents don’t have to worry about their children not being able to get health care because they can’t be prevented from getting health care as a consequence of a preexisting condition.  That’s part of this law.

Millions of seniors are paying less for prescription drugs because of this law.  Americans all across the country have greater rights and protections with respect to their insurance companies and are getting preventive care because of this law.

So that’s just the part that’s already been implemented.  That doesn’t even speak to the 30 million people who stand to gain coverage once it’s fully implemented in 2014.

And I think it’s important, and I think the American people understand, and the I think the justices should understand, that in the absence of an individual mandate, you cannot have a mechanism to ensure that people with preexisting conditions can actually get health care.  So there’s not only a economic element to this, and a legal element to this, but there’s a human element to this.  And I hope that’s not forgotten in this political debate.

Ultimately, I’m confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.  And I’d just remind conservative commentators that for years what we’ve heard is, the biggest problem on the bench was judicial activism or a lack of judicial restraint — that an unelected group of people would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law.  Well, this is a good example.  And I’m pretty confident that this Court will recognize that and not take that step.

Q    You say it’s not an abstract conversation.  Do you have contingency plans?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  I’m sorry.  As I said, we are confident that this will be over — that this will be upheld.  I’m confident that this will be upheld because it should be upheld.  And, again, that’s not just my opinion; that’s the opinion of a whole lot of constitutional law professors and academics and judges and lawyers who have examined this law, even if they’re not particularly sympathetic to this particular piece of legislation or my presidency.

PRESIDENT CALDERÓN:  (As interpreted.)  Your question was a little local for me, and so I’m glad that the President of the United States answered it.  But I would take advantage of this moment to say that after increasing the budget line for the folk insurance six-fold, and after having built more than 1,000 new clinics in the country, we’re getting close to reaching universal coverage of health care — full, free health care coverage for all people up to 18 years of age, including cancer coverage.  Of the 112 million Mexicans, 106 million will have efficient, effective universal health care coverage.

So I would say that I would hope that one of the greatest economies in the world, such as the United States, could follow our example in achieving this, because it was a great thing.

PRIME MINISTER HARPER:  Well, I don’t think you really expect me to intervene in the U.S. presidential election.  Let me just say this.  For Canada — and this is something that I think transcends governments in Canada or administrations here in the United States — for Canada, the United States is and always will be our closest neighbor, our greatest ally and our best friend.  And I believe that American leadership is at all times great and indispensable for the world.

And I think over the past few years we’ve done great things together in terms of the response both through the G20 and bilaterally on the recession and the recovery.  We had, under your leadership, Barack, that successful intervention in Libya.  Our trade relationship is the biggest in the world and growing.  And so I think it’s been a tremendous partnership.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Somebody from the Mexican press corps.

Q    Good afternoon.  For President Calderón, you were saying — you were referring to weapons.  We’d like to know what President Obama said in terms of what’s going to be done to stop the traffic of weapons.

And, President Obama, I’d like to know what plans your government has in the presidential election process in Mexico.  What was discussed in terms of the interviews with the candidates in Mexico City?  And I’d also like to know, for the government of the United States, there’s a threat for the country in this sense on weapons, Mr. President.  Weapons have come into the country.  Are there military leaks of letting the arms come through?  What’s going to be done?

And for Prime Minister Harper, is the visa requirement going to be removed for Mexicans?  Thank you.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  That’s a lot of questions.  (Laughter.)  Go ahead, go first.

PRESIDENT CALDERÓN:  (As interpreted.)  My position on this subject is very clear, and I would repeat it here.  Let me broach it from another angle.  It’s been shown that when there is an excessive, quick availability of weapons in any given society, there is an increase in violence and the murders that goes on many years afterwards.

This phenomenon took place in many places of Africa after their civil wars.  We’ve see in El Salvador, Guatemala, in Eastern Europe, in Kosovo, in Bosnia.  It’s happened — it’s taken place in many different areas of the world.  And we sustain that the expiry of the assault weapons ban in the year 2004 coincided almost exactly with the beginning of the harshest period of violence we’ve ever seen.

During my government, we have seized over 140,000 weapons in four years.  And I think that the vast majority have been assault weapons — AK-47s, et cetera.  And many, the vast majority of these weapons were sold in gun shops in the United States.  Along the border of the U.S. and Mexico, there are approximately 8,000 weapons shops.  If we do our accounts, that means that there are approximately nine weapons stores for each Walmart that exists in the United States and Mexico.

So a good deal of our discussion did touch upon this.  But I recognize, at the same time, the administrative effort that’s been undertaken, particularly by President Obama and his administration, so that the agencies for control of illegal actions curb this export of guns and weapons to Mexico.  We’ve seen a much more active effort in this sense than in any other time in the past.

I have a great deal of respect for the U.S. legislation, especially the Second Amendment.  But I know that if we don’t stop the traffic of weapons into Mexico, also if we don’t have mechanisms to forbid the sale of weapons, such as we had in the ‘90s, or for registry of guns, at least for assault weapons, then we are never going to be able to stop the violence in Mexico or stop a future turning of those guns upon the U.S.

So if I am against the traffic of weapons in Mexico, I’m against the traffic of weapons anywhere, be that within any circumstance.  The government of Mexico will never be able to accept anything that has to do with opening this.

President Obama has been very clear on the position of his government.  We understand the work being done by the agencies to stop the criminals.  But this cannot be an obstacle to the cooperation that we have to have amongst Mexico and the United States to stop these criminal activities that underlie this issue, which is one of the greatest obstacles and problems for Mexico.

I understand the internal problems from a political point of view in the United States, and I mentioned this publicly in Congress in the United States, and I said things exactly the way I believe them.  I said them outright.  There’s a great deal of discrepancy between points of view.  It’s a very complex political issue.  But it is very important to underscore it.

And I believe that’s the only part of the question that I can answer, and I would say that what President Obama has already answered was very well done.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Just very briefly, with respect to the presidential elections in Mexico, Vice President Biden met with the candidates to express sentiments that are similar to the ones that Stephen just expressed here with respect to U.S. elections.  And that is that the friendship between our three countries, the partnership between our three countries, extends beyond and is more fundamental than any particular party or any particular election.  And that’s the message we have to send with respect to Mexico.

I’ve had a excellent working relationship with Felipe.  I expect to have an excellent working relationship with the next Mexican President, whoever that candidate may be, because the underlying common interests that we have economically, socially, culturally, the people-to-people relationship that we have, is so important that it transcends partisan politics.

And with respect to the issue of guns, I’ve made very clear in every meeting that I’ve had with Felipe — and we’ve actually put into practice efforts to stop illegal gun trafficking North to South.  It is a difficult task, but it’s one that we have taken very seriously and taken some unprecedented steps.  We will continue to coordinate closely with the Mexican government because we recognize the toll that it’s taken with respect to families and innocent individuals inside of Mexico.

And this is part of our broader comprehensive cooperation in weakening the grip of narco-trafficking within Mexico.  And we recognize that we have a responsibility to reduce demand for drugs, that we have a responsibility to make sure that not only guns, but also bulk cash isn’t flowing into Mexico.  And I — obviously President Calderón takes very seriously his responsibilities to apply effective law enforcement within Mexico.  And I think he’s taken courageous steps to do that.

So we’re going to keep on partnering together in order to continue to make progress on this very important issue.

PRIME MINISTER HARPER:  You asked me about the visa requirement.  The visa requirement is the really only effective means we have in Canada today to deal with large-scale bogus refugee claims under our refugee determination system.

Legislation that is being implemented — and in fact, there’s legislation before parliament to enhance those changes  — that legislation will in the future, in years to come, will give us tools other than visa requirement to deal with that particular problem.  But as of today that remains the only tool at our disposal.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Okay.  And finally from —

PRIME MINISTER HARPER:  Yes.  Mark Kennedy, Postmedia News.

Q    Hello, gentlemen.  I have a couple of questions on two critical issues that you were discussing today — one on trade and one on crime.  On trade, Prime Minister Harper, why is Canada’s position at the negotiating table on the Trans-Pacific Partnership so important to Canada?  And secondly, to get us there, to be a player, are you willing to give up as a precondition our supply management system?

And, President Obama, you said earlier that there needs to be high standards for a country to be there.  I’m wondering whether you think, yet, Canada has met those high standards — whether you want us to drop our traditional supply management system.

And on crime, we in Canada read about the challenges that Mexico has on the drug cartels and the horrible violence that occurs down there.  But perhaps it’s possible that many Canadians, and perhaps even Americans, don’t see it as affecting their lives — perhaps it doesn’t affect their communities.  So on that issue, why do you three gentlemen think that a three-country coordinated approach is necessary to protect our citizens?

And, Prime Minister, I think you being the only person that can speak both English and French, if you can do that, please.

PRIME MINISTER HARPER:  Sure.  First of all, in response to the question on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, this is — our desire to be part of that negotiation is part of Canada’s ambitious trade agenda.  As you know, we are currently in negotiations with over 50 countries around the world, including the European Union and Japan and India.  So this was obviously a logical extension of our desire, the desire of our government to dramatically broaden our free trade relationships around the world.

Canada’s position on Trans-Pacific Partnership is the same as our position in any trade negotiation.  We expect to negotiate and debate all manner of issues, and we seek ambitious outcomes to free trade agreements.  In those negotiations, of course, Canada will attempt to promote and to defend Canada’s interest not just across the economy but in individual sectors as well.

On the question of security, look, the security problems are — the security challenge, particularly around the drug trade, is a serious regional problem throughout our hemisphere that has real impacts — not the kind of governance and security impacts we see maybe in Central America and the Caribbean and elsewhere — but has real, serious impacts on the health and safety of communities in our country as well.  And as these criminal networks are transnational, it’s important that our attempts to fight them be equally transnational.  And that’s why we work together on these initiatives.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, with respect to the TPP, as is true of any process of arriving at a trade agreement, every country that’s participating is going to have to make some modifications.  That’s inherent in the process, because each of our countries have their idiosyncrasies; certain industries that have in the past been protected; certain practices that may be unique to that country but end up creating disadvantages for businesses from other countries.  And so it’s a process of everybody making adjustments.

I don’t think Canada would be unique in that.  Are there areas where we’d like to see some changes in terms of Canadian practices?  Of course.  I assure you that Canada will have some complaints directed at us, and every member of the Trans-Pacific Partnership eventually would have to make some modifications in order to accommodate the larger interest of growing the overall economy and expanding trade and ultimately jobs.  So I don’t anticipate that there’s something unique about Canada that wouldn’t be true for any of the other aspirants to forming this Trans-Pacific Partnership.

With respect to the transnational drug trade, first and foremost, I think we should be concerned about what’s happening in Mexico and Central America because when you have innocent families and women and children who are being gunned down on the streets, that should be everybody’s problem, not just our problem — not just their problem.

There’s a sense of neighborly regard and concern that has to be part of our calculus and our foreign policy.  But more practically, the United States shares a border with Mexico.  If you have this kind of violence and the power of the drug trade as a whole expanding in countries that are so closely affiliated with us — in Central American countries — if you start getting a larger and larger space in which they have control over serious chunks of the economy, if they’re undermining institutions in these countries, that will impact our capacity to do business in these countries.  It could have a spillover effect in terms of our nationals who are living in those countries, tourists that are visiting these countries.  It could have a deteriorating effect overall on the nature of our relationship.  And that’s something that we have to pay attention to.

And, as I said, I think the Mexican government has taken this very seriously at great cost to itself.  We have an obligation to take it just as seriously, in part because we are the ultimate destination for a large chunk of this market.

And that — Stephen and I were trading notes — in places like the United States and Canada, this is not just an issue of — that traditionally was very urban.  This is disseminated across our communities.  And you go into rural communities and you’ve got methamphetamine sales that are devastating young and old alike, and some of that is originally sourced in Mexico.  And so even in the remotest, most isolated parts of Canada or the United States, they’re being impacted by this drug trade, and we’ve got to work cooperatively in order to deal with it.

PRESIDENT CALDERÓN:  (As interpreted.)  And I’d like to look at it from another standpoint.  The security of North America is absolutely tied to each of its member states.  There cannot be full security in this country or in Canada or in Mexico if we do not have a system that actually enables the cooperation mechanisms to act in facing threats that have no borders, that are transnational by their very nature.  And these are threats that are not just tied into drug trafficking, which is transnational of course.

And I’ll give you two examples of success stories that I was mentioning this morning.  One, the attempt to take to Mexico one of the children of Qaddafi — one of Qaddafi’s children.  This implied an international and very North American operation because it was headed up by a Canadian businesswoman who hired an American company, which hired, in turn, Mexican pilots and counterfeiters.  And this multinational operation could have been — would not have been avoided without the international security mechanisms that we didn’t have before, but that now we have.

Also, being able to avoid the assassination of the Saudi ambassador here in Washington would not have been possible without the mechanisms and cooperation that we have today.

So thinking that what happens in Mexico doesn’t have anything to do with the security of the citizens of this country or of any other citizen of North America is a mistake.  We have to understand that we are all tied to one another.

Now, security, understood in the regional sense — in order to understand that, we have to understand where the greatest threats to security actually lay.  The United States has a clear idea of its threat, of its security priorities, its threats of terrorism, of international terrorism, terrible attacks on the U.S. people.  Another threat clearly is in the power of transnational organized crime, which I insist is not crime or organizations that are strictly Mexican in nature.  They don’t have a nationality, and they don’t operate in just one country.  They’re probably operating right here in this city.

In Washington, for instance, the number of homicides per 100,000 inhabitants is higher by 10 — more than 10 or 20 than the largest number in any of the big cities in Mexico.  These are international organizations that have a growing destructive capacity, that act well beyond borders and threaten anyone, anywhere.

It is true, the efforts that we undertake clearly make it possible to contain that threat and to prevent it from acting in society — not just in the United States or Canada, but even in Mexico.  And that explains why, for instance, despite the perception of my country, last year 23 million tourists came to our country by plane, plus another 7 million in cruise ships, plus another 50 million who crossed the border, the land borders.

So that’s also why there are 2 million Mexicans living comfortably in Mexico, and many more living also here who came to visit us here and wanted to see us in the White House.  And that’s also why 1.6 million Canadians come to Mexico every year.  So that’s 5 percent of the Canadian population that travels to Mexico every year.

And that also explains why, despite the fact that a state such as Texas recommends that none of its young people should travel to anywhere in Mexico, that’s why there are hundreds of thousands of young Texans who go to Mexico, enjoy it, and why we haven’t seen one single incident with U.S. spring-breakers in Mexico this past spring, for instance.

Great concern, because these are multinational criminal organizations and the mechanisms, of course, to face them, to defeat them, have to be multinational.  In addition to the solidarity — expressions of solidarity of President Obama, who says that he cannot stand aside from the expressions of threat that is facing a neighbor of his, vulnerability from an institutional point of view in Mexico and Central America is an issue that also impacts and jeopardizes all of the citizens of North America.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Thank you very much, everyone.

END
2:44 P.M. EDT

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)

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