Obama says greater US trade with Asia will strengthen US jobs
US President Barack Obama, back from a tour of Asia, called Saturday for the United States to produce more goods to sell across the Pacific, touting trade as a way to revive the troubled US economy.
Facing rising unemployment and slipping poll numbers, Obama assured the public that creating new jobs back home was his top priority on the week-long tour that took him to Japan, Singapore, China and South Korea.
“I traveled to Asia to open a new era of American engagement,” Obama said in his weekly radio address, recorded while he was in Seoul.
“Above all, I spoke with leaders in every nation I visited about what we can do to sustain this economic recovery and bring back jobs and prosperity for our people — a task I will continue to focus on relentlessly in the weeks and months ahead,” he said.
Obama, who was elected in the midst of the worst economic crisis in decades, said the lesson of the turmoil was that the world’s largest economy should not fuel its growth on going into debt.
“In order to keep growing, we need to spend less, save more and get our federal deficit under control,” Obama said.
“We also need to place a greater emphasis on exports that we can build, produce, and sell to other nations — exports that can help create new jobs at home and raise living standards throughout the world,” he said.
If the United States increased exports to Asia-Pacific nations by five percent, “we can increase the number of American jobs supported by these exports by hundreds of thousands,” Obama said.
He gave the example of the Massachusetts-based American Superconductor Corporation, which he said has added more than 100 jobs by providing wind power and smart grid systems to Asia’s emerging economies.
But Obama acknowledged he could not bring back all the jobs lost in the crisis.
“Even though it will take time, I can promise you this: we are moving in the right direction,” he said.
Pro-trade business groups have had mixed feelings about Obama, whose Democratic Party enjoys strong support from labor unions.
On his trip, Obama said the United States would engage in the Trans-Pacific Partnership — a hitherto obscure pact involving Brunei, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore — in hopes of building a vast trans-Pacific free-trade zone.
But a free-trade agreement between the United States and South Korea reached under predecessor George W. Bush remains in limbo, with Obama pressing Seoul to make more concessions for the beleaguered US auto industry.
This video was published by the White House on Nov. 21, 2009.