President Barack Obama Friday reiterated his commitment to expanding U.S. trade abroad as a crucial part of his strategy to boost the national economy.
During times of prosperity, Obama said, good times were fueled by middle class workers who invented and built products that would be sold around the world.
"Our economy was thriving when shipping containers left ports like this packed with goods that were stamped with three proud words: Made in America," Obama said at the Port of Tampa. "Those exports supported a lot of good-paying jobs in America, including right here in Florida."
He added, "That's the country I want us to be again. And that's why, two years ago, I set the goal of doubling American exports by the end of 2014."
With the signing of recent trade agreements with Panama, South Korea and Colombia, the country is on track to meet that goal, Obama said.
"Soon there will be new cars on the streets of Seoul that are imported from Detroit and Toledo and Chicago," he said. "That's progress."
Obama also said that he is committed to ensuring that American companies face a level playing field when seeking to sell their goods abroad, noting that his administration has brought World Trade Organization complaints against China at nearly twice the rate of his predecessor.
"We're going to take action whenever other countries are skirting the rules, breaking the rules, and putting our workers and our businesses at an unfair position," the president said. "We're also going to make sure that you've got access to more customers."
He added, "Ninety-five percent of the world's consumers live outside our borders. We want them buying our products."
Indeed, Obama said, opening new markets for American products and businesses will be a key part of his agenda at the Summit of the Americas in Colombia over the weekend.
"In Latin America alone, over the past decade, tens of millions of people have stepped out of poverty and into the middle class," he said. "That means they've got more money to spend."
He added, "We want them spending money on American-made goods, [so] that American businesses can put more Americans back to work."
Obama said that his administration would also seek ways to encourage small and medium-sized businesses who seek access to foreign markets.
"I've always said that the true engine of job creation in this country is the private sector, not Washington," Obama said. "Our job in government is to help businesses grow and to hire -- to create platforms for their success."
He added, "Ultimately, this is what America is about. We're a nation of doers and a nation of builders. … We thrive on competition. If the global playing field is level, then America is going to win."
Obama pledged that as long as he is president he will continue to do everything in his power to give U.S. workers and businesses a chance to succeed.
"That's how we're going to make this recovery felt by all people," he said. "It's how we're going to make sure that we build not just from the top down, but from the bottom up and from the middle out. It's how we're going to make sure that everybody has a fair shot."
He added, "It's how we're going to make sure that anybody who wants a job can find one and anybody who wants to succeed and live out that American Dream has the opportunity to do so."
by RTT Staff Writer
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