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Obama makes sales pitch in Asia

| November 13, 2010 8:00 PM

YOKOHAMA, Japan (AP) - President Barack Obama appealed to Asian leaders Saturday for greater access to fast-growing markets, proclaiming "the United States is here to stay" and saying its prosperity is tied inextricably to the success of its Pacific trading partners.

"America is leading again in Asia," Obama told a gathering of chief executives at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, stressing anew his goal of doubling U.S. exports over the next five years. "For America, this is a jobs strategy," the president said. "In this region, the United States sees a huge opportunity to increase our exports in some of the fastest-growing markets in the world."

At the same time, Obama said that healthy competition need not cause ruptures in relationships between and among nations.

"There's no need to view trade, commerce or economic growth as zero sum games, where one country always has to prosper at the expense of another," the president said. "The story of Asia over the last few decades is the story of change so rapid and transformative that it may be without precedent in human history," Obama added.

While recognizing the spectacular economic growth in Asia, Obama said, "We want to get back to doing what America has always been known for: discovering, creating, and building the products that are sold all over the world."

His speech came on his first full day in Japan, following a divisive G-20 summit in Seoul where he failed to win the backing of other international leaders for a get-tough policy toward China over on its currency stance and also missed his goal of reaching agreement with longtime ally South Korea on a new free-trade pact.

But Obama told his audience he was pleased that the U.S. lead was followed in Seoul on the agreement by his summit partners on the development of a system of greater monitoring to help countries avoid the conditions and practices that caused the near-economic meltdown two years ago.

A defensive Obama had taken exception Friday to questions about whether his personal leadership or U.S. influence on the world stage - or both - had deteriorated. And he heard heavy criticism from some G-20 summit quarters over a decision by the Federal Reserve Board to buy up $600 billion worth of Treasury bonds, in a step that some likened to the sort of currency manipulation Washington has accused Beijing of pursuing.

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