[Daily Trust] The Federal Executive Council (FEC) yesterday approved $1.5 million loan from the African Development Bank (AfDB) for the Lagos-Abidjan road project.
[HRW] Abidjan -President Alassane Ouattara, the winner of Côte d’Ivoire’s October presidential election, should use his second term to address the profound human rights challenges that have contributed to the country’s past violence, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.
This civilian CSDP mission forms part of the EU’s comprehensive approach to fighting piracy in the Horn of Africa, alongside the EU Naval Force Somalia and the EU training mission for Somalia. EUCAP Nestor works to reinforce the capacity of Somalia to effectively govern its territorial waters in order to help them fight piracy more effectively. This includes advice, mentoring and training for the coast guard, maritime criminal justice system and coastal police.
Since February 2010, Ms Stepanescu has been a Seconded National Expert/Police Expert to the Civilian Conduct and Planning Capability (CPCC)/EEAS. She has previously held positions such as: Head of the Cooperation – Single Point of Contact/Schengen Department (2008-2010); Head of Programme Development and coordination Department (PDCD), European Union Police Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo (2005-2007); Policy Officer with the Institute for Research and Crime Prevention, within the General Inspectorate of Romanian Police, Ministry of Interior (2002-2004); Chief Investigator of Gracanica Police Station/Team Leader of Trafficking in Human Beings and Prostitution Unit, Serious and Organised Crime of Pristina Regiona, UN Mission in Kosovo (2000-2002); Policy officer, General Inspectorate of Romanian Police (1998-2000); Intelligence/CID officer, General Inspectorate of Romanian Police (1994-1998).
She has a Masters degree in Sociology and Social Sciences/Implementation of community Justice from Bucharest University, Romania (2000-2002) and a Law Degree from Alxandra Ioan Cuza Police Academy, Bucharest, Romania (1990-1994). She speaks Romanian, English and French.
The decision was taken by the Political and Security Committee.
SECRETARY KERRY: Mickey, thank you very, very much. I remember you when you were six foot four and blond, and I’m not sure what you are now, but we all get cut down to size in this business. (Laughter.)
I have to tell you all, first of all, what a great privilege it is to be here with the Pacific Council. I have great respect for, admiration for your commitment to all things international, and it’s a privilege for me to be able to be here today to talk with you and share some thoughts and I thank you for the invitation.
If ever there was a single person who represented a major policy sector over an entire era, Mickey Kantor on trade in the 1990s was one. And as the U.S. trade rep, he led negotiations that created the WTO, he was instrumental in the Summit of the Americas, he organized sessions of the Asia-Pacific economic forum, and he strengthened commercial ties across the Atlantic. I want you to know that at one point he was so famous that Alan Greenspan complained about being stopped on the street by a guy who said, “Mr. Kantor, please autograph my copy of your report on barley futures.” (Laughter.) That actually happened. And I’ll bet you my last dollar it was in Washington and not in LA, folks. (Laughter.) Mickey, thank you for an extraordinary run in public service. I think everybody here joins me in admiring your accomplishments. Thank you. (Applause.)
I’m also very grateful to Bob Tuttle and Marc Nathanson, Jane Olson, Jerry Green, and all of you who helped to put this event together, and I’m grateful to Charlie Rivkin for his stewardship and some of his connections to many of you here. The council does an absolutely terrific job, and I am delighted to be your guest here in Los Angeles.
The only thing I regret about being in LA at this particular moment on this morning is that apparently I missed by two days or a couple of days the MTV Movie Awards – (laughter) – and the opening of the West Coast version of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – (laughter) – and I could have used some of that wizardry, believe me, right now. I’ve had to comfort myself by topping off the trip that Mickey just described, literally almost around the world, not quite but this evening when I arrive in Washington it will be an around-the-world-in-eight-days journey by way of Bahrain and Iraq, Afghanistan, and Japan, which was very moving, very long overdue in many respects but quite impressive. And if any of you ever have the chance, you should go and see that particular memorial.
But here I am winding up in a neighborhood with the very familiar name of Bunker Hill. Now, there is, obviously, a real difference between my Bunker Hill – the battlefield in my home of Boston, Commonwealth of Massachusetts. For more than two centuries, that battlefield has been virtually unchanged – I mean, really. But throughout its somewhat shorter history, California’s Bunker Hill has been constantly changing. And indeed, which was – what was once a community of high-end homes overlooking Olvera Street is now the reenergized center of a revitalized district for the arts, music, culture, and commerce.
And that really speaks to us about the world that we’re in today. Bunker Hill doesn’t look like it once did, but nor for that matter does much of Los Angeles. And frankly, you cannot overstate how much that is true about the rest of the world.
We are part of a 21st century international landscape that is constantly changing. And in the past 25 years, since the Berlin Wall came down, we’ve seen the old East-West, North-South divisions lose relevance as economic might has shifted towards the Pacific and some communist or former communist countries have recently developed a surprising appetite for capitalism.
But even while hundreds of millions of people have lifted themselves up, have been brought in from agrarian societies and brought into urban life and life has changed – a whole new middle class created in China and India and Brazil and Mexico, many other countries – even while people have lifted themselves out of poverty, periodic financial shocks have highlighted the growing divide between rich and poor in the world. And there have been other shocks, obviously, as well: the 9/11 attacks; conflict in Afghanistan; the second Gulf war; the so-called Arab Spring; a devastating civil war in Syria; and the emergence of a number of non-state actor terrorist groups but particularly the terrorist group known as Daesh.
So the globe is in constant motion far beyond anything that many of us grew up with in the Cold War, in the 20th century, and one storm appears to be overlapping the next in today’s world. Meanwhile, the authority of national governments is increasingly undermined by a combination of non-state actor pressures, bad governance marked in many places by rampant corruption, and a fever of sectarian, national, and religious extremism.
It’s important at this kind of a moment of transition to step back and try to separate fact from myth and identify the challenges that ought to concern us the most. And rest assured, when we do, we should begin by acknowledging that even as the United States confronts political turmoil ourselves to some degree, we look out on a more turbulent world from a position of considerable strength. That gets lost in much of the hurly-burly of the daily exchange of talking heads and cable television and 24/7 evaluation of a campaign that goes on far too long.
The reason for all of this is measurable. In recent years, our economy has generated more new private sector jobs than the rest of the industrialized countries combined. Unemployment is at 5 percent. Energy independence, once a distant dream, has moved closer to reality. America’s colleges and universities remain by far the best on the planet, and our scientists and our engineers are by far the most innovative. Our armed forces are the best led, best equipped, most capable, and most versatile – and let me tell you something – it is not even close.
And I can tell you from personal experience, when it comes to using diplomacy to help address big problems from Ebola to countering terrorism to responding to national disasters, we remain the primary country that others turn to for leadership.
As I speak, the United States and its partners are striving to find a political solution to the terrible conflict in Syria, where hundreds of thousands have died and millions more have been rendered homeless, displaced if not refugeed. In recent weeks, we’ve been able to reduce the violence and increase access to humanitarian aid. And ironically and perhaps uncomfortably to some, it has come about through significant cooperation between the United States and Russia that co-chaired an effort to bring people to Vienna and then co-chaired an effort to pass a United Nations Security Council resolution and now co-chairs the cessation of hostilities task force that works every day in Geneva and the daily work of a high-level team in Amman, Jordan in order to keep this in place and try to keep driving a very difficult, complex group of players towards the Geneva negotiations.
Our plan is now to push as hard as possible for a transition in governance that can bring peace and eventually be able to enable refugees to return to their homes. That’s the real solution to the problem of migration in Europe, but it’s only partially because many of the migrants are now coming from other countries and so it’s a broader economic challenge on a broader basis, which is part of what I’ll be talking about today.
At the same time, we have mobilized a 66-member international coalition that is taking the fight directly to the murderous thugs of Daesh, killing its leaders, shrinking its territory, cutting its supply lines, and bombing the revenue sources on which it depends. And I just, as I mentioned, returned from Iraq, and it is clear – and I say this with all the chastening of a war I fought in in which we always heard reports of progress, and I look at these things pretty carefully as a consequence – but I can tell you that it is clear on the battlefields we are making progress. Daesh has not taken one territory, one community and held it, since last May. And we’ve recovered 40 percent of the territory that they had claimed. And we will defeat Daesh.
And to make the United States, the region, and the world safer, we also led an international negotiation to produce an agreement, which Mickey referred to, that is blocking all of Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon. I know it was contested here, and it should be. I mean, these things are not simple. But the fact is that we now have Iran signed up to the additional protocol of the IAEA, which requires lifetime access to any place of suspicion. And we have an unbelievable rollback and dismantling of their program that exists today. And despite the predictions of many to the contrary, Iran is abiding by that agreement.
We led the way in negotiating the first-ever global agreement – more than 190 countries strong – came together in Paris to mitigate the harmful impacts of climate change.
And we are also working very, very closely with our friends in Colombia as they seek to end this hemisphere’s longest-running civil war.
We are working closely with Saudi Arabia and the UAE to bring the war in Yemen to a close. We just secured a ceasefire in the last days. We hope to be at the table within a week or two to continue negotiations.
We have led efforts, together with our Italian friends, to stand up a government in Libya and go after Daesh.
We are engaged with Turkey, Greece, Russia, and Britain to help bring about a solution to the long-frozen conflict in Cyprus.
And our special envoys are working daily in Somalia, Sudan, the Great Lakes region of Africa, and working with our five other colleagues on the DPRK and even on the complicated issue of Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenia and Azerbaijan, which just flared up even in the last days.
But always, amidst this incredible array of frozen conflicts and new conflicts, our top priority continually remains our economic strength. It is the source of our influence in the globalized marketplace and it is vital to everything else that I just talked about that we try to do.
To promote prosperity here in the United States and to advance the broader interests around the globe, we are pursuing economic policies that reflect the dynamic nature of the era in which we live. And one of the central pillars of our leadership is to negotiate and adopt 21st century agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP; and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, known as TTIP.
Now, obviously, negotiating trade deals is not directly part of the job description of the Secretary of State. That task is far better left to experts like Mickey and his successors. But as Secretary of State, I have worked from day one to emphasize that foreign policy is economic policy and economic policy is foreign policy. Without a doubt, these trade agreements are at the center of defending our strategic interests, deepening our diplomatic relationships, strengthening our national security, and reinforcing our leadership across the globe. And the importance, my friends, cannot be overstated.
Now, we all know that the United States and the European have long boasted a broad and mutually beneficial economic partnership. Together, we account for roughly half of the world’s GDP, and about one-third of global trade. And every day, $3 billion in goods and services crosses the Atlantic, all of which supports jobs and growth in both of our economies.
But as times change, our relationship has to adapt to new challenges and to new opportunities. TTIP will do this by implementing commonsense reforms to remove tariffs, eliminate red tape for goods that crosses borders, and promote services enabled by the internet – all the while upholding consumer, environmental, and labor protections consistent with our shared values. And contrary to some of the mythology that gets out there – and I will be going to Europe to speak about this in the days ahead – nothing in TTIP lowers standards or voids regulations. It raises standards. It adheres to people’s previous regulation. And it, in fact, improves life and opens job opportunities on both sides of the Atlantic.
But even as we seek to complete TTIP and strengthen our bonds across one ocean, we know that our future prosperity and security will also rest on America’s role as a Pacific power. Central to that effort is the adoption of TPP, which we and 11 other countries concluded last October and signed in February.
Now, this is literally a big deal in every way, as it unites nations comprising nearly 40 percent of the global economy. And as this audience knows well, the Asia-Pacific is the single most dynamic part of the world today, and it is where much of the history of this century is going to be written. It includes three of the world’s four most populous nations and three largest economies, which means the region will have a huge say in the international rules governing the internet, digital commerce, financial regulation, maritime security, the environment, and more.
This is a region where American leadership is welcomed enthusiastically and where our engagement makes a measurable difference – precisely because our partners know that our markets, our security, and our futures are absolutely linked together.
What’s more, when we deepen our trade ties to countries along the Pacific Rim, we become better able to promote essential reforms – reforms that strengthen the rule of law, encourage partners to secure property rights, enforce contracts, fight corruption, and respect the basic dignity of their workers and citizens.
When we bolster the economic bonds between us and key allies in the Asia-Pacific, we are better able to build our cooperation on other shared challenges. And here I’m talking about the threats posed by terrorism, extreme nationalism, conflicts over natural resources, territorial disputes, and poverty.
And when we deepen our commercial connections through TPP, we will rewrite the rules of the road governing the global economy in accordance with our values and the crucial standards of transparency, accountability, and rule of law.
Make no mistake, this is not your parents’ or your grandparents’ trade agreement. TPP is the highest-standard trade deal ever reached, period.
It improves governance by setting high standards on transparency, corruption, and government accountability. It defends the rights of men and women to collective bargaining. It requires every country to refrain from using underage workers and unsafe workplaces. It sets a high bar for environmental protection, for clean air, clean water, and wildlife preservation, putting it on a par with things that we always complained about because other countries didn’t do them. Now they will.
It enhances fairness by compelling governments to ensure that state-owned enterprises compete on a level playing field with privately owned companies. Think of the consequences of that step. And it establishes strong, balanced rules to protect intellectual property and the 40 million Americans working in creative and digital industries, which I don’t have to tell you is a huge issue for California film studios and for Silicon Valley.
The list goes on. But here’s the most important thing: Unlike in most past trade agreements, these standards are not part of a trade side deal. They’re not contained in a letter. They’re not contained in a separate document. They are defined within the text of the agreement itself, and they are binding – fully enforceable – as a result. That means that each participant in TPP has to keep the promises that they make or face tough sanctions for every violation.
And here’s something else to remember: If we don’t set these rules in conjunction with other countries in an effort to raise, elevate standards and put our values into the context of our trade – if we don’t step up to the plate and shape the agenda, believe me, others will be all too eager to fill the void by moving in the dangerous direction of low or no standards and no accountability, no transparency, no enforceability, no rule of law.
Right now, China is working to finish its own version of TPP, binding its market with 16 countries, extending from India to Japan. And you can be sure their agreement doesn’t raise labor or climate standards or protect intellectual property or promote fair play or, needless to say, insist on a free and open internet.
So the choice for us is to lead and help define the rules of global trade or to witness the fastest-growing markets race to the bottom, while standards antithetical to our interests and values become business as usual for billions of people across our planet. I can’t think of anything more dangerous or damaging to the rule of law and structure we have worked for since the end of World War II. In other words, supporting TPP shouldn’t be a hard choice at all.
And by the way, when it comes to the strategic value of TPP, of setting high standards and connecting us more closely to countries in the Asia-Pacific, you will find a broad, cross-discipline array of support for the agreement.
My colleague, Defense Secretary Ash Carter, said that TPP is worth more to him than another aircraft carrier. Our top military commander in the Pacific, Admiral Harry Harris, has said TPP will “enhance security and stability in a region that covers half the Earth.” Heads of government across Asia tell us that they want to sign up for TPP even before it’s officially ratified. And even the Chinese have inquired of me what the process might be for entry into TPP.
These leaders recognize, as we all do, that in our era, economic and security interests almost always overlap. And understanding that other nations look to America first for leadership, we know that with TPP, we’re going to be far better positioned to protect our interests in the globe’s most dynamic region with it than we would be without it.
So, from my perspective at the State Department, the strategic case for TPP is crystal clear. But as somebody who studied and voted on every trade deal over the last three decades in the Senate, I can assure you that the economic case – apart from the strategic case, the economic case – is just as compelling.
Regrettably, though probably no surprise in today’s political atmosphere, there’s a tremendous amount of misinformation floating around about TPP. So let me lay out a few facts as plainly as possible.
First, TPP is unequivocally a net plus for our workers and farmers, for businesses of every size, and for our economy as a whole. The best studies out there tell us that TPP can be expected to lift incomes for Americans by over $130 billion per year by 2030. The flip side of that is that if Congress should delay implementation for even one year, that decision will cost our economy $94 billion.
It’s also a fact that if TPP is good for our national economy, by definition it can only be so because it is in fact bolstering local economies which make up that national economy. So the Los Angeles metropolitan area is a prime example. Three of LA’s top five export markets are TPP members – Mexico, Canada, and Japan. And under TPP, many of the products shipped from the Port of Los Angeles will confront lower barriers to critical markets. That means cotton exports will no longer face a 10 percent tariff in Vietnam; frozen beef exports will no longer face a tariff of nearly 40 percent in Japan; automotive exports will no longer face up to 75 percent tariffs; and almonds, walnuts, and pistachios will no longer face as high as a 30 percent tariff in the region.
And what does America have to give up in return? The answer is very little indeed. Let me give you the basic arithmetic. Right now, U.S. tariffs average 1.4 percent; those of our partners average 20 to 50 times that level. Under TPP, nearly all of those tariffs will drop to zero. In fact, when fully implemented, TPP will eliminate over 18,000 foreign taxes on Made in America products. That’s good for American workers. So we’ll have lower taxes, easier access to growing markets, rising exports – all good news for our factories, farmers, ranchers, and service providers.
And on top of reduced tariffs, TPP will ensure that our partners treat American products the same way that we treat products from their country. It will cut red tape. It will reduce bureaucracy for our small businesses and family farms. And it will help our companies participate more directly in new global supply chains that are creating unprecedented opportunities all around the world.
When you add it all up, the economic case for TPP is actually not even a close call in my judgment – it’s overwhelming.
Yet, even given these facts, many Americans still feel a sense of anxiety about TPP and TTIP. In fact, they’ve been revved up to have some anxiety about anything related to trade. Now, some of that trust unfortunately comes from politicians who play to fears. It also comes from legitimate anger about the economic status of millions of our fellow citizens who have not gained through trade. And, frankly, I understand that anger.
For many Americans, free trade is seen as a proxy for the underlying and disruptive forces reshaping the global economy – forces like the evolution of new technologies, the increased mobility of labor and capital, and the accelerated pace of travel. Put these forces all together, and they spell globalization, which is transforming entire sectors of our economy while giving birth simultaneously to industries unimagined even a few years ago.
Now, these developments are unsettling to a lot of people – and we see and we hear, somewhat ironically, on the social media that are the very product of those same forces. For many, the shifts of recent years have produced uncertainty about the future and, among some, even a fear of anything new, anything foreign, or anything that might further expedite change.
And as is often the case, commentators and politicians on both sides of the political spectrum fan flames and tap into that fear, some claiming literally that we should renegotiate every international economic accord on the books, and others saying we shouldn’t strike a trade deal at all.
Well, my friends, it’s hard to describe how far that misses the point. And they miss the point, some for lack of understanding, some purposefully to exploit the fear and anger. But this debate, I’m telling you, is really nothing new, nor is it that hard to comprehend. Every job lost, every manufacturing plant closed or replaced by a facility overseas, every business shuttered because of foreign competition has the capacity to undermine whole communities, even regions. And the trauma of adjusting when companies disappear is nothing but extraordinarily painful.
Some people who have worked for decades see their skills no longer valued and their plans for retirement perhaps even go up in smoke. Others are compelled to accept jobs that pay less, fewer benefits. Still others can’t find a job at all. But let me tell you something: Those changes would occur without trade and probably at a faster, more debilitating rate. The problem is not trade itself. It’s the lack of adequate social and economic support for the people most affected, the lack of adequate sensitivity and help and assistance to people to make the transition, the lack of help for a middle class and those struggling to get into it.
Now, as a society, we know that we have to do much more to address the gnawing and often legitimate sense of loss and anxiety that comes with transition. But here’s something else we know: The primary reason old jobs disappear is not trade; it’s technology, and certainly not trade agreements. When machines do more, productivity goes up, and the demand for human labor will shift to other industries. That we have been seeing for centuries.
And that’s one of the reasons that protectionist trade policies just don’t work. You can’t build a wall against knowledge, particularly in a world where everybody has that knowledge at their fingertips on a daily basis – all the time, everything. People – this is part of our challenge with respect to violent extremism, because so many people in parts of the world where there’s failing governance and a lack of opportunity and a lack of education are running around with a smartphone that puts them in touch with every single thing other people have and underscores to them what they don’t have.
Now, how do we know that protectionist policies don’t work in countering this? Because we’ve tried it before with disastrous results. We tried raising tariffs on foreign-made steel, electronics, textiles, and more, in hopes of giving our businesses a competitive edge. And none of it worked – at least not for a sustained period of time.
In fact, as you can imagine, most of these measures actually wound up undermining our competitiveness, because they force you to stand still while others continue to move down the technology trial and leave you behind. In fact, they wind up hurting our businesses, and they prevent us from cultivating important overseas markets. In the worst case, when we enacted tariffs in the 1930s, other countries came back and did exactly the same thing to us. And what happened? Most of you know it. U.S. exports dried up. Companies that had borrowed money couldn’t repay their loans. Banks failed. The stock market crashed. Unemployment went through the roof. And the global economy went right over the cliff and into the Great Depression.
So let’s be clear. Protectionism is not the remedy to economic pain, and it’s not even a harmless placebo. It’s the way to stop our economy and this new world we’re living in dead in its tracks. So we have to find a better path. And while we have an obligation to recognize and respond to the challenges that are presented by globalization, we would be fools not to take advantage of the benefits that increased commerce can yield, particularly a country like ours that has such extraordinary free allocation of capital, such remarkable entrepreneurial capacity, and amazing innovation.
Here’s the reality. No politician, no government, no one can put the genie of globalization back into the bottle. There is no policy that can reverse what communications, the marketplace, and citizens around the world have embraced. What we need are policies that tame the worst elements of runaway capitalism in places where people have no rules. We went through that period in our country also, called the robber baron period, if you all remember.
In the 21st century, you cannot only sell to yourself and expect to grow and survive, let alone compete – not when 95 percent of the world’s consumers, customers live beyond our borders; not when 11.7 million well-paying American jobs, and growing, are supported by exports.
Here in California, you understand this as well as anybody anywhere in the world. In 2015, over 75,000 of this state’s businesses – including nearly 35,000 right here in Los Angeles alone – together exported 165 billion in goods. And these weren’t just big corporations; most of these were firms of small and medium-size. And the shipments included much of what the Golden State is famous for: fruits and nuts from the Central Valley, wines produced up and down the coast, and high-tech computer and communications equipment. And those exports supported over 775,000 jobs throughout the United States of America.
The fact is, no much – no matter how much some may want it to happen or fear the future, you can’t reverse the course on trade and globalization, and nor should we want to. What we can do is mitigate the harm that may be done to some, maximize the benefits to all, and lift the standards that govern global trade so that it levels the playing field for American workers and businesses. That we can do, and we are.
We can also have a tax system in America that more fairly honors the work of the vast majority of Americans. That would go a long way towards rebuilding the consensus for trade and make America fair at the same time. And by the way, if it’s done correctly, it can do so in a way that makes us far more competitive and simplifies life for lots of people.
That’s why the Obama Administration has proposed ways to ensure – these forces are why we have undertaken efforts to ensure that any student or worker can gain the skills required to compete through vocational education, community college, lifelong learning, on-the-job training. It’s why we provide support for entrepreneurs and innovators who are designing and manufacturing the next big thing on L.A.’s Silicon Beach or in Silicon Valley or in the garages and basements somewhere, anywhere up and down California.
It is why we are backing institutions like the EXIM Bank that help American firms to be able to compete more effectively. It’s why we have supported continuing and expanding trade adjustment assistance, so we can retrain workers who are displaced when a company does close down or move.
It’s why our Administration has worked tirelessly to fight back against unfair trade practices, impose duties on those illegally dumping goods on our shore, and challenged illegal subsidies at the WTO. And by the way, in the last seven years, we have won every single trade enforcement dispute decided by the WTO – wins that hold other countries accountable to their commitments of fair play, wins that are worth literally billions of dollars combined for American farmers and ranchers and manufacturers and other exporters.
Put simply, the solution to our economic future isn’t shutting the door to trade; it’s opening the door to a system that will make trade work for everybody. And TPP is, by far, the best way to build that system today.
Here on the West Coast and across our nation, this agreement will help to pave the way for new opportunities to innovate, create whole new industries, and it will be a clear win for American workers, American businesses and communities.
And around the world, TPP will not only reinforce our economic preeminence, but, as I mentioned earlier, it will solidify our alliances, it will tie us to countries that we need to help us. We cannot go it alone in this world today. We need to reassure our partners in the Asia-Pacific as a means also of cementing our leadership with respect to other issues ranging from the DPRK and nuclear weaponry to the South China Sea to the fight against violent extremism.
We know this from experience, my friends, but we’re also hearing it from our allies. If you don’t trust the word of anybody in America who speaks about this, just listen to the people who depend on our relationships.
In recent months, we’ve heard Prime Minister Turnbull of Australia equate TPP with, quote, “standing up for…the rules-based international order.” Just two weeks ago, while in Washington for the Nuclear Security Summit, Prime Minister Key of New Zealand warned that if the U.S. abdicates its leadership in the region, the role will get filled. And you all know by who.
Perhaps most bluntly, Prime Minister Lee of Singapore stated that “Getting the TPP done will deepen links on both sides of the Pacific. [But] failing to get the TPP done will hurt the credibility and [seriousness] of the U.S. not just in Asia, but worldwide.” That’s the prime minister of Singapore.
We are all aware that right now is a critical time in the Asia-Pacific region. The region faces a genuine threat from North Korea, probably the worst neighbor any nation could have. Meanwhile, China seems determined to unilaterally assert and act on territorial claims in the South China Sea that several countries in the region dispute. We don’t take a position on the disputes themselves, but we do take the position that they ought to be resolved without unilateral action, without militarization, through diplomacy, through negotiation.
It is no wonder when you consider these tensions and this world that America’s presence is not only welcomed; it is in high demand. It’s also no wonder that our allies in other parts of the world are disturbed, particularly in Asia and those who joined the TPP, when they hear irresponsible threats to unilaterally walk away from our commitments and to undo overnight some seven decades of security cooperation.
Ultimately, this whole debate – about TPP, TTIP, trade generally – comes down to a fundamental question: Will we bind our nation closer to partners and allies in the Asia-Pacific and Europe, and strengthen our existing and emerging relationships in key markets and regions? Or will we pull back from our role as the indispensable global leader and leave others to fill the void, and delude ourselves into somehow believing that will make us safer?
My own belief is that, when the stakes are this high, Americans will decide to lead. That’s who we are.
Indeed, wise decisions about our future have long defined critical moments in our history. For my generation, one of those moments occurred just down the street here at the fabled Memorial Coliseum when, in July of 1960, Senator John Kennedy accepted the Democratic presidential nomination and summoned the American people to join him as pioneers and explorers in a “New Frontier.”
That frontier, he said, would be one of “unknown opportunities and perils…of unfilled hopes and unfilled threats.” A frontier that was coming, and I quote, “whether we seek it or not.”
The same could be said about the challenges that we face today. Our world may be filled with perils, but it is absolutely defined by boundless opportunities and boundless possibilities – by hopes for security and growth.
This era of change and of globalization, of interconnectedness and of new alliances, is coming whether we seek it or not. Yet in our best tradition, as California has demonstrated in building an economy that’s the envy of the world and as so many generations of Americans have proven again and again, we will not shrink from the challenges before us. We will overcome them. We will turn them into opportunities and we will make our country stronger. I am confident of that.
We will move forward from the New Frontier to the Next Frontier. And we will do so with characteristic American imagination and courage and perseverance to advance our interests and our ideals at the same time. And we will thereby shape a future that makes possible our highest hopes for peace and prosperity at home and across our ever-spinning, ever-shrinking planet. Thank you. (Applause.)