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Interview With Dennis Bounds of KING 5

June 04, 2015

Dennis Bounds. When it comes to pacific trade this seems like this is fourth quarter, full court press, from you and your administration.

The President. It's the right thing to do for the American economy and the American people, and certainly the right thing to do for Seattle and the state of Washington. You know, since I've came into office, we've had very significant recovery and about a third of that has been driven by exports. We know that not only does it create billions of dollars in business and you know, millions of jobs depend on it, but what also is true is that typically wages for folks who work for exporting companies are about 18 percent higher than companies just focusing on the domestic market. So what we're arguing here is that globalization is here to stay, we've got to do everything we can to make sure that we're accessing other markets the same way that they are accessing ours, and that there's a level playing field on issues like labor standards and environmental standards. And that is what's reflected in this trade deal.

Dennis Bounds. Let me address that last issue. When Secretary Kerry was in Seattle area a couple weeks ago, some of the Boeing workers protested and some said they're worried about a trade deal that would adversely affect them, fearing that Boeing would build more plane parts outside of the United States, thus costing American jobs. What assurances can you give that worker from Boeing and any other big manufacturing plant that their job will be assured and stay put?

The President. Well let me just say this, other than maybe the CEO of Boeing, I don't know anyone who's done more to sell Boeing planes around the world than me and this administration. We've been very active in promoting some of our outstanding manufacturers and Boeing obviously is an iconic company. And what we know is is that when we have access to these markets then we're going to be able to compete and we also know that the U.S. has the best workers in the world, the best innovation in the world. And if Boeing was looking to relocate facilities than they would have already done so because under existing rules there's not much preventing them from doing so. Nothing in this agreement is going to induce other companies to move jobs, in fact it what it may do is bring some jobs back. I was at Nike, which like a lot of footwear companies, manufactures overseas. And what they said is "look if this passes, we may bring ten thousand jobs back here to the United States because a lot of the production's moving into the high end production as opposed to low end," and we have more skilled workers here in the United States than we do in some of these other places.

Dennis Bounds. So you see no dislocation other than that would benefit the United States and American workers?

The President. You know, in an economy of this size, there's always going to be some dislocations. But, this is not the same circumstances we were in let's say 30, 20 years ago. Companies that are reliant on a model of just low wage workers, they've already left. And what we're seeing, cause manufacturing has actually grown faster under my administration than any time since the 1990s. And it's grown faster than any other sector of the economy. What we're finding is is that companies want to move here because of low energy cost, high worker skills, access to the biggest market in the world. What they worry about is are they also going to be able to sell from the United States to other countries and if we can pry those markets open, we're going to be that much better off.

Dennis Bounds. So this is not NAFTA?

The President. Well it's not NAFTA partly because we have—one of the big problems with NAFTA is we didn't have strong labor and environmental standards that were enforceable in the agreement. And we've corrected that. And in fact, the two countries that were involved in NAFTA, Canada and Mexico, has signatories that if they end up agreeing to this Trans-pacific Partnership, they'd actually now be subject to higher labor and environmental standards than they currently are. So it's more likely that a U.S. worker is going to be competing on a level playing field with a worker in Mexico than he is under current law.

Dennis Bounds. If the voting Congress in the House, which is the one we are anticipating perhaps as early as next week, does not go your way, is that a disavowal of the Pacific trade treaty? Is it dead if that happens?

The President. Well first of all I—I never hypothesize that we're not going to get this done because it is the right thing for the American people and—

Dennis Bounds. You must think about it though.

The President. You know, I'm pretty confident we're going to be able to get this done. I think it will—but understand, all this does is give me the authority to negotiate the deal. And once we complete the deal, before I sign the deal, I've got to give Congress and the American people and the press 60 days in which this every provision every page is posted on a website. People can go through it line by line. If there's anything that I've promised that's not in there, they'll be able to point it out. Then I sign it, and then there's going to be a couple of months of congressional debate around the specifics of the trade agreement and they can still vote it down. So part of the—the thing I try to emphasize is is that I'm confident enough that this will be good for the American people that once you have a chance to take a look at it, you're gonna see, and I think people in Washington people in Seattle will be able to see, that you know if you're a wine maker, if you're a farmer, if you are part of an IT company in Washington— this is going to open up markets for you, put you in a better footing in terms of the 95% of the world's markets that are outside of the United States. Ultimately it's gonna be good for your bottom line.

Dennis Bounds. Thank you Mr. President.

The President. Really enjoyed it.

Dennis Bounds. I think if I ask one more question I'll be tossed out. [laughter]

The President. Thank you so much.

Barack Obama, Interview With Dennis Bounds of KING 5 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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