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Remarks During a Meeting With National Security Leaders on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement

November 13, 2015

Well, as many of you know, this weekend I will be leaving for my trip to the G-20, and then, from there, I'll be taking my annual trip to Asia: meetings with the ASEAN countries through the East Asia Summit. Economically, the Asia-Pacific region is the most dynamic, the most populous, and fastest growing region of the world. And strategically, it is a region that's absolutely vital to our economic and national security interests in the 21st century.

We've been working hard to increase the U.S. presence and focus in the Asia-Pacific region. We are a Pacific power. Some of our closest alliances are in this region. And we do an enormous amount of business, but there's a lot more potential business to be done. And if we're going to continue to succeed in securing our Nation and our allies, then we're going to have to be a player and help establish the economic and security architecture in that region for this century and centuries to come.

I believe—and I think that we have some of the most accomplished national security experts and military officers in our presence here today; they believe—that our economic prosperity and our national security cannot be separated. And if we are going to be a serious player in this critical region of the world, then we've got to get the economics right, and we've got to get the national security right. That's why all of us agree that the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement that we have forged is so important and that it is critical for Congress to act.

The 12 nations that are party to this agreement represent 40 percent of the world's GDP. And our goal throughout this agreement has been to raise the standards, raise everybody's games in a way that advantages America's workers, American businesses, American farmers, American ranchers. The results of this agreement are an elimination of tariffs—taxes, effectively—on American products and American services being sold into this region. We're already largely open to them, but they often have been closed to us. We're changing that.

We're making sure that labor standards and environmental standards are observed there, just like they are here, so that we create a level playing field and they don't have the ability as effectively to undercut U.S. workers and U.S. businesses who are following higher standards by using child labor, for example, or dumping their pollution in the oceans in ways that U.S. businesses can no longer do.

We're making sure that intellectual property is protected, because a lot of what we produce has a lot of intellectual content. We're the software creators. We're the innovators. And if folks in these countries are able to just duplicate what we do and all the research and development that's gone into it, then over time our economic primacy will be eroded.

And the good news is, is that these countries recognize that America is, in fact, going to be in the region for a long time. They're the partner that—we are the partner that they want. And this agreement reflects the kinds of high standards that we've been shooting for.

The key now is for us to get this thing done. And I am honored to have the individuals sitting around this table: people like Henry Kissinger, who first opened up the U.S. relationship with China after decades of hostility; individuals like former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen, who understands very well what our national security needs are in the Pacific; folks like Jim Baker and Colin Powell, who have served in a variety of capacities as Treasury Secretary, as Secretary of State, as—both in uniform and out of uniform—all of them saying that this is critical to get done for the U.S. economy, but it's also critical for America's national security.

And one of the things that we all agreed on, as we discussed the issue here today, is that if we fail to get the Trans-Pacific Partnership done, if we do not create the architecture for high-standards trade and commerce in this region, then that void will be filled by China, it will be filled by our economic competitors. They will make the rules, and those rules will not be to our advantage.

So the time is for us to get this done. We've now put the text out. It is available for everybody to read. We are consulting closely with members of both parties in Congress. And we strongly believe that on a bipartisan basis we should get this done. As soon as the 90-day review period is completed and the new session of Congress begins after the Christmas break, I'm hoping that leaders in both parties and both Chambers move promptly to get this done. It will be good for American business, it will be good for American workers, it will be good for our national security for generations to come. All right?

Thank you very much, everybody.

NOTE: The President spoke at 4:18 p.m. in the Roosevelt Room at the White House. Participating in the meeting were former Secretaries of State Madeleine K. Albright, James A. Baker III, Henry A. Kissinger, and Colin L. Powell; former Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen; former National Security Advisers Stephen J. Hadley, James L. Jones, Jr., and Brent Scowcroft; Michael G. Mullen, former Chairman, and James A, "Sandy" Winnefeld, Jr., former Vice Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Samuel J. Locklear III, former commander, U.S. Pacific Command. Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter, U.S. Trade Representative Michael B. Froman, White House Senior Adviser Valerie B. Jarrett, National Security Adviser Susan E. Rice, and National Economic Council Director Jeffrey D. Zients also attended.

Barack Obama, Remarks During a Meeting With National Security Leaders on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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