WASHINGTON, DC — In this weekâ€™s address, the President laid out why new, high-standards trade agreements are important for our economy, our businesses, our workers, and our values. These new trade deals are vital to middle-class economics — the idea that this country does best when everybody gets their fair shot, everybody does their fair share, and everybody plays by the same set of rules. The President has been clear — any deal he signs will be the most progressive trade agreement in our history with strong provisions for both workers and the environment. It would also level the playing field — and when the playing field is level, American workers always win.
The audio of the address and video of the address will be available online at www.whitehouse.gov at 6:00 a.m. ET, April 25, 2015.
Remarks of President Barack Obama
The White House
April 25, 2015
President Obama: Hi, everybody. Iâ€™ve talked a lot lately about why new trade deals are important to our economy.
Today, I want to talk about why new trade deals are important to our values.
Theyâ€™re vital to middle-class economics — the idea that this country does best when everyone gets their fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.
These are simple values. Theyâ€™re American values. And we strive to make sure our own economy lives up to them, especially after a financial crisis brought about by recklessness and greed. But we also live in a world where our workers have to compete on a global scale. Right now, on an uneven playing field. Where the rules are different. And thatâ€™s why America has to write the rules of the global economy — so that our workers can compete on a level playing field.
I understand why a lot of people are skeptical of trade deals. Past deals didnâ€™t always live up to the hype. They didnâ€™t include the kind of protections weâ€™re fighting for today.
We have lessons to learn from the past — and we have learned them. But trying to stop a global economy at our shores isnâ€™t one of those lessons. We canâ€™t surrender to the future — because we are meant to win the future. If America doesnâ€™t shape the rules of the global economy today, to benefit our workers, while our economy is in a position of new global strength, then China will write those rules. Iâ€™ve seen towns where manufacturing collapsed, plants closed down, and jobs dried up. And I refuse to accept that for our workers. Because I know when the playing field is level, nobody can beat us.
Thatâ€™s why, when I took office, we started thinking about how to revamp trade in a way that actually works for working Americans. And thatâ€™s what weâ€™ve done with a new trade partnership weâ€™re negotiating in the Asia-Pacific — home to the worldâ€™s fastest-growing markets.
Itâ€™s the highest-standard trade agreement in history. Itâ€™s got strong provisions for workers and the environment — provisions that, unlike in past agreements, are actually enforceable. If you want in, you have to meet these standards. If you donâ€™t, then youâ€™re out. Once youâ€™re a part of this partnership, if you violate your responsibilities, there are actually consequences. And because it would include Canada and Mexico, it fixes a lot of what was wrong with NAFTA, too.
So this isnâ€™t a race to the bottom, for lower wages and working conditions. The trade agreements Iâ€™m negotiating will drive a race to the top. And weâ€™re making sure American workers can retool through training programs and community colleges, and use new skills to transition into new jobs.
If I didnâ€™t think this was the right thing to do for working families, I wouldnâ€™t be fighting for it. Weâ€™ve spent the past six years trying to rescue the economy, retool the auto industry, and revitalize American manufacturing. And if there were ever an agreement that undercut that progress, or hurt those workers, I wouldnâ€™t sign it. My entire presidency is about helping working families recover from recession and rebuild for the future. As long as Iâ€™m President, thatâ€™s what Iâ€™ll keep fighting to do.
Thanks, and have a great weekend.