Remarks by Ambassador Ron Kirk
TPP Round 8: Asia-Pacific Trade and Jobs
September 9, 2011
**As Prepared for Delivery**
“Thank you, Mayor Emanuel. And thank you for hosting the delegations of the nine Trans-Pacific Partnership members this week.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to meet in your fair city and state, to make progress toward a trade agreement that will enhance trade across the rapidly-growing Asia-Pacific region and support job growth.
“I also want to thank Cal Cohen and the TPP Coalition this evening.
“We are fortunate to have many distinguished participants, including my fellow ambassadors from TPP member countries, TPP delegates, and stakeholders from America and other Asia-Pacific countries.
“It is fitting that we should meet here in Chicago. This city has thrived on international trade for more than one hundred years.
“Chicago is home to a wide range of industries from aerospace and automobile manufacturing to health care and high-tech.
“And in 2009, the greater Chicago area exported $28.2 billion dollars’ worth of goods, which makes it the 7th largest exporting metropolitan area in the United States.
“Last year, the state of Illinois exported $50.1 billion of goods alone – not even counting your services sales. And Illinois exports support a lot of jobs – more than 380,000 at last count.
“Businesses, workers, farmers, ranchers, manufacturers and service providers here all stand to gain significantly from the export opportunities that an ambitious, 21st century regional Trans-Pacific Partnership will offer.
“As you may know, last night, President Obama presented to Congress a series of practical proposals to jumpstart U.S. job creation. These proposals have traditionally had bipartisan support.
“The President challenged Congress to put country before party and pass these measures without delay so we can send more Americans back to work as soon as possible.
“The President has consistently supported a balanced trade agenda to create jobs and help American workers support their families.
“He has been clear that he intends to advance the job-creating free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama, and renew Trade Adjustment Assistance.
“And as we do that work, the President has directed us to advance boldly in other areas, including the rapidly-growing Asia-Pacific region.
“I’m here to emphasize the importance of continued cooperation among TPP member countries and stakeholders. We must keep working diligently toward an ambitious 21st century regional trade agreement.
“As we begin the eighth round of negotiations, it’s clear that TPP member countries share a commitment to sustain the steady progress and positive momentum we have built thus far.
“At the same time, as we consider serious proposals in several critical areas, we know that continued engagement among TPP members and stakeholders will be critical to achieving the ambitious goals we share.
“So in addition to the negotiators, I’d like to thank the many stakeholders who continue to make valuable contributions to these talks.
“The stakes for our success are high. We must secure the jobs that trade supports. We must also strengthen regional relationships that could pave the way toward an eventual Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific.
“History has shown that close ties among trading partners can foster favorable conditions for peace and prosperity.
“These benefits will be paramount in many of our minds this Sunday, when people across the United States and around the world will remember those devastated by the terrorism of September 11, 2001.
“We can never fill the void created on that horrible day. But we may honor the victims with our mutual and affirmative support for peace, security, prosperity, and universal rights around the globe.
“There is much to do to ensure a stable and prosperous future for our planet.
“Millions of businesses, workers, and families in every TPP partner country are counting on us to cooperate so that we can realize the full potential of a robust, thoughtful, market-opening agreement.
“I offer my wishes for a productive week to all negotiators.
“Our goal is still to achieve the broad outlines of this groundbreaking agreement by November, so that we can ultimately conclude the strongest agreement possible in a timely fashion.
“This week, I encourage everyone to aim high and think big. Together, we can deliver the job-building opportunities of 21st century trade to businesses, workers, and families across the Asia-Pacific. Thank you.”