Washington: Acknowledging that there are legitimate anxieties among people on globalisation, President Barack Obama today said it is “here to stay” as America cannot back away from trade in an integrated world economy.
“There are fears and anxieties that people may be left behind (in globalisation). These anxieties are legitimate. They can’t be ignored; they have to be taken seriously,” Obama told reporters at a White House news conference.
“As I’ve said before, it means that we have to do everything we can to make sure that everybody shares in prosperity, that we have strong rules to protect workers, to promote high wages, to make sure that our citizens are getting the education and the training that they need,” he observed.
“But the answer cannot be to back away from trade in the global economy. It is here to stay. It’s not possible to cut ourselves off, given how integrated our economies are, and trying to pull up a draw bridge on trade would only hurt us and hurt our workers. So the answer is to make sure that globalization and trade is working for us, not against us,” Obama said at a joint news conference with the visiting Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsein Long.
As such Obama reaffirmed his commitment to the Trans- Pacific Partnership (TPP).
“I am a strong supporter of TPP because it will reduce tariffs, taxes basically, on American goods, from cars to crops, and make it easier for Americans to export into the fastest- growing markets of the world. TPP levels the playing field for our workers and helps to ensure countries abide by strong labor and environmental rules,” he said.
“So this is an opportunity to grow our economies and write the rules for trade in the 21st century in a way that’s equitable. It gives us a chance to advance American leadership, reduce economic inequality and support good-paying jobs, all while strengthening critical strategic relationships in a vital region,” he said.
Lee said TPP is an integral component of America’s rebalance to Asia. Apart from the economic benefits — trade, market access, standard setting — it’s also vital from a strategic point of view and a strong signal of the US commitment to continue its deep engagement in the region.
“We are near the finish line, and we hope that the countries, particularly the US will be able to ratify the TPP as soon as possible,” he said.
Responding to criticism of TPP coming from his own
party’s presidential nominee, Obama said he has a better argument.
“Right now, I’m president and I’m for it. And I think I’ve got the better argument and I’ve made this argument before, I’ll make it again,” he said.
“We are part of a global economy. We’re not reversing that. It can’t be reversed because it is driven by technology and it is driven by travel and cargo containers and the fact that the demand for products inside of our country means we’ve got to get some things from other places. And our export sector is a huge contributor to jobs and our economic wellbeing,” he argued.
“Most manufactured products now involve a global supply chain where parts are made in all corners of the globe and converge and then get assembled and packaged and sold. And so the notion that we’re going to pull that up root and branch is unrealistic,” he noted.
The US in partnership with other countries is making sure that the Islamic State does not get a foothold in Libya, Obama said, a day after the Pentagon carried out airstrikes in the country.
“At the request of that government, after they had already made significant progress against ISIL and had essentially pushed ISIL into a very confined area in and around Sirte, it is in America’s national security interests in our fight against ISIL to make sure that they are able to finish the job,” Obama said.
“So we’re working in partnership with them to assure that ISIL does not get a stronghold in Libya, even as Libya begins what is going to be a long process to establish a functioning government and security system there,” he said.
Obama said the Government of National Accord in Libya recognizes that this terrorist organisation in their midst is contrary to their national interests, as well as the world’s.
“And we are hopeful that having completed this process of driving ISIL out, they will then be in a position to start bringing the parties together inside that country,” he said.
Not only the US, but also the Europeans and other countries around the world have a great interest in seeing stability in Libya because the absence of stability has helped to fuel some of the challenges that they have seen in terms of the migration crisis in Europe and some of the humanitarian tragedies that they have seen in the open seas between Libya and Europe.