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The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice at the Export-Import Bank’s Annual Conference

National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice
Remarks at Export-Import Bank Annual Conference
Washington, D.C.
Friday, April 24, 2015
As Prepared

Thank you, Kusum, for that wonderful introduction.  Your story is a powerful testament to the drive and ingenuity of American small business owners, and to how the Ex-Im Bank facilitates connections and commerce that lift up our world.      

I want to thank my friend Fred Hochberg for his outstanding leadership of Ex-Im.  Fred, you’ve held the reins during a challenging time, and through it all, Ex-Im has provided critical support to help get the global economy back on track.  Thank you.  

President Obama has made promoting prosperity his top domestic priority and a key pillar of our National Security Strategy.  Even as we’re dealing with pressing global challenges—from countering terrorist threats to preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and combatting climate change—we’re advancing an affirmative agenda that promotes prosperity around the world. 

Of course, President Obama isn’t the first American leader to emphasize the connection between a strong economy and strong foreign policy.  During the Depression, President Roosevelt proclaimed that America’s “full and permanent domestic recovery depends in part upon a revived and strengthened international trade.”  After World War II, President Truman noted that “peace, freedom, and world trade are inseparable.”  So today, once again confronted with a changing world, I’d like to lay out how the Obama Administration draws on America’s economic strength to bolster our national security and prepare for the challenges of the future.  

First, we are expanding economic opportunity, starting with American workers.  We’re now in the midst of the longest streak of private-sector job growth on record.  Businesses have added more than 12 million new jobs.  We’ve brought unemployment from a high of 10 percent in 2009 to 5.5 percent today.  And, critically, wages are finally on the rise again. 

FDR was right that America’s recovery is linked to robust international commerce.  That’s why President Obama launched the National Export Initiative in 2010—to help American companies reach overseas markets and create new jobs.  And it’s working.  Since 2009, exports have made up almost one-third of our growth.  All told, exports support more than 11 million American jobs, and those jobs pay up to 18 percent more than non-export related jobs. 

We’re also encouraging foreign direct investment into the United States.  Business leaders already recognize that the United States is the best place to locate, invest, and hire.  So, we’re making it easier for them.  With our SelectUSA initiative, we’ve cut red tape, streamlined government processes, and helped generate more than $20 billion in job-creating investments. 

That’s good progress, but there are more markets waiting to be tapped.  That’s why the Export-Import Bank of the United States is essential.  Last year, financing from the Bank helped thousands of American entrepreneurs reach new markets and grow their small businesses.  It supported 164,000 private sector American jobs.  And, it didn’t cost the American taxpayer a penny—Ex-Im returned $675 million to the Treasury.  That’s the very definition of a win-win.  And, I can tell you, when President Obama meets with foreign leaders, Ex-Im is an important part of our diplomacy.  So, I join the President, Members of Congress from both parties, the American Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, and small business owners across the country in calling on Congress to reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank with a long-term mandate to continue its vital work.

Today, we’re pursuing the most ambitious trade agenda in history.  We are working with Congress to secure support for a critical piece of legislation—you may have heard something about it this week—the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act.  This bill will help us finalize the Trans Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and ultimately create a free-trade zone that encompasses two-thirds of the global economy—with the United States at its center.  With this legislation, Congress doesn’t cede any power to have the final word on trade agreements.  Rather, it sets the parameters for a deal up front—a deal that protects the interests of American workers, sets high environmental standards, protects intellectual property, and includes robust enforcement provisions.  In short, it gives us the leverage to bring home the best possible agreements.

That brings me to a second way we promote prosperity.  Increased trade and investment is good for the global economy, but to realize its full potential, everyone has to play by the same rules.    

By 2030, two-thirds of the world’s middle class—more than 3 billion people—will live and work and buy in Asia.  To sustain America’s growth, we need to be part of those markets.  So, we are working hard to finalize the Trans Pacific Partnership and break down trade barriers across the dynamic Asia-Pacific region.  At the same time, through TPP, we will ensure that American businesses can compete on a level playing field.  We will protect access to shared spaces like the internet, the seas, and the sky so that goods, people, and ideas can more freely crisscross the region.  And, we will raise the bar on global trade, enshrining the high standards and enforceable protections Americans expect. 

Our economic relationship with Europe is already the largest in the world.  We conduct $1 trillion in annual two-way trade, invest $4 trillion in each other’s economies, and support jobs for millions of American and European workers.  The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership will boost all those numbers.  And, if we align the rules that govern commerce on both sides of the Atlantic, we will effectively set the standard for commerce around the world.

These agreements will secure real economic benefits for the American middle class and advance American leadership.  Our security and our ability to shape global events are closely-tied to our sustained economic strength.  But, the global economy is not going to wait for us.  So, the choice is not between moving forward with these agreements and maintaining the status quo.  The choice is between leading the world in a direction that supports American values and interests, thus enhancing the safety of American citizens, and being left behind.  These trade agreements are an integral part of our vision for a future where all countries follow the same rules of the road, and all countries benefit—a future where growing prosperity supports our shared security. 

At a time of shifting power in Asia, TPP reaffirms America’s commitment to the region and to the alliances that have underwritten security and growing prosperity throughout the Asia Pacific for decades.  As Asia continues to grow and drive the global economy, our strategic interests in the region will become even more important—preserving peace and preventing maritime or territorial disputes, but also strengthening the rule of law, advancing human rights, and promoting inclusive development.  We’re committed to shaping the development of a region that will only grow more important to the future. 

Meanwhile, T-TIP will strengthen our trans-Atlantic bonds and put us in an even stronger position to take on shared challenges with our closest Allies.  We seek to build an economic relationship to match the scope and further strengthen our security partnership with Europe.

Let me be clear, growing the global economy is not a zero-sum contest between established and emerging powers.  If we work together to grow the whole pie, we will all be better off.  That’s why President Obama elevated the G-20 to be the premier forum for global economic cooperation—to make sure the world’s fastest growing economies were also part of the world’s most important economic discussions.  And, that’s why we will encourage new institutions like the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to uphold the standards that underpin sustainable, inclusive economic growth. 

We’re also committed to modernizing the established institutions of global finance, like the International Monetary Fund.  In the 1980s, the IMF coordinated the response to an international debt crisis brought on by oil shocks.  In the ‘90s, it helped former Soviet-bloc countries transform themselves into market-driven economies.  Today, the IMF is a first responder to global crises—helping Ukraine stand up against Russian aggression, securing our allies in the Middle East against extremists, providing economic relief to countries fighting Ebola in West Africa.  Proposed quota and governance reforms for the IMF would better integrate rising powers like China, India, Indonesia, and Brazil, while preserving American leadership and our veto power.  Congress should pass IMF reform so that we can join our G-20 partners to strengthen this bulwark of economic security. 

Third, we’re expanding prosperity by promoting inclusive growth.  Developing economies provide new markets, growing middle classes, and customers that are essential for sustaining America’s economic strength.  So, under President Obama, we’re forming partnerships that help countries lift themselves up.  And, we’re harnessing the resources and expertise of the private sector to amplify our efforts. 

Take, for example, the New Alliance for Food Security—thanks to more than $10 billion in private-sector commitments, we’re strengthening agriculture and helping farmers across Africa raise their incomes.  Or take Power Africa—with $7 billion from the U.S. government, including support from Ex-Im, we’ve brought in more than $20 billion from the private sector—all focused on increasing access to electricity for 60 million households and businesses across Africa.   

American firms are eager to expand into African markets, as Kusum can attest, and African companies want to do more business with the United States.  That’s why the African Growth and Opportunity Act and our Doing Business in Africa campaign are such effective tools for spurring broad-based development.  The African Growth and Opportunity Act, known as AGOA, makes it easier for African businesses to sell their goods in the United States.  That helps grow Africa’s middle class who, in turn, buy high-quality American products.  Under AGOA, both Africa’s non-oil exports to the United States and American exports to Africa have more than tripled.  So, President Obama strongly supports the bipartisan legislation introduced last week in the House and Senate to update and renew AGOA for the next ten years.         

With more than half the world’s population under the age of 30, we’re investing in job training, entrepreneurship, and educational opportunities for young people.  Through our Young Leaders Initiatives in Africa, Southeast Asia and most recently in the Americas, we’re empowering the next generation with skills and experience to help them succeed.  With the President’s Spark Global Entrepreneurship initiative, we’ll generate more than a billion dollars to help young people launch and expand new enterprises.  And, this summer, President Obama will participate in the 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Kenya.       

By spurring trade, setting 21st century standards, and building the capacity of our partners, we strengthen our ability to take on global challenges like climate change.  The United States is leading the charge to achieve a strong international climate agreement this December in Paris.  We’ve set an ambitious climate target for ourselves and announced joint actions with other major emitters including China, India, and Mexico.  At the same time, we’re developing clean energy solutions that will fuel our continued economic growth, working with partners to set emissions targets that will mitigate the worst effects of climate change, and helping vulnerable countries improve their resilience to climate change.       

Our economic tools also defend America’s national security interests.  Consider our engagement with Iran.  With our P5+1 partners, we’ve successfully reached an initial framework agreement for a long-term deal to prevent Iran from gaining a nuclear weapon.  But, that deal wouldn’t have even been in the realm of possibility without the strong, rigorously enforced sanctions that brought Iran to the negotiating table.

When we employ sanctions, we target those who flout international norms while minimizing the impact to the broader global economy.  We rely on sanctions and other financial tools to cut off terrorist financing and disrupt transnational criminal organizations.  Coordinated sanctions with our European partners are imposing costs on Russia for its aggression against Ukraine.  And, as online commerce continues to grow, we are developing dynamic approaches to enhance cyber security, including a recently signed executive order authorizing sanctions to deter the worst cyber actors.   

Which brings me to my final point—we rely on the private sector to advance America’s values and economic leadership.  As a government, we open access to foreign markets.  We protect the sea lanes and skyways.  Since 2010, our commercial advocacy has helped American firms sign contracts totaling more than $200 billion in new exports.  At the same time, America’s businesses are the foundation of our economic strength, upon which so much of our security and prosperity depend.  So both the government and private sector have responsibilities to fulfill. 

For example, corruption costs the global economy about $2.6 trillion each year.  So, we’ve made anticorruption efforts a centerpiece of our foreign assistance strategy—if countries want development compacts with the Millennium Challenge Corporation, they must embrace good governance.  Through the Open Government Partnership, we’re working with more than 65 nations to improve economic transparency.  And, the Department of Justice has been dogged in prosecuting those who pay or seek bribes in international business. 

We also count on American companies to meet the highest standards of responsible business practices.  We hold an advantage in the global marketplace because our companies are known as accountable, transparent partners.  So, we’re developing, in partnership with industry, a National Action Plan to promote responsible business conduct and to ensure that the American brand in business reflects American values.        

Leading in the 21st century isn’t just about the might of our military, it’s about using every element of our national power—including our economic power—to promote universal values and expand opportunity for all people.  It means using diplomacy to rally partners to meet global challenges.  It means implementing development policies that don’t just put a Band-Aid on poverty, they help eradicate it.  And, it means fostering a vibrant domestic economy and policies that expand our shared prosperity.     

When President Obama spoke at this conference five years ago, he issued a call to “make this century another American century.”  As a nation, we’ve come a long way since then.  It’s taken hard work and characteristic American grit to climb out of a deep hole, and we’re not done yet.  With our resurgent economy, our unmatched network of partners and allies, and our firm commitment to expand opportunity, we will continue to pursue a future of shared prosperity that benefits all people.  We will ensure that America continues to lead the global economy throughout this century, just as we did in the last. 

Thank you.