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President Bush: Strengthening America's economy and creating jobs

Remarks by the President on the economy at Fox Cities Performing Art Center, Appleton, Wisconsin

April 2, 2004


The following is an excerpt from a speech made by President Bush at Fox Cities Performing Arts Center, Appleton, Wisconsin.

President Bush: There's another issue we're facing, as well, in the Nation's Capital. That's whether or not we're going to build walls around America; whether we're going to isolate ourselves from the world. I call it "economic isolationism." When you hear people talk about let us reconsider free trade agreements, what they're really saying is, is that perhaps we ought to wall ourself off from the rest of the world. See, I think that would be absolutely wrong for America to be so pessimistic about our ability to
compete that we've become economic isolationists; that we erect barriers to trade; that we're so -- that we lack confidence; that we say to our farmers and ranchers, our entrepreneurs, that we don't think you can compete. See, I believe just the opposite. I believe this nation can compete anywhere, any time, anyplace, so long as the rules are fair. (Applause.)

Look at it this way. America's got five percent of the world's population. That means there's 95 percent of the people out there that should be buying products that say "Made in the USA." (Applause.)

It's important to understand that exports, the ability to sell overseas, to be able to make something here in Wisconsin and sell it elsewhere, is an important part of your economy. Dairy farmers are selling their goods overseas. I read this and I wasn't quite sure -- it says that Wisconsin cheese is being sold in France. (Laughter.) That's a good cheese. (Applause.) Oshkosh
Truck sells overseas. Harley Davidson sells overseas. (Applause.) Wisconsin exports last year were worth $11.5 billion. See, Wisconsin is making products the world wants to buy. (Applause.) Wisconsin's exports to Canada rose last year. Exports to Mexico rose. Exports to China rose fourfold in the last four years. In other words, people are finding jobs here in Wisconsin because they're helping make products that people want in other countries. Exports equal jobs. It's important for people to understand that.

Nationwide, 97 percent of all U.S. exporters are small and medium-sized businesses. You know, a lot of folks say, exports, you got to be a big guy to be able to export. No, there's a lot of small business owners and entrepreneurs and medium-sized businesses that are making products, good and services, that people want. An important part of our economy is the small business sector, as I told you. Companies with fewer than 20 employees make up nearly 70 percent of all U.S. exporting firms. So when you hear the talk about, let's wall off America from the rest of the world, I want you to remember that we're talking about walling off small businesses from opportunities -- opportunities to sell a product, and therefore, opportunities to eventually hire somebody.

The other thing it's important for people to understand is that foreign companies recognize how great the U.S. work force is. I mean, we've very good at what we do. We've got fantastic workers here in America, incredibly productive people. And therefore, there's a lot of foreign-owned companies that are interested in bringing their business here. A hundred thousand workers in Wisconsin work for foreign-owned companies, half of them in manufacturing. Fiskars Brands employs U.S. workers. It's a Finnish company. Kikkoman Foods, they make soy sauce. They employ U.S. personnel.

In other words, when you hear about trade, just remember, trade means selling product overseas, but it also means welcoming foreign capital here in the United States to employ people, so they can find work. It's an important part of the equation to know that confident trade policy not only means the sale of goods, but confident trade policy means people want to set up their plants here.

I was in Greer, South Carolina, at a BMW plant, selling BMWs into Germany. We've got great workers in America. We ought not to be fearful of the future; we ought to be confident of our capacity to compete. And so, the question is, what do we do about trade policy? And that's what I want to spend a little time talking about.

Five -- for five decades, Presidents have made the decision that the U.S. market should be open, for the good of our consumers. In other words, when there's competition, it generally means better price. Other markets haven't been open to U.S. goods. So it seems like to me, the logical thing to do, rather than shutting down our own market, which will hurt consumers and hurt opportunity, is to spend time opening up other people's markets. And so when you hear me talk about negotiating trade agreements, really what we're doing is leveling the playing field. What we're really doing is make sure America has a chance to compete on the same terms that people can sell into our market. (Applause.) And if they don't respond, there's some things we can do. See, if we say, our market is open and yours isn't, so open yours up -- rather than shutting ours down and creating trade wars, which will jeopardize jobs, make it harder for small business to exist, there are things we can do.

For example, we filed the first World Trade Organization case against China because of their unfair tax policy. We got Canada to stop exporting subsidized dairy products into the United States. We won a major international case against Mexico's telecommunications barriers. In other words, this administration is not going to -- refuses to accept the doctrine of economic isolationism, but instead, says, we'll use the tools necessary to make sure that the playing field is level.

Japan is buying American apples. If you're an apple grower, that's good news. India is buying American almonds. My point is, not only are we focused on industries like the semi-conductor industry, we want people buying U.S. farm products, too. We're good at growing things here in the United States. (Applause.)

Open trade means fair trade. It means that the buyer and the seller -- that if we're a buying nation, it means the selling nation must open its markets, too. That's what I'm talking about. It's important to be confident here in America because we're good at what we do and our policies ought to reflect that.

A lot of talk about jobs going overseas. There's a lot of uncertainty in the marketplace. For some people looking for work, I understand that. I understand that. But the best way to deal with that in my judgment is to make sure America remains the best place in the world to do business so that our job base will expand. (Applause.)

The more vibrant the small business sector, the more likely it is somebody's going to find work. The more vibrant the business sector, the more likely it is jobs will stay right here at home. That's what people have got to understand.

To read the entire speech, click here.

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