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Obama touts Pacific pact

The president outlines his proposal to create a trans-Pacific zone that can help stimulate U.S. economic growth

By Andrew Gomes


President Barack Obama made Honolulu the venue for declaring a shift in his focus away from the prolonged wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to the Asia-Pacific region with all its economic promise.

At a Sheraton Waikiki ballroom packed with 1,000 of the region's top political and business leaders, Obama pointed to the Pacific as the future source of economic growth and jobs.

For businesses, he said Saturday, "this is where the action's going to be."

It's a message welcomed by many in Hawaii, who have been hoping the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference will enhance the state's long-sought status as an economic player.

"There is no region in the world that we consider more vital than the Asia-Pacific region," Obama told the chief executives gathered for the APEC CEO Summit.

Obama hopes that by tapping the explosive potential of the Asia-Pacific region he will be able to add jobs to a U.S. economy suffering through years of stubbornly high unemployment.

The 21 members of APEC — from Russia to Australia and Canada to Chile — represent about half the world's trade and gross domestic product, a share that is growing especially as economies in Europe struggle.

Obama announced the broad outlines of an agreement to create a trans- Pacific trade zone encompassing the United States and eight other nations. He said details must still be worked out but said the goal was to complete the deal by next year.

He also addressed concerns of some that further liberalizing trade would negatively affect American businesses.

"If we can create a system where everybody is playing by the same rules, then U.S. businesses and workers will excel," Obama said. "When we see trade rules broken we will enforce them."

"There's no reason why globalization should be something we fear," he added.

The eight countries joining the U.S. in the zone would be Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

A central topic during a one-on-one meeting between Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda was Japan's interest in joining the trade bloc.

Obama said the Trans-Pacific Partnership can serve as a model for future trade agreements, including issues not addressed in previous deals including market regulations, creating opportunities for small and medium-size businesses, and including "high standards" for worker rights and the environment.

"I'm confident we can get this done," he concluded. "Together we can boost exports and create more goods available for our consumers, create new jobs."

In a sign of potential tension with China, Mike Froman, a U.S. deputy national security adviser who focuses on international economic matters, shrugged off complaints from China that it had not been invited to join the trade bloc.

He told reporters that China had not expressed interest in joining and said the trade group "is not something that one gets invited to. It's something that one aspires to."

Obama said his administration would continue to urge China to participate more fairly in Asia-Pacific trade.

Chinese President Hu Jintao, speaking before Obama to the same group of regional CEOs, pledged to increase the country's imports, reduce trade frictions and step up protection of intellectual property rights.

Obama met separately with Hu, telling the Chinese president that cooperation between the United States and China is vital "not only to the security and prosperity of our own people but is also vital to the world."

Hu said he was delighted to have the opportunity to come to Hawaii and appreciated the work the United States did in preparing for the APEC meeting.

"The Asia-Pacific region is the most dynamic region in today's world, with the biggest development potential," Hu said. "This region should become a region of active cooperation between China and the United States."

Obama's meeting with Hu followed a lengthy discussion between Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

Russia will host next year's APEC meeting in Vladivostok on Russia's east coast. Medvedev promised it will be a significant summit, though he said he cannot promise the weather will be the same as in Hawaii.

Star-Advertiser writers Alan Yonan Jr. and B.J. Reyes, and the Associated Press, contributed to this report.

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HonoluluHawaii wrote:
Now I hope this will be okay because I am doing it using my iPhone. Dear Mr. President, Out of the 300 million citizens of this great country of ours, I have been tasked to scramble that magnificent brain of yours. Now let me preface by saying that I am 54 years old, which makes me about five years your Senior. I am a Japanese-American, and I would like to become the first POTUS of Asian Ancestry. Question: why do you think that the preliminary game show had to be held at the Hawaii Convention Center? Now this is knowing that there would be severe hardships for essentially all businesses in and around that immediate area. Answer: none of your business because their can be only one cook in the kitchen and I occupy The White House now, so how dare you ask me that type of a question, knowing that you yourself will be a candidate in 2020. BACK TO ME: Well excuuuuse me. In that case I shall stand you up and leave u spinning your wheels Mister. LOL. Curtains fall and a huge standing ovation. LOL. So what do you think of them apples, huh Neil boy. Think you got what it takes to deRail me in 2020? LOL
on November 13,2011 | 04:12AM
Peacenik wrote:
This one of a lifetime experience for Hawaii. Feel sorry for those inconvenienced, but we need to look at the bigger picture and see it as an opportunity to benefit our country's and other countries' economic conditions. Hopefully we can find out more of what went on in the meetings and we can then decide, whether it was worth it or not, how we can help make APEC future meetings be more productive and less aggravating for the future host cities. Citizens of Hawaii should pay close attention of what's going on in our backyard and speak fairly and not just speak of the wall, without gathering the facts first. Seems that's what some of the protest groups are doing. Maybe if they can offer Concrete solutions it'll be more helpful to all. I think the Falun Gong protestors have a legitimate gripe and admire their restraint and peaceful presences.
on November 13,2011 | 08:47AM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
So u think that I am a member of the Falun Gang?
on November 13,2011 | 04:35PM
BRock wrote:
Must be a case of severely impaired thinking. Some kind of substance abuse maybe?
on November 13,2011 | 11:52AM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
Diet Pepsi
on November 13,2011 | 04:36PM
Kauikalewa wrote:
Can't blame the president for the fiasco designed by local talent. The blockades and traffic insanity was just the Wonderland Twins big hurrah. Heads of state came to Hawai`i to enjoy and got the circus clowns experience. Local talent for local interests need to grow up. Lets not send them to congress. They don't have the polish. I hope the president continues to inspire successful negotiations for growth and peace. Hawai`i doesn't need the growth. We just need to be a safe haven of peace and serenity for all who travel here. Lets not put on another show of force for anyone. It's not our style.
on November 13,2011 | 04:26AM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
Makes us wonder if TheRail will deRail us. I am a Civil Engineer so I know what goes through the minds of those designers.
on November 13,2011 | 04:39AM
wiliki wrote:
Growth is inevitable. Among our plus factors is the best weather in the world. You can't stop mother nature-- except by global warming.
on November 13,2011 | 06:51AM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
A comet can also stop mother nature.
on November 13,2011 | 04:38PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
"The eight countries joining the U.S. in the zone would be Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam." Well what happened to Japan, China, South Korea and Hong Kong? Barry you sure you got your priorities straight? Suppose we think of it this way: Hawaii would no longer be the 50th State. There will need to be 58 stars on our Flag. This is the same old same old. APEC is Absolute PowEr Corrupts. What are you doing globetrotting while Johnny is not doing well enough in school?
on November 13,2011 | 04:36AM
wiliki wrote:
Great idea. It's been a long time coming.
on November 13,2011 | 06:47AM
HD36 wrote:
To China, Japan, Saudi Arabia and all the other countries that recycle their trade surplus into US dollars by buying US Treasuries: Thank you for funding our Federal Government beyond our countries' means to pay you back with honest dollars. The US would rather cut social securty and medicaid to the detriment of millions of citizens who are forced to pay into this ponzi scheme, than cut the military budeget. We will maintain the world's largest military in order to preserve the dollars' status as the world's reserve currency. The printing press will be ours. Our biggest export is inflation.
on November 13,2011 | 09:47AM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
The printing press for newspapers or money?
on November 13,2011 | 04:42PM
HD36 wrote:
That would be money or as they call it, fiat currency. Something that has no intrinsic value but must be used to pay taxes.
on November 13,2011 | 05:32PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
Good deal dude. I am now making money heads over heels with Gold. Both by gold coins purchased via a firm in Texas, and via the ETF Spider Gold (GLD, NASD). On Thursday I was accumulating a lot of call options for GLD. The next day Gold went up and I made $6,000 in one day LOL.
on November 13,2011 | 06:06PM
HD36 wrote:
smart man
on November 13,2011 | 07:23PM
HD36 wrote:
I'm up over 40k on SLV. I feel ya bro!
on November 13,2011 | 07:55PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
SUV ?? SLV oh you mean silver !! Show off ! No, when I drive my Lexus next to your Mercedes we will look like a matched set. No seriously I do drive a Lexus and my girlfriend wanted a Mercedes, then she quietly got a Lexus RX 330 I was so proud that we became a matched set with both principals driving Lexi. I suppose the plural of Lexus is Lexi LOL.
on November 13,2011 | 10:05PM
entrkn wrote:
The President should be embracing and enlisting the 99%/Occupy protesters... they are his if he claims them and they will help him get his initiatives passed, help him get a Democrat controlled Congress and Senate and help him get re-elected.
on November 13,2011 | 12:24PM
wiliki wrote:
They are not his to claim.
on November 13,2011 | 03:09PM
star08 wrote:
Read "The End of Growth" by Richard Heinberg. Humans have cheap energy problems.
on November 13,2011 | 09:43PM