U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Highlights Importance of Trans-Pacific Partnership to San Diego Economy


Thursday, August 4, 2016

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker traveled to San Diego this evening to deliver remarks at Trans-Pacific Partnership and San Diego: Partners in Prosperity, an event co-hosted by the World Trade Center San Diego and Qualcomm, Inc. During her remarks, Secretary Pritzker discussed how the San Diego economy is poised to benefit from TPP, citing the city's high-tech industries and globally competitive workforce.

Speaking before an audience of business leaders, academic experts, entrepreneurs, and government officials from throughout the San Diego region, the Secretary highlighted why TPP represents the nation's best opportunity to shape the rules of commerce in the 21st century and maintain America's leadership around the world. She also made the case for making bold new investments in workforce development, infrastructure, and research in order to better position more Americans to share in the economic gains made possible by high-standards trade agreements like TPP. 

Remarks As Prepared for Delivery

Thank you, Don, for that kind introduction. It is great to be here in San Diego and especially at Qualcomm, a company whose innovations have reshaped our lives in profound ways. I don’t know about you, but a decade ago, I used my mobile phone for one thing: making calls.

Now, my husband and kids complain that I’m always on my phone, and I use it for everything – from shopping to hailing cabs to ordering takeout. So much of our digital lifestyle is made possible because of Qualcomm technologies that keep us connected, wherever we go. I want to thank CEO Steve Mollenkopf for hosting this important discussion.

I am also pleased to see my good friend, Congresswoman Susan Davis, here today.

San Diego has a robust mobile technology and internet services sector, employing well over 65,000 people. Yet this industry is not the only economic powerhouse in town. This region is known as the global leader in “phones, drones, and genomes” – and for good reason. Your aerospace sector is revolutionizing unmanned vehicle systems, your pharmaceutical companies are at the forefront of biotechnology and genetic medicine, and your institutions of higher learning, from UCLA and San Diego State to your community colleges, supply you with breakthrough discoveries and highly-skilled workers.

Each is a key ingredient in your innovative, competitive economy. Combine all of these assets with your location on the California coast and with trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership - and you have a winning recipe for success in the 21st century. This afternoon, you heard from local business leaders, academic experts, and public officials about how TPP will benefit San Diego’s economy. You know that your companies have longstanding trade ties to the Asia Pacific region. You know that there is high demand for your products in Japan, Vietnam, and other TPP countries.

This agreement breaks down trade barriers and positions your company to expand your global reach. TPP will eliminate over 18,000 foreign tariffs on American-made products, so that you have a level playing field, reduce red tape and costly export delays, freeing up revenue you can use to reinvest and expand and protect your intellectual property and promote the free flow of data across borders, so that America’s revolutionary technology companies can continue driving the digital economy.

All of us are excited about TPP, yet we must acknowledge that many of us have friends and neighbors, here in San Diego and across the country, whom are anxious about another trade deal. Today, the American people are more afraid of trade, more anxious about the future and more frustrated with government than ever before. At home and abroad, we are increasingly fighting a view that suggests we pull up drawbridges and retreat into isolationism. My friends: that will not work, not in today’s highly-competitive global economy. 

As President Obama recently said - and I quote - “we can’t put technology back in a box any more than we can cut ourselves off from the global supply chain.” The anxiety over opening America’s shores to more trade stems from a simple fact: While our economy continues to grow, the gains are not felt either evenly or immediately.

While our economy continues to add jobs, inequality is expanding, and wages are not growing fast enough. Many Americans understandably feel left behind in today’s rapidly changing global economy. Blocking a free trade agreement or cracking down on immigration are not the solution.

The reality is that the forces causing this anxiety – the forces of globalization, automation, and digitization – will continue reshaping our world whether we embrace or resist them.

The answer is not to turn our back on new trade pacts – especially when our competitors are moving forward with their own. The answer is to fight for tougher trade agreements on the front end and support our workers better on the back end. With TPP, that is exactly what we have done. We have secured an enforceable, high-standards trade agreement.

TPP levels the playing field for our workers, protects the environment, and ensures other countries abide by tough labor rules. But its adoption and implementation this year – and we must get it done this year - is only half of the equation. We must also help more communities leverage their strengths and anchor themselves in the global economy.

We have to look at cities like San Diego as a model, and help more communities find their own “phones, drones, and genomes.” Maybe it is “galvanized steel and self-driving automobiles.” or “printable plastics and smart fabrics.” In all seriousness, our goal is not to come up with catchphrases.

Our goal is to create more opportunities for all Americans by enacting strong trade deals and making the investments in training and infrastructure needed to keep American workers on the forefront of global competitiveness.

Under President Obama’s leadership, we have begun the hard work of preparing more communities to succeed. At the Commerce Department, we are retraining coal workers for jobs in renewable energy. Our “Skills for Business” effort is aligning federal workforce development programs with the needs of employers.

And across government, we are working with local leaders to identify their strengths and help their communities become hubs for innovation and investment. If we want to shift people’s attitudes about agreements like TPP, we must ensure that more Americans share in the benefits of free trade. We must make bold, jobs-driven investments in our communities. But that demands political will. If we are truly pro-trade, we must support immigration reform that attracts the best and brightest to our shores. If we are truly pro-trade, we must update our tax code to incentivize businesses to reinvest in our communities and raise wages.

If we are truly pro-trade, we must make bold investments in infrastructure, from roads, railways, and ports to high speed networks. And, of course, we need to pass TPP. Because we cannot call ourselves pro-growth while denying our businesses and workers the opportunity to compete around the world.

Since 2000, other countries have passed nearly 100 new trade deals in the Asia Pacific region - and many of them disadvantage our companies and workers. We cannot afford to retreat from a region that generates 40 percent of global economic output. As you heard during today’s panel on national security, the longer we wait to pass TPP, the more influence we cede to China and other countries.

This trade agreement represents our best opportunity to shape the rules of global commerce in the 21st century. The enactment and implementation of TPP will advance our geopolitical, economic, and national security interests in the region. We must not let this opportunity pass us by.

Ladies and gentlemen, let’s be frank. The world is watching. American leadership and prosperity are at stake. With the heated rhetoric around TPP louder than ever, the time is now to make your voices heard. As Americans, we must not let the most progressive trade agreement in our nation’s history fall victim to our fear of the future.

Now is the time to secure high-standard trade agreements that reflect our interests and our values, that ensure our workers can compete on a level playing field, and that maintain American leadership in the 21st century global economy.

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Last updated: 2016-08-04 13:05

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