Washington, DC - Remarks by President Barack Obama at Export Council Meeting:

THE PRESIDENT:  I just wanted to say thank you to all of you who are here.  Some of you have been serving on our Export Council for quite some time.  Some of you are here as new additions, but all of you have been extraordinarily successful in your various fields.  And it gives us an enormous opportunity to hear from you in very concrete terms about how we can advance not just America’s export agenda, but how we can build the kind of economic future that we want for our kids and our grandkids. 

For the last 51 months, we have created jobs here in the United States -- 9.4 million jobs in all.  But we’re going to have to create more.  And one of the best ways to do it is to boost American manufacturing and American exports.  That’s why since I came into office we have been promoting American products and businesses when I travel overseas.  It’s why we created the President’s Export Council in 2010.  There are some of the most iconic companies in the world -- Boeing being an example, Xerox being another one. 

And with your help, exports have driven one-third of the economic growth in our recovery and now support over 11 million U.S. jobs.  Last year, we exported $2.3 trillion in goods and services, which was an all-time high.  And business executives around the globe say that the United States is the best place to locate, the best place to invest, and the best place to hire.  And that’s the first time that they’ve said that, that we are number one when it comes to their desirable location to invest.  This is the first time they’ve said that in over a decade. 

So the “Made in America” brand is stronger than ever.  And as we saw yesterday at the first White House Maker Faire -- I was out there watching these 22-year-olds coming up with incredible things -- it is going to be a remarkable future that we have to look ahead to.  Because in many ways, manufacturing is becoming easier, some of the barriers to entry are lowering.  It gives inventors and entrepreneurs the opportunity to create new products and services in ways that we can’t even imagine.  And we want to make sure that all those trends accelerate here in the United States.

So this is a moment of opportunity.  We’ve got a chance to extend our competitive advantage in the world.  That’s what this meeting is about.  One thing I want to focus on today is opening up even more new markets to “Made in America” products.  We’re working very hard to finalize trade agreements with our partners in Europe and in Asia that will make us the center of a free trade hub covering two-thirds of the world economy.  And Mr. Michael Froman has been putting in a lot of miles trying to make sure that that happens.  And I know he’s consulted with some of you -- not just big companies, but a lot of small- and medium-sized businesses who have enormous opportunities if we’re able to open up these markets, and oftentimes are the ones that have the hardest time navigating through some of the barriers that are out there.

I especially want to increase trade and investment in the region.  And this is going to be one of the issues we discuss in August.  There has been some explosive growth in certain parts of the world where we’re just not doing enough, Africa as being a prime example.  You’ve got six of the 10 fastest-growing economies in Africa, a young population that is growing rapidly.  Some of these economies are doing very, very well, but we’re not penetrating those markets as well as we should. 

And I think we’ve got a great opportunity in August with an African Leaders Summit that’s going to be taking place for us to talk about trade and commerce, because that’s really what that continent is interested in.  They’re not interested in aid as much as they are trade, development, and partnering with the private sector. 

And as your businesses know well, when we export products overseas, we’re creating jobs and opportunities here at home.  That’s the focus here today and every day of my presidency -- how do we create thriving businesses that are also able to create great jobs that allow people not just to stay in the middle class, but to work their way into the middle class if they work hard and take responsibility.  And all of you have done that. 

This council is doing great work.  And with that, I’m going to turn it back over to Jay to hear about some of the ideas that you’ve come up with and how we can help advance this agenda.