President Barack Obama said the U.S. and eight other Pacific nations will seek to conclude a free trade accord over the next year that will demonstrate his commitment to focusing on Asia to spur economic growth.
The U.S. “is a Pacific power and we are here to stay,” Obama told a gathering of chief executive officers at the Asia- Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Honolulu today. The Trans- Pacific Partnership accord can become “the seed of a broader set of agreements” in the region, he said.
Obama, who meets with Chinese President Hu Jintao later today, also said the U.S. will continue pressing China on currency, saying the current valuation of the yuan puts U.S. businesses at a disadvantage and ultimately will hold back China’s growth. The U.S. “can’t be expected to stand by” without getting reciprocity with China on differences over currency, trade and protection of intellectual property,’’ he said.