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In Japan, Obama says U.S. aims to boost exports

Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

President Obama pledged Saturday that the U.S. is “here to stay” among the most rapidly growing economies of the world and wants to share in the benefits of expanding global trade.

But other nations shouldn’t assume their way to prosperity will be “simply paved with exports to America,” Obama told a gathering of business leaders here.

U.S. exports to Asia’s Pacific Rim nations have grown by more than 60% over the last five years, Obama said, yet its overall share of trade has gone down.

“We want to change that,” Obama said. “We don’t want to lose the opportunity to sell our goods and services in fast-growing markets. We don’t want to lose the opportunity to create new jobs back home.”

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The Associated Press reported that Chinese President Hu Jintao, speaking to a conference on the sidelines of the summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, vowed to keep his country’s markets open and seek more balanced trade, while gradually adjusting the value of the Chinese currency. Washington accuses Beijing of deliberately keeping its currency, the yuan, weak to gain a trade advantage. That stance has been undermined, however, by the U.S. policy of printing money to boost the sluggish American economy, which is weakening the dollar and provoking complaints from Brazil, Germany and China.

“The international community should oppose protectionism in all manifestations,” Hu said in a speech that avoided any overt references to frictions, diplomatic or economic, with the U.S. or Japan.

During Obama’s tour of four booming Asian markets over the past week, he has been unable to check off some of the specific items on his to-do list. Particularly disappointing for the administration was the failure to reach a Korean free-trade agreement while the president was in the neighborhood.

White House officials are disappointed but still insist the Korean agreement is possible within the next few weeks, as negotiators meet again in Washington. Some think the president’s bargaining position was weakened because expectations were so high this week.

And they pointed to progress toward a goal that doesn’t show up in a communique or contract -- an assertion that the U.S. intends to push its way more fully into the regional economy.

At the morning meeting of CEOs attending the APEC summit, Obama said he would hold out for deals that are “good for American workers and businesses.”

The leaders will meet next year in Hawaii, when Obama hosts the summit for the first time.

“There will be setbacks and disagreements and we won’t solve every issue in one meeting or one trip or even in one term,” Obama said in his speech to the CEOs. “But I have never been more confident in what the United States of America has to offer the world at this moment in history.”

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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