November 22nd, 2008
12:13 PM ET
9 years ago

Bush touts free trade record at APEC

President George W. Bush attends the APEC Summitt in Lima, Peru.

President George W. Bush attends the APEC Summitt in Lima, Peru.

LIMA, Peru (CNN) - President George W. Bush, in what could be his final overseas trip as president, called on international leaders to continue his administration's push for free trade despite the global financial crisis.

"One of the enduring lessons of the Great Depression is that global protectionism is a path to global economic ruin," Bush told the annual meeting of the 21-nation Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in the capital, Lima.

"I recognize I'm leaving office in two months," Bush said as he discussed the Doha trade talks, which were launched in 2001 to help liberalize international trade policies, "but nevertheless this administration will push hard ... so that Doha can be completed and so we can send a message - we refuse to accept protectionism in the 21st century."

Touting his record on free trade, Bush said, "Expanding trade and investment hs been one of the highest priorities of my administration.

"When I took office, America had free trade agreements in force with only three nations. Today we have agreements in force with 14."

Bush said that during his administration, "America's trade with the world has grown from 2.5 to 4 trillion dollars - an increase of 60 percent."

Among APEC member nations, he cited Chile and Peru as more than doubling their trade with the United States during his time in office, and trade with China more than tripling.

"Overall America's trade with APEC nations now accounts for nearly two thirds of our trade in the world," Bush said.

Bush chided the U.S. Congress, saying it was "extremely disappointing" that lawmakers adjourned without passing new trade agreements between the United States and Colombia, Panama and South Korea.

"I urge all those who support free trade to continue to press the case for the Congress to pass free trade agreements with Colombia and Panama and South Korea," he said, drawing applause from his audience.

Referring to the global financial crisis, Bush said, "Recovering from the financial crisis is going to take time. But we'll recover, and in so doing begin a new era of prosperity. The nations of APEC have faced tests before. We have risen to meet them together and we will do so again."

Bush's attendance at the APEC meeting marked his eighth year of meeting with and speaking to economic leaders from a diverse group of countries ranging from Thailand to Mexico, Chile to China.

Bush came to the APEC meeting seeking to build on the results of a historic two-day meeting in Washington earlier this month attended by presidents and prime ministers from 20 countries. At that meeting, world leaders unveiled a set of sweeping plans aimed at tackling the ever-expanding economic crisis, which has roiled financial markets worldwide.

The final 3,600-word announcement from that Group of 20 meeting in Washington endorsed several stimulative measures, including interest rate cuts by central banks around the globe or potential economic stimulus packages.

Leaders who met in Washington also agreed not to raise new trade barriers over the next 12 months and vowed to reach a resolution on the Doha trade talks.

Filed under: President Bush
soundoff (67 Responses)
  1. Francis, Hawaii

    Bush should be in the United States instead of flying off to Peru. This is the kind of mentality he has, poor priority. We have bigger economic problem at home and he is doing nothing to help the cause. He should resign his office before his rating goes down more. Just bidding this time for over a month is too long since gutless Congress to impeach him.

    November 22, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  2. maurice

    im with gary on this 1. it`s a no brainer. folks call your state reps and tell them you dont want or need their free trade. it`s already cost us 100`s of thousands of jobs.

    November 22, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  3. Craig Shaver

    Please, tell me we didn't let this moron leave the country and talk to foreign leaders again...

    Next thing you know Condoleeza will be back be threatening to bomb Iran on the Sunday morning news programs and oil will be at $147 a barrel.

    November 22, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  4. Mike in Toronto

    This guy just amazes me with his indifference and moronic cluelessness. His country is reeling from the effects of his inept policies–but no leadership is coming from the White House during the worst economic crisis in memory. Instead he hides and chooses to lecture foreign governments on the benefits of free trade! The poor shmuck must really believe what the hard core neocons keep feeding him. I'd be tempted to say all those who voted for him a SECOND time got exactly what they asked for-except his mismanagement has hurt us all.

    November 22, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  5. Steve from TN

    Shrub merely continued Clinton's ruinous trade policy. Obama appears to be another Wall St. puppet if his recent appointments are any indication of coming events. I admit I voted for O for change, but appointting Hill at state gives me a really bad feeling. These Clintons are sick to death in love with themselves. Why people continue to hold them in such high regard is puzzling. Play it forward O, not backwards.

    November 22, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  6. mary dale

    go away now before you ruin anything else you idiot. How hard it must be for leaders of other nations to be polite to the man who has brought economic collapse the world over due to his great plan.

    November 22, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  7. Optimistic Again

    I love when Dubya runs on his record.

    Nice work, dingus.

    November 22, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  8. MN observer

    Well said all of you. I just don't understand how he can be so proud of his 14 trade agreements when our people are jobless, our businesses are closing and our economy is in the toliet. He is totally clueless and it is so disheartening to realize we not only gave him 4 years to do his damage but gave him 8 years. I say 'we' even though I DID NOT vote for him either time. It was 'we the people' who did it.

    Our country is totally without a leader right now! Please God, help us!

    November 22, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  9. facts are facts

    It just amazes me how ordinary people can believe free trade helps their economic situations. The U.S. and Canada cannot compete with Mexico and the Asian and 3rd world countries unless we lower our working and living standards to what exists in those countries.

    People that think the Autoworkers should lower their wages to match those at Walmart are as much to blame for the poverty as is Bush and his gang of thiefs.

    November 22, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  10. aaa

    evil bush

    November 22, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  11. aaa

    free trade is bad!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    November 22, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  12. Joyce in Indiana

    All free trade agreements should be contingent upon the country who wishes to export to the US ensuring a living wage for workers, reasonable effective health and safety requirements, both for the workers and the products, appropriately stringent environmental practices in the factories and their suppliers, and true freedom in their markets for US goods. Otherwise, no dice. There is no real free trade without fair trade.

    November 22, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  13. Bertha Vanation

    Bush? Bush who? Oh, him? Who cares?

    November 22, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  14. Patrick

    It's amazing how selfish people can be. Sure we can be a protectionist country and MAYBE save a few jobs. But by opening up free trade we help 10 times the number of people that get hurt. But people are selfish and only see things in the prism of their own daily lives. We are one people sharing this world. What is good for everyone is good for us. Free trade is what we need more of.

    November 22, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  15. Richard CANADA

    Hello Bush cripple the world market.Him and his gangs should be impeach.I here Bush want to pardon Conrad Black is this true.

    November 22, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  16. FreeNLovIt

    Okay, I READ Obama's economic plan over and over. I'm in IT. Do I now have to pick up a shovel? Thank you for those manual labor jobs, but they're not good enough to grow the economy. Someone told me that under Clinton, he allowed X amount of jobs to be offshored, so we had IT jobs. With W in office, MOST of the IT jobs were offshored or outsourced -offshored. For example, Blue Cross Blue Shield, outsourced most of their mainframe jobs to IBM. In return, IBM just offshored it. Bottomline, stop bleeding TECHNO jobs overseas unless we are all employed first. We pay taxes so we should be offered jobs first before any offshore.

    Thank you for free trade, but remember, we pay taxes so jobs should try to stay here...

    November 22, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  17. FreeNLovIt

    It's amazing how he keeps promoting FAILED policies.

    November 22, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  18. Jumbo Joe From NYC !!!!!!!!!!

    I don't think other leaders of the world are listening this guy....he is pushing is luck. i guess we still have to put up with this guy for 2 more
    month. what a idiot..........

    November 22, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  19. G.R.I.T.S - Girl Raised in the South

    Yes, Clinton signed NAFTA, but Bush doesn't have to continue that ruinous policy.

    In addition, Bush is now pushing regulations on a woman's reproductive health – birth control, etc. These are things he has no business interfering in. Can't wait 'til he's gone!

    November 22, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  20. Jack

    Hopefully, this will be the last International trip for the Village Idiot before he hops the bus back to Texas. Can't wait until the moving trucks leave the driveway at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for Crawford, TX !!!!

    By the way, can Barack start early?????? PLEASE???

    November 22, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  21. George H W Bhush.

    I think we all American should pay someone in peru...don't let this guy go away and keep him there forever. that will be free trade market for

    November 22, 2008 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  22. 1984

    Its just going to be one big happy world.One percent rich and 99% in poverty.

    November 22, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  23. Maggie SC

    Get real, Bertha, you may wish yoiu could hear him again befoer it is all over with. President Bush has done great things for our country. Only the ignorant and ileterate cannot see that. He is for freedom in our countgry and what he has done is protect us from our enemies for 8 years without bowing down and scraping to the enemies. He has kept our military strong and stands behind our defense system. The democrats will wish they had asomething to shield them from when the big nuclear attacks come if the defense system is not finished and kept inplace.

    November 22, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  24. Bridg

    Why is he still around?? He's like the dinner guest who's warn out is welcome. Please vanish into obscurity you big zero!

    November 22, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  25. The Apostate

    Patrick says, "But by opening up free trade we help 10 times the number of people that get hurt. "

    Right – ask that to any worker in a country in which the Unites States has a free trade or similar deal with. Ask them how much it has helped.
    Do your homework on the outcome of globalization, or simply look around.

    November 22, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
1 2 3