November 22nd, 2008
12:13 PM ET
12 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. Ray from NY

    Wellllllllll, He had to say something "positive" didn't he? Who cares if we have free trade with 14 diff countries now? we need those jobs back here!! TG he is only in office for 2 more months, How much more damage will he do tho?

    November 22, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  2. Credit Card Republicans

    How much do you make Monica?How much do you think your son is going to make in 8 years?You must have one of the elite and un touchable jobs,at least in your own mind.I hope your job is insourced or outsourced and your wage dropped to $5.00 an hour or less.Its easy to run your mouth on here when you think your in the safty zone.

    November 22, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  3. Dianne

    Bush, haven't you done enough damage? You will not be happy until you leave us as a third world country. You will not speak about the situation here in the USA, but you can speak in another country will we are suffering. Go back to Maine. Why do you allow these countries to sell USA products 10 times higher next to theirs. Japan is a prime example.

    November 22, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  4. Carmine Abbattiello

    Bush is a lame duck in every sense. One could feel sorry for him except for the fact that he, Cheney and Rumsfeld brought us to brink of ruination.

    November 22, 2008 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  5. jim

    Can this loser stay in a locked room somewhere until it's time for him to leave? Why is he still trying to screw things up?

    The economy is a disaster and he is telling the world how things should be done!! AAAhhhh!! Someone put duct tape on his mouth!!

    Also, Clinton did start it, but Kerry wanted to stop it. We kept Bush in office instead, and he perfected it. How many jobs went overseas over the last 8 years, and how does free trade help us? By screwing things up so much we have to give 700 billion of our money to help the rich?

    Please, someone drag him from the room!!

    Shut up until it's time for you to finally go!!

    November 22, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  6. Chaco

    BK – Obama is for Fair Trade, there is a big difference.

    November 22, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  7. J.C.

    It seems nobody is happy with what they have got. We don't like the tainted Chinese imports and the trillions of deficit, while the Chinese said they aren't happy with the pollution we gave them. The finished or unfinished goods have to be shipped across the oceans, which adds to the global warming problem we recognized today. We have to throw out the junk or tainted goods and add more piles to our landfills. What's the point of making everyone unhappy by trading globally?

    This globalization uprooted lots of migrant workers from farming in the remote regions of China. Now they have got nothing if they lose their jobs in this recession. Here, many of us already lost jobs due to the economic downturn. This is the penalty of maximizing profits we are seeing today. When will we know we have had enough?

    November 22, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  8. J.C.

    We will not be able to compete globally unless we seriously revamp our education and take care of our healthcare problems. When our college graduate still has to use his or her fingers to count numbers, you know something is terribly wrong in our education. We shipped just about all the low level jobs overseas, but we don't have well trained higher level workers to move us into high tech. We should reimburse tuition directly to the auto workers in Detroit for getting more education, not to the CEOs of the three automakers. They should have been fired long ago.

    November 22, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  9. jim

    To Monica and Patrick:
    I guess you two are part of the 19% that think Bush is still doing a good job. Get over it, conservatism has shown what it will do to the American people and it isn't nice unless you are in that upper 1% tax bracket. Now for the reason our jobs are being shipped over seas is because we do not have a mandatory health care system. Until we do all US corporations are going to continue to ship jobs overseas. High tax rates on business has nothing to do with our jobs going overseas and not because "every American expects $30 an hr to do a job a third grader can do" (Monica) It's because since their is no mandatory health care system the companies can't afford to pay the high cost of taking care of their loyal workers who retire anymore. It's cheaper to ship their items from overseas than it is to take care of employees that retire. They send the jobs over seas because all of those countries use and abuse their work force. When they start to decline in productivity they just throw them away. Stop with the crap against the American worker. It is conservatism and corporate greed that has destroyed this country not labor unions and the American worker.

    November 22, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  10. Jen, Cali

    The Apostate November 22nd, 2008 3:19 pm ET

    Do you know what "Apostate" means?

    "One who has abandoned one's religious faith, a political party, one's principles, or a cause. "

    That's not much of a "prize," is it ?????????

    November 22, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  11. Jen, Cali

    All of you who know better and have all the answers - run for office !!!!!!!!!!!

    November 22, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  12. pam Eugene OR

    Free trade is all fine and well AFTER we get our own house in order. You can't even contact any credit card company and speak to people from America. We trade with a lot of countries that do not pay living wages and so not care about human rights. We need all the jobs we can get here in the USA and it is hard to believe that Bush is so proud of out sourcing so many.
    I know Clinton started this with NAFTA but it was a bad idea then and Bush only made it worse.
    Most of our politicians have never worked for a real paycheck and have no idea what it is like to be out of work and broke. When your children are hungry and you can't afford to turn on the heat and you get a call from a collector with an accent you can't understand it is pretty crazy!

    November 22, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  13. lakeside176

    Monica L........Y ou 've been watching the Faux New Network again. Get a life and the real answers. The Faux News Network should be banned from the airwaves.

    November 22, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  14. TonyQ

    I like Gail Collins's idea. Bush and Cheney should resign now, let Nancy Pelosi become president and enact Obama's agenda starting today, letting him take over on January 20. The problem in the world markets is confidence, and Bush's presence, blabbing about the value of the free market when the problem is the market was too free, is not confidence building for anyone.

    November 22, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  15. Peter (CA)

    gary n.-right on!

    And that is where your argument falls apart, Patrick. Complete free trade only works when there is a level playing field. When the standard of living is higher in one country than another, the first will suffer as the second prospers. The US and India are an example.

    Monica-as a Democrat who voted for Clinton, Gore, Kerry, and Obama, I know Clinton made mistakes with "free trade" BUT Bush and Co. magnified every misstep and added to them with more agreements, allowing more companies to move their manufacturing, while spending us the the brink of bankruptcy.

    November 22, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  16. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    All you need to know about Bush is in this quote from the nitwit yesterday..."Lima?...Why I love their beans!"

    November 23, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  17. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    Personal to Monica L:

    Clinton inherited Somalia from Bush, Sr – should never have goine there!

    And Clinton sought appropriations for the CIA, by law, on three occasions to get bin Laden and al Qaeda, but was accused of "waggin' the dog" by the GOP and Trent Lott and enied the funds!

    Next time, use facts.

    November 23, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
1 2 3