Obama at Nike: Trade agreement vital to middle class

President Obama told the crowd at Nike that the Trans-Pacific trade agreement is good for American businesses

President Obama speaks at Nike HQ, May 8 2015 (WH)
President Obama speaks at Nike HQ, May 8 2015 (WH)

BEAVERTON, Ore. (KOIN) — Trade is vital for the middle class, President Obama told the crowd at the Nike headquarters where he was speaking on Friday morning about the Trans-Pacific trade deal.

The President told the crowd that the trade agreement was imperative in assuring the United States remain successful in the global economy. He said it is necessary to let the U.S. go and compete on the global stage.

He said that he met with small business owners from Oregon before he went to Nike, and that the trade agreement will also help the small businesses like the ones in Oregon. He explained that 98% of exporters in the U.S. are small businesses and that the agreement gives small businesses an opportunity to grow and sell their products abroad.

Crowd gathers at Nike waiting for President Obama, May 8 2015 (KOIN)
Crowd gathers at Nike waiting for President Obama, May 8 2015 (KOIN)

He used the example of Oregon wine, saying that he hopes someone in Japan will have the opportunity to taste the delicious alcoholic beverage produced in the state.

He said that it would give America access to growing markets. He said it would eliminate barriers to make selling abroad easier.

“This agreement would make sure our companies aren’t discriminated against abroad,” he explained. “Sometimes they need to have some way to settle disputes that isn’t subject to the whims of a government bureaucrat over there.”

“If we give our businesses the opportunity to sell abroad, it helps the U.S. economy,” Obama explained.

He said that status quo has not been working for American workers, and that the trade agreement will give U.S. the advantage.

“When the playing field is level, no one beats the United States of America. Just do it everybody, God bless you,” he said at the end.

Ahead of his speech, Nike said that they are pledging to create 10,000 jobs over 10 years in the U.S. if Congress gives President Barack Obama trade negotiating authority that ultimately leads to a 12-country Trans-Pacific free commerce agreement.

The giant athletic wear company announced that they would invest in manufacturing more products in the U.S., which Obama said will lead to more American jobs.

The company says a Trans-Pacific trade deal would allow it to benefit from lower tariffs on shoes and speed up company investments in footwear manufacturing in the U.S.

The 10,000 jobs would be a small fraction of the workforce Nike relies on in contract factories overseas. Of Nike’s slightly more than 1 million factory contract workers, more than 90 percent are in Asia. The largest number is in Vietnam, a party to the Trans-Pacific talks.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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