Obama: 'Huge' manufacturing opportunity

March 7, 2012 at 1:43 AM
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WASHINGTON, March 7 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama told business leaders the United States has "a huge opportunity" to expand manufacturing and keep the economic recovery going.

Addressing members of the Business Roundtable in Washington Tuesday, the president repeated several points he has made in recent weeks, that the U.S. economy has been adding jobs, the auto industry "has come back. Companies are bringing jobs back to America. Manufacturers are adding new jobs for the first time since the 1990s."

"So the economy is getting stronger, and the recovery is speeding up," he said. "And the question now is, how do we make sure that it keeps going?"

The president said the economy should focus on what he called "our core strengths: American manufacturing; American energy; American innovation; the best skills and education for American workers."

"Right now, on the manufacturing front, I think we've got a huge opportunity," he said. "What's happened in the auto industry can happen in other areas, and we've got to make sure that we understand even though manufacturing will not be the same percentage of our economy as it once was, it still remains this incredible multiplier for services and consumers and prosperity all across America."

Obama said part of the federal government's job is "to make sure that the [research and development], the basic research is continuing to be done, and figuring out how we commercialize that, create products here in America, and sell them all around the world is going to be absolutely critical."

"Thanks to new bipartisan trade agreements that I've signed with Panama, Colombia and, most significantly, South Korea, we're on track to meet our goal of doubling American exports over the next five years," he said.

He told the business executives Congress should reauthorize "the Export-Import Bank at the appropriate funding level," crediting the institution with stepping in to help generate lending and borrowing when trade finance "dried up all around the world" during the financial crisis.

Obama said the U.S. infrastructure needs to be rebuilt and said his administration has made "significant cuts when it comes to discretionary spending" but he said "we're also going to have to deal with revenue."

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