Washington, DC…In recent days, we’ve seen turmoil and tragedy around the world, from change in the Middle East and North Africa to the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. As I said on Friday, we will work with our partners in the region to protect innocent civilians in Libya and hold the Gaddafi regime accountable. And we will continue to stand with the people of Japan in their greatest hour of need.
As we respond to these immediate crises abroad, we also will not let up in our efforts to tackle the pressing, ongoing challenges facing our country, including accelerating economic growth. That’s why, over the weekend, I’ll be in Latin America. One of the main reasons for my trip is to strengthen economic partnerships abroad so that we create good jobs at home.
Latin America is a part of the world where the economy is growing very quickly. And as these markets grow, so does their demand for goods and services. The question is, Where are those goods and services going to come from? As President, I want to make sure these products are made in America. I want to open more markets around the world so that American companies can do more business and hire more of our people.
Here’s a statistic to explain why this is important. Every $1 billion of goods and services we export supports more than 5,000 jobs in the United States. So, the more we sell overseas, the more jobs we create on our shores. That’s why, last year, I set a goal for this country: to double our exports by 2014. And it’s a goal we’re on track to meet.
Part of the reason why is the rapid growth of Latin America, and their openness to American business. We now export more than three times as much to Latin America as we do to China, and our exports to the region will soon support more than two million jobs here in the United States. Brazil, the first stop on our trip, is a great example.
In 2010, America’s exports to Brazil supported more than 250,000 American jobs. These are jobs at places like Capstone Turbine in California, which recently sold $2 million worth of high-tech energy equipment to Brazil. Another company is Rhino Assembly, a small business in Charlotte, North Carolina that sells and repairs tools for building cars and planes. A deal with a distributor in Brazil has resulted in new sales and new employees at that firm. And we can point to large companies like Sikorsky, whose helicopter sales to Brazil help sustain a large, skilled workforce in Connecticut, Alabama, and Pennsylvania.
Today, Brazil imports more goods from the United States than from any other nation. And I’ll be meeting with business leaders from both countries to talk about how we can create even more jobs by deepening these economic ties. After Brazil, I’ll also visit Chile, a country with a growing economy, and increasing demand for American goods. In fact, since 2004, our exports there are up 300 percent, and now support about 70,000 jobs in the United States. Finally, we’ll head to El Salvador, a nation with so much promise for growth with the potential to benefit both of our nations.
We’ve always had a special bond with our neighbors to the south. It’s a bond born of shared history and values, and strengthened by the millions of Americans who proudly trace their roots to Latin America. But what is clear is that in an increasingly global economy, our partnership with these nations is only going to become more vital. For it’s a source of growth and prosperity – and not just for the people of Latin America, but for the American people as well.