Port of Tampa becomes Port Obama

04/13/12 Janelle Irwin
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President Barack Obama stopped at the Port of Tampa this afternoon on his way to the Summit of the Americas. Bus loads of people were transported from a terminal to the event where ship containers were placed in a near circle. Obama spoke to the crowd of hundreds of sweaty dignitaries and supporters about the importance of trade with Latin America.

According to Obama, American exports to Latin America are up significantly over the past few years. Continuing that rise is one way he says the nation can create jobs. And Tampa is at the forefront of that.

“Tampa is one of the biggest ports in the country and a lot of the business being done here has to do with trade between us and Latin America. So the fact that it has gone up 46 percent since 2009 is a big deal for Tampa. In Florida, exports to this region are up nearly 30 percent. We now export more to the Western Hemisphere than to any other region in the world. And those exports support nearly 4 million U.S. jobs.”

President Obama said he hopes to one day see cars built in cities like Detroit and Chicago being exported to other countries. But for now, there are plenty of things the U.S. is sending to Latin America.

“Every year, more than 2.5 million tons of fertilizer head out from here to farmers in the Caribbean and Central and South America. Engine oils that are produced not far from this port get shipped to countries throughout the hemisphere. Everything from recycled steel to animal feed gets sent from here to customers all across Latin America.”

But increasing trade – and competition – comes also comes with a job. Obama said it’s important to make sure competitors are playing by the same rules.

“We’ve brought trade cases against China at nearly twice the rate as the last administration. We just brought a new case last month. And we’ve set up a trade enforcement unit that’s designed to investigate any questionable trade practices taking place anywhere in the world. See, we’re going to take action whenever other countries are skirting the rules, breaking the rules, and putting our workers and our businesses at an unfair position.”

The president’s speech lasted about 8 minutes. Afterwards he shook hands with Tampa residents and signed a couple people’s t-shirts. One man, an artist, made his own shirt with a portrait of Obama. He was so excited that the President shook his hand and signed his shirt all he could say was he won’t be washing that shirt.

Full text of the President's speech

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