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A Conversation with U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry

Registration is now closed. Secretary of State John Kerry will discuss his perspectives on the future of trade and the benefits to the U.S. economy and to the Obama Administration’s goal of deepening regional ties across the Pacific.

Date & Time

Sep. 28, 2016
11:00am – 12:00pm ET


6th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center
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Transcript of Remarks by Secretary of State John Kerry (as provided by the State Department)

 SECRETARY KERRY: Jane, thank you for a wonderful introduction. I hugely appreciate your support, your counsel. And obviously, we are living in complicated times. I want to thank you for many, many years of remarkable service to our country. Jane was reminding me as we were walking up here that we were by happenstance on a flight together not so many years ago, and she secretly informed me of the offer from the Wilson Center and said, “What do you think I ought to do?” And I told her in a nanosecond she should take this job. And I’m not sure she did it in the nanosecond, following my advice, but she did it. And I think we are all better for it. She’s really one of the country’s leading voices on intelligence and national security issues on Capitol Hill, and today, as president of the Wilson Center, everybody knows she’s contributing enormously. So thank you, Jane, very, very much for all you do. (Applause.)

Before I dive into our main topic for today, I just want to say a couple words because I know everybody here is mourning the passing of one of the world’s great statesmen, a giant of history, a founding father of Israel, and a true warrior for peace: Shimon Peres. I first met Shimon about 30 years ago when I was a younger Senator, and ever since, I have to tell you, Shimon has been an inspiration, a source of tremendous wisdom and insight, and most importantly, a real friend. I had Shabbat dinner with him I think last year and listened to him talking well into the night, sharing incredible wisdom, and at age 92 or so, which he was then, incredible energy and commitment to going on into the future.

And he always said, don’t lose your curiosity, don’t lose your projects, your sense of what you have to continue to do. And I think it is those projects and that vision that kept him going forward. He dedicated his life to the cause of an Israel that would be safe and secure, democratic, and free, in the homeland of the Jewish people. And he never lost that vision. And so many times when I was traveling over there so frequently to meet with the prime minister, he would express a frustration, frankly, with the pace and with the lack of the seizure of opportunities, but he always felt restrained and necessarily respectful of the incumbent prime minister, having been a prime minister himself. So he never inserted himself inappropriately in the dialogue. But I can tell you he was impatient for peace for his country, and impatient for the lost grabbed opportunities that were passing by.

When I was at that Clinton Library dedication a number of years ago, he spoke. And he was one of the most eloquent people. And I went up to him afterwards and was chatting with him, and I noticed he had just jotted down notes on the back of an envelope or a piece of paper and gave really one of the eloquent, most moving speeches of the day.

So this is a man who was long a towering figure of moral leadership – moral leadership. And as I listen to Jane talk about what’s happening in Syria, never has there been a moment where we need our global sense and personal sense of morality more than now. Shimon Peres will be hugely missed; a great gap exists now. And everybody who knew him, admired him, who was inspired by him, and by his example for the pursuit of justice and peace will continue, I know, to remain inspired and motivated by him. And I hope his memory will be a blessing for all of us.

In the coming days, the world will pay its final respects to Shimon Peres. I hope to be able to carve out the ability to go and share in that.

This morning, I am truly delighted to be here with you to share with all of you a discussion about the connection between America’s strategic leadership and our policies on trade. There really couldn’t be a better place to do that than here at the center, given Woodrow Wilson’s personal – the man’s personal history with the subject.

Back in his college days, Wilson entered a debate competition where the question centered around “protection versus free trade.” And sides were chosen by taking a slip of paper out of a hat. And when young Woodrow Wilson the student drew “protection,” he tore his – the slip to shreds and promptly returned to his seat, because nothing under heaven, he declared, was going to compel him to advance arguments for a cause that he thought was so flat out wrong.

Now, this episode took place in the 1870s, telling us something not only about Wilson’s dogged personality but reminding us that we’ve been debating the virtues of free trade and assessing the diplomatic value of close economic ties to other countries for a long, long time. This is an issue that’s been around, been settled at times, on which we have moved forward continually, and yet it comes back to haunt the political debate.

Our first Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson, said that all the world would gain by setting commerce at perfect liberty. Of course, that didn’t stop a lot of his contemporaries from arguing precisely the opposite. And remarks were so frequently focused on the subject that one early 19th century congressman joked that the dictionary definition of man should be changed to an animal that makes tariff speeches. (Laughter.)

My friends, this long-running controversy over trade reflects a larger question that we have been posing to ourselves throughout history: Should we use our many advantages to help lead the world or should we stand apart from it and pretend that we could somehow survive on our own? Should we engage far beyond the water’s edge or use our coasts as barriers to try and keep the world at bay?

Whatever the answer at a particular moment, there is no evading the fact that America, from its earliest days, has been a maritime nation, a manufacturing nation, and an agrarian nation all at the same time. And through the years, we have pursued overseas ties that helped us to sell our products abroad and to establish our country’s reputation as a land of innovation and opportunity. Increasingly, we came to understand as a country the link between our well-being and that of other people while others increasingly drew a connection between their destiny and ours. You have to think about that. It’s a long continuum that we are talking about that this debate is about today.

In 1865, as our war to end slavery neared its successful conclusion, the Italian patriot Garibaldi declared that the American question is about life for the liberty of the world. Forty years later, President Theodore Roosevelt chose to advertise America’s arrival as a global, economic, and political power by ordering a convoy of U.S. battleships, the Great White Fleet, to circumnavigate the Earth. And I still, as I go to some countries, various parts of the world, hear people talk in terms of history about the importance of that display and the meaning of America’s engagement as a consequence of that great journey.

As President Woodrow Wilson sought to keep America out of a European war, that exactly a century ago was slaughtering the young of a generation on the battlefields of the Somme and Verdun, we understood it. Ultimately, our commercial interests, combined with our sense of right and wrong, drew us into that conflict and thrust American leadership into a spotlight that has remained critical and bright at the same time ever since.

So the world that we live in today is a world that is far more complex than the one that I just described. It is more crowded, more inter-dependent, less hierarchical, more influenced by non-state actors, and filled with connections between economic issues and social, political, and security concerns all melded together, inextricably intertwined. But for all the changes that we have lived through that brought us to this new and more complex world, the basic question persists: What is America’s role in the world, and how should we play it?

And today, the answer, in my judgment, much more clear after almost four years as Secretary of State than it has ever been in my life, and that is that we, the United States, have to lead and our leadership requires us to pursue high-standard, innovative initiatives like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP – a proposed agreement that is not only about boosting our economy at home and deepening our commercial ties in key markets, but an agreement that is also about strengthening our national security and strategic leadership in Asia and across the globe. To fully understand the importance of this landmark trade deal – and it is landmark; it’s unlike any trade agreement that I voted on, and I voted on many from 1984 until I left the Senate three and a half years ago, four years ago. This is different, different because there are, within the four corners of this agreement, environmental standards that never existed before. There are, within the four corners of this agreement, labor standards that never existed before.

And so we need to begin with a very fundamental proposition in understanding this agreement: either the United States of America is an Asia Pacific power, or we are not. And the “not” carries with it serious consequences. And we can’t just stand up and say to the world, “Hey, we’re a Pacific power.” We have to show it in our actions and in our choices. We can’t pick and choose where and when we want to be involved. We can’t talk about the rebalance to Asia one day and then sit on the sidelines the next, and expect to possibly send a credible message to partners and to potential partners around the world.

Foreign policy doesn’t work that way, folks – not in our ever-shrinking, rapidly-changing world; not in a time when international friendships are based to a large measure on consistency of action and consistency of purpose and consistency of partnership.

For more than a century, that consistency is exactly what leaders in Asia have come to expect from the United States – from leaders in both parties. And there are a host of good reasons for why they have come to expect that.

The first is geography. The United States is one of the few nations that straddles the divide between the Eastern and Western hemispheres. Add to that the strong economic bonds that we have already developed in the region: five of our top ten trading partners are in Asia.

And beyond that, you have to remember that our decades-long security alliances and history of defense cooperation with Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and the Philippines stands out; and our close consultations with partners in APEC and ASEAN; and our shared diplomatic agenda that covers a host of mutual concerns, including counterterrorism, nonproliferation, climate change, cyber security, protection of the ocean environment, sustainable fishery practices, maritime security, human trafficking, just to mention some of the most prominent.

Finally, Asia Pacific countries are major actors on two additional issues that touch on the vital national security interests of the United States, and they would be affected by us turning our back on an agreement already reached, prompted and promoted by us, led by us, which we then turn around and reverse and say, “Sorry, we didn’t mean what we said.”

First are the provocative North Korean nuclear tests and the development of long-range ballistic missiles that violate UN Security Council resolutions. The dangers posed by these activities – both now and in the future – are a genuine threat to the United States and to our allies in the region. So it is essential that we work closely in every way, about all of our values and interests, from a position of strength with our partners South Korea and Japan, as well as work with China, Russia, and others who have stakes in the outcome of this challenge with the DPRK. And the help of these nations, and particularly China because of its closeness to the DPRK, is critical in order to further intensify the pressure on North Korea to change its reckless behavior – and to maintain our unity should it not.

The second security issue of concern is prompted by competing territorial and maritime claims in the South China Sea. If countries put their trust in diplomacy and accept the rulings of international courts to settle these claims, the South China Sea problem can be solved peacefully. But if countries choose, instead, to be aggressive in taking unilateral steps outside the norms of international behavior and in creating new military infrastructure in disputed areas, then tensions may continue to rise in a way that benefits no one and increases the possibility of confrontation, conflict.

As I have said many times, the United States does not take a position on the merits of any individual claim, but we have made clear our insistence on freedom of navigation and aviation; and because we have argued repeatedly that differences ought to be resolved in accordance with the rule of law, we do recognize properly rendered legal judgments by properly recognized institutions that have multilateral definition and support.

Here, again, our presence, our influence in the Asia Pacific is essential for the protection of our own interests. And believe me – that presence is welcomed and highly valued by friends throughout Asia. I just met with our entire ASEAN partners in New York just the other day, last week, during UNGA, and to a person they talked about reliance on the United States in terms of our leadership, the importance of our presence in the region, and the importance of the TPP as definitional for those nations within ASEAN that have already signed up and are prepared to go forward and be part of it.

So here’s the bottom line: when crises arise in Asia, the impacts are felt in the United States. And that fact leads to this elementary and undeniable truth: it is in our interests to be able to have a positive influence on the course of events in Asia.

And this second fact leads inexorably to a third. The Trans-Pacific Partnership will reinforce our status as a world leader intimately connected to the dynamic economies of the Pacific Rim, the fastest-growing economies in the world. And it will help strengthen norms and standards that are important to us – not just to other people or to everyone else in the region, but important to every citizen in the United States of America.

Let me be clear: the reverse is also true. If we reject TPP, we take a giant step backward, we take a step away from this vital platform for cooperation, we take a step away from our leadership in the Asia Pacific, we take a step away from the protection of our interests and the promotion of universal values, we take a step away from our ability to shape the course of events in a region that includes more than a quarter of the world’s population – and where much of the history of the 21st century is going to be written.

Now, there can be no doubt that TPP isn’t simply a stand-whole, standalone deal that just affects some trade barriers and some tariff rates. It’s a lot more than that, folks. It is a vehicle for raising the standards of doing business, for raising the standards and expectations between countries regarding transparency and accountability and the rules of the road and the resolution of conflicts in commerce. It deepens our commercial bonds and it steers us towards closer commercial ties and diplomatic ties in the region. It enhances our national security. It gives us greater credibility in cooperating with our Pacific partners on the long list of shared challenges that I mentioned a moment ago.

Now, you don’t have to take just my word for it. What I am expressing is the consensus view among top military experts and defense experts and defense and military officials from both political parties, and among key leaders at home and abroad and among ex-presidents and secretaries of state across the board.

Consider what a wide-ranging group of former generals, admirals, and secretaries of defense had to say. I quote, “If we fail to secure this agreement, our allies and partners would question our commitments, doubt our resolve, and inevitably look to other partners,” adding that “America’s prestige, influence, and leadership are on the line.”

Consider what my old colleague, Senator John McCain, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said recently. Quote, “If TPP fails, American leadership in the Asia Pacific may very well fail with it.”

And beyond our borders, consider the choice laid out by Prime Minister Lee of Singapore, a key player in the region. In arguing the importance of TPP, the prime minister observed that where we wind up over the next half-century, quote, “really depends on whether we go towards interdependence and therefore peaceful cooperation; or whether we go for self-sufficiency, rivalry, and therefore a higher risk of conflict.”

Simply put, TPP is a key way to gauge American engagement in the Asia Pacific, in parts of our own hemisphere, and around the world. It is an essential platform for developing even closer diplomatic and strategic connections to our regional friends.

It also embodies the recognition on our part that in this era, there really is no such thing as standing still. No matter how much people resist – and I know there’s resistance and people are churning in various parts of the world over the transformation of globalization – but no politician, no political party, no person can stop what is happening because people have an ability to be able to communicate more effectively with each other than ever before in life. No one’s going to turn that off. If the United States just continues to do what we have in the past while others do more and more, we’re not going to be holding our own; we are going to be falling behind. And make no mistake – if we retreat from this agreement, every government in the region, every business, every labor union, every group of environmental advocates, and the commanders of every army and navy will notice. And they will notice it in a way that does not work for the United States of America. It will be a unilateral ceding of American political influence and power with grave consequences for the long term.

And I got news for you. They’re going to be asking themselves, hey, if we can’t count on the United States, where else should we turn? If the principles and rules written into the TPP don’t matter to the United States, why should we accept them? If America won’t enter into partnership with us on economic matters, why should we look to Washington for guidance on political or security matters?

The inescapable bottom line is that, with TPP, we will be far better positioned to enhance our national security and to protect our interests in the globe’s most dynamic region than we will be without this agreement.

So from my perspective as Secretary of State, the strategic case for TPP is not just crystal clear. It could not be more vital to the national security interests and the long-term strategic goals of the United States of America. And I can tell you from my years of serving in the Senate and representing a state and being concerned about all issues economic, it is directly connected to the economic case for our country.

The basic commercial arguments for TPP are pretty well known. But the facts are actually often misconstrued. And because of a certain mythology that has grown up about this agreement, it has somehow developed in ways that really demand an effective answer. I found this when I was most recently in Europe, talking with my European counterparts in Germany and France and elsewhere. There’s a huge mythology that’s grown up partly because we’ve been so focused on dealing with other issues, people don’t understand completely exactly how this works for them. So I want to lay out the primary components of this as plainly as possible.

This is a critical agreement in every way. It will unite nearly 40 percent of the global economy, stretching from countries like Canada and Chile on one side of the Pacific to Japan and Australia on the other. It is predicted to lift incomes for American workers. It will open up more markets to our farmers, ranchers, factories, and businesses of every size – and these are markets that include tens of millions of middle class American consumers.

It will abolish 18,000 foreign taxes – abolish them – taxes on American goods that prevent our goods from entering into other countries. It will abolish 18,000 of those foreign taxes and reduce or eliminate tariffs on textiles, car parts, fruits, vegetables, beef, and other grown-in-America or made-in-America goods. And it will level the playing field for our products by ensuring that those products are treated the exact same way we treat those products that are coming from abroad.

Now, TPP – thank you, Jane – TPP is also an agreement that is really designed for the realities of the 21st century. This is an age where if you’re going to grow – if you’re going to grow your company, if you’re going to grow the economy of the United States – you have to export. Why? Because 95 percent of the world’s customers live in other countries; 95 percent of the world’s marketplace is over there somewhere in another country. Shut down and start raising tariffs and start getting into trade wars – we went there once, and what did we get? We got a Great Depression. We’ve been there. You can’t sell to yourself and expect to be able to compete and grow and lead.

This is an era when trade in services is accelerating all around the world; when products move over land, sea, air, and cyberspace; when globalized supply chains means goods cross borders multiple times before they go up for sale.

This is a period when trade rules have to factor in things like investment flows, digital commerce, intellectual property, data protection in ways that were completely unheard of in the past.

And TPP was negotiated with the dynamic nature of our economy front and center.

Now, I’m not going to stand here and test your credulity and my credibility by claiming that TPP is a cure for every economic ill. No, it’s not; no trade agreement is or can be. And I know that a lot of people question the value of trade or they point to trade today as a reason for slow growth. I don’t know how you get there, actually, given the fact that 95 percent of the customers are elsewhere and most countries are exporting and that’s how you grow, but these claims about the problems of this are simply not accurate. Please – trade is not what is responsible for the complex economic challenges that we face in the world today.

Just consider all the forces that go into shaping a modern economy – above all, technology. Technology is what is changing the workplace. Technology is what is changing jobs more than anything else. Capital – the movement of capital – research, markets, natural resources, human resources, education, training, infrastructure; not to mention intangibles like inspiration and innovation and creativity and drive – the ability to go to your garage or work out of your car for a year and a half and find some capital and get a dream – an angel investor and be able to start something up brilliantly available so you can make products for the world. Far more than any trade pact whatsoever, the things I just listed are the things that either drive an economy forward or the absence of which hold it back.

Now, let’s be clear – I know this well because I worked hard in the Senate for trade adjustment assistance – yes, there is dislocation that happens. But it’s not trade per se that brings dislocation. Artificial intelligence is going to bring dislocation. Technology is going to bring dislocation.

If you can do more with less human hands and do it faster, everybody in the world is going to choose to do that. So let’s be clear: It’s not that we – what we have to do is not look at trade itself as the problem, it’s the lack of adequate response in the social structure and fabric of societies that doesn’t deal with that dislocation properly, doesn’t make sure that people have ongoing education, transition, a pair – ability, which we now have because of President Obama, to have people have healthcare, despite the fact that they may be in that transition. Those are the things that make a difference. And incomes, above all, that rise as a consequence of the work product that everybody is engaged in. And everybody in this room and everybody in America knows – we know this well – that the tax system of our country in reams and reams and reams of books with individual pages written on behalf of one company or another alone, is not working for all of the American people. But it’s not trade that did that. It’s what happens here in Washington and it’s the lobbying process and a lot of other things.

So let’s be clear: No one is promising that TPP is going to solve all of our social or economic challenges. But let’s understand where the real culprit is and deal with it. I can promise you, though, that by rejecting TPP, by refusing to participate in it, our competitiveness is going to suffer. Our economy will fall a step behind. We will miss out on opportunities in some of the fastest growing markets on the planet, because we will not have subscribed to the very agreement we asked everybody else to subscribe to.

And yes, we need to have a national debate about the TPP, but let me tell you something, that debate ought to be based on facts, not on exaggerated and misguided fears and negative mythology. Now there have been voices in every single generation, including our own, that insist that protectionism and trade wars will produce prosperity, and that more openness to trade is somehow going to ruin our economy. But let me tell you something, and the facts sustain this: Those voices have consistently been proven wrong.

Now I’ve heard these calls over the course of my career. In the U.S. Senate, I participated in the debate on each trade proposal that was passed or debated in the course of 30 years, and I listened to predictions of doom and gloom every single time. And guess what? Every single time, the United States of America continued to grow, continued to outpace other countries, continued to create jobs, continued to compete, continued to innovate, we thrived, and today we boast the strongest and most innovative and most creative economy in the world.

So I’m not saying that each trade deal hasn’t had some winners and losers. Sure, but that’s that transitional issue that I talked about. Good agreements succeed in making economies more efficient. They reward productivity and competitiveness. They stretch paychecks by giving consumers a broader range of affordable choices in creating vital export opportunities for our farmers and our ranchers and manufacturers, and in giving our businesses, large and small, the ability to hire more workers at higher wages by selling more goods and more services to customers abroad, by enlarging your market place, which by the way, given the internet, is accessible to even the smallest business in America today.

TPP will do all of these things, but with one added positive twist: Any country that signs TPP is signing on to the highest level standard trade pact ever reached. Period. And these standards on labor, the environment, and other key issues are not part of a side deal that was reached and easily ignored, as we know happened with respect to NAFTA – I saw that. And I complained for years about the fact that both the labor and the environment standard were not being enforced because they weren’t within the four corners of the deal. They are within the four corners of this deal. They are baked into the TPP itself. They are fully enforceable, which means that each participant has to keep the promises they make or face tough sanctions for every violation.

Now this is not just a matter of economic fairness. This is central to our strategic interests as well. Why? Because higher standards mean more open markets, safer workers, safer workplaces, cleaner environment, stricter intellectual property protection, less corruption, with increased transparency, better governance, and greater accountability.

In short, these elevated standards can give to people across the Pacific Rim a window into a future of reform and human rights, a smoother and more equitable path to prosperity, an ample reason to build up businesses and communities, and never turn to tearing down their societies and resorting to conflict. This is part of how you fight extremism.

And here’s one more thing to remember: If we don’t set these rules and advance our values in the context of our trade agenda, you can have no doubt others will be all too eager to fill the void and move in the direction of lower standards or no standards at all.

Right now, there are already countries in the region negotiating agreements on their own that leave us out. And you can bet that those agreements are not focused on protecting workers’ rights or clean air or clean water or intellectual property or a free and open internet.

So the choice for us is clear: Help define the shape of global trade and strengthen our security and our strategic leadership at the same time, or to cede the playing field to countries and actors who don’t care about high standards, who would rather ignore the rule of law, and who would prefer if the United States of America took a back seat in the Asia Pacific.

Let me be clear: We cannot renege on this deal and think that that somehow gives us an advantage in trade or on any other issue. We can’t withdraw from TPP and still be viewed as a central player in the Pacific Rim and an undisputed force for peace and prosperity across the globe.

We cannot disengage without consequence or abdicate our responsibilities and still expect the world to observe high standards, and most importantly to trust us to keep our word when the question isn’t trade, but urgent matters of public safety, stability, and security.

Our partners worldwide need to know that they can always look to the United States for principled leadership – no uncertainty, no doubt. The Trans-Pacific Partnership will send that message loud and clear to the nations of the Pacific Rim and to countries across the globe.

I just want to conclude with a quick story. On this day 75 years ago, a young baseball player named Ted Williams of who else but the Boston Red Sox – (laughter) – stood on the threshold of greatness. It was the last day of the season and Williams began the day with a batting average that rounded up to exactly .400 – a figure that only a handful of baseball giants had achieved.

Williams’s manager told him he didn’t expect him to play. The scheduled doubleheader they had that day was meaningless in the standings and Williams could sit on the bench and not run the risk that his average would drop. Williams responded that of course he would be in the lineup. If he was going to make history, he would do it on the field – not sitting in the dugout.

And the night before, Williams nervously paced the streets for hours, unable to sleep. And in the afternoon, when he dug his spikes into that batter’s box for the first time, he said later that he had been shaking like a leaf. Well, maybe you can guess the rest. Williams hit a single the first time up, then a homer, then another single, then another, and by the end of the day, he had raised the average to .406, a number that no other player has approached since.

So what does Ted Williams’s batting average have to do with TPP and American leadership in Asia? (Laughter.) I don’t think I’m stretching. (Laughter.) For me, the lesson is, in what Williams did, is that who you are and how you are viewed by others, and what you think of yourself depends on what you do every single day. It’s not enough to point to what you might have been able to accomplish in the past; it’s about making a commitment to higher standards, demonstrating that every commitment, you’re going to show it every chance you get.

In the same way, my friends, TPP isn’t necessary to show that America can lead in the Asia Pacific. We’ve been doing that for a long time. But by voting yes on TPP, we can show that we’re not about to sit in the dugout and dwell on what we have achieved in the past; we are committed to doing even more in the future, to aiming higher, to pushing back the boundaries of what is possible, and to fostering even greater prosperity – a higher batting average, if you will – for us and our partners all along the Pacific Rim, and to do so, I might add, just like Ted Williams on a playing field that is actually level and fair to all.

Bottom line: I believe TPP is absolutely essential to the economic well-being, to the national security, to the continuing the sustaining leadership in Asia of the United States of America, across an ever-changing globe. And I hope that in a few weeks when the election is over and Congress returns to Washington to finish the people’s business, it will take up and approve TPP and take other steps to preserve, protect, and defend the best interests of our beloved country.

Thanks again to the Wilson Center for inviting me here today. Thank you. (Applause.)

One question.

MS HARMAN: One question. In keeping with the Wilson Center tradition, we are, Senator Kerry – Secretary Kerry will take a question. I’ll pass on my own questions, and let’s call on the woman with her hand raised. Please identify yourself.

QUESTION: Thank you.

STAFF: One second.

MS HARMAN: Wait for the microphone.

STAFF: Excuse me. Sorry. We need to work with this because --

QUESTION: Thank you, Secretary Kerry. Thank you for your service and for all the work you’ve done up until today, and thank you for the very comprehensive presentation. My name is Jenny Nguyen with Voice of Vietnamese Americans. I hope everybody would listen to you and understand clearly. I have one question which includes two parts. Have you talked to our presidential candidates about this? And secondly, to our Honorable Jane Harman, how do you think we can get the consensus in Congress and the Senate and the House? Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, no, I’m not allowed to – I’m out of politics, so I’m not in the business right now of engaging with the candidates. But I made the speech today because there is an important debate taking place across America, and it is important for people to hear the facts, which I think I’ve laid out today very clearly.

Vietnam has signed up – Vietnam is going to benefit enormously by this, and I might add, Vietnam, one of the fastest-growing countries in the region, will have labor unions under this that have a right to strike and engage in negotiation. It’s a remarkable growth of – I mean, who could have imagined that 25, 30 years ago? I certainly couldn’t have in 1968-9, I’ll tell you that. So this is a sea change, and this is what changes relationships and provides opportunity to people. So I’ll let Jane answer the passing part, and then I’ve got to run. I apologize.

MS HARMAN: We understand and we’re grateful that you took a question and a very good one.

SECRETARY KERRY: Didn’t want to break a tradition.

MS HARMAN: The Wilson Center is prohibited by our charter from lobbying Congress, but that doesn’t mean we can’t express our opinion, and many members of the Wilson staff and scholars are in this audience, and we’re all in violent agreement, as we say, with the case for TPP. The problem is the rhetoric in this campaign and the misimpression, as Secretary Kerry said, that trade and especially TPP will take American jobs. And I would just answer you by saying, as Ambassador Carla Hills, a close friend of ours – former special trade representative – says, that the retail case has to be made better to each member of Congress. They have to understand that jobs will grow, not disappear, when TPP and other trade agreements – TTIP would be another one on my list – are enacted. And Congress I hope will vote in the lame duck session, though there is no indication yet by the leadership that the issue will be put up for a vote.

I want to thank everyone for coming. Secretary Kerry has to leave. (Applause.) You honor us. And one more thing: Go Sox.


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