- Associated Press - Saturday, November 13, 2010

YOKOHAMA, Japan (AP) — Appealing for broader access to fast-growing markets in Asia, President Barack Obama says the United States is in the Pacific region to stay and that both sides will benefit from stronger trade relationships.

On a mission to help create jobs at home, Obama noted that while U.S. exports to the region have increased by more than 60 percent in the last five years, competition has cut into the U.S. share of trade here.

“We want to change that,” Obama declared in a speech Saturday at a regional economic summit.

The president hopes to double U.S. exports within five years and views selling more goods to Asians as one way to help meet that goal while simultaneously creating and sustaining jobs for Americans. India, the first of four countries Obama visited this week and a booming nation to boot, has a population of more than 1 billion people.

At the same time, Obama said healthy competition needn’t rupture relationships between and among nations.

“There’s no need to view trade, commerce or economic growth as zero-sum games,” he said. “If we work together, and act together, strengthening our economic ties can be a win-win for all of our nations.”

Obama was blunt about his reason for touring Asia this week.

“For America, this is a job strategy,” he said, before rattling off numbers showing that every $1 billion in exports supports 5,000 jobs at home. In turn, he said the flood of U.S. goods to Asia-Pacific nations will give those consumers, many of whom are enjoying higher standards of living, more options to choose from when they go shopping.

“We are invested in your success because it’s connected to our own. We have a stake in your future because our destiny is shared,” Obama said. “It was a Japanese poet who said, ‘Individually, we are one drop. ‘Together, we are an ocean.’ So it must be with the billions of people whose lives are linked in the swirling currents of the Pacific.”

Obama’s speech to a gathering of business leaders at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum came on his first full day in Japan and followed a divisive Group of 20 nations economic summit in Seoul, South Korea.

There, Obama failed to win backing from other world leaders for a get-tough policy toward China over on its currency stance and he missed his own goal for reaching agreement with longtime ally South Korea on a new free-trade pact.

Despite those setbacks and the election fallout at home, administration officials portrayed the trip as a success — from Obama’s engagement with the region’s people to billions of dollars in contracts to help on the jobs front at home.

If “you look at the sweep of this trip from the first day in Mumbai (India) to today in Japan, I think that the United States has dramatically advanced its critical goals and its strategic interest in the region,” Tom Donilon, Obama’s national security adviser, told reporters Saturday.

Obama will attend more APEC meetings on Sunday, the 10th and final day of a four-country journey that has taken him from the Indian cities of Mumbai and New Delhi, to Jakarta, Indonesia, where he lived for several years as a boy, to Seoul and finally Japan. It is his longest trip abroad as president.

Obama also planned a one-on-one breakfast meeting Sunday with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. One expected topic of discussion is a stalled nuclear arms reduction between the countries. Obama also was stopping at the Great Buddha statue, which he visited as a child, before boarding Air Force One for the long flight to Washington.

Obama started the Asia tour immediately after suffering a political battering in elections at home, as Republicans recaptured the House and significantly cut the Democratic majority in the Senate.

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