Obama, Hollande discuss trade, climate change, food security

By Derrick Cain

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, Feb. 11, 2014 - During a state visit by French President François Hollande, President Obama said Tuesday the leaders discussed an array of issues including the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), climate change, and food security.

In a press conference, Obama said the leaders agreed to continue pursuing the “ambitious and comprehensive” TTIP partnership, which would create one of the largest free trade zones in the world.

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“We need to get this done because an agreement could increase exports by tens of billions of dollars, support hundreds of thousands of additional jobs -- both in the United States and the European Union -- and promote growth on both sides of the Atlantic,” Obama said.

Obama said TTIP could lead to strong growth in small and medium-sized businesses, which would benefit greatly from increased exports. “They don't have the ability to decide where to invest; they're going to be in their home countries,” Obama said. “If we can open up trade opportunities for them - because they don't have a lot of lawyers, they don't have a lot of accountants, they can't move locations and open up new plants in different places - if we expand trade opportunities for them, that can mean jobs and growth in France; it can mean jobs and growth here in the United States.”

Hollande said TTIP would offer the same opportunities to all companies by opening up markets and removing non-tariff barriers.

“Of course, each country has its own position,” Hollande said. “We all know what mandate was given to the European Commission. We all know how concerned we were when it came to farming, agriculture or to cultural products. But we really want to reach this agreement because this agreement will contribute to growth.”

On climate change, Obama said the leaders discussed ways to expand their cooperation and clean-energy partnerships to reduce carbon emission and help developing countries move to low-carbon growth.  “And next year's carbon climate conference in France will be an opportunity to forge a strong global agreement that reduces greenhouse gas emissions through concrete actions,” Obama said.

Hollande said the conference in France is not just about “having our hotels full.” “No, it's about defending a global - reaching a global goal, because there is a danger,” Hollande said. “We want a serious and comprehensive agreement, one that will enable all countries - developing countries, developed countries - to work together towards a number of common goals.”

Both leaders said they also discussed food security and nutrition issues related to Africa and other countries. Obama said key global development initiatives could lift 50 million Africans out of poverty. 

Meanwhile, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing today on “Extreme Weather Events: The Costs of Not Being Prepared.” The hearing will focus on the federal government's efforts to prepare for extreme weather events, like Superstorm Sandy, historic droughts, and wildfires, and examine the economic benefits of preparing today for disasters tomorrow. Officials from the Homeland Security Department and the Government Accountability Office are expected to discuss what the federal government is doing to respond to the threat of climate change and extreme weather events.

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