3:59 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you very much everybody. I want to start by wishing my very good friend, Prime Minister Abe of Japan, a very happy birthday. He’s 39 years old today. (Laughter.) So please extend my wishes to the Prime Minister. He’s a great gentleman and we have had tremendous success.
As you know, in addition to what we’re talking about today, they’re building — Japan — many car plants in the United States, which they weren’t doing for a long time. And they’re building in Michigan, Ohio, lots of different states. And we just appreciate it very much. Been a tremendous investment.
But we’re here to talk about a little bit of a different purchase, and that’s good as far as we’re concerned. And I want to thank you very much. Very much. Thank you. (Applause.)
So we’re gathered here today at the White House this afternoon to discuss a very strong and groundbreaking achievement for the United States and Japan: the signing of the new U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement and the U.S.-Japan Digital Trade Agreement. Digital is becoming a very big factor in the world.
These two deals represent a tremendous victory for both of our nations. They will create countless jobs, expand investment and commerce, reduce our trade deficit very substantially, promote fairness and reciprocity, and unlock the vast opportunities for growth.
In the United States, these deals are a game changer for our farmers and our ranchers — we love our farmers and we love our ranchers; we’ve been working very hard on this — providing them with significantly enhanced access to a critical foreign market.
In a moment, I’ll be really honoring a lot of the folks in the room that are here with us from farm country, ranch country. And we’re going to be witnessing a historic signing by Ambassador Robert Lighthizer and Ambassador from Japan — a long trip, but you just got here — Sugiyama of Japan. And we’re grateful to both of you for the outstanding job you’ve done and all of the people that were involved with both of you, your staffs and your representatives. Thank you both very much. Bob, thank you. Thank you very much. It’s a lot of work.
We’re also delighted that Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao is here. Where is Elaine? (Laughter.) Where is Elaine? Hi, Elaine.
SECRETARY CHAO: Sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Great. She’s busy. (Laughter.) Doing a fantastic job. Thank you —
SECRETARY CHAO: Thank you, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: — very much, honey.
Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Stephen Censky is here. Where is Stephen?
DEPUTY SECRETARY CENSKY: Right here.
THE PRESIDENT: Stephen? Hi, Stephen.
DEPUTY SECRETARY CENSKY: Good you see you.
THE PRESIDENT: Great job. Thank you very much. Spoke to Sonny last night. We’re doing well.
A very great gentleman, a very popular man too, in the world and especially his wonderful state, Steve Daines. Steve, I saw you back there. (Applause.) Hi, Steve. Hi, Steve. I also should — I saw your poll numbers. You are strong. (Laughter.) You’re doing good. And that’s a good decision by the voters, I can tell you. Thanks, Steve.
Representatives Jodey Arrington and Kevin Hern. And thank you, fellas, for being here. As well as, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum. Doug, thank you. Thank you.
PARTICIPANT: Over there.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Doug? Where’s Doug? Good, Doug. Good job. Say hello to your wife.
GOVERNOR BURGUM: I will.
THE PRESIDENT: North Carolina Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest. Hi, Dan. Hi. We just approved that last amount of money for the hurricane.
LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR FOREST: Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: You know about that, right?
LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR FOREST: Yes, Mr. President. Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Iowa Lieutenant Governor Adam Gregg. Adam, great job.
LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR GREGG: Thank you, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Great job.
And many other state and local officials. We have some tremendously respected people here — political people.
I want to extend a special welcome to all of the leaders here today representing American farmers and ranchers benefitting from this deal — this is a tremendously important deal and a very big deal — including those from our beef, pork, poultry, wheat, dairy, and corn associations.
I would particularly like to recognize Zippy. Zippy Duvall. He’s been with us from the beginning. Zippy? Zippy?
MR. DUVALL: Hey, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Where’s my Zippy? Hi. Very good. Thank you for being here.
MR. DUVALL: Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Zippy is always — he’s always — he’s always here trying to make good deals for your folks, right?
MR. DUVALL: Yes, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: He’s the President and CEO of the American Farm Bureau Federation. And we’re doing really well. I — in fact, we’re doing a deal with — a big deal with Japan. But, you know, China is big — buying again. You see that China is buying very big.
MR. DUVALL: We see that, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: A lot of people don’t like to talk about that, but China is in the market buying very big –agricultural.
We’re also joined by several senior leaders from our nation’s top technology companies, including Chris Padilla of IBM. Hi, Chris. How are you? How’s IBM doing?
MR. PADILLA: Doing very well, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Very good. You have a lot to do with farming, too, I know, right?
MR. PADILLA: We do.
THE PRESIDENT: With all of those programs that you do. Smart farming. Very smart farming.
Peggy Johnson of Microsoft. Peggy, thank you very much for being here. Please say hello, too.
And Craig Albright of Business Software Alliance. Thank you very much, Craig. We appreciate it.
We do appreciate your support, and it really is now smart farming. In fact, going to MIT doesn’t hurt either, right? When you’re a farmer nowadays. It’s incredible what they do.
From day one, my administration has fought tirelessly to achieve a level playing field for the American worker.
In addition to the agreements we’re signing with Japan today, we reached a tremendous agreement with Mexico and Canada to replace NAFTA with the new USMCA. And hopefully that’ll get done in the not-too-distant future. Everybody wants it. Manufacturers want it, farmers want it, even unions want it. People want it. And that’s a great deal for all of the countries, but in particular, it’s a great deal for us and our workers.
We’re also completely renegotiating — and now we’ve completed that and signed it — the U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement to substantially expanding American auto exports. It’s made a tremendous difference. That was a terrible agreement, and we renegotiated it and it’s now a very good agreement for the United States. It was not a good agreement for the United States at all.
Today’s signing of the U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement and U.S.-Japan Digital Trade Agreement builds on these incredible successes to the benefit of both of our nations. And I have to say that, while we’re here, and because of the fact that we’re talking about agriculture, ethanol, and the farmers of Nebraska and Iowa and all of the different places that wanted it, we’ve come to an agreement. And it’s going to be, I guess, about getting close to 16 billion barrels. Right? Something like that. That’s a lot.
LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR GREGG: Sixteen billion gallons.
THE PRESIDENT: That’s a lot. Say it again.
LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR GREGG: Sixteen billion gallons.
THE PRESIDENT: That’s a lot. (Laughter.) That’s a lot of gallons. So I think they — so they should like me out in Iowa and all of the different places, huh?
LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR GREGG: Very appreciative of your actions, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: I think so.
And also, and very importantly, we’ve taken in tremendous amounts of money in the form of tariffs from China. China has eaten the cost of those tariffs because they’ve devalued their currency and they’ve also pumped a lot of money into their system. Deflation is — we have no inflation. If anything, it’s going below the number so, therefore, we’re entitled to an interest rate cut. I hope the Fed does that because we’d be like a rocket ship. And we’re already the strongest economy in the world and doing better than just about any economy in the world. And a lot of people are asking us the secret. But we’d like to see an interest rate cut — a very substantial one. And whatever else they want to do. But we would be a rocket ship.
And if you look at from the time I got elected — if you go to November 9th, the day after the election — we’re up close to 60 percent in the market, which is numbers that are pretty much unheard of because it’s a fairly short period of time.
Our country is doing really well. But we are taking care of our farmers out of the billions and billions of dollars that we’ve gotten. You know about that Zippy, right?
MR. DUVALL: Yes, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: So we’re giving $12 billion from the year before — $12 billion. And that’s compliments of China. Thank you very much. And $16 billion this last year. And then we’ll see what happens next year. Maybe by that time it’s straightened out. But the farmers and ranchers were targeted, to put it mildly, by China. And it’s nice that they’re coming back.
And, by the way, China is also coming here on — their representatives — they’re coming on Thursday and Friday, Bob, I believe. And so you’ll start some negotiations. And the relationship is very good. As to whether or not we make a deal, I don’t know. But there’s certainly a good possibility. But the relationship is a very good one. But we’ve taken in billions of dollars.
And of those many, many more billions, we’re giving $16 billion to our farmers because I asked Sonny Perdue — I said, “Sonny, what was the amount of money that — last year, that the farmers were hurt?” He said, “Let me get back to you.” He got back to me. The number was $16 billion. I said, “That’s okay. We’re going to take $16 billion out of the tariffs and we’re going to give it to the American farmer.” And I think they appreciated that.
It never gets reported by the “fake news,” as I say. But it never gets reported. Never. I don’t know why. They don’t want to do it.
And then, Zippy, as you know, we took $12 billion from the year before. And that also came from large amounts of tariff and — tariffs. And people were actually saying — I read a report today, I believe in the Washington Times, where they talked about the tremendous amount of money that has actually come in from tariffs. And it’s been a number that we’ve never even seen before in this country. We’ve had a tremendous amount of money coming in.
And some of the Republican senators — and it’s not a bad idea — said, “Why don’t we give it?” Because we have a lot of money left over after taking care of our farmers. And what we’re doing is we’re bringing it right up to the level that the farmers were targeted by. So, in theory, they should be — it should be, in its own way, a level playing field. The amazing thing about the farmer — and I’ve been with so many — they don’t even want that, right?
MR. DUVALL: That’s right.
THE PRESIDENT: They just want a level playing field. They don’t even want $16 billion. I think almost anybody else — Larry Kudlow — wants $16 billion. The farmer doesn’t want it. They want a level playing field. They want to play the game the way it should be played. And I think we’re probably pretty close to doing that too. But in the meantime, no other President would get $16 billion and $12 billion for the American farmer or rancher — that I can tell you. So —
MR. DUVALL: Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: — maybe it was your great work. I don’t know. Right?
MR. DUVALL: Your work, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: It was all of us. Everybody standing up here, frankly.
Under the terms of the agreement, today Japan has committed to dramatically increase market access to American food and agricultural exports. It’s a very dramatic number. It’s one of the larger trade deals ever signed. As a result, 126 million Japanese consumers will have greater access to high-quality American almonds, blueberries, corn, wine, poultry, and egg products, beef, pork, wheat, and so much more. Anything else you folks can think of? Do you want to shout it out? Anything? Steve? Anybody? No?
SENATOR DAINES: Beef.
THE PRESIDENT: Beef. Did I not say that?
THE PRESIDENT: Ethanol. (Laughs.) Yes. (Laughter.) That’s an interes- — let me think about that one.
Once this agreement enters into force, Japanese tariffs will be completely eliminated, so that Japan will not be charging us, as they have, for many, many years — and that’s — we appreciate it — and substantially reduced over 90 percent of the United States agricultural exports. That’s a big thing because we’re getting charged a lot of tariffs. And it’s okay for us to charge, but we can’t have other countries charge.
Our farmers, ranchers, and growers will now be able to compete fairly in Japan against major competitors worldwide. In addition to these agricultural agreements, the extraordinary digital agreement that we’re signing — so, that digital agreement is a very big deal in its own right — we’re signing today, sets standards on the $40 billion in digital trade between the United States and Japan.
And we just won a big — talking about digital and talking about the Internet — but we just won the big case, as you know. And you people would really know, right? But that was a big case that we won on net neutrality. Just won it. And that’s a — going to receive — maybe they won’t even appeal it, because it’s a very hard case to appeal, but it was a tremendous victory in terms of speed and in terms of investment on the Internet.
This deal is remarkable in that it will ensure that Americans have a level playing field in trading cutting-edge products and services, such as videos, music, e-books, and software. These comprehensive provisions meet the gold standard of digital trade rules that were set in the landmark USMCA. And, again, we hope that’s going to get voted on. We hope that Nancy Pelosi gets it voted on because everyone wants it, and she’ll have to make her own decision. Let her make her own decision. But I can tell you the American public is tired of Do-Nothing. And we are doing a lot, and the Democrats are doing nothing.
Thriving commerce between the United States and Japan is essential to advancing opportunity and prosperity for our people. The United States and Japan are the world’s largest and third-largest economies. Together, our nations comprise nearly one-third of the entire globe’s GDP. Japan is America’s third-largest agricultural export market, and this makes it even bigger. And America is Japan’s foreign investor, and that’s what I was talking about — all of the plants that are going up all over the country.
I said to Prime Minister Abe: “Please, we need auto plants.” And I said that right at the beginning when I first met with him, and immediately liked him a lot. And they’ve really produced. They’re doing a lot of plants, not just auto. Many, many — many, many plants and factories are being built in the United States by Japan and Japanese companies.
These agreements will ensure that our economic partnership flourishes brighter than ever before. I think we’re probably at a stage with Japan where I don’t think our relationship has ever been stronger or better than it is right now.
In the months ahead, our teams will continue negotiations on remaining areas of interest to achieve a final and very comprehensive agreement. We’re working on that right now. There’s some big, big things that we’re working on.