Wednesday, November 15, 2017— President Trump addresses the nation on his trip to Asia and its resulting impact on the United States.
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Full speech transcript
Diplomatic Reception Room
3:35 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much.
Last night, I returned from a historic 12-day trip to Asia. This journey took us to five nations to meet with dozens of foreign leaders, participate in three formal state visits, and attend three key regional summits. It was the longest visit to the region by an American President in more than a quarter of a century.
Everywhere we went, our foreign hosts greeted the American delegation, myself included, with incredible warmth, hospitality, and most importantly respect. And this great respect showed very well our country is — further evidence that America’s renewed confidence and standing in the world has never been stronger than it is right now.
When we are confident in ourselves, our strength, our flag, our history, our values — other nations are confident in us. And when we treat our citizens with the respect they deserve, other countries treat America with the respect that our country so richly deserves.
During our travels, this is exactly what the world saw: a strong, proud, and confident America.
Today, I want to update the American people on the tremendous success of this trip and the progress we’ve made to advance American security and prosperity throughout the year.
When I came into office, our country was faced with a series of growing dangers. These threats included rogue regimes pursuing deadly weapons, foreign powers challenging America’s influence, the spread of the murderous terror group ISIS, and years of unfair trade practices that had dangerously depleted our manufacturing base and wiped out millions and millions of middle-class jobs.
The challenges were inherited, and these products really showed what previous mistakes were made over many years — and even decades — by other administrations. Some of these mistakes were born of indifference and neglect. Others from naïve thinking and misguided judgement. In some cases, the negative influence of partisan politics and special interests was to blame. But the one common thread behind all of these problems was a failure to protect and promote the interests of the American people and American workers.
Upon my inauguration, I pledged that we would rebuild America, restore its economic strength, and defend its national security. With this goal in mind, I vowed that we would reaffirm old alliances and form new friendships in pursuit of shared goals. Above all, I swore that in every decision, with every action, I would put the best interests of the American people first.
Over the past 10 months, traveling across the globe and meeting with world leaders, that is exactly what I have done.
Earlier this year, in Saudi Arabia, I spoke to the leaders of more than 50 Arab and Muslim nations about our strategy to defeat terrorists by stripping them of financing, territory, and ideological support. And I urged the leaders to drive out the terrorists and extremists from their societies. Since that time, we have dealt ISIS one crushing defeat after another.
In Israel, I reaffirmed the unbreakable bond between America and the Jewish State, and I met with leaders of the Palestinian Authority and initiated an effort to facilitate lasting peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
In Brussels, I urged our NATO allies to do more to strengthen our crucial alliance and set the stage for significant increases in member contributions. Billions and billions of dollars are pouring in because of that initiative. NATO, believe me, is very happy with Donald Trump and what I did.
In Warsaw, I declared to the world America’s resolve to preserve and protect Western civilization and the values we hold so dear.
In Rome, Sicily, Hamburg, and Paris, I strengthened our friendships with key allies to promote our shared interests of security and prosperity.
In September, at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, I urged that the nations of the world join in confronting rogue regimes that threaten humanity and laid out a model for international cooperation grounded in respect for sovereignty and the responsibilities that come with it.
On each trip, I have worked to advance American interests and leadership in the world.
And to each of these places, I have carried our vision for a better — a vision for something stronger and sovereign — so important — sovereign and independent nations, rooted in their histories, confident in their destinies, and cooperating together to advance their security, prosperity, and the noble cause of peace.
It was this same vision that I carried to Asia two weeks ago. And it was this same commitment to you, the American people, that was always at the forefront of my mind and my thinking.
Our trip was defined by three core goals. First: to unite the world against the nuclear menace posed by the North Korean regime, a threat that has increased steadily through many administrations and now requires urgent action.
Second: to strengthen America’s alliances and economic partnerships in a free and open Indo-Pacific, made up of thriving, independent nations, respectful of other countries and their own citizens, and safe from foreign domination and economic servitude.
And third: to finally — after many years — insist on fair and reciprocal trade. Fair and reciprocal trade — so important. These two words — fairness and reciprocity — are an open invitation to every country that seeks to do business with the United States, and they are a firm warning to every country that cheats, breaks the rules, and engages in economic aggression — like they’ve been doing in the past, especially in the recent past.
That is why we have almost an $800-billion-a-year trade deficit with other nations. Unacceptable. We are going to start whittling that down, and as fast as possible.
With these goals, it was my profound honor to travel on this journey as your representative. I explained to all of the world leaders, and across Asia, how well the United States is doing. Economic growth has been over 3 percent the last two quarters and is going higher. Unemployment is at its lowest level in 17 years. The stock market has gained trillions of dollars in value since my election and has reached record highs. We are massively increasing our military budget to historic levels. The House has just passed a nearly $700 billion defense package, and it could not come at a better time for our nation.
Once again our country is optimistic about the future, confident in our values, and proud of our history and a role in the world.
I want to thank every citizen of this country for the part you have played in making this great American comeback possible. In Asia, our message was clear and well received: America is here to compete, to do business, and to defend our values and our security.
We began our trip in Hawaii to pay our respects to brave American servicemembers at Pearl Harbor and the United States Pacific Command, the guardian of our security and freedom across the Indo-Pacific region.
our country prepared to observe Veterans Day, we remembered the incredible sacrifices and courage of all of the veterans whose service has preserved our liberty and a way of life that is very special. We also thanked military families for their support for our brave servicemen and women.
From Hawaii, we traveled to Japan, a crucial U.S. ally and partner in the region. Upon landing in Japan, my first act was to thank the American servicemembers and Japanese Self-Defense Forces who personify the strength of our enduring alliance.
Prime Minister Abe and I agreed on our absolute determination to remain united to achieve the goal of denuclearized North Korea. Shortly following our visit, Japan announced additional sanctions on 35 North Korean entities and individuals. Japan also committed to shouldering more of the burden of our common defense by reimbursing costs borne by American taxpayers, as well as by making deep investments in Japan’s own military. This will include purchases of U.S. advanced capabilities — from jet fighters to missile defense systems worth many, many billions of dollars — and jobs for the American worker.
The Prime Minister and I also discussed ways we can deepen our trade relationship based on the core principles of fairness and reciprocity. I am pleased that since January of this year, Japanese companies have announced investments in the United States worth more than $8 billion — 17,000 jobs. Thank you.
Oh, they don’t have water? That’s okay. What? That’s okay.
THE PRESIDENT: Japanese manufacturers, Toyota and Mazda, announced that they will be opening a new plant in the United States that will create 4,000 jobs.
We also signed agreements between our nations to enhance infrastructure development, increase access to affordable energy, and advance our foreign policy goals through economic investment.
From Japan, we traveled to another key American ally in Asia — the Republic of Korea. My official state visit to South Korea was the first by an American President in 25 years.
Speaking before the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea, I spoke the truth about the evil crimes of the North Korean regime, and I made clear that we will not allow this twisted dictatorship to hold the world hostage to nuclear blackmail.
I called on every nation, including China and Russia, to unite in isolating the North Korean regime — cutting off all ties of trade and commerce — until it stops its dangerous provocation on — and this is the whole key to what we’re doing — on denuclearization. We have to denuclearize North Korea.
We have ended the failed strategy of strategic patience, and, as a result, we have already seen important progress — including tough new sanctions from the U.N. council — we have a Security Council that has been with us and just about with us from the beginning.
South Korea agreed to harmonize sanctions and joined the United States in sanctioning additional rogue actors whose fund and funds have helped North Korea and North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs. It’s unacceptable to us.
The United States welcomed the decision of President Moon to remove the payload restrictions on missiles to combat the North Korean threat. And together we reaffirmed our commitment to a campaign of maximum pressure.
Like Japan, South Korea is increasing its defense contributions. During our meetings, President Moon acknowledged his desire for equitable cost-sharing for the United States military forces stationed in South Korea. And I visited soldiers at Camp Humphreys, a brand-new, joint American-South Korean base, paid for almost entirely by the South Korean government. At that base, I discussed with the United States and South Korean military leaders both military options and readiness to respond to North Korean provocation or offensive actions.
During our visit, President Moon and I also discussed America’s commitment to reducing our trade deficit with South Korea. At my discretion and direction, we are currently renegotiating the disastrous U.S.-Korea trade agreement signed under the previous administration. It has been a disaster for the United States.
Last week, 42 South Korean companies announced their intent to invest in projects worth more than $17 billion dollars in the United States, and 24 companies announced plans to purchase $58 billion dollars in American goods and services.
From South Korea, Melania and I traveled to China, where, as in Japan and South Korea, we were greatly honored by the splendor of our reception. Our trip included the first official dinner held for a foreign leader in the Forbidden City since the founding of the modern China, where we enjoyed a very productive evening hosted by President Xi and his wonderful wife, Madam Pung.
During our visit, President Xi pledged to faithfully implement United Nations Security Council resolutions on North Korea and to use his great economic influence over the regime to achieve our common goal of a denuclearized Korean Peninsula.
President Xi recognizes that a nuclear North Korea is a grave threat to China, and we agreed that we would not accept a so-called “freeze for freeze” agreement like those that have consistently failed in the past. We made that time is running out and we made it clear, and all options remain on the table.
I also had very candid conversations with President Xi about the need to reduce our staggering trade deficit with China and for our trading relationship to be conducted on a truly fair and equitable basis. We can no longer tolerate unfair trading practices that steal American jobs, wealth, and intellectual property. The days of the United States being taken advantage of are over.
In China, we also announced $250 billion worth in trade-investment deals that will create jobs in the United States.
From China, I flew to the city of Da Nang in Vietnam, to attend the Leaders Meeting for APEC — Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation. There, I spoke to a major gathering of business leaders, where I reminded the world of America’s historic role in the Pacific as a force for freedom and for peace.
Standing on this proud history, I offered our vision for robust trading relationships in which Indo-Pacific nations can all prosper and grow together. I announced that the United States is ready to make bilateral trade deals with any nation in the region that wants to be our partner in fair and reciprocal trade.
We will never again turn a blind eye to trading abuses, to cheating, economic aggression, or anything else from countries that profess a belief in open trade, but do not follow the rules or live by its principles themselves.
No international trading organization can function if members are allowed to exploit the openness of others for unfair economic gain. Trade abuses harm the United States and its workers — but no more. No more.
We will take every trade action necessary to achieve the fair and reciprocal treatment that the United States has offered to the rest of the world for decades.
My message has resonated. The 21 APEC leaders — for the first time ever — recognized the importance of fair and reciprocal trade, recognized the need to address unfair trade practices, and acknowledged that the WTO is in strong need of reform. These leaders also noted that countries must do a better job following the rules to which they agreed.
I also made very clear that the United States will promote a free and open Indo-Pacific in which nations enjoy the independence and respect they deserve.
In Vietnam, during a state visit in Hanoi, I also met with President Quang and Prime Minister Fook to discuss the growing friendship between our countries. Our Vietnamese partners are taking new actions to enforce sanctions on North Korea. In addition, we committed to expand trade and investment between our countries, and we pledged to address the imbalances. I am particularly pleased that the United States and Vietnam recently announced $12 billion in commercial agreements, which will include $10 billion in U.S. content.
Finally, I visited the Philippines, where I met with numerous world leaders at the U.S.-ASEAN and East Asia Summits. At ASEAN — the Association of Southeast Asian Nations — we made it clear that no one owns the ocean. Freedom of navigation and overflight are critical to the security and prosperity of all nations.
I also met with the Prime Ministers of India, Australia, and Japan to discuss our shared commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.
During our visit, President Duterte of the Philippines thanked the American people and our armed forces for supporting the recent liberation of Marawi from ISIS. We pledged to strengthen and deepen our long-standing alliance.
At the East Asia Summit, the United States negotiated and signed four important leaders’ statements on the use of chemical weapons, money laundering, poverty alleviation, and countering terrorist propaganda and financing.
And crucially, at both summits and throughout the trip, we asked all nations to support our campaign of maximum pressure for North Korean denuclearization. And they are responding by cutting trade with North Korea, restricting financial ties to the regime, and expelling North Korean diplomats and workers.
Over the last two weeks, we have made historic strides in reasserting American leadership, restoring American security, and reawakening American confidence.
Everywhere we went, I reaffirmed our vision for cooperation between proud, independent and sovereign countries — and I made clear that the United States will be a reliable friend, a strong partner, and a powerful advocate for its own citizens.
The momentum from our trip will launch us on our continued effort to accomplish the three core objectives I outlined: to unite the world against North Korean nuclear threat, to promote a free and open Indo-Pacific region, and to advance fair and reciprocal economic relations with our trading partners and allies in the region.
We have established a new framework for trade that will ensure reciprocity through enforcement actions, reform of international organizations, and new fair trade deals that benefit the United States and our partners.
And we have laid out a pathway toward peace and security in our world where sovereign nations can thrive, flourish, and prosper side-by-side.
This is our beautiful vision for the future. This is a where this vision — this dream — is only possible if America is strong, proud, and free.
long as we are true to ourselves, faithful to our founding, and loyal to our citizens, then there is no task too great, no dream too large, no goal beyond our reach.
My fellow citizens: America is back. And the future has never looked brighter.
Thank you. God Bless you and God Bless the United States of America. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you all.