This week, President Obama traveled to Mexico and Costa Rica to reinforce the deep cultural, familial, and economic ties that so many Americans share with Mexico and Central America.
President Obama arrived in Costa Rica on Friday — his first visit to the country — and participated in a bilateral meeting and joint press conference with Costa Rican President Chinchilla’s, as well as a working dinner. During the press conference, the Presidentspoke about the friendship and economic ties between our two countries:
Costa Rica shows the benefits of trade that is free and fair. Over the last few years, under the Central America Free Trade Agreement, our trade with Costa Rica has doubled, creating more jobs for people in both of our countries. Our partnerships are creating more opportunities for small businesses and entrepreneurs, including young people and women. As I told President Chinchilla, the United States will continue to be your partner as Costa Rica modernizes its economy so that you’re attracting more investment and creating even more trade and more jobs.
President Obama today attended a forum on Inclusive Economic Growth and Development at the Old Customs House in San Jose. Speaking with business leaders, the President addressed the issues of security and economic growth before taking questions:
I’ve been interviewed several times during the course of my travels both in Mexico and Central America, and I’ve emphasized that although I understand why there’s been a great focus over the last several years on security issues — security is important. It’s very hard to create a strong economy when people are personally feeling insecure. There’s been a lot of emphasis on immigration, and I understand why that is. Obviously it’s of great importance to this region and to the United States. We shouldn’t lose sight of the critical importance of trade and commerce and business to the prospects both for Costa Rica, the United States, and the entire hemisphere.
The United States considers our trading relationships with CAFTA countries, with Mexico, to be of enormous importance. When you look at the scale of business that’s being done currently, it’s creating jobs in the United States, it’s creating jobs here. And what we want to do is to find ways that we can continue to enhance that relationship, how we can get ideas from this region and find ways in which we can improve and foster small business development, medium-sized business development, make this entire region more competitive.