President Obama Calls For Dramatic Increase In R&D, Major Trade Deals

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In the annual state of the union report to Congress, newly re-elected US President Obama outlined numerous initiatives aimed at strengthening and protecting the United States inwardly, but he also kept his eye on international competitiveness. For instance, he called for a massive increase in research and development, as well as a focus on education and skills, manufacturing, science and innovation, and international trade agreements with Asia and Europe.

But Obama did not specifically mention protection of those ideas through intellectual property rights.

On R&D, he said:
“If we want to make the best products, we also have to invest in the best ideas. Every dollar we invested to map the human genome returned $140 to our economy. Today, our scientists are mapping the human brain to unlock the answers to Alzheimer’s; developing drugs to regenerate damaged organs; devising new material to make batteries ten times more powerful. Now is not the time to gut these job-creating investments in science and innovation. Now is the time to reach a level of research and development not seen since the height of the Space Race. And today, no area holds more promise than our investments in American energy.”

He did not offer specifics on this R&D plan, however, except in calling for an expansion of high-tech manufacturing centers, in partnership with the Departments of Defense and Energy.

The National Association of Manufacturing quickly praised the initiatives set out by Obama. “Today, manufacturing provides modern, sophisticated jobs that are critical to the U.S. economy,” Alcoa Chairman and CEO Klaus Kleinfeld said in a release. “The challenge we face is finding enough men and women with the advanced math, science and technology skills needed to fill these attractive jobs.”

“After locating plants in other countries like China, Intel is opening its most advanced plant right here at home,” he said. “And this year, Apple will start making Macs in America again.”

Obama also told Congress that completion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement is a high priority, and announced the launch of negotiations for a bilateral comprehensive Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the European Union.

In another area of focus, he urged the Congress to move on legislation to strengthen cybersecurity, which could raise some digital civil liberties concerns. He signed an executive order on cybersecurity today.

The state of the union transcript is available here.

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