Finding Made in America in Malaysia
President Obama headed to Vietnam this week, the third U.S. president to do so in just over 20 years. In the many ways we’re engaging with the Vietnamese people, the President highlighted trade as one of the most important:
We’re pushing very hard for the Trans-Pacific Partnership — TPP. Because what that does is it reduces the barriers between countries for selling their goods and services. It gives opportunities not just to big companies but also to small companies to enter into the global supply chain.
It raises labor standards and environmental standards so that all countries are working on a level playing field. And if we can get that done — and the goal is, I think, to try to complete TPP before the end of this year — then that will open up a lot of opportunities, and create great confidence among investors here in Vietnam and U.S. companies who are interested in working with young people like you who may have a great idea.
In listening to his remarks, I couldn’t help think back to my first trip abroad with the President. As a video producer at the White House, it’s my job to document what President Obama does and whom he meets — and this time, I got to do it in Turkey, the Philippines, and Malaysia. It was a 10-day whirlwind.
Normally, our setting is the inside of a conference room or convention center for the myriad of bilateral meetings and summit working sessions the President participates in with other world leaders.
But when we made it to the third country of the 10-day trip, I had the rare opportunity to venture outside of the presidential “bubble” and into Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on the hunt for something we might recognize — products stamped with those three proud words: Made In America.
The President had just finished talking about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement with the U.S. and the Asia Pacific to export more of our goods abroad and support good-paying jobs at home. Put simply, more and more American entrepreneurs are looking to expand in the Asia Pacific, home to some of the fastest-growing markets in the world. And business leaders abroad are looking to import more American goods.
So why not head out and find the businesses he’s talking about? What kind of American exports make their way to KL? I wanted to see for myself, and hear what business owners abroad thought of the TPP and American-made goods.
From craft beers and sea bass, to blenders and bourbon, check out the popular American products that fly off the shelves in KL.
Meet the Yeaps, passionate curators of home goods who said they love selling American products:
Find out which Oregon and California brewers are popular in a small storefront halfway around the world.
“Every time I go to the U.S., I’m spoiled for choice. And that’s how it should be here, as well,” says owner Mark Simon, owner of West Coast Craft in Kuala Lumpur.
Tour an upscale grocery store in Kuala Lumpur with Angus Gore-Andrews, who said he would love to sell more American products.
“The USA is the #1 country that we import from. We find that a lot of customers are looking for American products.”
Visit the laboratory that, in addition to its role in medical research, also housed props for Hollywood — from the machines used in CSI on CBS to the lab equipment in Jurassic World.
“As a U.S. manufacturer, that does give us a competitive edge.”
Get a taste of the variety of American seafood that makes its way to this Malaysian market.
“Alaskan King Crab is my signature dish in my seafood restaurant.”
What surprised me about all these businesses was the passion for the American products they sell — and how much more they could get their hands on if they weren’t held back by high tariffs and outdated trade rules.
As we travel from Vietnam to Japan this week (two other countries that have signed on to the TPP), I wonder what more we’ll find.
More from President Obama’s trip to Vietnam:
An Interview with Author Viet Thanh Nguyen on His Hopes for U.S.-Vietnam Relations
This week, President Obama became the third U.S. president to visit Vietnam since the normalization of relations began…