AMBASSADOR CRAWFORD: I'd like to take this opportunity to welcome everyone to Deerfield Farm. We're very excited to have Vice President Pence here today with his family. This is just no ordinary Vice President; this is someone who has accomplished a great deal in a major, major way. And I appreciate knowing you and I appreciate what you've brought to the White House and what you've brought out in Indiana. So we're talking about a man who is quite accomplished, someone who understands.
And we're having this roundtable today to discuss and, kind of, narrow down to a couple subjects, which we've talked about in this. Important to the relationship between America and Ireland is the trade issue and the concept of goods manufactured and goods services. Lots of loose ends around that.
This is an opportunity to (inaudible) after the Vice President makes a few comments. We'll let him go first. He's more important (inaudible) -- (laughter) -- although these are 14 or 15 pretty (inaudible) leaderships. This is a mixture of both, basically, American manufacturing and Irish manufacturing. So it's a combination in here. This is not just one group; this is a group that's put together to reflect exactly what is happening in the Irish economy, the Republic (inaudible).
And their (inaudible) is about (inaudible) Republic. But we're here today about that subject, and -- sir.
VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Thank you so much. How about a round of applause for Ambassador Crawford? (Applause.)
I want to thank the Ambassador for his hospitality. I want to thank all the business leaders of Irish companies and American companies doing business here in Ireland for gathering. I want to thank the Irish American Chamber of Commerce for bringing this group together. I had the privilege of administering the oath of office to Ambassador Crawford five weeks ago. And I promised him then that I would come to Ireland. And when I got off the plane today, he said, "What took you so long?" (Laughter.)
So, Mr. Ambassador, thank you for hitting the ground running. That is evidence of the impact that you've already had. And we're so grateful. The President and I are very proud to have an American with such an incredible personal story, and loves America and loves Ireland, in the position that you're in. So thank you for that.
And thank you all for coming out for this conversation. I just had a very productive discussion with Taoiseach Varadkar about a broad range of economic issues. I know we'll be able to talk about that, and I welcome your perspective.
This is a time, I'm proud to report, of a growing American economy, thanks to the policies President Trump has advanced. We've seen businesses, like many of those gathered here, create more than 6 million jobs all across the United States of America. Unemployment is at a 50-year low. Wages are rising all across our country. And we know that it's a testament to American ingenuity, free enterprise, work ethic, but we also know that less taxes, less regulation, more American energy, and free and fair trade is contributing to the tremendous growth that we've seen in our country.
And the relationship we have with Ireland plays a key role in economic growth in the United States, and we're proud by the investment of American companies here. In Ireland, more than -- I'm told more than 700 American companies employ 160,000 people.
But I say with even greater satisfaction that Irish investment supports more than a quarter of a million jobs in 450 companies all across all 50 states. That's a dynamic economic relationship. It's one President Trump has made it clear that we want to build.
And even in the midst of UK's decision to leave the European Union, we are absolutely determined to continue to pursue policies that will expand free and fair trade with all of our allies across Europe.
The President made it clear last week that, once Brexit is completed, we will begin immediate negotiations on a free trade agreement with the UK.
But as I discussed with Taoiseach Varadkar today, we also are already in discussions with the European Union about a free trade agreement between the United States and the EU. And I urged him to convey our genuine enthusiasm about moving forward on that agreement with equal energy to the enthusiasm that we have for a free trade agreement with the UK.
So, with that, let me just say, again, this is a very distinguished group of business leaders, yourself included, and I want to thank you all for making time.
And I look very much forward to our discussion about how we can continue to strengthen the American economy, how we can continue to expand export opportunities here to Ireland, and how we can pursue policies that will simply draw our nations closer and contribute to the prosperity of both our peoples.
So, thank you all very much. And thank you. (Applause.)