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September 14, 1998

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We are called upon once again to lead -- to organize the forces of a committed world to channel unruly energy into positive channels that advance our interests, reinforce our values, and enhance our security. Now it is time for us to rise to our responsibility, as America has so many times before, so that we can redeem the promise of the global economy, and strengthen our nation for the 21st Century.

President Bill Clinton
September 14, 1998

Today, President Clinton addresses the Council on Foreign Relations and discusses the challenges and opportunities presented to us in the global economy. The President will announce efforts the United States will take to help implement a plan for financial stability around the world, and call on Congress to join him in meeting America's obligations to the International Monetary Fund.

Facing The Challenges Of The Global Economy. The President's strategy of fiscal discipline, investment in our people, and open trade has worked for America. For our economy to continue to prosper, we need the economies of the world to rebound from their recent difficulties:

  • These nations are our customers -- one third of our economic growth comes from exports, when economies lose strength, our exports falter;
  • These nations are our competitors -- when their currencies drop, the prices of their goods fall, undercutting sales of our goods;
  • These nations are our friends and allies -- we have a profound interest in the spread of freedom and democracy throughout the world.

A Presidential Plan Of Action. The President will unveil a five-part strategy to help and support struggling economies get back on their feet:

  • Leading Nations Must Act To Spur Global Growth -- no nation can act alone. America must maintain the fiscal discipline that has lowered interest rates and fueled investment and job growth, Europe must pursue policies to spur growth and keep their markets open, and Japan must be the catalyst for renewed economic growth in Asia by reviving its banking system, restoring confidence, deregulating its economy, and opening its markets;
  • We Must Intensify Our Efforts To Speed Economic Recovery In Asia. Today, the President will ask Secretary Rubin to work with other financial authorities and international economic institutions to enhance efforts to explore comprehensive plans to help Asian corporations emerge from massive debt;
  • Assisting Families In Recovering Nations. The downturn of Asian economies has devastated many families who worked a lifetime to enter the middle class. The President is calling the World Bank and Asia Development Bank to double their aid through a Social Compact Initiative -- focusing on job assistance, basic needs during transition, and on the needs of the elderly and children;
  • We Must Be Ready To Respond Immediately If The Currency Crisis Continues. Leading nations should stand ready to activate $15 billion in the emergency fund of the IMF;
  • Meeting Our Obligation to The IMF. The President is calling on Congress to meet our responsibilities and pay our dues to the IMF. Should Congress not act, it will send a message that we are unwilling to maintain our leadership in building a global economic system that has benefited us more than any other nation.

Working To Expand Trade And Plan For The Future. Long-term stability in the global economy requires open borders and free trade. In recent years, we have completed 260 trade agreements that have opened markets for everything from cars to telecommunications, but as borders open, we must ensure that economic competition does not come at the cost of environmental or consumer protection, or labor standards. The President is asking Secretary Rubin and Federal Reserve Board Chairman Greenspan to convene the finance ministers and central bankers of the G-7 and key emerging economies later this year to develop a preliminary report to the heads of state on strengthening the world financial system.

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