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September 16, 1997

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Fast Track Authority


Today, I take the next step in our strategy to extend America's prosperity into the next century. I have submitted legislation to the Congress that will renew the traditional authority, granted to presidents of both parties since 1974, to negotiate new trade agreements that open foreign markets to goods and services made by American workers.

-- President Clinton,
Statement on fast track, 9/16/97

On Tuesday, September 16, President Clinton submitted legislation to Congress that restores the President's traditional authority to negotiate trade agreements and break down barriers to American exports. This negotiating authority legislation will help keep our economy on the right track and create good American jobs, while honoring our commitment to our workers and environment.

Open Trade is Critical to America's Continued Prosperity.
The American economy is on the move again. The President's three-part economic strategy -- cutting the deficit to spur private sector investment, investing in critical priorities like education and training, and opening markets abroad -- is a proven success. Since President Clinton took office, the American economy has generated nearly 13 million new jobs, unemployment is below 5%, wages are up, and the deficit has been cut by more than 85%. America is in the midst of a longer period of sustained growth than any other major economy in the world; one-third of our growth depends on overseas trade.

American Exports Create Millions of High-Paying Jobs.
Our aggressive export strategy has paid off for American companies and workers. America is once again the world's largest exporter, the largest producer of semiconductors, and the largest producer of automobiles. Exports support over 11.5 million jobs in the United States, including one in five manufacturing jobs. Over the last four years alone, exports have created 1.7 million new jobs -- jobs that typically pay 15 percent more than non-export-related jobs.

We Must Continue To Break Down Foreign Trade Barriers.
To keep our economy on the right track, we need to give the President the power that every President since Ford has had to break down unfair foreign barriers to American exports. This legislation restores the President's power to negotiate agreements that will help American businesses compete and win.

Legislation Honors President Clinton's Commitment to America's Workers and Our Environment.
As we expand trade, the President is committed to pursuing three objectives:

    (1) to break down unfair foreign trade barriers and create good American jobs;
    (2) to promote and advance worker rights; and
    (3) to promote responsible environmental protections.
That is why this President Clinton is the first president ever to make labor and the environment part of America's trade agenda. And that is why this legislation includes a specific negotiating instruction to improve labor rights and environmental protection abroad -- the first-ever reference to the environment in fast track legislation. Granting the President this fast track authority will level the playing field for America's workers and affirm our commitment to protecting the environment.

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