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THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release July 31, 2000
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
AT CHINA: FLORIDA'S NEW MARKET OF OPPORTUNITY PROGRAM
11:07 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. First of all, let me say that
I'm delighted to be back in Florida. I'm glad to be here with Jim Davis
and my longtime friends, Bill Nelson and Buddy MacKay, who is doing a
wonderful job for the United States as our Special Envoy to the Americas.
And he did spearhead the passage in the Congress earlier this year the
Caribbean Basin Trade Initiative, which is one of the most important things
Congress has done this year. It is something I know that will be of
special benefit to Florida.
I want to just say a few words about this China issue. First of all,
it is part of an overall strategy we have followed for almost eight years
now. When I became President, it was obvious to me that to turn the
economy around, we had to do three things. We had to get rid of the
deficit and get interest rates down and get investments up. We had to
invest in the new technologies of the future and in the educational
capacity of our people and to create a whole network of lifetime learning
in America. And we had to expand trade.
Whether we like it or not, the economy of every country will become
increasingly global and we have to be in a position to take advantage of
it. A lot of people who don't agree with my position say that, well, we've
still got a big trade deficit. That's true. And the reason we do is
because our economy has grown so much more rapidly than that of our major
trading partners. A five-year economic slowdown in Japan has contributed
to our trade deficit. The collapse of the other Asian economies for a
couple of years and the problems that Russia had all contributed to our
But if you look to the long-term future, America has got -- if we want
to make things, we've got to sell them to somebody. We have 4 percent of
the world's population and 22 percent of the world's income. So it's not
rocket science to figure out that if you're going to produce this much
wealth, you've got to sell it to somebody.
And so I believe that -- we have now about 300 trade agreements we've
negotiated over eight years under the leadership of Charlene Barshefsky
and, before her, Mickey Kantor. I think they've done a great job and, as I
said, Buddy MacKay has done a great job. We have enjoyed strong support in
a bipartisan fashion from the Florida legislative delegation, and Senator
Graham in particular has been very helpful and I'm grateful for that.
But this China issue is something special because it involves huge
economics, but it goes beyond economics. And I'd just like to mention and
make one or two points here. The agreement basically is not like other
trade agreements. In all the other trade agreements they really are trade
-- we get together and we swap out. You give them something, they give you
something, and you work out the best deal you possibly can, and not
everybody's happy, but you do it because you think there will be more good
This is really a membership agreement, and it's important that it be
understood as that. That is, in order for China to get into the WTO, the
members of the World Trading Organization have to agree that China will get
in on reasonable commercial terms. So in order to do that, they have to
start with the world's largest economy, the United States, and we work out
what the reasonable terms would be.
Since we have a very large trade deficit with China, which is typical
for a country that's developing like that, their markets are more closed to
us than our markets are to them. This agreement essentially involves
opening China's markets for trade and for investment to an extent that
would have been unimaginable even a year or a year-and-a-half ago.
Phosphate fertilizer will be affected; citrus will be affected; automobiles
and automobile parts and dealerships will be affected. It's all, in that
sense, a one-way street in our favor.
Now, China will also be able to sell more things to us as it grows
more economically diverse and more powerful. So it's a good deal for them
because they can modernize their economy.
Beyond that, I have to tell you that, for me, while keeping this
prosperity going is very important, and in some ways and the great
underlying issue that the American people have to decide in this election
year -- and I think a big part of it is paying off the debt, for example.
We can be out of debt in 12 years. And if we do it, interest rates over
the next decade will be at least a point lower than they otherwise would
be, and that's lower business loans, $250 billion in lower home mortgage
payments, $30 billion in car payments, $15 billion in college loan
payments. I think that's very important. But this trade issue must be at
the heart of that.
Beyond that, as important as all the economics is, you should
understand also that this is a big national security issue for the United
States. In the last 50, 60 years, we fought three wars with Asia. A lot
of blood was shed in World War II and Korea and Vietnam. Now we look to
the future and we don't know what the next 50 years will hold and no one
can guarantee the future, but we know this -- that if we're trading with
people and working with them, there's a lot better chance that we will find
peaceful ways to work out whatever differences we have. And the more China
is involved in the global economy, the global society, the more likely it
is to change and become more democratic, to become more open, to become
more transparent and to become a better partner instead of a competitor
with us in the Pacific region, and a better neighbor to all the other
countries in that area.
So I really believe that there are lives at stake here. I believe our
futures at stake. And I believe if we can -- if you look at the two
largest countries in the world in population, they are China and India.
And the Indian Subcontinent together actually has about the same population
as China. And if we could affect a peaceful transition in both those
places that have greater trade at its core, and greater communications back
and forth, the world would be a very different place in the next 50 years
and a much better place for all of our children.
So I want to tell you all, although I know your interest, properly, is
in the benefits that will flow directly to your activities in this state
and in this region, the truth is it's bigger than all that. And it's about
what kind of future our kids and our grandkids are going to have.
I just want to make one last point, a very practical one. Jim Davis
was appropriately modest, but the truth is we had to fight like the devil
to get things in the House. And we carried -- and we had a pretty good
vote, as it turned out. But it was a very, very hard fight. And it was a
harder fight for members of our party. And he showed great courage and
great leadership, and you should be very grateful to him because he really
stuck it out there. He was very strong, unambiguous -- saying we should
do this and it's the right thing for our country. And I'm really proud of
him for doing it. (Applause.)
Here's the practical issue. We got this bill through the House in a
timely fashion. I had very much hoped that we would pass it through the
Senate, where it's an easier bill to pass. We've got way more votes than
we need to pass it. But we couldn't get it through all the procedural and
substantive business of the Senate before the 4th of July and then before
the August recess. That means that we have to pass it early in September,
as soon as they come back, after both parties have their conventions and
the August recess is over.
We had a very encouraging vote on procedure that got over 80 votes in
the Senate, basically to take it up early. But it is absolutely imperative
that this bill be voted in early September. The longer they take to vote
on it, the more likely it could be caught up in procedural wrangling in the
Senate. The people who are against the bill -- and there are people in
both parties that are against the bill, interestingly, though they tend to
be, ironically, the most conservative members of the Republican caucus and
the most liberal members of the Democratic caucus.
But the Senate is set up -- the Senate is set up and was set up by the
founders to slow things down. And one member can cause a world of trouble
if there are a whole lot of other things going on at the same time. So
this is not a done deal. We had 60 people who -- I think there are
probably 70 senators for this. And I know that it may be hard for you to
imagine that if that's the case that we would have some trouble bringing
this up in early September. But, in fact, it is true.
I am very grateful to Senator Lott, the Republican leader in the
Senate, the Majority Leader, for his amendment to bring this up in early
September. This is really an American issue; this should not be a partisan
issue. It is a very important economic and a national security issue.
But one of the things that I hope to come out at this meeting is that
either as an organization or individually, you will make it clear both to
your senators, Senator Mack and Senator Graham, but also insofar as you can
to the Senate hierarchy, that it is imperative that this be brought up
early. The Senate -- the Democratic leader, Senator Daschle, is also
strongly in support of what we're doing.
But the only worry I have now is that with all the business they still
have to do, with all the budgetary issues, and the controversy that
inevitably attends the closing weeks of a congressional session in an
election year, something procedural could happen that would delay this and
you just don't know what's going to happen. And I can tell you that it is
profoundly important to our country.
So anything you can do to make your voices heard as ordinary Americans
on behalf of voting this quickly in September, that's the key. If they
vote it early in September, it will pass quick and we will have a better
future. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
END 11:19 A.M. EDT
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