For Immediate Release
Office of the
April 4, 2002
President Calls on Senate to Pass Trade Promotion
Remarks by the President on Trade Promotion
Authority..."We helped bring China and Taiwan into the World Trade Organization.
And that's good, that's important to recognize and to welcome both
countries, both the Republic of Taiwan, and of course China, into
the World Trade Organization."
Benjamin Franklin Room
the Department of State
in Focus: International Trade
1:15 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you, Mr. Secretary. I'm glad I caught
you before you packed your bags. (Laughter.) This morning, I sent
the Secretary on a very important mission, a mission of peace. And
there's no doubt I sent a great man to go accomplish that mission.
I'm proud of your service to our country, Colin, and thank you for
inviting us to this beautiful hall.
I want to thank you all for coming, as well. I
appreciate so very much the opportunity to talk about the values and
interests of America, and the fact that open trade is in our
nation's interest, and open trade helps us all adhere to values that
we share -- common values. Values that call for respect of human
rights and values that believe in the worth of each individual, and
values that hold democracy and freedom dear.
I believe strongly in trade. I believe not only is trade in my
nation's interests, I think trade is in the interest of those
nations who struggle with poverty, that desire a route out of
poverty. As Colin mentioned, I was in Monterrey, Mexico recently, we
were in Monterrey, Mexico.
I said there in Monterrey that this country of ours will provide
aid, we're pleased to do so and proud to do so. But direct aid is
small in comparison to the benefits of trade. And that not only
would we provide direct aid, but in return we expect our friends to
adopt the habits that will encourage stability and peace and human
rights. And there's nothing better to encourage those habits than
And trade is important for American workers, too. Lost in the
debate on trade here at home is the fact that many people are able
to find better jobs as the result of an active trade policy in the
And so we're here to talk about a way to make sure that our
nation trades and our nation works with other countries in the world
to trade. In order for that to do so, the United States Senate must
past trade promotion authority. I need that authority.
Every day we go by without the authority is another day we are
missing opportunities to help our economy, to help our workers, to
help our country, to relate to our friends around the world. If the
Senate acts to give me trade promotion authority -- and I expect
them to do so -- I will use it to expand commerce and work for
higher-paying jobs for American workers.
And so today, I urge the Senate leadership to lead, to act, and
to get this bill to my desk.
I want to thank Secretary Don Evans, who's the Secretary of
Commerce, for being here. He's my close friend. We spent a lot of
quality time in Midland, Texas, together. He's now representing the
commercial interests of our country. And I'm proud of the job he
does. And I want to thank John Walters for being here, as well. John
is in charge of making sure that the United States drug policy not
only is clear, but works. And that drug policy says we'll work with
our neighbors to interdict drugs. But in order for a drug policy to
be effective, all of us in this country must make it clear to our
young that drugs destroy their hopes and opportunities.
I want to thank members of the diplomatic corps who are here.
Particularly, I want to thank the Prime Minister of Peru.
Bienvenidos. It's nice to see you again, sir, and thank you for
I have spent a lot of time with members of the ambassadorial
corps. I'm a better person for it. I see many friendly faces here. I
want to thank you all for coming to support this initiative.
See, I hope -- I wish members of the United States Senate were
here to see the members of the diplomatic corps who showed up for
this. They're here because they understand the importance of trade.
They're here because they understand the benefits of trade to their
I also want to thank the U.S. exporters who are here, America's
business leaders and people who understand the benefits of opening
up markets. I know that many of you have worked hard to help advance
trade around the world, and for that we're grateful. And we've done
a lot last year, we really have. As Colin mentioned, we helped
launch a new global -- a round of global trade negotiations in Doha.
We helped bring China and Taiwan into the World Trade Organization.
And that's good, that's important to recognize and to welcome both
countries, both the Republic of Taiwan, and of course China, into
the World Trade Organization. It's positive, it's a positive
development for our country.
We've worked hard to have a free trade agreement with Jordan, and
bilateral trade agreement with Vietnam. We reinvigorated trade
negotiations of the free trade area of the Americas in Quebec City,
as Colin pointed out. I thought those were very constructive
discussions we had with your leaders. It was my chance to -- my
first chance to meet them. And it was -- an interesting thing about
that meeting, by the way, is that every country in our hemisphere
was represented, except one. We welcomed every country into the
meeting, that had democratically-elected leadership. One notable
absence, I might add: Cuba, they don't democratically elect their
And the first, most important thing we discussed, besides
preserving democracy in our hemisphere, was trade -- how to
encourage more free trade. And that was a positive development.
We're also in negotiations now with Chile and Singapore on free
trade agreements, and so we're now making good progress. But we've
got to continue the momentum. I need the support of Congress on two
urgent matters: trade promotion authority and the Andean trade
preference act. Both are awaiting action in the Senate. Both sit
waiting for the Senate to act. And both are essential to the economy
of the United States.
The Trade Promotion Authority, sometimes members of Congress and
I think people don't pay much attention to the issue, don't really
understand how it works. The Trade Promotion Authority gives the
executive branch the right to negotiate trade agreements. But
Congress has the final authority to approve the agreements. It's not
by granting me TPA that all of a sudden they dealt themselves out of
the mix; quite the contrary. They passed it, they dealt themselves
into the mix. They have a chance to ratify, up or down, a treaty.
But the good thing about TPA is it allows me to negotiate, or my
administration negotiate, and then Congress gets to vote on the
terms, up or down. And that's important for the nations represented
in this world. It gives them confidence to negotiate a treaty with
the United States without it being fine-tuned by numerous experts on
the Hill, on what is right or wrong about trade.
It's important to have a platform for trade; and TPA provides
that. Five presidents before me, Republicans and Democrats, have had
this advantage in trade negotiations -- five of them. For two
decades, trade promotion authority was a bipartisan commitment. It
wasn't a political issue. It was a commitment, because it
represented our national interest in expanding foreign markets.
Those years saw many successes, and during the '90s, about
one-quarter of our economic growth came as a result of exports. Our
two major trade agreements, NAFTA and the Uruguay Round, have
improved the average standard of living for Americans.
As importantly, NAFTA improved the average standard of living for
Mexico and Canada. You see, the best policy for the United States is
to hope our own neighborhood is prosperous. A prosperous and vibrant
Mexico is good for the United States. You want your neighbors to do
well. You want your neighborhood to be peaceful and prosperous, and
NAFTA helped do that.
The other thing that's interesting about trade, is people think
about trade and they think, well, trade is only good for big
companies, only the multinational companies benefit from trade. I
don't believe that's true. I know that since the role of governments
to create an environment in which the entrepreneur can flourish and
realize his or her dreams, that trade opens up opportunities for the
entrepreneur. And here's one example.
Excel Holdings is a company based in Leesburg, Virginia. We've
got the owner here, which I'm about to name him here pretty quick.
And I can see his wife and two -- and son and daughter, I might add.
Their job -- let me just say, last year, they signed a $35 million
contract with a Mexican distributor. Excel's product serves an
important purpose, as it can produce up to 5,000 gallons of purified
drinking water each day.
Today, Excel maintains distributors in 13 countries. The owner, a
fellow who came to the United States from Egypt, Hisham Fawzi, he's
with us. Hisham, thank you for coming. Here's a guy who had a dream,
he wanted to build and own his own company. That's an important part
of the American experience, owning your own business, coming up with
a good idea and working hard to see to it that the good idea works.
His idea, obviously, included markets around the world. In order
for his business to succeed, he needed trade in more markets. There
are thousands of entrepreneurs in America who benefit from trade.
Trade is not just good for mega-corporate America. Trade is very
good for farmers and ranchers and entrepreneurs, like our guest here
today. I want to thank you for coming and thank you for working hard
to realize the American Dream. And good luck in your business.
In eight years since the TPA, the trade promotion authority,
expired, we have missed a lot of opportunity in America. And it's
cost -- and when you miss opportunity, it tends to affect the
average worker in our country.
More than 150 regional free trade and customs agreements exist
throughout the world; the European Union is party to 31 of them;
Mexico is party to 10; the world's largest economy is party to
three. While we've been marking time, our competitors have been
working, and they've been signing agreements. While we have been
delaying, they've been trading.
Listen, I don't fault our trading partners for making progress.
As a matter of fact, I would expect our trading partners to work
hard to make progress. But what we need to do is to engage in
competition ourselves. You see, when Americans
-- when there's a level playing field, we can compete. We're good
at it. Fearful people build walls around America. Confident people
make sure there are no walls.
And I am confident. I'm confident in America products, I'm
confident in American entrepreneurs, I'm confident in the American
worker, I'm confident in the American know-how, I'm confident in
America's farmers, I'm confident in America's ranchers. And we need
to be a trading nation. (Applause.)
And I'll submit agreements to Congress, when I have this
authority, that will be in our nation's best interests. And we'll
work hard to make sure we have good trade agreements that benefit
both America and our trading partners. And if Congress doesn't like
it, they can turn it down. But I need the authority. It's in our
country's interest that I have the authority.
And it's also in our interest to bring confidence to countries
around the world, to realize we're serious about it when we speak --
countries in our own neighborhood. I mean, trade promotion authority
will help us establish the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas. And
that's going to be in our country's interests, in our neighborhood's
interests to do that as well.
The other thing that's important about trade for our country to
understand is that people who trade with America benefit. Trade is
just not a one-way street. It is a positive relationship. It's
important for Americans to understand that by trade, we help people
and we help poor people, and we help people get lifted out of
Listen, we're a compassionate nation. There are a lot of people
in our country who deeply care about Africa and countries in Africa,
who deeply care about South America and Central America. These are
countries that are fine countries, work hard, but they're poor
And if you're concerned about helping people help themselves,
we've got to trade with the developing world. And the facts are
fantastic. The trade with the African nations as a result of AGOA
has been $1 billion worth of new commerce. It's the beginning of
what we all hope is a prosperity, a boom in prosperity in parts of
the world that have not been prosperous.
Oh, there's a lot of talk I hear about labor and environmental
agreements. A prosperous nation is one more likely to take care of
its workers. And a prosperous nation is one more likely, much more
likely, to be able to afford the technology necessary to protect the
And then, of course, trade creates the habits of freedom. If you
welcome trade into your country, it creates the notion of freedom.
It gives people, consumers, the opportunity to demand product, which
is part of a free society. It creates an entrepreneurial class,
which is a part of a free society.
And the habits of freedom begin to create the expectations of
democracy and demands for better democratic institutions. Societies
that open to commerce across their borders are more open to
democracy within their borders. And for those of us who care about
values and believe in values -- not just American values, but
universal values that promote human dignity -- trade is a good way
to do that.
It's a heck of a lot easier to promote human dignity and human
rights through trade than it is through lectures. And it's very
important for us to always remember that a -- as I mentioned
earlier, a prosperous neighborhood, a democratic neighborhood and a
peaceful neighborhood is in our nation's interests.
As a matter of fact, in all due respect to nations from around
the world, the best foreign policy starts with making sure your own
neighborhood is prosperous and safe and sound. And I -- as Colin
mentioned, we have just come back -- or a while ago came back from a
meeting with our friends in Central America and our friends in the
Andean nations. And we had very constructive dialogue, but let me
tell you what I heard.
I heard fine, democratically-elected leaders who are troubled by
the fact that the United States Congress cannot yet respond to their
simple desire to trade, their desire to expand and extend the Andean
trade preference act.
It is important for these nations -- and all you've got to do is
ask the Prime Minister or the ambassadors from the four countries
with whom I met -- ask them the facts. That's what I ask the Senate
to do. What does the Andean trade preference act mean to nations
that protect and defend democracy and, at the same time, fight off
narco-traffickers? Trade in this instance not only is important for
their economies, it is important for their security. It is important
that these nations be given market access so they can develop
products other than coca, that the workers in their countries are
not prone to need to work in the narcotics industry.
If we're serious about dealing with narcotics, not only will we
work to reduce demand, as John Walters is going to do, but we've got
to work in a constructive way, in a real way, with the Andean
nations. And that means not only to work on interdiction, but it
means helping these nations through trade, and develop substitute
products -- products that can be substituted for the quick buck in
I hope Congress understands that. I hope Congress understands
that the Andean trade preference act is a crucial part of making
sure that our hemisphere is democratic and free and stable and
secure. The United States Senate needs to affirm America's trade
leadership, and bring both measures I've talked about today -- the
trade promotion authority, and the Andean trade preference act -- to
the floor by April 22nd.
Now, I've talked to enough members of the Senate, as have my
staff, to know that there's enough Republicans and Democrats to pass
both bills. And therefore the time of delay is over. On April 22nd
I'd like to see the debate, and get them passed. These bills are
good for America, these bills are good for our friends. The time of
delay must end.
And by approving these measures, and other measures such as the
generalized system of preferences, and an enhanced African trade
bill, we will stand squarely with our friends in the world,
recognizing that when we work together and when we trade together,
the whole world can be more prosperous. We've got to seize the
As you know, we fight off incredible terror. And we will. You
don't have to worry about this administration. We're determined, and
we're going to win against terror. And we've also got to fight off
poverty and despair and hopelessness. And one way to do that is to
I want to thank you all for giving me a chance to come and share
my thoughts. May God bless not only America, but all the nations of
the world. (Applause.)
END 1:39 P.M. EST