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"For every country engaged in trade, open markets dramatically widen the base of possible customers for our goods and services. We must press forward. Redoubling our efforts to tear down barriers to trade will spur growth in all our countries. It will create good jobs and boost incomes. It will bring new opportunities for our people. And it will advance the free flow of ideas, information and people that are the lifeblood of democracy and prosperity."

President Clinton
Geneva, Switzerland
May 19, 1998

The Clinton Administration has an unequaled record for opening foreign markets to U.S exports and expanding prosperity through free trade. This has contributed to the longest economic expansion in our history, with the U.S. economy growing from $7 trillion to over $10 trillion in real terms between 1993 and 2000. Employment in the United States rose from 119 million in 1993 to 135 million in January of 2000, while unemployment fell to 4.0 percent. During his two terms in office, President Clinton negotiated more than 300 trade agreements that helped open markets and create opportunity for Americans. These agreements include six that fundamentally transformed world trade: NAFTA, which cemented our strategic trade relationship with our immediate neighbors; the PNTR agreement, which will allow unprecedented access for American businesses to Chinese markets; the Uruguay Round, which created the World Trade Organization with a binding dispute settlement mechanism and extended its rules to new areas such as agriculture, services and intellectual property; and the three multilateral agreements of 1997 on information technology, financial services and basic telecommunications. By opening global markets to U.S. exports and expanding prosperity worldwide, President Clinton has ensured that the United States will keep pace with the rapidly expanding global economy and compete on equal terms with foreign competitors.


Opening China's Markets

  • Signed Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China into law on October 10, 2000. The legislation will, upon China's accession to the World Trade Organization, make available to Americans the benefits of the November 1999 U.S.-China Bilateral WTO agreement, which will allow unprecedented access for American businesses to Chinese markets. Highlights of the agreement include reduction in China's industrial and agricultural tariffs by an average of 15 percent, approval for agricultural trade between private parties, and expanded market access for the telecommunications, insurance, banking, securities, audiovisual and professional service sectors.
  • Concluded an unprecedented intellectual property rights agreement in 1995, in which China agreed to shut down factories producing pirated CD's and CD-ROM's, to seize pirated products intended for export, and to increase raids on pirate manufacturers and distributors. Secured improved market access for the motion picture, computer software and sound recording industries by negotiating tariff reductions and elimination of quotas. The bilateral WTO agreement further strengthens American intellectual property rights by committing China to adhere to the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights.

Establishing the World Trade Organization

  • Committed to putting a "human face" on the global economy by ensuring that the benefits of trade are shared broadly and by seeking to protect the rights of laborers and the state of the environment. For over half a century, the multilateral trading system - consisting first of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and more recently the World Trade Organization (WTO) - has played a key part in meeting U.S. trade policy objectives. It has reduced barriers to trade, strengthened the rule of law and encouraged economic growth and development internationally. Today, the WTO has 136 members and more than 30 others are seeking accession.
  • Led in the establishment of the WTO. Benefited from WTO and U.S. trade policies that reduced barriers and sustained support for the trading system by establishing rules that are credible and equitable. The WTO provides rules for anti-dumping actions, subsidies and countervailing measures, and emergency protection against imports that we have invoked to combat unfair practices and provide domestic producers with temporary protection.
  • Prevailed in 25 out of 27 complaints filed thus far, either by settlement or panel victory. The WTO also provides an improved institutional framework for resolving disputes. The rule of law has been strengthened by the new dispute settlement system, which has proved extremely useful to the United States, its most frequent user.
  • Protected intellectual property rights through WTO rules. For the United States, such rights convey substantial value. In 1998, U.S. trade in royalties and license fees yielded a positive balance of about $25.5 billion.
  • Strengthened the U.S. economy by increasing its openness and flexibility. U.S. tariffs are among the world's lowest, averaging only 2.8 percent. The United States is also the world's leading trader, accounting for about 14 percent of world exports and about 16 percent of imports.
  • Bolstered living standards of American citizens by opening free markets. Export-related jobs are concentrated in high-wage fields that help raise living standards for American families, paying wages 13-16 percent higher than the national average. Jobs supported by American exports grew by 1.4 million between 1994 and 1998. Per capita income in the United States is 40 percent higher than the average for other high-income countries. America gains most when other nations lower their trade barriers as we reduce ours. Indeed, as one of the world's most open economies, the United States has a particular interest in promoting liberalization abroad. In 1940, the average tariff on industrial products in developed countries was about 40 percent. Soon, it will be less than 4 percent.

Boosting the U.S. Economy through NAFTA

  • Led a bipartisan coalition in support of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and achieved implementation of the agreement helping to create American jobs, reduce barriers to trade, services and capital flows, safeguard the integrity of our financial institutions and protect the safety of our workforce and health of the environment. NAFTA has helped create fair and open markets for Americans. Under NAFTA, Mexico's average tariff on U.S. exports has fallen to about 2 percent, and two-thirds of U.S. exports now enter Mexico duty-free. Today nearly all of the $364 billion in goods traded between Canada and the United States are duty free.
  • Since NAFTA's establishment, U.S. goods exports to our NAFTA partners (Mexico and Canada) rose by $111 billion or 78 percent (to $253 billion), including $66 billion in export growth to Canada and $45 billion in export growth to Mexico. Jobs supported by U.S. goods exports to Canada and Mexico total an estimated 2.6 million in 1998, 31 percent (600,000 new jobs) more than in 1993. Such jobs pay an average of 16% more than non-export related jobs. The vast bulk - more than over 86 percent - of our NAFTA trade is in manufactured goods. Our exports of textiles and apparel products to our NAFTA partners have more than doubled, topping $8 billion in 1999.
  • Undertook environmental projects in biological diversity, conservation, sound chemical management, marine ecosystem protection, pollutant reporting, and trade-environment issues with Mexico and Canada since 1993, through the Commission for Environmental Cooperation. This has included work on conservation of the Monarch butterfly, developing the North American Bird Conservation Strategy and the initiation of a North American Biodiversity Information Network.
  • Advanced labor issues and monitored enforcement of the labor laws of U.S. trading partners through the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation, the labor supplemental agreement to NAFTA. It also creates a forum for public concerns about labor law enforcement directly with governments. Twenty submissions have been filed under this agreement, several leading to ministerial consultations and adoption of work programs to address their concerns.

Launching the Free Trade Areas of the Americas (FTAA)

  • Played an essential role since December 1994 in the development of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) initiative. At the ministerial meeting of the FTAA in November 1999, Ministers reached unanimous agreement on elimination of agricultural export subsidies in the WTO and adopted eight measures to facilitate business in the hemisphere by improving customs efficiency. Ministers also received the first report of the Committee of Government Representatives on the Participation of Civil Society, which is dedicated to providing a means for members of civil society to contribute to the negotiating process. When completed, the FTAA will embrace a market that includes over 687 million consumers with a combined income of roughly $9.3 trillion.
  • Convened two major trade and commerce ministerials - in Denver in July 1995, and in Cartagena in March 1996 - to lay the groundwork for greater economic cooperation. By assembling the region's business leaders, ensured that private sector views will be reflected in plans for a Free Trade Area of the Americas.
  • Increased demand for U.S. products throughout the Americas by supporting economic recovery and trade liberalization. Total U.S. exports to Latin America and the Caribbean have grown from $75.14 billion in 1992 to over $140 billion in 1999.

Expanding Trade with Japan

  • Established a bilateral forum for addressing deregulation and market access in Japan with the Enhanced Initiative on Deregulation and Competition Policy, announced in June 1997. The initiative addresses four issues: telecommunications, housing, financial services and medical devices and pharmaceuticals.
  • Reached an agreement with Japan in July 2000, under the auspices of the Enhanced Initiative, to substantially lower the interconnection rates charged by Japan's dominant telecommunications carrier, NTT. This agreement will improve access to Japan's $130 billion telecommunications sector, the world's second-largest.
  • Issued with Japan the Third Joint Status Report of the U.S.-Japan Enhanced Initiative on Deregulation and Competition Policy. It contained significant new Japanese deregulation initiatives in addition to those pertaining to telecommunications, including new measures on energy, housing, financial services, insurance and medical devices and pharmaceuticals.
  • Agreed with Japan to continue the Enhanced Initiative on Deregulation and Competition Policy for a fourth year, thereby paving the way for further progress, when President Clinton and Prime Minister Mori met in July 2000.

Seizing New Opportunities in Africa

  • Signed into law the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) on May 18, 2000. This Act supports increased trade and investment between the United States and Africa to strengthen African economies and democratic governments. It also builds capable partnerships to counter terrorism, crime, environmental degradation and disease. AGOA will expand the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program to provide duty-free treatment to virtually all products exported to the United States from sub-Saharan Africa. The GSP program provides preferential tariff treatment for imports of developing countries that satisfy certain eligibility requirements. The Act will also institutionalize a high-level economic dialogue and take initial steps toward consideration of a Free Trade Area.

Strengthening Ties with the Caribbean Basin

  • Enacted the U.S.-Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act on May 18, 2000, expanding trade preferences for Caribbean Basin countries, which form the sixth largest export market for U.S. goods. The new law will help repair the devastation of Hurricanes Mitch and Georges in 1998 by promoting investment and economic growth. The Act expands the Caribbean Basin Initiative trade preferences enacted in the 1980s by extending duty free treatment to additional textile and apparel products assembled from U.S. fabric. This will encourage additional U.S. exports of cotton and yarn and U.S. investment in the region, while also helping create badly needed jobs for Caribbean workers. The Act also provides duty-free treatment to textile handicrafts and all non-textile products currently excluded from such treatment under the existing Caribbean Basin Initiative.

Expanding Trade with Asia

  • Instituted annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC) economic Leaders' summit meetings and secured commitment by APEC Leaders to achieve free trade and investment throughout the region by 2020.
  • Supported the development and progress of APEC since 1993, facilitating the flow of goods and services within the Asia Pacific region. In 1999, U.S. trade with APEC totaled over $1.13 trillion, comprising roughly two-thirds of U.S. trade with the world.
  • Created the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum - the region's first broadly based consultative body concerned with security issues - reflecting this Administration's readiness to use new multilateral institutions to help lessen tensions and promote cooperation. Two way trade with ASEAN countries amounted to $116 billion in 1999.


"Testimony of Ambassador Charlene Barshefsky, USTR: Renewal of Normal Trade Relations with China," July 9, 1998.

"Joint U.S.-China Statement," October 29, 1997

"Statement of President Clinton to the 1998 WTO Ministerial Meeting, Geneva," May 19, 1998.

"1999 Trade Policy Agenda and 1998 Annual Report of the President of the United States on the Trade Agreements Program: United States Trade Representative," March 1999.

"Statement by the President on the passage of the African Growth and Opportunity Act," July 16, 1999.

"Fact sheet on the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation," September 12, 1999.

"Fact Sheets on China Permanent Normal Trade Relations," April 6, 2000.

"The WTO and U.S. Economic Growth," March 2, 2000.

"U.S. Membership in the WTO: Supporting American Workers, Farmers, Businesses, Economic Progress and Security," April 12, 2000.

"The U.S.-China WTO Accession Agreement: Effects on Trade Flows," March 30, 2000.

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