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Statement by the President on Traditional Trade Negotiating Authority

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The Briefing Room

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release November 4, 1997

Statement by the President on Traditional Trade Negotiating Authority Legislation

This week Congress has the opportunity to renew decades of partnership between the Congress and the President in building America's economic future and security through trade.

That partnership has been a key component of this nation's successful economic strategy, which has given America its strongest economy in a generation and helped build this country into the world's greatest trading nation. By working together for over sixty years, Congress and the President have provided a foundation for prosperity at home while bolstering democracy, security, and living standards around the world.

Our predecessors learned the bitter lessons of protectionism first hand during the Great Depression, and wisely set the world on a path toward mutual prosperity. Today, with our economy and our workers, farmers, and firms the envy of the world, America can lead from strength. In a world where economic activity in one corner of the globe can affect economic activity in every other, America's leadership in international trade is more vital than ever.

Over the past five years, American exports have helped power and sustain a U.S. economy of unparalleled productivity, strength, and vitality. From year to year, we have added hundreds of thousands of high-wage, high-productivity jobs in our dynamic export industries.

Our challenge today, and for our children, is to sustain that growth and our standard of living well into the next century, while promoting worker rights and environmental protection at home and abroad. To secure our economic future, we must take advantage of quickly expanding market opportunities around the globe that are available for America's workers and firms -- if we seize them. Some 96 percent of the world's consumers live outside our borders.

Here at home, we have the world's most open and competitive marketplace. Americans thrive on fair competition, as the sustained growth in our economy has shown. But in some foreign countries, particularly in the new, emerging marketplaces around the world, American products and services are not given a chance to compete. Now is the time for us to unlock those markets and make them as open to fair competition as our own.

Legislation is pending before the Congress this week that will allow us to do that, while addressing important labor and environmental concerns. It makes Congress a vital partner in shaping our trade strategies and strengthens the hand of our negotiators. It tells our trading partners that America is united at the negotiating table in securing the best possible market opportunities for our firms, farmers, and workers.

American leadership has helped prompt tremendous progress towards democracy, stability, and economic security in our hemisphere and around the world. Our sustained efforts to bring about fair and open trade worldwide have been a major reason for our success.

I am committed to pursuing not only more open markets for our companies and working people, but more open societies that encourage respect for core labor standards and for the environment. To accomplish those goals, to build on our strength, and to sustain American leadership over the years to come, Congress must join me in a partnership for the future.

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