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Public Statements

Floor Statement- National Trade Education Day

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. MCCAIN. Mr. President, today has been designated National Trade Education Day. We should use this opportunity to demonstrate how the United States' belief in free trade and open markets have fostered American prosperity. This issue is especially timely, because the United States will be hosting a Ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Seattle later on this month. Public support of these WTO negotiations is necessary to ensure continued economic growth in the 21st Century.

The United States' economy is currently in a period of historic economic growth, low inflation, and low unemployment. America's open market plays a vital role in this achievement. Growth in the volume of American exports in goods and services accounted for more than 40% of overall U.S. economic growth in 1997. Today, exports represent 12% of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product. Export sales are now responsible for over 41% of the production of American semiconductors, 42% of aircraft, 43% of computers, and 68% of power turbines. Recent stories about the trade deficit also show promise. The resurgence of the economies of our Asian, Latin American, and European trading partners created an increase in American exports of $2.9 billion totaling $82 billion in August. The trade deficit dropped $800 million last month to $24.1 billion.

The recent economic news gives credence to the saying that "A rising tide lifts all boats." American exports help everyone from corporate CEOs to the average American worker. In 1997, over 11,500,000 jobs depended on American exports. In addition, export-supported jobs pay 13% more than the average domestic wage. High technology industry jobs that are directly supported by exports have averaged hourly earnings 34% higher than the national average. The continued bipartisan free trade policy has benefitted the American people.

It is important that the United States remain a leader in promoting policies of open markets worldwide. While our trade deficit has stabilized, we should remove remaining foreign barriers to American goods to reduce this deficit. American farmers, manufacturers and workers are hurt, when foreign countries use high tariffs, quotas, and questionable legal and safety procedures to lock American goods out of their markets. The President should make it a top priority to remove these barriers, and the Congress must give him the authority to achieve this objective.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) can play an important role in pursuing American trade objectives. All members of the WTO have to make commitments to reduce barriers to goods and services, and protect intellectual property rights. The WTO has an established procedure to ensure that countries meet their obligations. The United States should ensure that our trading partners meet their commitments. When our trading partners do not meet their obligations, such as the European Union has done concerning American agricultural goods, then we should use the WTO to apply as much pressure as possible to bring these countries into compliance. The upcoming Seattle negotiations offer us a great opportunity to use the WTO to reduce more foreign barriers to American goods, agricultural products, and services. We should also ensure the growth of our high technology exports by making permanent the international moratorium on customs duties relating to electronic commerce.

It is also important that we realize that international trade meets many of our national security interests. As countries trade with the United States and each other, they learn the benefits of peace and stability to economic growth. These countries see the benefits of pursuing policies that support stability, which is a major American national security objective.

Last week, the Senate sent a strong message that the United States is committed to the principles of free trade by passing major trade legislation. However, the President and Congress must work together to pass another major piece of trade legislation to ensure American prosperity in the 21st Century. It is imperative that the President make a serious effort to work with the Congress to pass "fast track" legislation. As the next round of the WTO negotiations develop, it is important that American negotiators have the leverage to secure our trade policy objectives. In addition, "fast track" authority lets our trading partners know that any agreement they negotiate with the United States will not be subject to exemptions and gross re-writings by the special interests in Washington. When the negotiations concerning the WTO, the Free Trade Area of the Americas, and other ongoing trade talks come to fruition, the President will need to have "fast track" authority to ensure that the agreements are implemented. My hope is that we can pass "fast track" legislation soon in order to establish the framework for another century of American economic growth.

In conclusion, I hope that we can use National Trade Education Day to gain public support for the continued pursuit of policies based on the principles of free trade. Bipartisan American trade policies, based on the belief in open markets free of regulations and tariffs, have played a major role in causing the current American prosperity. The United States should continue to pursue free trade policies that will remove barriers to American exports. I urge my colleagues to establish the foundation for future prosperity by passing "fast-track" legislation during this Congress.

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