It's really gratifying for me to participate with you this afternoon in a historic moment, which I think bodes well for our Nation and its future. I'm particularly grateful that the distinguished Members of the Congress are here, because they've been an integral part of a team that has made this afternoon's ceremony possible. The top leaders of business, commerce, labor, State and local officials have all been intimately involved in the preparation of this occasion.
One of the most important things that I have as a responsibility is to promote and to enhance and to strengthen and to regulate trade with foreign countries. This trade reorganization Executive order, which I will sign this afternoon, is the result of a tremendous amount of work. It's the 13th reorganization plan that my administration has presented to the Congress, and all 13 of them have been passed by the Congress—an unprecedented achievement. And I want to thank the Members who are here who've been responsible for it.
This has not been the case with previous administrations, by the way, when less than one-third of the reorganization plans proposed were passed. But we have consulted closely and cooperated without exception, in every instance, for the enhancement of our Nation's future.
I think it's true to say that in the last 3 years we've done as much or more to expand trade, for the benefit of both workers and those who produce goods for sale overseas, as has been done since the early sixties.
We haven't had much publicity about it, but the enormous accomplishment of the multilateral trade negotiations was more far reaching than the Trade Act passed when President Kennedy was in office. It has escaped public notice to a major extent, but its beneficial effect on our country will be even more profound than was the case in the early 1960's.
We've tried, in addition to enhancing American exports and regulating imports for the benefit of Americans, to reduce paperwork, to eliminate bureaucratic confusion, to have a clear delineation of responsibility, and to promote a constant consultation with the private sector of our free enterprise system that I think is unprecedented. We've been successful so far.
Bob Strauss, as you know, was our Special Trade Representative, working with Al McDonald and others, and particularly with the Congress, in bringing to life a dead issue. When I first met with the other leaders of the Western democratic nations at the economic summit in London, and later in Bonn, my first 2 years in office, they all told me that the MTN, so-called, was dead, that it was too far gone to resurrect. But it was resurrected, and it became a fact, because of the good work of these men.
Phil Klutznick has now agreed to serve as our Secretary of Commerce. Under this Executive order, the Secretary of Commerce will be responsible, uniquely and in an unprecedented way, for the promotion of exports and for ensuring that agreements on imports and the laws concerning imports will be enforced.
Reubin Askew, our new Special Trade Representative, will have an additional responsibility above and beyond what was the case in the past: to advise closely with me and to coordinate the effort in the international trade arena.
And I particularly want to thank Jim Mcintyre, who has pulled together the diverse elements of our American society, in making possible this trade reorganization.
I might point out that this effort and the success of it will make available additional markets for American products, to put American workers to higher and better employment. It will mean that we'll have an additional arena or area of trade with countries that have, in the past, not been our close trade partners. It will increase the quality of goods available to the American consumer, and it will increase competition, which the American free enterprise system is well able to accommodate. It will lower inflation, strengthen the dollar, improve employment, and also improve the quality of goods that consumers can purchase.
I might say that we have, in addition, under reorganization plans, beneficially affected education, energy, civil rights, the civil service system, the dealing with emergencies, such as floods, tornadoes, and civil defense, foreign aid, and five or six other major areas of American life. I'm very deeply grateful for what has been accomplished with the help of the Congress.
At this time I'd like to sign the Executive order, following which I'll ask Phil Klutznick, Reubin Askew, Jim Mcintyre, Bob Strauss to say just a word. And then I'd like to stand outside the door and shake hands with every one of you in this room, individually, and express my personal appreciation to you for what you've meant to me as President and what you've meant to our great country.
Thank you very much.
[At this point, the President signed the Executive order. After remarks by Secretary Klutznick, Ambassador Askew, Mr. Mcintyre, and Mr. Strauss, the President resumed speaking as follows.]
Now, the ones who are absolutely dedicated to making sure that this trade reorganization Executive order is carried out to the fullest possible benefit to our Nation if you are committed to that proposition, I'd like for you to come by, shake my hand, and give me a personal pleasure. [Laughter]