Good morning. This week I've been in Tokyo attending the annual summit of the world's seven major industrial nations. This year we devoted most of the time to an issue critical to most Americans, how to create more jobs and more prosperity.
In this era, our standard of living is increasingly linked to other countries. The more other nations lower their trade barriers, the more American firms can export. And the more we export, the more jobs we'll create. The more the economies of other nations expand, the more their people can buy our products, creating even more American jobs. Our exports to other countries account for some 7 million American jobs. And most of our job growth over the last decade has come from increases in our sales overseas.
For some weeks, I've been saying that the more we get our own economic house in order, the more we can get our trading partners to open up their markets and expand their own economies. That was clearly true this week. My hand was strengthened in these meetings with other world leaders because of everything the American people have been doing: calling for change, pushing the Congress to cut the deficit and increase investment in American jobs, demanding that we reform our campaign laws, our Government, and our health care system. In these meetings I was able to say to the world's other leaders, "The American people are willing to make some tough choices, and now your nations must do the same thing so that together we can get the world's economy growing again."
For over 10 years, every time a American President came to one of the meetings, the leaders of the other nations of the world said, "Before we can straighten out this economy, America has to reduce its deficit and invest more in the education and training of its people." Now we're doing that, and we can ask the other nations to play their part as well.
This has been a good week for the American people. I'm going home with some tangible agreements that can make life better for our workers and our businesses. Let me give you one example. After years of deadlock at these summits over the world trade agreement, we were able to get the world's major trading powers to agree on a plan that will dramatically lower tariffs on manufactured products. This agreement covers everything from paper to chemicals to electronics. For several groups of products, including steel, farm equipment, and pharmaceuticals, our agreement will eliminate tariffs entirely. This plan could mean the biggest reduction in tariffs in history. Now, how does this affect American workers? Well, the lower the tariffs, the lower the price on American goods when they hit the market in another country. And the lower the price, the more we sell and the more jobs we create back home.
This agreement has added momentum to our efforts to achieve a large global trade agreement by the end of the year, an agreement that could create hundreds of thousands of export-based American jobs and dramatically rebuild the manufacturing sector in America. These jobs will be the better, higher paying jobs.
Agreements like this are a good start to get our economy moving again. But there's still a lot of work ahead of us. For example, over the next few weeks we still need to get Congress to take the final steps to pass the budget and deficit cutting plan. If you haven't said anything to your Member of Congress to let them know how you feel, please pick up the phone first thing Monday morning and do that. We've got to keep bringing our deficit down so we can keep these interest rates down and get our economy moving again.
Meeting with the world's other leaders this week drove home another important point. The challenges facing our Nation are also facing most other nations as well. Workers in every advanced country are coping with increased foreign competition. Communities in every major nation are frustrated by stubbornly high rates of unemployment. Overseas, as in the U.S.., there is a tremendous thirst for political and economic reform so people can have more control over their own lives, their jobs, and their governments.
The changes you and I are pursuing in our businesses, in our communities, in our Government, are making America stronger. But they're also having an impact on other countries in ways we usually don't even think about. We're showing people the world over that the challenges of this new era can be met. As the American people have done in so many other times, we're setting an example, offering hope, and providing inspiration. Our country has never shied away from challenges. After this week, I am more confident than ever we're going to make the world's new economy work for us.
Before I sign off this morning, I want to say a word about a continuing tragedy I've followed closely while I've been overseas: the terrible flooding that has hit the Midwest in and near the Mississippi River Valley. On Sunday I went to speak with some of the families who have been hit by the rising waters in Iowa and Illinois. As someone who grew up in farm country, I was stunned by the devastation—houses, businesses, farms, in some cases whole communities, all under water.
I want the people in these communities to know that my thoughts have been with them. Before I left the country, I asked Vice President Gore to take personal charge to make sure that all the emergency services available get to those who need them. I know that people all over America have been offering their help and support to these flood-ravaged cities and towns. All our prayers are with the people of the Midwest as they face the task of rebuilding their communities, their farms, and their lives. When hard times hit, the American people stand by each other. Even in this new era, I don't think that will ever change.
Thanks for listening.