Bill Clinton photo

Press Briefing by Deputy National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, Secretary of Treasury Lloyd Bentsen, Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown, U.S. Trade Representative Mickey Kantor, and Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs Joan Spero

December 07, 1994

The Briefing Room

1:50 P.M. EST

MR. BERGER: Let me make just three or four overview points at the outset before I turn this over to Helen Thomas. (Laughter.)

Q: There might be more interest. (Laughter.)

Q: Oooh!

MR. BERGER: We'll give it a try, and then if you don't like it our way we'll do it your way, Helen, okay?

Let me say a few things at the beginning. First of all, this summit, which begins Friday night in Miami and last through Sunday, is a major step in a global economic strategy that President Clinton has pursued from the very beginning of his administration. It is a strategy based on the development of growth and jobs through exports and trade, taking advantages of the opportunities created by the emergence of the global economy and the end of the Cold War to advance the American economy.

We've seen progress on that road through NAFTA, through GATT, last month in Asia, the meeting of all of the Asian Pacific leaders agreeing to trade liberalization by the year 2020, and another major step forward will be taken this weekend in Miami.

Second, I think when we look back perhaps several years from now on this summit it will be seen as a milestone in the hemisphere, literally speaking. That is, a marker by which progress over a sweeping period of time will be measured.

There have been two previous summits in the hemisphere in this century -- one in 1956 in Panama. Eleven of the 20-some odd governments that were there were represented by authoritarian, nondemocratically -elected regimes. The last summit was in 1967 in Punta del Este in Uruguay. Nine of the leaders there were not democratically elected. Obviously, the declaration coming out of that summit spoke little about democracy and spoke nothing about trade, open trade, from North America to South America.

In this summit in Miami, there will be 34 of the 35 hemispheric leaders, all of whom who are democratically elected. And what that reflects in an extraordinary convergence that has taken place in this hemisphere over the past several years around two basic and powerful ideas: that is, democratic institutions and more open economies. This provides enormous opportunities that the President has seen from the very beginning of this administration, and which we seek now to take advantage of through the summit.

We have had three objectives in this process since we began the consultation process a year ago. One was to make concrete progress towards a hemispheric trade agreement; two was to consolidate these democratic gains to make democracy stronger and more secure in the hemisphere, and three was to find areas of cooperation on sustainable development in the hemisphere -- that is, both environmental and social issues.

As we have undertaken this consultation process, and particularly in the past month as that process has intensified, we have found an extraordinary convergence around the hemisphere. This has been a process marked not by polemics or ideological debates, but by very pragmatic common interest in expanding trade and strengthening democratic institutions.

The third point I want to make is that we see this as a process: before Miami; Miami; after Miami. There's been a process of about a year that the President has commissioned, has mandated, leading up to this summit by which we have reached, and I think will have reached by Miami, a broad agreement on a range of 23 different initiatives, the centerpiece of which is the trade initiative.

In Miami -- and I'll speak finally in a moment, a little bit about, actually, the schedule -- the leaders will agree to a declaration of principles and a plan of action which will embody these concrete initiatives. But just as importantly, there is a process, a follow-up process. Almost every one of these initiatives carries with it a process by which it will be carried out over the ensuing months and years.

Let me finally, before asking Secretary Bentsen to speak, talk -- just briefly sketch out the three days in Miami so you have a frame of reference within which to view the events.

The first public event for the President will be on Friday afternoon at noon. He will give a speech which will set the context for the summit. This will be a speech to a Florida --largely a Florida audience before the summit begins in which he sets forth what our goals are for the summit and provides an overview of what we seek to achieve.

Friday evening, he will host all the leaders in a dinner -- an informal, nonworking dinner. On Saturday the formal sessions begin -- leaders plus one minister in each the morning and afternoon; leaders by themselves at the lunch. The morning session will be devoted to economic and trade issues. The working lunch will be dedicated to issues of sustainable development. And in the afternoon, there will be a discussion of the democracy initiatives.

Saturday evening there will be a gala and entertainment that is being staged by the John F. Kennedy Center, to be followed by a leaders dinner -- leaders and their spouses alone on Fisher Island.

On Sunday, there will be a plenary session, the Saturday sessions leaders will be closed. The Sunday session will be an open session, open to the press and to invited guests. The leaders will sign the declaration of principles and the plan of action. And there will be a number of brief addresses by President Clinton and other leaders in the hemisphere.

There may be other events that unfold as the weekend goes on, but that's the basic context of the weekend.

Let me ask -- why don't we wait until the end and then come with questions.

Secretary Bentsen.

SECRETARY BENTSEN: Thank you, Sandy.

Well, I'm still on the payroll, so I thought I'd drop by this afternoon and maybe hear Helen Thomas make a speech on trade. (Laughter.)

MS. THOMAS: Never.


Well, the point has been made by Sandy that when President Clinton goes to Miami he is going to see 10 more democracies than Lyndon Johnson saw when he held his meeting in 1967. I'm very optimistic on trade. I think we have to take a lead. If we don't work with our hemispheric neighbors in building this relation on trade with the Americas, then we're going to find that the Japanese and the Europeans are going to work to be their partners. And they will be the ones that will be creating jobs back home instead of this country. So what we're looking at is what we can do in reshaping this hemisphere over the next 10 years.

Many of these leaders are American educated. They've gone to our graduate schools in this country; understand the economics of a free market system. They're not afraid to get into a room and discuss those opportunities. It won't be what can we get in the way of aid from the United States, it's going to be what can we do in developing a closer relationship on trade.

I look to the progress that the Latin American countries have made over the last 10 years. Mountains of debt have been worked down to manageable levels. You're seeing government deficits down; inflation is generally under control; states are privatizing; capital is going into Latin America. It is the second fastest-growing area in the world today. This is an area where we share a culture with them. We're a multilateral cultural country. In that regard, Latin America and its culture is a good part of ours. I think we have an advantage with that in developing trade with Latin America.

We're going to talk about integrating these economies. How do you cut the costs of doing business? How do you help the capital flow? How do we finance the infrastructure products in the projects? What do we do about the bridges and the highways, and trying to do an assistance in that regard?

On Friday, I'm going to be hosting a meeting with many of the finance ministers. We'll discuss capital formation, and we're going to talk about money laundering. We're going after the crooks. Money laundering is a $300 billion a year business worldwide. About half of that is drug related. Unless we take the profits out of crime we're not going to solve our problems. Having tough laws here in this country doesn't stop a criminal from moving money to where the weakest laws are. So we'll talk about uniformity in laws, and we'll make it illegal to launder proceeds of -- make it a serious crime, not just on sole drug trafficking. I think you're going to see some real concrete results coming out of this. And I think it's terribly important to the future trade of our country.

If you look at just what has happened in the last year insofar as the increase in trade, 60 percent of our increase in trade this year has been with our neighbors on the south and on the north. And we can extend that throughout Latin America.

Secretary Brown.

SECRETARY BROWN: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.

This summit is really about economic growth. It's about economic opportunity. It's about job creation. It's about improving the standard of living of the American people. President Clinton has been committed since the beginning of this administration to economic growth and job creation. That's why we have a national export strategy. We have a plan; we have a strategy. We are implementing it, and it is working. It is creating high-wage, high-quality jobs for the American people.

The Latin American market is an incredible market for us. Our hemisphere has almost 800 million consumers that have incomes of almost $8 trillion. How do we integrate economically that can help the people of the entire hemisphere? We have to have someone to trade with. If we talk about promoting exports, you have to have someone to sell your goods and products and services to. So it is in America's interest and the interest of the United States to have growing economies among our neighbors in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The focus of this conference is just that. How do we increase that economic integration? How do we negotiate trade agreements in the future that lead us in that direction? We all know that in order to get there we're going to have to have a publicprivate partnership. Governments cannot achieve those results by themselves. And it is the private sector that has to lead that process. We know that it is the private sector that fuels the engine, that pulls the train of economic growth and job creation. But how can we in government be better partners? As Sandy Berger said, this is part of a continuum. This is not the last step in the process, but a very important central step.

Next spring Ambassador Kantor and I will be sponsoring a conference of private sector leaders from the hemisphere, talking about what they can do to help assure that markets are open, that trade barriers of all kinds are reduced.

We believe that hemispheric free trade is terribly important to our economic future. And the fact is I think we fail to recognize that the economies of Latin America are growing almost as fast as the economies of Asia. And it's time that we spend more time and pay more attention to our relationship -- our commercial relationship -- with our neighbors in our own hemisphere.

We believe that commercial engagement works. We believe that it is a key to our economic future. And we believe that this summit is a giant step in ensuring a closer relationship between the United States and our neighbors in Latin America.

Ambassador Kantor.

AMBASSADOR KANTOR: Thank you, Secretary Brown.

This is about growth; it's about stability; it's about our standard of living. This is in the U.S. interest, but also in the interests of our trading partners throughout the Western Hemisphere. It's about two broad issues -- breaking down barriers to trade in the trade declaration and, of course, it's about making the rules fair.

If there's been one common denominator theme that's run through all the agreements the President has led us to in the last 16, or 14 or 15 months of this administration, it has been making the rules fair. That's what the North American Free Trade Agreement: it's breaking down barriers, allowing our products in. That's what the Uruguay Rounds about. That's what APEC is leading to. And that's what this trade declaration will be about. It will be a concrete statement, with concrete items to be covered, with concrete dates for officials and ministers meetings over the next 18 months, and with concrete dates of achieving the goals that we are about.

If I could only add one more comment to what Secretary Brown said so articulately -- by the year 2010, we'll have more trade with Latin America below the Rio Grande -- where Lloyd Bentsen grew up -- from the Rio Grande to Argentina than with Europe and Japan combined. If we just remember that fact and understand that export jobs pay 17 percent more on the average than all other jobs in our economy, it's where our future of high-wage, high-skill jobs resides. That's why this conference is so important. And that's why the concrete nature of the trade declaration will move us a giant step towards that goal.

UNDER SECRETARY SPERO: Well, as you've heard, one of the major focuses and the centerpiece will be trade. But as Sandy said, there is also another emphasis, another goal that we've had, and that is to consolidate the gains that have been made for democracy throughout the region. As the President said, the purpose of this summit is to discuss our hemisphere and to celebrate the spread of freedom and democracy. So I'd like to talk a little bit about what's going to happen on that front at the summit.

As Sandy said, the spread of democracy in this hemisphere is one of the most remarkable events that has occurred over the last decade. But many of the democracies are new; many of them are fragile. And the future of this hemisphere depends on our ability to strengthen democratic institutions, to build on human rights, and to develop the rule of law.

So one of the goals, as I said, of this summit for the United States, has been to develop and consolidate and strengthen democracy. And it is an issue that the summit leaders will be talking about. Now, of course, what we've talked about here on economic integration and trade is, of course, one support for democracy. Trade and economic growth reinforce and promote and safeguard democracy, and vice versa.

In addition, there will be a number of specific initiatives relating directly to democracy to dealing with poverty and the environment. We will be committing ourselves to actions on corruption, on terrorism, on narcotic trafficking, as Secretary Bentsen has said, on money laundering. There will also be several initiatives on protecting the environment, on ensuring education and health care for all.

Our plan is not to stop with a declaration. We and our 33 partners have developed a rather detailed action plan with actually 23 sections. The OAS and the Inter-American Development Bank will be given specific responsibility for implementing certain parts of that action plan. And we also expect a number of the countries at the summit to actually take ownership of some specific initiatives and to push for their completion.

In fact, I think it's worth mentioning that many of the ideas and initiative for the summit and for the action plan did not come from the United States, they came from other countries. Chile and Ecuador, for example, promoted the initiative on corruption. Argentina and Panama sponsored the initiative on terrorism; Colombia on money laundering, and Brazil on human rights.

And I think that suggests a final point that I want to make, and that is, the way we prepared for the summit. The process before and after Miami, consulting widely with our hemispheric partners over the last months, I think symbolizes the new nature of the relationship, a new style of relations in the hemisphere with a significant emphasis on partnership.

So the 34 countries that are going to be coming together in Miami increasingly share not only a common set of interests and issues, but a commitment to work on them actively, and as has been said here, to follow through after Miami.

Thank you.

Q: Ambassador Kantor, are you saying that in terms of specific dates that you are going to come out of this setting a specific date for achievement of the AFTA pact?

AMBASSADOR KANTOR: We expect this trade declaration to be concrete, to be specific both in items covered and in dates. And we're looking forward to moving towards goals that are parallel or consistent with that.

Q: But are you going to have date for achieving AFTA itself?

AMBASSADOR KANTOR: We're making progress towards that, and we hope that the -- we hope to achieve that by the time we get to Miami.

Q: I'm sorry, I don't think I understand. The APEC declaration actually had two dates in it -- 2010 and 2020 -- 2020 being the end of the road for free trade. Do you envision, or do you hope that you come out with a similar parallel type of date out of the Miami Summit?

AMBASSADOR KANTOR: We expect specific dates, not only in terms of officials meetings, ministers meetings, but also when we'll achieve economic integration. We expect that to happen; we made progress towards it. We don't expect to have the deal or parallel dates that we had in the APEC situation.

Q: Will Chile be taken into the NAFTA?

AMBASSADOR KANTOR: As you know, the President, when he was President-elect, committed himself in a letter that was delivered, in fact, by Senator Tom Harkin, to Chilean officials -- President Aylwin, at the time -- that Chile would be considered first in terms of NAFTA accession when and if, of course, we reached a successful ratification of the NAFTA, which happened, of course, in the late fall of 1993. I think that has been reiterated by the President and by others in this administration. We look forward to meetings between President Clinton, President Frei, Prime Minister Chretien, and President Zedillo in Miami.

Q: Will Chile be taken into NAFTA? (Laughter.)

AMBASSADOR KANTOR: I thought my answer was quite brilliant, frankly. (Laughter.) And I --

Q: But not concise. (Laughter.)

AMBASSADOR KANTOR: Right. But brilliance sometimes overrides being concise and specific.

Q: I don't think so. (Laughter.)

Q: So there may be an announcement on this?

AMBASSADOR KANTOR: I think you can expect these four presidents to get together publicly and all of you will be invited.

Q: Getting back to that date again. Is it correct that the United States, initially at least, did not want to push for a specific date? And also, I hear that some people are saying 2005. Is there a concrete date that they're working to, or is it still pretty flexible at this point in terms of where it's going to be pegged?

SECRETARY BROWN: A summit of 34 leaders is about achieving a consensus. Obviously, the United States has a very significant leadership position. We have tried to work with the leaders of the other 33 countries to reach a consensus; Ambassador Kantor has already indicated that he thinks we've made significant progress in that direction. But I think we're going to have to wait until we get to Miami to make any more further specific announcements about that.

Q: The U.S. now believes that that is a good idea to set a specific target?

SECRETARY BROWN: Well, I think you can judge us by what our position was with APEC. We took that position in APEC; it seems logical that we would be consistent in other parts of the world as well.

Q: Secretary Brown, what kind of model do you see going forward in any agreements? Do you see a China MFN-type model for future agreements where there is no linkage between social issues, human rights, the environment, or a NAFTA-type model? And what will be the linkage on progress on --

SECRETARY BROWN: Well, first, earlier I indicated that we believe in commercial engagement. We think that commercial engagement, commercial diplomacy, if you will, allows us to make progress in bilateral relationships on a number of issues.

As you recall, our MFN policy was really driven by the fact that we have a deep commitment to human rights and the improvement of human rights. The question is, how do you get from here to there? Our judgment is that by being commercially engaged, it is much more likely that you can make progress on these other issues than if you are commercially disengaged, if you withdraw. And I would think that the logic of that position would prevail in other policy pronouncements and other policy directions that we take.

MR. BERGER: If I can -- just let me add one thought to what Secretary Brown has said. The linkage between trade and human rights on China MFN was really a unique problem that was the result of an evolution both in the Congress and the Executive Branch since Tiananmen Square.

I think here we have an opportunity to do both. That is, that we believe deeply that trade, that engagement does ultimately open societies and help to open societies, but we also believe that it's not sufficient, that we also need to vigorously work with countries to strengthen democratic institutions within those countries on a bilateral and in this case a multilateral basis. And I think what's extraordinary about this summit is 34 leaders coming together -- they will be talking not only about economics, but they'll also be talking about how to strengthen their democracies. These were not necessarily all items that we put on the agenda; in many cases, they said we want to talk about how we can get rid of corruption in our societies, how we can get rid of the things that are eating away at democracy and human rights.

So this is very much a common cause in this summit.

SECRETARY BROWN: Could I say, too, that I think one thing to note is, when you look at the leaders that are going to be coming to the summit, when the last summit took place almost three decades ago, almost half the leaders who came were in military uniforms bedecked with medals. Now, all those who are coming are in civilian dress, democratically elected. And I think that gives a clear sign of the kind of transformation that has taken place in the hemisphere not only in terms of economic renewal, but also in terms of democratization, which obviously is a priority of the summit.

Q: How about the issues of Cuba, Cuba immigration and refugees? Will they be on the agenda at all?

MR. BERGER: They are not explicitly on the agenda. There are not country-specific issues on the agenda. I would not -- would be surprised if individual leaders brought them up in their comments; but they're not specifically on the agenda.

Q: Secretary, just for the record, are you going to be heading up the President's --

Q: Will the President have a meeting with -- I'm sorry, I haven't had a question yet. Will the President have a meeting with members of the Cuban American community in Washington, or with the Haitian community -- in Miami, rather?

MR. BERGER: The President, I think on Friday, is going to be addressing a large group which will include many Cuban American leaders in Miami, and many leaders of the Haitian American community as well.

Q: Will he have any bilaterals with the Latin leaders?

MR. BERGER: No. The pace of this event, starting on Friday, is pretty brisk and it does not lend itself to one, let alone 34, bilateral meetings.

Q: What is the justification from the administration's point of view of pushing for MFN with China but not even wanting to have Cuba attend a meeting just to discuss trade?

MR. BERGER: This is a -- when this summit was announced at President Clinton's request by Vice President Gore in Mexico on December 1, he said that he believed that there should be a summit of hemispheric democracies. There were at that point 33 democratically -- democratic leaders serving in power. There are now 34 democratic leaders serving in power with the return of President Aristide. I think it is a reflection of the common commitment that we have in the hemisphere to strengthen democratic institutions, to make sure that this movement towards democracy continues and is solidified, that the invitation list here is quite appropriate.

Q: Why not take the same approach with China, that's my -- my point is, you've got a different approach with China, apparently not pushing them towards democracy the way you --

MR. BERGER: We've talked to Cuba about issues where we have reason to talk to them -- on issues of migration and other issues. This is a summit of hemispheric democracies. I think the fact that all of the leaders in the hemisphere accept that proposition as a very powerful statement.

Q: Secretary Brown, are you planning on leaving the administration to head up the reelection campaign of President Clinton?

SECRETARY BROWN: I have said many times, even in the presence of other Cabinet members and senior officials of the administration, that I think I think I've got the best job in Washington. And I have no plans to leave it.

AMBASSADOR KANTOR: He has the second-best job in Washington. (Laughter.)

Q: Even if the President asks you? Even if the President asks you?

SECRETARY BROWN: I repeat, I have no plans to stop being Secretary of Commerce.

Q: Do you have any more specifics regarding the war on drugs aside from the attacks on money laundering? Is there, for instance, in the area of law enforcement greater collaboration, technology transfer? Will this be discussed at the meeting?

UNDER SECRETARY SPERO: Yes, there will -- you'll find when you eventually see the program that there are different types of actions. First of all, there are commitments that the national governments undertake, that they will do, and in some cases, and you'll find these throughout, a number of the initiatives, that these will be supported by either the OAS or the Inter-American Development Bank. You'll also find that there is greater cooperation, information sharing, technology sharing, among the different members, so that you'll find both national actions and multinational actions.

Q: Ambassador Kantor, have you begun any talks with the Republicans on Capitol Hill, or can you give us your assessment of how difficult it will be to get any kind of fast track authority for any agreements that come out of this summit or any further trade agreements?

AMBASSADOR KANTOR: The answer to your first question is yes, I've begun discussion with Republicans and Democrats on the Hill, both House and Senate and we'll continue those discussions in the spirit of a bipartisan trade policy, which we've pursued. And second, I expect we'll get broad fast track authority for these expected agreements over the long-term.

Q: Have you agreed to drop the side agreements?

AMBASSADOR KANTOR: We've not agreed to anything, nor have we disagreed. Let me be concise, since I have been roundly criticized for not being concise, which is not my nature. The trade declaration that you'll see we expect will address environment and labor.

THE PRESS: Thank you.

END 2:10 P.M. EST

William J. Clinton, Press Briefing by Deputy National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, Secretary of Treasury Lloyd Bentsen, Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown, U.S. Trade Representative Mickey Kantor, and Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs Joan Spero Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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