Press Briefing by U.S. Trade Representative Mickey Kantor
4:14 P.M. EDT
MS. MYERS: The following will be a discussion of GATT with Ambassador Kantor. Here he is in the flesh.
AMBASSADOR KANTOR: That's what's called a California introduction. (Laughter.) We are transmitting to the Hill the Uruguay Round implementing legislation, statement of administrative action. It will be introduced this afternoon in the House and the Senate by Majority Leader Gephardt and Majority Leader Mitchell.
The Uruguay Round legislation, implementing legislation, the Round itself, the World Trade Organization, which is implemented by it, is supported by a bipartisan majority of the Congress in both the House and the Senate. We have had bipartisan support for our trade program throughout this administration.
I'd like to specifically point out Minority Leader Dole, Senator Packwood, Senator Danforth, along, of course, with Chairman Moynihan in the Senate. On the House side, of course, Mr. Michel, Mr. Gingrich, Mr. Archer, along with the Speaker, Dick Gephardt, Chairman Gibbons, Chairman Rostenkowski, and, of course, Mr. Matsui, who have all supported this strongly.
As you know, this is a single undertaking. The major part in the major movement forward in world trade is -- for the first time, we will have a level playing field after a five-year phase-in for developing countries. Nothing is more important in this legislation than that. It changes the whole way in which we regulate trade in a post-Cold War world.
Second of all, it cuts tariffs by 40 percent. It is a $740 billion tax cut for the world, and, of course, is a net tax cut for the American people. The nontariff barriers are removed. It will add about $8 billion in extra income to agriculture by the year 2003 by reducing subsidies and making sure we have minimum and current access to every country in the world which is best, I guess, represented by the opening of the Japanese and Korean rice markets.
Of course, it protects intellectual property, which is our fastest growing industries -- our so-called copyright industries, which are movies and music; our computer software industry; our pharmaceutical industries; our biotech industries, where we are the world leaders. For the first time services are covered under a multilateral agreement that 60 percent of the businesses in this country and 70 percent of the employment, and of course, the dispute settlement understanding is something we have long fought for.
Let me make it clear. This is a piece of legislation that was initiated by the Reagan administration -- by President Reagan -- was supported in advance by President Bush; reengaged and completed by President Clinton. It is bipartisan in every aspect, and will continue to be so. It is supported by all the former Presidents of the United States; it is supported by 44 attorneys general; it is supported by 42 governors; it is supported by Democrat and Republican ex-secretaries of state; by Democrat and Republican ex-trade representatives; by 450 economists, including several Nobel laureates; the American Enterprises too, the Heritage Foundation; Judge Robert Bork; the American Bar Association; the Consumers Union --
Q: How about the partridge in the pear tree? (Laughter.)
AMBASSADOR KANTOR: And the partridge in the pear tree.
Q: Will Dole let it go through?
AMBASSADOR KANTOR: Senator Dole has been a supporter of free trade for his entire congressional career. He has worked closely with us. He was not only on the Senate Finance Committee, he was on the Conference Committee, which reported this out unanimously. And we hope and expect, of course, that he will support his. Obviously, I can't speak for Senator Dole.
Q: Has he said he will block it? Or has he --
AMBASSADOR KANTOR: Senator Dole has not said anything of the kind.
Q: How about Senator Hollings, Mr. Kantor? He has threatened to block it. Are you in danger of --
AMBASSADOR KANTOR: Well we -- Senator Hollings, first of all, is a great friend of this administration and a great personal friend of the President's and of mine and many people in this administration. We have had long and interesting conversations about trade. Senator Hollings is very happy with major parts of this bill. He is not happy with other parts of this bill. Obviously, his committee will have jurisdiction and he'll have every opportunity to talk about the bill and talk about its fate in his committee. And we'll continue to work with him.
Q: Can I follow that, please? Did you try to get a commitment from Senator Hollings not to hold that bill on his committee until after the Congress goes home?
AMBASSADOR KANTOR: Oh, we've had discussions about that. But this is up to Senator Hollings; we'll continue to work with him. We believe that we're going to pass this Uruguay Round implementing bill and the statement of administrative action before the Congress goes home.
Q: no amendments? Would you ask him for a commitment not to do that? And has he just not responded?
AMBASSADOR KANTOR: We asked for no commitment, nor was one given.
Q: Could you say whether any agreement was reached with Senator Hollings for future legislation for the possible phaseout of tariffs, any deal cut that -- to help get his support for not holding up the agreement?
AMBASSADOR KANTOR: There have been no deals offered, no deals cut. We've had many conversations. The fact is that Senator Hollings, as I've said before, is a friend of this administration and a personal friend of the President's and of mine and of many in this administration. We'll continue to work together.
Q: There were at least four things about GATT that were apparently undecided on the Hill, which were kind of left to the administration to decide. And I was wondering if you could tell me what has been cited in these four areas.
AMBASSADOR KANTOR: Absolutely, yes.
Q: Super 301, that would be the first; and I'll go down the rest if you'll let me. There are just four here.
AMBASSADOR KANTOR: Sure, I'd be pleased to.
Q: Super 301; CBI parity; rule of origin on textiles; and GSP -- generalized systems of preference.
AMBASSADOR KANTOR: Let me start, I'll go up the list. GSP has been extended, but for a year, which it does not have the socalled reforms in it. Number two, CBI will not be part of the legislation this year, but we expect it to be part of the fast track legislation next year and we will staunchly support its adoption as part of fast track legislation in 1995.
In terms of the rule of origin, it is in the bill. It is basically the same rule of origin which passed the Congress --
Q: Passed the House?
AMBASSADOR KANTOR: -- that passed the House, or was recommended by the House is the way we should say it in the fast track procedure. And last, of course, is Super 301. The administration has put in this bill its version of Super 301, which comes out of the executive order as contrasted with the Senate version.
Q: That would be identifying only the unfair practice and not the country --
AMBASSADOR KANTOR: Priority foreign country practices. That means it has to be a -- it's a connection between the practice and the country, rather than identifying practices on one hand and countries on the other. That would be the major difference.
Q: Senator Dorgan a couple days ago and four other senators said they want a separate vote on the waiver of the budget rules. Today a Georgetown law professor says GATT threatens 90 laws in California. Professor Tribe (phonetic) at Harvard says this is a treaty and deserves two-thirds of the Senate. What makes you think, given this opposition, you can get it through in six days or seven days?
AMBASSADOR KANTOR: Well, first of all, it's not a treaty, it's an executive agreement. It's a contract between 123 countries. With all due respect, Professor Tribe does not and never has been -- these trade agreements are not treaties.
Number two, I don't know what Georgetown -- was it a Georgetown law professor? Are you sure it wasn't George Washington? I'm a graduate of Georgetown. Are you sure it wasn't GW? This is stunning that it -- (laughter).
Q: Center for Policy Alternatives?
AMBASSADOR KANTOR: And what was the, I'm sorry, what --
Q: He said that a report released today saying that GATT will put at risk 90 or more California laws?
AMBASSADOR KANTOR: Nothing could be further from the truth. The first sentence of this legislation in any conflict between U.S. law and anything with the GATT or the Uruguay Round or the WTO, U.S. law prevails. Nothing done by the WTO or dispute settlement can alter or change any U.S. law. In fact, it says specifically in the Uruguay Round that you can maintain higher standards, as California does, under various California laws, including Prop 65, in terms of protection of human, animal or plant life.
This, for the first time, we have written into the Uruguay Round in Article 9 in the first sentence, this organization operates by consensus. This organization before was always operated by majority rule. The United States' sovereignty is more protected under this implementing legislation in the WTO than we've ever been protected in 47 years. They're just absolutely and completely and thoroughly wrong.
Q: What about waiver of the budget rules? Dorgan and waiver of the budget?
AMBASSADOR KANTOR: No, no -- this is a -- once you have a fast track, it is a -- it can't be amended. And there will be a waiver of the second five years, and we'll have to have 60 votes for that. And Senator Dorgan knows that; we've discussed it.
Q: Mickey, would it be safe to infer that from your statement that you do think GATT can be completed by the time Congress adjourns? And you've made that statement in the wake of the Hollings meeting this morning, that whatever objections Hollings has raised are not going to be 45-day objections.
AMBASSADOR KANTOR: Well, first of all, that's up to Senator Hollings, that's number one. Number two, we'll continue to work with him; number three, his committee, I am certain, will have jurisdiction. It's up to the Senate, of course, and the parliamentarian and majority leader, not up to me. But I am fairly certain he will have -- and so therefore, we'll continue to work together and we'll see what happens. But we believe strongly not only will we pass the House with an overwhelming vote, we'll pass the Senate as well, and it will become law this year.
Q: Sir, how do you answer Ross Perot and Ralph Nader on sovereignty? I don't think you've thoroughly covered sovereignty.
AMBASSADOR KANTOR: Trying to answer Ross Perot and Ralph Nader in one breath is a very difficult -- (Laughter.)
Let me just say on sovereignty, they're just wrong. I'll go over it again, they're -- we have never been more protected in our sovereignty in 47 years than we are under this Uruguay Round agreement. U.S. law prevails in every case -- that's the first sentence of this legislation.
Number two, you cannot change any substantive right or obligation under the United States of America under the World Trade Organization without our consent. Number three, no ruling or dispute settlement, panel or any other ruling of the World Trade Organization can change or affect U.S. law. Only the Congress or a state legislature or a city council can change U.S. law. Number four, this organization operates by consensus. And number five, you are allowed to maintain higher standards for human, animal and plant life, and our environmental and health-based laws than international standards.
There is nothing -- nothing -- in this legislation which threatens U.S. sovereignty.
Q: Mr. Kantor were any funds shifted over to farm exports at all -- farm export programming as asked for by, I guess, House agriculture people?
MR. KANTOR: Well, what we have done -- the administration has committed itself to put about $600 million in the next five years in the so-called Green Box programs. Let me explain what those are. Those are marketing promotion programs which are allowed under the Uruguay Round. And we are, in order to help U.S. agricultural interests, our farmers, putting $600 billion in. And that was the agreement reached with various agriculture interests on the Hill. We believe that is a reasonable and important agreement to have been reached. And that will be implemented over the next five years.
Q: Minister Hashimoto was quoted as saying he did not believe that, as he left Tokyo, that he did not believe that the U.S. and Japan could hammer out a trade pact, and that he had no intention of making any new proposals. What would be your response? Do you think it's possible to reach an agreement that's --
MR. KANTOR: Well, one thing I don't intend to do is negotiate with Minister Hashimoto in public. I have seen the same statement. I also saw his statements in Thailand, which said that Japan couldn't stand on principles, they had to deal with reality. He is a -- Ryo is a very good friend of mine. We've had good conversations. We start meeting at 6:15 p.m. this evening. I'm sure we'll spend a lot of time this evening talking about it. I'll see what he has to say. But I'm not about to begin these negotiations in public.
Q: Are you going to meet the deadline Friday? Is the U.S.?
MR. KANTOR: Oh, Friday is the deadline.
Q: If I could just get one -- to clarify with respect to Senator Hollings. He has said today, just about an hour and a half ago now, he said that the GATT legislation will not get out of this committee in 1994. He says, I've told them that; as far as I'm concerned, that is it. Where does the administration go from there? He had said --
MR. KANTOR: Well, we'll see what happens. I mean, this is what politics and baseball are all about. You know, you've got to wait until the ninth inning.
Q: There's no more season. (Laughter.)
Q: Or you have to wait until next year. (Laughter.)
MR. KANTOR: With me you never wait to next year with baseball. It's always ongoing.
Q: Anything added on wheat that you can tell us about?
AMBASSADOR KANTOR: No. We just have implemented what is necessary in order to carry out the Canadian-U.S. wheat agreement, that's all.
Q: Is there a drawback feature that --
AMBASSADOR KANTOR: Well, there has to be in order to implement that under the GATT. As you know, we have an agreement to -- the Canadians have limited their wheat imports into the United States over the next 12 months and so therefore, you have to put that in -- have to have authorization for Congress in order to implement that, because of there are tariff implications. Let me take this one more.
Q: How optimistic are you about averting trade sanctions with Japan? And would a partial deal be acceptable?
AMBASSADOR KANTOR: Well, let me just say number one, that's up to Japan, your first question.
Q: What is the question?
AMBASSADOR KANTOR: The question is, how optimistic or pessimistic or realistic am I about averting trade sanctions with Japan? And number two, would a partial deal be acceptable? How long is a piece of string -- we'll see what they offer. Thanks.
END 4:29 P.M. EDT
William J. Clinton, Press Briefing by U.S. Trade Representative Mickey Kantor Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/269522