Bill Clinton photo

Remarks at the Closing Session of the Pacific Rim Economic Conference in Portland

June 27, 1995

First of all, let me thank this panel and— all of them. I do have to say one thing in deference to Quincy Jones' humor and modesty. You should all know, if you don't, that in the aggregate, I think second only to airplanes, entertainment is our second biggest export. So when all these folks are talking about piracy and opening markets to nontraditional things you don't normally think about being exported, that's a huge deal in the American entertainment industry. It generates untold thousands of jobs, and they're not just the kind of jobs you think about—every time you look at a movie and you see all the people at the end that work on a movie and you imagine what their incomes are like, what their lives are like, just remember, those people, their ability to keep their jobs over a constant long period of time depends upon our ability to be effective in exporting that product as well.

One of the things that we tried to do—and Tom was talking about this—after we took office, was to identify those things where—like apples from Washington—where we knew good and well there would be a consumer market in other countries if only we could pierce them. So there wasn't some sort of theoretical thing. We knew that.

And finally let me say again, this relates to higher wage jobs, because export-related jobs on balance pay about 15 percent higher than jobs where the total nature of the economic activity is within the border of the United States.

Let me give you this thought in closing. Agricultural exports have gone up $9 billion, to over $50 billion a year, since this administration took office. And we've got a surplus of about $20 billion, as I said. Exports to Asia alone reached a record of $18.6 billion—that's 45,000 jobs. That's just agriculture. The Washington Apple Commission has tripled exports. And Washington apple exports to Asia increased 37 percent last year alone. That's just one example.

Now, I'll close with a general point I want to make. I came out here because I really believe that this is what public life should be about—not just this panel, but all three of them—not the kind of rhetorical and highly partisan divisions that normally come to you across the airwaves from a distant National Government.

Also I believe—if you think about it, when World War II was over, we had a remarkable thing happen with President Truman and the Republican leaders of the Congress where we set up NATO, we set up the Marshall Plan, we set up—we really filled out and finished the work of the United Nations. And we had this bipartisan foreign policy, because everybody thought we could be destroyed by nuclear war or by the success of communism over democratic capitalism.

So we fought like crazy about all kinds of domestic issues, but we basically organized ourselves around the issues that were critical to our survival. I think you could argue that in the world toward which we're moving, our survival, our security as a people relate very closely to the issues discussed by these three panels today. And we need to find a way to go beyond partisanship to reach some national consensus on issues of trade and innovation, on issues of education and training, on issues of organizing work and family and education in a way that enables people to make the most of their own lives and on the question of pushing more and more decisions down to the community level but using the National Government as a partner to spark economic activity and get us through tough economic transitions.

That is what I am trying to do. As you can see, the results are mixed from time to time. But it's clear that that's what the country needs to do. You would not run a family, a business, a charitable organization, a local project in the way our national politics is too often run, at a highly theoretical, highly rhetorical, highly ideological level, when what we're really trying to do is to find new patterns in which people can make more of their own lives.

So I ask all of you to think about that. How would you define our security, moving into the 21st century? And if you believe it relates to innovation, to education, to training, to exports, to all these things, then I ask you: Do what you can to help us to build a bipartisan consensus that will take this country into the next century in the way that all these fine people that were on all these panels plainly deserve.

Thank you very much.

NOTE: The President spoke at 3:37 p.m. in Smith Memorial Center at Portland State University. In his remarks, he referred to musician Quincy Jones.

William J. Clinton, Remarks at the Closing Session of the Pacific Rim Economic Conference in Portland Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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