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The President's Radio Address

August 23, 1997

Good morning. Today I want to talk about the tools we need to keep our economy growing in a way that helps all our people to prosper and advances America's leadership in the world as we move into the 21st century.

For nearly 5 years now, we have pursued a new economic course for America, with three parts: eliminate the deficit, invest in education and training, and open new markets abroad for America's products and services. It is working. The American people are enjoying the longest period of sustained economic growth in a generation, with 12 million new jobs, unemployment below 5 percent, core inflation at a 30year low. Once again America is the world's number one exporter, the world's largest producer of semiconductors, the world's largest producer of automobiles. Our Nation has been ranked the world's most competitive economy for the last 5 years.

With a strong and prosperous America moving into the 21st century, we must continue our successful economic strategy. In 1993 we passed an economic plan that cut the deficit 75 percent in 4 years. And now we have a balanced budget with an historic focus on education and incentives to bring jobs to people and places that still don't have them.

But to keep America growing, to keep America leading, we have to continue to create highwage jobs, and to do that, we must continue to expand American exports. After all, 95 percent of the world's consumers live beyond our borders. Already, over the last 4 years, more than 25 percent of our economic growth has come from overseas trade. Now, that's a big reason more than half our new jobs in the last 2 years have paid above average wages, because export-related jobs pay, on average, about 15 percent more than nonexport jobs. And today, our exports support more than 11 million good, high-paying American jobs, including one in five of our manufacturing jobs.

To keep our economy growing and to create these good jobs, we must keep tearing down foreign barriers to American goods and services. That's why next month I will ask Congress to renew Presidential fast-track authority to negotiate tough new trade agreements. This is authority that every President from both parties has had since 1974. I will use it to negotiate trade agreements that will keep us competitive, boost our exports, create more good jobs, and raise our standard of living.

This fast-track authority will do three things. First, it gives the President the flexibility I need to forge strong agreements in sectors where our Nation is most competitive, such as agriculture, information technology, medical equipment, and environmental technology. Second, it will strengthen my ability to get worldwide agreements, especially for our Nation's farmers, tearing down barriers in the world agricultural market. It will also help to ensure that American companies and workers compete in the global economy in a contest that is open, with a level playing field, with rules that are fair and enforced. Third, it will help me to negotiate more open markets with specific countries, especially in Latin America and Asia. In the coming century, these emerging markets in Latin America and Asia are expected to grow 3 times as fast as our own, and their demand for United States goods and services is already taking off. If we don't seize these new opportunities our competitors surely will. Already, since 1992, in Latin America and Asia alone, our competitors have negotiated 20 trade agreements that do not include the United States.

To make sure all our people share the fruits of increased prosperity and commerce, I also will continue to promote worker rights and responsible environmental policies with our trading partners. And I'll keep working to strengthen retraining and educational opportunities for workers here. We have to pull together, not apart, to compete and win in the global economy.

For more than two decades now, on a bipartisan basis, Congress has consistently supported initiatives to open markets and create jobs, including the President's authority to break down trade barriers around the world. Our workers and our businesses are the best in the world, but they can't compete in the slow lane. I look forward to working closely with Congress to keep American prosperity on the fast track.

NOTE: The address was recorded at 7 p.m. on August 22 at a private residence in Martha's Vineyard, MA, for broadcast at 10:06 a.m. on August 23.

William J. Clinton, The President's Radio Address Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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