THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
REMARKS BY PRESIDENT CLINTON, SEN. DOLE, SEN. MOYNIHAN, SEN. PACKWOOD AND AMBASSADOR KANTOR
The Rose Garden 12:07 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Today we have moved one step closer toward gaining broad bipartisan support for GATT. I'm pleased to announce that an understanding has been reached with Senator Dole to reaffirm our United States sovereignty and to make sure that the reaffirmation will be protected in the GATT process. That means that the WTO will be accountable and fair, and will meet our expectations.
The Uruguay Round is the largest, most comprehensive trade agreement in world history. It creates hundreds of thousands of high-paying American jobs. It slashes tariffs on manufactured and agricultural goods. it protects intellectual property. It's the largest international tax cut in history. Most importantly, this agreement requires all trading nations to play by the same rules. And since the United States has the most productive and competitive economy in the world, that is good news for our workers and our future.
For the past 50 years, our country has led the world to create a more open and a more prosperous trading economy. A bipartisan vote in support of the Uruguay Round next week will ensure that we will lead the world for decades to come.
I want to express my deep thanks to Senator Dole, to Senator Packwood, Senator Moynihan who are here, and ask them to speak. I thank Ambassador Kantor for his heroic work in this endeavor, and the Secretary of State for what they have done. The Secretary of State and the Secretary of the Treasury and I are going to have to excuse ourselves to go meet with the Mexican President- Elect, President Zedillo.
I also want to make a brief announcement today. As part of our ongoing nonproliferation efforts, Kazakhstan has delivered into our security nuclear materials capable of making some 20 nuclear weapons. That means that one more threat of nuclear terrorism and proliferation has been removed from the world. Today this is a good day. We are making progress toward making our people more secure and more prosperous.
Again, let me say how excited I am about the prospect of the GATT round passing the Congress, and to express my appreciation to Senator Dole for the very constructive working relationship that we have had. I'd like now to excuse the Secretary of State and Secretary of Treasury, and ask the others who are here to make some comments, beginning with Senator Dole.
SENATOR DOLE: Well, thank you, Mr. President. Let me say that I appreciate the efforts of the President and Ambassador Kantor, Secretary Bentsen, Chief of Staff Leon Panetta.
This matter has been going on now for about three months. We've been working on some of the problems that I thought should be addressed on behalf of my constituents and on behalf of some of my colleagues on the Republican side. And now that we've resolved concerns about the WTO, principally about the WTO, and other concerns, I have agreed with the President that we've fixed this as much as we can. And that's been my hope from the start -- we fixed it -- not kill it, let's fix it.
That's been Ambassador Kantor's -- with his efforts and other efforts I think we've fixed it. It may not be perfect, but it answers a lot of the concerns -- I'm getting about 2,000 phone calls a day; had a big rally in Wichita, Kansas, last night. Ross Perot was the speaker. We think we've addressed some of the concerns they raised at that meeting. Not every concern.
So what I will do now -- we have a number of letters from different people in the administration -- Secretary of Treasury, the Chief of Staff, Ambassador Kantor -- I will be writing a personal letter to each of my Republican colleagues in the Senate, enclosing all of this material, asking them to read it very carefully, and suggesting that in my view we ought to be all in support of GATT when it comes up next week. There should be a big, big vote -- not a narrow vote, but a big margin, a bipartisan margin, as we've always had when it came to votes on trades, as Senator Moynihan and Senator Packwood will tell you.
So I thank you, Mr. Ambassador, and appreciate it very much.
SENATOR MOYNIHAN: Senator Dole, Ambassador Kantor. My first -- I'd simply say that Senator Mitchell would be here if the schedule were possible. This came up rather quickly. Mr. Gephardt and Mr. Gibbons I'm sure would do the same.
This is, as Senator Dole said, a bipartisan matter. It was reported from the committee in Finance, 19-0. Senator Dole had some concerns; they were proper concerns. And they have now been met, and properly so. This augers for a very solid vote. I want to agree that this is the culmination of 60 years of American foreign trade policy, going back the reciprocal trade agreements, Cordell Hall, 1934. Would he were with us today, but in any event, that great legacy is soon to be confirmed. And we have you very much to thank, sir, for that.
Senator Packwood, would you --
SENATOR PACKWOOD: Mr. Chairman, thank you. In your career you're lucky if you can be involved with four or five great, extraordinary happenings, and this is one. The United States, on a level playing field, can beat anybody in the United States. And this agreement comes closer to tilting that playing field horizontal than anything I have seen in the quarter of a century I have been in the Senate.
I'm proud to be associated with it. And I would say to Bob Dole, the leadership he has given has been extraordinary. I have been with him almost every day, it seems, for the past 10 days. I know the pressure he's been under; I know -- I've been in his office when the calls have come in. I was with him yesterday at the Governors Conference, and the pressure had not stopped then. This is going to pass overwhelmingly because of Bob Dole. (Applause.)
Q What about the capital gains factor?
AMBASSADOR KANTOR: I'll just say a couple of words, and then we'll be glad to take just a few questions.
Let me just say that I want to thank Senator Dole for not only his constructive idea, but I think he has strengthened this agreement substantively and certainly politically as well. And thank Senator Moynihan, Senator Packwood for their constant support; and Secretary Bentsen, Leon Panetta, who were much involved in these discussions as well.
This is a good agreement on this commission. It will make a difference. It will ensure us that we have put suspenders on with our belt now, and we have assured sovereignty will be protected for not only our country, but for all of our citizens as well.
And I want to thank you personally for all your kindnesses and the way in which this was conducted. It's the way we should conduct all our business on a bipartisan basis. And we certainly do much better for the people of this country. Thank you very much.
Q How is sovereignty guaranteed? Tell us a little bit about why this is going to work.
SENATOR DOLE: Me or Mickey? Well, the big concern has been about, some would say -- in fact, Judge Bork said it was a myth, red herring -- the question of sovereignty and whether America is out-voted, and what recourse we have if we believe there had been adverse decisions that were considered on an arbitrary or capricious basis. What we've done is set up a mechanism to deal with that through an appointment of five retired appellate judges who would go through this process. The bottom line is if we get three adverse decisions in a five-year period based on any one of the criteria, we withdraw from the WTO. That's how it works. And that should satisfy the concerns, I think, of Ross Perot, and all the others out there -- if they're really concerned about that.
We had some other questions on agriculture, which Leon Panetta addressed; a question on patents, which was addressed; a question on pioneer preferences, which has been addressed. And then I'll be receiving a letter from Secretary Bentsen on an issue that the President said yesterday, he would not link to GATT, and it's capital gains rate reduction.
I understand the President's statement, and I think what Secretary Bentsen will be saying in the letter is that he knows that the 105th Congress will be considering a number of issues dealing with capital formation and that he's willing to work with us in every way that he can to give it a serious and careful review. He didn't pledge to do anything -- commit himself to anything. I did the best I could.
And my view is, getting back to GATT, it's going to be much easier to vote for because I think we have strengthened it. But I want Ambassador Kantor, in case I left out something, to -- do I have the highlights?
AMBASSADOR KANTOR: Just a very quick -- yes. It was just -- I would just add the three adverse decisions would have to be found to be either arbitrary and capricious, involving misconduct, or the panels exceeding their power. Then the Congress, in the first two instances in a five-year period would have to pass a joint resolution and ask us to renegotiate the process that led to that exceeding power or arbitrary capricious activity or misconduct.
And then the third time in a five-year period, the Congress could, if it wishes, pass a joint resolution asking the President to withdraw from the WTO. And, of course, the President would then have a decision either to veto or not veto that legislation.
This is a a very solid, serious, responsible idea, and one that I wish we had thought of. We've got to give Senator Dole credit for this, and it's a good one. And it's going to bring life to the fact that we can pull out of this organization, as you know, with six months notice at any time. And we're protected also under Sector 102 of the legislation, which says that U.S. law prevails in every case where there's any dispute between U.S. law and the dictates of the Uruguay Round or the WTO.
And let me just say last: No substantive right or obligation of the United States of America can be altered or changed by any act of the Uruguay Round or the WTO. And that ought to assure everyone, including our friend in Texas, that we are fully protective of the sovereignty of the people of the United States.
Q What do you say, Ambassador Kantor, to those who argue that this new judicial panel is simply a fig leaf since the U.S. and every other country who signed the treaty had the right to withdraw within six months for any reason?
AMBASSADOR KANTOR: It's one of the largest fig leafs I've ever seen. It covers the largest trade treaty in history. So, therefore, if it's a fig leaf it's a giant one. This is real. It's substantial. It makes sure there's no misconduct or arbitrary and capricious behavior or, as I said before, a panel exceeding its powers. It is not only a good idea, it is an important idea. Senator Moynihan said it's the kind of the thing we ought to be doing to make sure these international panels operate in the proper respect.
SENATOR DOLE: I'd just add to it, it brings Congress into the picture, the six-month provision. Some would say whether the President's a Democrat or Republican they probably, in a big trade agreement, would not be likely to withdraw. But this gives Congress some responsibility and some authority. And we take it very seriously. And in my view -- I think Mickey pointed out correctly that obviously there are going to be some people who don't want GATT. They want to kill GATT. That was never my purpose, to kill GATT. I wanted to fix GATT. Now, maybe I haven't done a perfect job, but I think with the cooperation of all the people here and Secretary Bentsen and the President, we've moved it a long way. And I'm certainly prepared to support it in every way that I can.
Q Senator Moynihan, by some counts, GATT was 30 votes short in the Senate. Will you be able to make up that gap?
SENATOR MOYNIHAN: That was yesterday. (Laughter.) There's a solid majority, a super majority. And thanks to this agreement, which was reached in good faith, and which augers for a bipartisan moment in our Capitol, which is really very welcome indeed.
Q What were the agricultural concerns that were ironed out? The agricultural concerns?
SENATOR DOLE: Thank you very much. We'll give you copies of all these things. They're very interesting. (Laughter.)
Q Senator Dole, do you think Senator Helms should be chairman of the Agriculture Committee or the Foreign Relations Committee?
SENATOR DOLE: Thank you. (Laughter.)
Q Has Senator Hollings signed on to this agreement?
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 12:21 P.M. EST