THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESS BRIEFING BY ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT FOR INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIC POLICY DAN TARULLO, AND DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR JIM STEINBERG ON UPCOMING APEC SUMMIT
The Briefing Room
3:00 P.M. EST
MR. MCCURRY: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. As promised, we'd like to give you some access to two of the most distinguished members of the President's foreign policy-international economic policy team. The President, I think, took an important step in 1993 in elevating the discussions of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum to the leaders level, and that has now been fully institutionalized and has become a forum in both good times and bad that allows us to deal with very important issues related to the presence of America in that community as a participating member, and then the importance that the region attaches to discussions in and around the Pacific Rim that relate to matters economic.
The President, as you know, leaves on Saturday en route to British Columbia for these meetings. And to brief you I have the Deputy National Security Advisor of the President, Mr. James Steinberg; and Assistant to the President for International Economic Policy, Mr. Dan Tarullo. Mr. Tarullo, being senior member here, will start.
But before we do, who has the answer to my question? What is -- (laughter) -- the question I posed to many reporters this morning is what is the NFEARCPF and who could tell me what the NFEARCPF is?
Q Is that the shirt they're going to wear this year? (Laughter.)
MR. MCCURRY: The NFEARCPF is -- some of you know what it is -- it's all the more important that we have had both of these distinguished gentlemen here to brief us here today, and, Dan, you can start off by telling them -- AKA the document negotiated in Manila.
MR. TARULLO: That's right. The answer is "a new framework for enhanced Asian regional cooperation to promote financial stability." (Laughter.) Treasury forgot to send anybody to make up a good acronym when they went out to Manila.
I'm going to take a few minutes of background on APEC on what we expect to be discussed at APEC this year and briefly run you through the schedule. And then Jim will run through the bilateral meetings which the President is going to have before the APEC meeting starts.
This year, as Mike suggested, there's a somewhat different atmosphere for the APEC meeting. APEC began in 1989 at a sub-leaders level. It was a technical organization to promote regional economic cooperation; it did have a ministerial component. When the President took office in 1993, he made a decision quite shortly thereafter to try to elevate the discussion in APEC to a leaders level in order to emphasize the importance which we attach to that region and to efforts to promote trade liberalization and other forms of economic cooperation.
Each of the succeeding years there has been a leaders meeting, but at the same time, a lot of technical work in 10 or 12 standing committees continues to proceed in things as diverse as transportation infrastructure, telecommunications standards and environmental technologies.
In the past four years, obviously, with the enormous success of economies in Asia, there has been a good deal of emphasis upon what more can be done, how to move forward to take advantage of the rapidly growing economies. It was in that context that the leaders committed, a couple of years ago, to achieving free trade in the region between 2010 and 2020.
Obviously, this year, with the recent turmoil in a number of East Asian financial markets, there is a different tone and different atmosphere as we come into the APEC leaders' meeting in Vancouver.
However, as I think the experience of the last few days in Manila demonstrates, the APEC forum has also served as a good instrument in trying times as well as good times. The prospect of the leaders meeting, the interaction among leaders and finance ministers that exists within APEC was instrumental in galvanizing the agreement with the catchy acronym that Mike mentioned a few minutes ago. And I'll say more about that in just a couple of minutes.
This year, to preview, there will obviously be continued attention to efforts to liberalize trade. I think it is significant, even in light of the substantial financial uncertainties and the prospect, potentially, of economic slowdowns, that the trade liberalization agenda moves forward.
Also, obviously, there will be a discussion of the financial instability which has afflicted parts of the region, building on the agreement that Larry Summers and Tim Geithner from the Treasury Department reached with their counterparts in Manila, Wednesday Manila time.
There will also be discussion of growing infrastructural needs in the region and some obviously on climate change as well since that is a big issue for the region, but also for the world in anticipation of the Kyoto conference in Japan next month.
On the financial situation which I know has commanded a lot of your interest over the course of the last couple of weeks, we are very pleased with the outcome in Manila over the course of the past couple of days. From the outset, as Secretary Rubin, Deputy Secretary Summers and others have been saying, our approach has been to emphasize two core points. One, that each country, afflicted or potentially afflicted by financial instability, needs to take responsibility for getting a sound set of economic policies in place.
Second, obviously the international community should be prepared to respond as necessary and appropriate to assist countries which are taking those kinds of measures, but in doing so, the IMF, the International Monetary Fund, ought to be central to any such efforts.
The agreement that was reached in Manila yesterday embodies those points quite substantially and for that reason we think it is a very, very good framework on which the leaders can build and try to give some momentum to.
The framework itself, for those of you who have not been briefed on it, includes four elements: one, a rapid response process for identifying additional bilateral resources to support IMF programs on an as needed, case-by-case basis; second, a mechanism for regional surveillance to complement the global surveillance activities of the IMF; third, enhanced economic and technical cooperation, particularly relevant to financial institution regulations in the countries in question; and fourth, consideration of measures to strengthen the IMF's own capacity to respond rapidly to financial crises. One example of that is to ask the IMF to consider establishing a new short-term credit facility.
Now, the rather technical sounding character of those attributes really, as I said, elaborates the principles that we have taken from the outset here. The United States has put forward a very similar set of principles. We tried to galvanize other countries of the region to get an agreement on them. What I anticipate in Vancouver is the leaders will be discussing the recent experiences of the region; endorsing and trying to move forward the program itself, and generally, I think, giving the requisite reassurance to their own peoples that they understand what it's going to take to turn the countries of the region back to the kind of sustained impressive growth that we've seen in recent years.
On the trade agenda, as you may recall, last year the President successfully used the APEC meetings to push ahead the information technology agreement, which we had proposed, and that was eventually adopted by the World Trade Organization. Throughout this year, the APEC members have been considering some additional possible sectors for similar kinds of zero-tariff treatment. And notwithstanding the obvious financial uncertainties in the region, this work has gone forward.
Ambassador Barshefsky has already gone to Vancouver to discuss, with her counterparts from the APEC member economies, selection of one or two additional sectors to try to identify for an APEC-wide push for trade liberalization.
Trade liberalization, among other things, serves as the basis for continued growth in the region. It has always been instrumental to growth in the Asia-Pacific, and I think that the commitment of countries even in potentially difficult times to move forward bespeaks their own views of the importance of increased trade.
On climate change, this is obviously not a decision-making meeting, but it is only a few weeks in advance of the Kyoto negotiations. Here, I anticipate that in the discussions which Prime Minister Chretien has framed around the climate change issue that President Clinton will emphasize two points: one, the importance of appropriate participation by all economies, all countries in the response to global climate change; after all, it is a global problem, there is contribution and participation by all.
Secondly, I think he will emphasize the importance of using flexible, market-oriented instruments to try to deal with and respond to the potential problems of global climate change. These obviously are the kinds of instruments that are available at least cost to economies and with maximum payoff for the environment.
The schedule -- and I will close with this and then turn to Jim -- Jim will take you through the schedule before APEC actually starts. The first formal APEC convocation is Monday the 24th in mid-afternoon, about 3:00 p.m. Pacific Time in Vancouver, begins with a leaders agenda briefing. This is essentially a welcoming by Prime Minister Chretien in which he will lay out the agenda that he hopes to cover in the succeeding day and a half.
Then, there is a dialogue of the leaders for about an hour with the APEC Business Advisory Council representatives, so-called ABAC. That is a group of three business leaders from each of the member economies who meet on their own to develop recommendations for the leaders and to discuss with them measures that would improve economic cooperation and prosperity in the region.
Then, after about an hour and a half or two hours of down time, there is in the evening a leaders' reception, a leaders' dinner hosted by Prime Minister Chretien, and then some entertainment at British Columbia Place. I am unaware of the nature of the entertainment.
Tuesday morning, the leaders start with a session in the morning which will cover the infrastructure issues that I mentioned earlier -- climate change as well and obviously the financial and economic situation in the region. Then, there is a leaders' luncheon, which, as tends to the be the case, there's a more open kind of discussion, a structured discussion, and then an afternoon session that will address the continuing trade liberalization agenda in APEC.
Then the declaration is presented by Prime Minister Chretien at about 4:00 p.m. Pacific Time, and that is the conclusion of the APEC meeting proper.
Why don't I stop now, let Jim run through the bilaterals, and then we'll both take questions.
MR. STEINBERG: Thank you, Dan. One of the important benefits of the President's decision to elevate APEC to a leaders' level meeting is the opportunity that it affords leaders from the Asia-Pacific region to meet and particularly, given the distances, it really enhances the ability to have personal contact between the leaders not only in dealing with the specific issues on the APEC agenda, but also on broader regional and even bilateral issues.
The President has several formal meetings scheduled during his time there, but I think it's important to emphasize that the nature of these meetings also allows on the margins of the discussions lots of individual conversations, and so while he will only have the chance to have formal meetings with a few of his fellow leaders, we expect him to have conversations with a broader number in connection with the APEC meetings themselves.
The President's first bilateral will be with the host, Prime Minister Chretien, obviously one of the President's closest colleagues with whom he engages regularly, talks on the phone regularly. They have a very strong personal relationship. It really reflects the very strong relationship between our two countries.
It's the remarkable story of -- the border that we share and the openness in our relationship, the two-way trade approaching $1 billion every day really reflects the intensity of our engagement. We do work closely on a broad range of issues, ranging from trade issues to Bosnia to Haiti and to the Middle East peace process.
I'm sure that at the bilateral, the two will engage on some of the APEC subjects to get the Prime Minister's objectives for the meeting. I also think that it's likely, given the proximity of the Kyoto Climate Change Conference, that there will be a discussion of the proposals that the Canadians and we are seeking to forward at that conference; as well as a discussion of the situation in Haiti, and particularly our joint efforts to extend the civilian police mission in Haiti, which will be the current mandate expiring towards the end of this month.
Of course there are a number of bilateral issues that we are going to talk about. It probably won't come as a surprise to you that I suspect the issue of salmon will come up in those discussions.
The President will next meet with the Singapore Prime Minister, Prime Minister Goh. Weather permitting, they will have a chance to have an extended meeting on the golf links. If that weather does not permit, they will have a separate meeting; and if the schedule permits, they are likely to be joined by Prime Minister Chretien. That's not a certainty at this point, but this would be on Sunday, probably in the afternoon.
Singapore is a very important partner of the United States. We have strong security and economic engagement. We have a very strong relationship in that Singapore provides us access to bases and ports, which are a very important part of our presence in Southeast Asia. They are a partner in our efforts to try to engage China to be a more integrated and productive member of the regional community.
Singapore has been a very strong champion of the agenda for open markets and investment that's so much at the core of the APEC agenda, and have shared with us an interest in promoting electronic commerce.
This is a chance for the two to get together and discuss the issues that will be preoccupying a lot of leaders about how to strengthen the financial system -- the issues that Dan has briefed you on, as well as their bilateral engagement.
Monday morning, the President will host a breakfast with the ASEAN countries, who are also members of APEC. This is a new development, but the President thought this would be a good opportunity for him to engage not only with the individual leaders there, but also to talk about developments that affect the region.
At the moment, we expect that all of the ASEAN leaders -- except, perhaps, President Soeharto, who is still having a bit of a scheduling difficulty since he's coming from South Africa -- will be present at that meeting. Because it's a breakfast, the President wanted to have an informal discussion of a broad range of issues. We don't have a formal agenda, but I think one of the things that the President wants to stress is the importance of our engagement in the region, and the advantages and the benefits we have seen from the regional cooperation that ASEAN has brought as a real bulwark of security and cooperation in Southeast Asia.
Obviously, here again, the issues of financial stability will come up. The recent situation involving the forest fires in the region, I'm sure, will be a topic of conversation; as well as the broader issue of climate change and Kyoto; and the common efforts of the United States to work with ASEAN countries to deal with the restoration of democracy in Cambodia and Burma.
I think they may well touch on other regional security issues. A lot of the countries of ASEAN have a great deal of interest in Bosnia, and have been contributing to the efforts to build peace there. That may well be a topic of conversation at that breakfast.
Q How many in ASEAN?
MR. STEINBERG: How many are in ASEAN?
MR. STEINBERG: There are seven in ASEAN.
Q So you expect him to meet with six, at least?
MR. STEINBERG: That's -- well, there are nine in ASEAN, but there are only six who are also members of APEC. And so they are not -- the non-APEC ASEAN members will not be coming to this meeting.
Q So this breakfast is with five?
MR. STEINBERG: This breakfast is with five. And it may also -- it could be six if President Soeharto arrives.
Later that morning, the President will meet individually with President Soeharto. Indonesia is a key regional partner, it's the largest country in the region. It has a very important role in providing leadership on regional issues -- on the issues such as Cambodia, Burma, on trying to find a peaceful resolution to some of the issues involving the South China Sea, on environmental issues, and on peacekeeping. And so the opportunity to engage with President Suharto on these issues is extremely important for us.
In addition to talking about economic and regional security issues, the President, of course, will discuss some of the issues that have been problems in our relationship, including issues involving human rights, and our efforts to promote a peaceful resolution through the U.N. process. On East Timor, the President will undoubtedly discuss the situation of the labor leader Pakpahan and concerns about the recent violence in Dili. He will also undoubtedly talk about the efforts the United States has made to provide backup support, contingency support for Indonesia in connection with its own financial efforts.
The final scheduled meeting at this point is with the Japanese Prime Minister, Prime Minister Hashimoto. Prime Minister Hashimoto has had a lot on his hands since they last met in Denver, and there's a broad range of issues, both economic and security, that the two leaders will discuss. I think Dan can say a bit more about the specifics of what's on our economic agenda with Hashimoto, but it's also important that we continue our engagement on the security issues as well.
We, I'm sure, are going to have an opportunity for the two leaders to discuss the implementation of the recommendations of the Special Committee on Okinawa -- the Prime Minister will be coming to Vancouver from Okinawa -- and our efforts to find an alternative to the Kadena base, and also to discuss the implementation of the defense guidelines, which are modernizing the Alliance and helping it prepare for regional crises.
And finally, since Japan will be the host of the Climate Change Conference, I'm sure that the two leaders will want to spend time talking about how they can -- joint efforts to provide the kind of leadership that will lead to a successful conclusion in Kyoto. As I said, there may be other more informal meetings that are scheduled along the way. We'd like to try to get as many of these in as possible, in particular both President Clinton and President Jiang have expressed an interest in trying to get together. I'm not sure whether scheduling will permit that at this point, but in any event, I feel sure that they will have an opportunity to talk on the margins of the meeting.
MR. TARULLO: Questions?
Q Can you tell us specifically how you expect the trade liberalization agenda to be advanced beyond the Bogor Declaration basics, the broad framework, other than perhaps naming a couple of additional sectors?
MR. TARULLO: There is the ongoing work of the individual and collective action plans, which is the long-term project that doesn't culminate until the second decade of the next century. So that is very much an incremental process and will be reviewed this year as well, I think, at ministerial level.
The importance of the sectors, though, is easy to understate because what we're doing with the sectors is moving into key new areas of trade growth as we did with information technology last year, and not only gaining a consensus within the region that these should be liberalized, but then taking them to the WTO and pushing for liberalization.
I can't tell you yet which sector or sectors will be agreed upon by Charlene and her counterparts over the course of the next couple of days, but I think that the import there is that we're going to want to identify sectors where we care about that are potentially big growth sectors, and to promote trade in the region by -- in a participatory way, taking down barriers before the area has really grown into a major trading regime.
Q Can I follow up on that? How much do you think the President's credibility on trade would be affected by the fact that he did not get fast track?
MR. TARULLO: Well, I don't think that that is a concern at APEC. After all, this is something which is a delay in fast track. I think we certainly have some hope and expectation that the Congress is going to take this up again next year. More to the point, though, the entire region shares an interest in trade liberalization, including sectoral liberalization. We are by no means the only country to have advanced Canada for sectoral liberalization. That's why we need the ministerial -- is actually to sort through all the proposals that have been made to figure out the one or two best candidates to move forward now.
I think that what the American people will see is the import and the potential of some of these trade liberalizing agreements to produce more opportunities, more jobs, and a stronger economy in the United States.
Q You did not mention any meeting with the President of Chile on the margin of APEC.
MR. STEINBERG: I very much expect that the two will talk. Again, we don't have a formal meeting schedule, but we've been in contact with the Chileans and there is an expectation that President Clinton and President Frei will have a chance to talk on the margin.
Q Dan, tell us about the financial turmoil assessment that you guys go into this with? Is the turmoil over with, or is this still a serious concern, and will investors have a right to be scared about what's going on?
MR. TARULLO: I don't think it's useful to speculate about what's over, what's not over. I think what is important is that the countries of the region in the Manila framework announced yesterday have emphasized two really key elements to restoring stability and laying the groundwork for renewed rapid growth: one, asserting the importance of sound policies adopted by each country; and two, providing a reassurance of the appropriate international framework, regional and international frameworks, available to support such countries when they have temporary problems and needs, and they are adopting those policies.
The emphasis on fundamentals, which you've heard so often from Secretary Rubin in so many contexts, is applicable here just as elsewhere. We, the United States, have tried to move out front here and galvanize a set of responses in cooperation with our partners in the region and throughout the world in the IMF, but obviously it's also important that each country do its part.
Q Does the lack of fast track have any impact on these sectoral agreements, and if not, why not?
MR. TARULLO: Well, I don't think it does, because I think that there is an expectation that the absence of fast track will not be an extended situation. Remember, an agreement on the sectors themselves means that we then take them to the WTO and negotiate them in the WTO, which would then agree upon them, and it would be some months, actually, before we would be called upon to implement those agreements.
Depending on the sectors chosen, we do have some residual authority from the Uruguay Round. In other sectors we don't, and we would have to get tariff-cutting authority from the Congress. But I think at present, both because of the economic interests in question and I think because of people's expectation that we will get the requisite authority in a timely way, this is not having an impact.
Q Dan, do you have residual authority on financial services -- first of all, that you were just speaking about? And second of all, do you think that there will be a conversation more directly discussing Korea because that seems to be the most pressing problem right now in Asia?
MR. TARULLO: Dan, correct me if I'm wrong -- we don't need any legislative authority, I think, on financial services. The Treasury Department has such authority as we need in this area, and we don't have required statutory changes.
With respect to Korea, I have no reason to believe there will be a specific discussion of Korea in the APEC forum as such. I mean, obviously, as part of the general region-wide phenomenon, it may be discussed; but there's nothing specific planned on Korea.
Q In discussions about financial aid packages, possibly, for any of these former Asian tigers, will the issue of political corruption come up, as it did with Indonesia, for example, in the building of a state car and state airplane? Is the President going to talk about this at all to try to clean up corruption in these countries?
MR. TARULLO: Well, I think that -- I mean, I don't want to characterize the Indonesian program as you did. I think what was significant about the Indonesian program, among other things, is that the fund in putting together its package of conditions and policy measures, paid attention both to macroeconomic and structural conditions -- micro conditions. And those are obviously important in lots of ways in lots of different economies. But just as -- even though there are common elements to the success of the Asia Pacific region and to some of the problems that we're seeing now, it's equally the case that each country presents a different set of circumstances, even though there may be some common elements.
Q Will a decision be made at this meeting about admitting new members to APEC?
MR. TARULLO: Every year there is a discussion of the membership issue. I anticipate that there will be such a discussion this year. At present, there are no specific proposals on the table. There is supposed to be a senior officials' meeting tomorrow to consider possible membership proposals, with a report to the foreign ministers on Saturday. So by the time we get to Vancouver, there may be proposals on the table. But as of right now, there is nothing specific.
Q The White House told members of Congress when the fast track was pulled that not passing this year would be devastating to our image with our foreign trading partners. So I'm wondering if that, in fact, was the case, why should the foreign trading partners have any faith that this is, in fact, just a temporary lack of fast track?
MR. TARULLO: I think what the President and others said and what continues to be the case is that not having fast track decidedly puts a crimp in and in some cases, forecloses entirely certain kinds of negotiations. But that is not to say that not having it now is a break upon the kind of sectoral liberalization efforts that we have undertaken in APEC.
As I said earlier, this was a delay; this was not a pulling of an approach or some sort of admission that we're not going to get it, number one. Number two, I think that one of the consequences of what we see in APEC will be a focus upon the fact that there are very promising -- from the U.S. point of view -- very beneficial agreements out there to be had.
One would hope that in looking at those agreements, Congress and the American people will see that there is an important reason why the President should have the kind of flexibility to go forward and negotiate different agreements.
This is not to say that not having fast track makes no difference. Obviously, if we do not have Fast Track for a certain period of time, there are certain initiatives that are going to be very hard for us to pursue. But in this case, at this time, with these kinds of agreements, I think we're able to go forward quite aggressively.
Q For Mr. Steinberg -- as a matter of record, I may point out, you raised salmon and not I. In that sense --
MR. STEINBERG: I knew you were going to ask it.
Q Thank you. In that sense, will the two leaders be working off any information, either a preliminary report or a final report from the two eminent persons that were appointed to look into this problem --
MR. STEINBERG: Henry, the two eminent persons are continuing their work. I don't have any particular expectation at this time that there will be a specific piece of paper before the two leaders. But I'm sure that President Clinton is going to urge Prime Minister Chretien to give his support to their effort, and to empower the stakeholders' process to try to move this way forward; because we really believe that that is the way to make progress in this very difficult dispute.
Q As a supplemental to that, can you tell us some -- or give us some indication of how those two people are working and when a result might be seen?
MR. STEINBERG: I think we -- I mean, they have a mandate to do it. I think we would expect something in the relatively near future. But I think it's very important that the leaders once again reaffirming that they attach to the stakeholders process.
Q Back to fast track for a minute. Given the fact that your own Commerce Secretary said before the vote that if fast track doesn't pass this year, that would be it, it wouldn't pass in an election year, why should the leaders of these countries believe you when you say that it's a short-term dilemma?
MR. TARULLO: I don't know that it's a question of whether they believe us in the short term or not. I think they have their own bases for assessing the mood and what may happen here and they look at statements by congressional leaders as well. But I think for all of us, the important thing to do right now is to move forward with the agenda. It is a good agenda, it is an agenda that commands widespread support in the United States, and from our vantage point, I think it buttresses the case for fast track by showing exactly what kinds of agreements can be reached.
Q Dan, Charlene Barshefsky the other day said that the President was going to bring up the moribund state of the Japanese economy when he meets with Prime Minister Hashimoto.
MR. TARULLO: Is that her adjective or yours?
MR. TARULLO: Yours? (Laughter.)
Q I wonder, will the President be pressing for any specific policies that Japan should follow, rather than relying on rising trade surplus for the United States as we saw in this morning's data?
MR. TARULLO: Our position on Japan and Japan's economy is as follows, that we are obviously concerned about the performance of the Japanese economy. We have quite consistently -- senior administration officials, quite consistently for six or eight months now been indicating our strong endorsement of an agreement with Prime Minister Hashimoto's own stated objective of achieving domestic, demand-led growth in such a way that does not result in significant increases in surpluses over the medium term. That is still his stated precept. The Finance Minister restated that precept in meetings with Deputy Secretary Summers over the weekend, and we think it is a very important goal to achieve for the health of Japan's economy to contribute to stability in the region, and obviously also to provide greater prospects for our own exports.
So this has been a topic of conversation in the past between the two leaders. I'm sure that in their general economic discussion it will be advanced again.
With respect to specific policies, that really is something for Prime Minister Hashimoto and the Japanese government to decide. Our interest is in his stated objective of policies that restore domestic demand-led growth. The mix of those policies is obviously something that needs to be worked out within their own processes.
Q Regarding the financial turmoil in Southeast Asia, what do we expect to come out of this meeting that will enhance the stabilization progress and get these people growing and back on track again?
MR. TARULLO: Well, I think that most importantly is what in some sense the APEC leaders meeting has already produced something very significant in the form of the Manila framework. This is, as you can see, something that was agreed upon in advance of, in anticipation of the APEC meeting and is something which will be presented to and discussed by the leaders at Manila.
We think this provides a very sound basis for regional and international cooperation to restore stability to the region. The leaders, I'm sure, will discuss not only that, but the general phenomena in the region and what we hope is that the meeting will give impetus to the implementation of the principles and proposals included in the framework.
Q Just to follow up, are we expecting an announcement about support for this IMF facility or pledging money for this facility from all of these countries or something like that?
MR. TARULLO: I don't think there is an anticipation of specific pledges. The idea here is that if support for an IMF program is needed, that on a case by case basis, the participating countries stand ready to examine the case and if necessary to provide backup financing to an IMF program. But there's no need for an a priori contribution; that was a subject of some earlier proposals, but in the emphasis upon an IMF-centered program was thought more appropriate to, as has been done from time to time but on an ad hoc basis in the past, to wait for each program to come along and then galvanize these resources.
Q Why is APEC a poor forum -- why throw it off the IMF? Why isn't APEC a good place to go?
MR. TARULLO: Throw it off on the IMF? Oh, no, it's not throwing it off on the IMF. The IMF --
Q But why isn't APEC a good place for that sort of thing?
MR. TARULLO: It's not all of APEC, but a number of the countries in APEC have an important complimentary role to play. I mean, I think we need to distinguish two things here. One is the IMF as an institution. It is a global institution to which all the member countries, well over 100, have contributed in the form of their own quotas -- it is the place with the accumulated expertise, the right kinds of advice, the right kinds of teams and substantial resources. There are backups for those resources in the form of the General Arrangement to Borrow as well, and we hope the new Arrangements to Borrow, which the President proposed a couple of years ago in Halifax and which the world community is now trying to move towards.
The IMF has the resources, they have the expertise, they have the experience of how to assist countries in stabilizing. We have a good institution, we ought to support it, we ought to use it. The regional context, though, is one in which the countries are facing some common problems, as I said earlier, in which they feel that a common effort to examine their own economies, to engage in surveillance parallel to or similar to that which is done within the IMF but on a regional basis will be helpful, but they may be able to generate some specific suggestions either for countries or for the fund itself, and there is an important regional commitment to back programs that may be necessary for the IMF to enter into, which is not all that different in concept from what we had in mind in the NAB, the New Arrangement to Borrow: a buttressing of the fund resources by countries that are in a position to do so.
Q Was there any amount mentioned for buttressing the funds resources from a regional standpoint? Are you going to --
MR. TARULLO: Not in our priori amount, no. There was not.
Q Can you confirm that the White House administration turned down a request for help by South Korea?
MR. TARULLO: So far as I am aware, there's been no request.
Q I mean, an informal request at least, if not formal.
MR. TARULLO: I don't know how requests are getting -- there's either a request or there isn't a request. There was no request. The Korean government has stated it did not make a request of the United States. I don't know -- the only thing that I'm aware of anybody in the U.S. government saying is what I've said repeatedly in a general context, which is that we believe that the IMF needs to be at the center of any kind of financial response. But there are no requests passing back and forth here. We have a couple of senior officials in Korea discussing the economic situation, but they're not there in any way, shape or form negotiating or listening to a request for assistance.
Q Jim, you mentioned security in many of the discussions that are going on. I guess the biggest security threat in Asia right now is presented by North Korea. And tomorrow we have preparatory talks for the four-way peace talks proposal. Do you think that that will be discussed at the leaders forum or in any of the bilateral talks?
MR. STEINBERG: Well, I don't imagine it will be addressed in the leaders meeting per se, but I'm sure that there will be an opportunity for it to be discussed in certain of the bilateral meetings. There are a number of reasons why the countries in the region have an interest. Obviously, we're encouraged by the meeting that is going to take place, these preparatory talks. We hope that by moving on to set the agenda and the venue that we can set the stage for the beginning of the plenary session in the very near future. And we're very much hopeful that that will occur.
Clearly, the President will have a chance with President Kim there to discuss the progress in the four-party talks. Prime Minister Hashimoto -- I'm sure that will be part of the issue. We've also been very engaged with the ASEAN countries in engaging them in support for KEDO, which is a very important part of the framework through which we have tried to deal with the nuclear weapons material program and also is an underpinning of the talks.
So in that sense, I think, clearly, the situation on the Korean Peninsula is the most dangerous security situation in the region, and a number of the countries will be very interested in seeing how the progress is going.
Q What does the President want to discuss with President Jiang, and what would be the effect of the recent release of the high-profile political prisoner on their talks?
MR. STEINBERG: Well, I think that the President obviously would be interested in talking about how to maintain momentum in the relationship, how to build on the very positive developments and cooperation on a number of areas that took place during the Washington visit, to talk about the fact that we welcome the release of Wei. But very much hope that there will be further releases, and more importantly, that there be other kinds of broad change that allows people to express their opinions more freely so they're not simply being released, but they're actually allowed to speak their mind and to participate in the life of China. I think there will be an opportunity to take perhaps the first thoughts about what the agenda will be for the President's planned visit to China, as well, next year.
Q Have you set a date?
MR. STEINBERG: We have not set a date, and I would not anticipate that a date would be set in connection with this.
Q What sectors are most interested in having on the agenda that we do not currently have residual fast track authority?
MR. TARULLO: Well, let's see. We discussed -- I have to be honest with you. I don't know which of the sectors we have residual authority for and which we don't. We can get you the answer to that if we need to. But the other thing to understand is, remember, we threw out half a dozen potential candidates. Other countries did the same. In the end, you're going to push one or two, so it's not going to be a broad range.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 3:50 P.M. EST