THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESS BRIEFING BY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER SANDY BERGER, SPECIAL ENVOY FOR THE AMERICAS MACK MCLARTY, UNITED STATES TRADE REPRESENTATIVE CHARLENE BARSHEFSKY The Briefing Room
3:43 P.M. EDT
MR. RUBIN: Okay. It's a briefing on the President's trip to Santiago by the National Security Adviser, Samuel Berger; the United States Trade Representative, Charlene Barshefsky; and the Counselor to the President and Special Envoy for the Americas, Mack McLarty. Thank you.
MR. BERGER: Thank you, Eric. I'm pleased to be joined by Charlene Barshefsky and Mack McLarty. Together we want to preview for you the President's to Chile this week, both for a state visit and for the Santiago Summit of the Americas.
I'd like to spend a few minutes describing what we hope to accomplish during this trip and how it fits into the President's focus on the Western Hemisphere. I'll also run through the schedule of key events. Mack will speak about the summit in more detail, the road traveled from Miami, and what we'll be focusing on in Santiago. And then Charlene will talk about our vital trade agenda in the Americas and update you on where we are with respect to the free trade area of the Americas.
Let me start, first of all, on the focus that the President has placed on our hemisphere over the past year. The state visit to Chile and the Santiago Summit are the culmination of a yearlong engagement with the Americas, arising from -- originating back, actually, three and a half years ago with the first Summit of the Americas, which the President convened in Miami in 1994. As you know, the President then last year went to Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean in May, and in October went to Venezuela, Brazil, and Argentina.
The objective of these trips, of these visits is to build upon an extraordinary convergence of our hemisphere around values and interests we share -- in democracy, open market economies, and cooperation against common threats. There has been a quiet revolution in this hemisphere, and the President is determined to build upon it.
As the chart that is not behind me illustrates, but the one that's behind the one that's behind me -- 34 of the 35 nations today in the hemisphere embrace democracy and free markets, as you can see, compared to the time of the '67 and '56 summits. Now, lest you add up the numbers and say that our crack graphics squad cannot add, there obviously have been an additional number of countries in the hemisphere during this period.
Decades of civil war and coups have given way generally in the hemisphere to peace and stability. Despite the peso crisis in Mexico and the effects of the Asian financial problems, economic reforms in the hemisphere have resulted in the lowest inflation and highest growth in two decades. Forty-two percent of all US exports -- Ross Perot does this somehow easier, I don't know quite how he does it -- forty-two percent of all U.S. exports, $286 billion go to hemispheric countries in 1997. That represents a 17 percent increase in exports in 1997.
Q From when?
MR. BERGER: From the year before. Versus a 5.6 rise worldwide. And if you look at this chart, you see the extent of our overall exports that go to the western hemisphere. And quite a bit of that is to Latin America, but when you take out Latin America, Canada, and the Caribbean, it's $308 billion. The result is -- in a sense these two charts capture the two important trends of democratization and economic growth and economic market opening which resulted in the hemisphere being united as never before as we enter the 21st century.
Now, Mack will talk more about the road from Miami to Santiago, but it certainly has been a road that has been marked by a number of concrete realizations of commitments that were made in Miami. In Miami we agreed to expedite ratification of a protocol providing that any state that ceased to become a democracy would be expelled from the OAS. That was done in October '97. We agreed to initiate a process of regional confidence building. Since then we have established an OAS committee on hemispheric security. On the economic integration side, you can see from these charts, what is happening is not only economic growth but economic integration between us as and the hemisphere and within the hemisphere, within regional groups within the hemisphere.
We talked at the summit about eradicating poverty and trying to combat disease. In 1995, for example, the First Lady launched a measles elimination program. Those cases today have been reduced from 23,000 in 1994 to roughly 2,000 in the hemisphere today. In Miami we agreed to recommend that multilateral development emphasize microenterprises, microlending. The Inter-American Development Bank has adopted a five-year $500 million strategy to promote microenterprises.
In the area of the environment, there were a number of commitments made in Miami, national action plans to take the lead out of gasoline. In 1996 12 countries had eliminated leaded gas, and by 2001 there will be 20.
Those are simply illustrative of a series of the roughly 100 commitments that were made in Miami and the progress that has been made on most of them.
Now, the people in Latin America have chosen democracy and open markets, but for democracy and markets to endure they must deliver for their people. That is, their people need to understand that democracy delivers, that democracy works. They need to move beyond the basic building blocks of elections and market economics to the second generation of issues faced by all democracies, but particularly new democracies: education, rule of law, health care, worker rights, press freedom, anti-corruption. And this is precisely what the agenda and the focus of the summit in Santiago will be -- the second-generation issues that these countries face together, and where cooperation can help give democracy deeper roots. And Mack will have more to say about this in a few minutes.
On the economic integration side, the Miami Summit set forth a vision of bringing the Americas together around open markets through a Free Trade of the Americas Agreement by the year 2005. In Santiago the leaders will launch negotiations with timetables and a work plan. They will direct their trade ministers to begin negotiations with the objective of concrete progress by the year 2000. Charlene will talk more about that.
They will establish a mechanism to allow labor, the environment, and other civil groups to contribute to this FTAA process. And they will also pursue commitments to strengthen bank regulation and market oversight to promote stability in financial markets, something that since Miami we have come to learn is far more important.
Now, let me talk a bit about Chile itself, because the first two days of the trip is a state visit to Chile, and it will really give the President an opportunity to spotlight Chile's quite impressive achievements. Chile is a country that has succeeded in achieving both an increase in economic growth and a decrease in its poverty rate. Its annual growth since 1990 has averaged 6.9 percent, while its poverty rate has dropped from 40 percent in 1990 to 23 percent in 1997.
President Frei is committed to providing access to computer networks, for example, for all 1,500 secondary schools and 50 percent of primary schools by the year 2000.
The Chile of today has emerged from the turbulent and dark past that we are all too familiar with to become a vibrant democracy working to ensure that all of its citizens share in the fruits of an open market economy.
Now let me briefly just run through the schedule so you can know where you're going to be at various points. We will leave Wednesday at about 8:30 p.m. and arrive in Santiago at 6:30 a.m. in the morning -- a delightful red-eye, all-night flight.
On Thursday the President will meet with President Frei. They will finalize and then sign a U.S.-Chile communique on which we've been working. They will tour a neighborhood of Santiago and have a roundtable conversation with community leaders, which will provide an opportunity to discuss Chile's record of economic growth and poverty reduction. And then finally -- not finally, next to finally -- the President will address business leaders, which together with the event in a poor neighborhood, will provide I think the two sides of the coin that we've talked about so much; that is, economic growth to provide opportunity, a social safety net in order to make sure that that opportunity is spread widely. And then that evening there will be a state dinner.
On Friday we will helicopter to Valparaiso, where the President will address a joint session of the Congress, in which he undoubtedly will highlight Chile's success in reclaiming its democracy and spreading the benefits of its prosperity to more of its people. We'll tour a rural area near Valparaiso, and return to Santiago.
Saturday begins the summit. In the morning most of the events will take place in the Sheraton Hotel. In the opening session the President and President Frei will make opening remarks which will be open to the press. Then they will have sessions during the day from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., three discussions: one on democracy, one on education, one on poverty alleviation. And then that evening there will be a summit gala for leaders and spouses.
And then on Sunday the summit resumes at 9:00 a.m. at the Sheraton. There will be two leader discussion sessions, one on trade, and the final one, which really has no specific agenda will be essentially an open-ended discussion. At about 12:30 the summit will conclude at the former Congress building with statements from several leaders, including President Clinton, President Frei, Prime Minister Chretien, since Canada is likely to be the host of the next Summit of the Americas.
The President will then go speak to the staff and families at the embassy, as he always does when he travels. And we will depart for Washington about 3:45 p.m. and a mere 10 hours later we will be back in Washington.
Let me ask Charlene and then Mack to speak and then we'll take -- Mack, then Charlene.
MR. MCLARTY: Sandy, thank you. The President and our administration has had a policy of sustained engagement and the intense Presidential focus that was noted in Sandy's comments for the past several years, in fact, beginning from the first days of the administration.
We are well aware, the President is acutely aware, of our history in the region from time to time, which has been marked by intervention or neglect. I think he is also keenly aware of this quiet revolution that Sandy noted, a profound change, in many ways as profound as the fall of the Berlin Wall. We have both, from time to time, used the phrase "this is not your father's Latin America," which is, I think, a good way of describing some of the changes -- remarkable changes of 34 out of 35 countries are now democratic. In Central America we don't have the United States and the Soviet Union in a Cold War battlefield or civil wars there. And in fact the export market for U.S. goods in Central America is larger than all of the former Soviet states put together.
The real story from an economic standpoint has been the taming of hyperinflation, which, of course, was the cruelest burden to those below the poverty line. Some example of that is Argentina in 1989 had an inflation rate of 5,000 percent; today it's .3 percent with a 7 percent annualized growth rate. As the minister of finance told us in Brazil when we traveled there, our inflation rate, Mr. President, is 5 percent; the difference is, that is an annual figure not a weekly one. So a remarkable economic change.
In terms of the sustained engagement, our goal is to create what we have phrased as a Greater Americas, based on mutual trust, respect, and reward. And we have certainly discussed with the American people about our views regarding Latin America. After all, we are the fifth largest Hispanic nation in the world, the United States, and in turn, to sharpen and improve their views of us.
Sandy has already noted the first-term record of the convening of the summit -- restoring peace in Guatemala, as friends of that process; restoring democracy in Haiti; the support of the Mexico peso crisis; and the passage of the NAFTA; as well as the two presidential trips to the region, including two summits with the Central American leaders and the Caribbean leaders.
The Vice President has traveled to the region five times, emphasizing economic growth and environmental stewardship. The First Lady has traveled to the region four times, emphasizing issues of health care, poverty, and including all aspects of women's inclusion in society as well as indigenous people.
Now, the Miami Summit affirmed what is called the first generation of reform, which are free and fair elections, stable and open economies. And I think it's fair to say an architecture was put in place to further that progress, and one of the centerpieces -- not the only, but one of the centerpieces was the Free Trade Area of the Americas by the year 2005.
We have made real progress on that road from Miami to the promise of Santiago, but the key point here is that progress is not assured and not guaranteed. It is critical in my view, as someone from the private sector, to have a second generation of reform in order to sustain the first generation, the macroeconomic reform.
I think most of us would agree the bright line between foreign policy and domestic policy has blurred. You'll see that at this summit. From a U.S. perspective, whether it's jobs, the economy, energy prices, gasoline prices with summer vacations coming up, education, fighting the drug trade, alleviating poverty, or protecting the air we breathe, the issues we will discuss at this summit are the issues that affect our citizens and families here at home. They are issues that our people care about and care about deeply.
The summit agenda will very much follow the Miami agenda: first, strengthening our respective democracies; secondly, trade and economics, including financial coordination, which I think should be emphasized and highlights; thirdly, addressing poverty; and fourth, of course, emphasizing education. We'll certainly try to marshal resources, particularly where we have leverage in the multilateral organizations -- the Inter-American Development Bank, the World Bank, the Pan-American Health Organization -- particularly focusing those resources on education.
I think in terms of education the emphasis to strengthen the resources devoted in Latin America to primary and secondary education is particularly important to strengthen their democracies and their economies. There are clearly dramatic changes in terms of distance learning taking place throughout the hemisphere and indeed the world and our own country. And some of the same issues, including resources, teachers in the classroom, size of the classroom, and so forth, will be very much discussed at the summit.
I think it's a fair question to ask, how is improving education in Latin America going to help people here in the United States? I think the answer is, good schools make good neighbors. Education advances our economic and security interest in the region. First, it expands the middle class that buys U.S. goods and services that are noted on this chart. Secondly, it reduces the opportunity to buy or sell illegal drugs to be part of that undercurrent and undertow. It reduces illegal immigration by encouraging people to stay at home with their families, and it makes for more stable democracies, and with partners who are ready and willing and able, as they have demonstrated, to stand by us not only in the hemisphere, but in terms of our peacekeeping efforts in Bosnia and our efforts in the Persian Gulf.
You have a number of presidents who have spent a number of years devoting their efforts to education, including President Clinton. President Cardoso has been a lifelong teacher and academician, as has his wife; President Zedillo a former Minister of Education; President Frei, President Figueres and others have talked about and been dedicated to educational reform for at least a decade, if not longer.
I think all of us would agree in this global economy, which Ambassador Barshefsky will talk about, the key to inclusive growth both here in this hemisphere and worldwide, is education. And in many ways I think that will be the legacy of this summit.
In terms of democracy, I think we will see an emphasis on broader democratic participation, certainly the strengthening of the judicial system in Latin America -- a fair, open professional judiciary is key to any modern contemporary working democracy. Attorney General Reno, Justice Breyer have worked very diligently on this effort.
Press freedom -- something important specifically to all of you in this room, is an issue we have pushed, encouraged, and the President raised it when he went to Argentina on our last trip, and the hemisphere embraced it. And through the inter-American human rights part of the OAS, no new bureaucracy, we will establish, I think, at this summit a special rapporteur to advocate for freedom of expression.
Now, that may be perhaps even more important than just the fundamental tenant of freedom of expression, because over the past 10 years 200 journalists have been killed in Latin America and some in the United States in pursuit of a story, doing their job professionally and responsibly. And I think this effort will clearly help address these crimes of impunity.
I think, finally, corruption is certainly a very important issue in the hemisphere. The hemisphere is leading the way with the signing of the Corruption Convention over a year ago, and that measure, as I think was announced here, has been sent to our Congress for ratification.
The region clearly still has too much poverty -- over 150 million below the poverty line, despite the progress that Sandy noted. And these targeted issues, while they can be viewed as rather mundane, are critical for including everyone in an open-market democracy in terms of microcredit to small business -- which I certainly can identify with coming from a small business, a family-owned business -- land titling; and certainly women's issues and inclusion in the economy and the democracy.
In terms of the economic issues, Charlene will speak to the trade issues specifically. I'd just like to note a couple of things very briefly. First of all, we should look at not only trade, economic integration, which is obviously occurring in a rather dramatic way, but we should look also at investment and we should look at financial coordination, that is the stability of the banking system and the financial markets. We've seen what can happen seriously in Mexico, in this hemisphere, when that does not take place in the right way, and certainly in Asia. And I think Latin America in many ways has become a model to emulate there, as opposed to avoid, and has shown a remarkable resilience in the face of Asia contagion because they've had the capacity and the will to act in relatively modern financial systems.
In terms of energy on the economy, three of our four top energy suppliers are from this hemisphere. And I think all of us understand the relation to energy prices, inflation, and our overall economy.
In terms of the FTAA launch, there is a true consensus we'll have a comprehensive and a credible launch, and that should not be taken for granted and it should not be minimized. The importance of it I think is very clear, with 40 percent of our exports going to this hemisphere, with our exports growing twice the rate to this hemisphere as any other region in the world.
One fact, as a business person, about half of the population in Latin America is under 21 years of age. So if you project that market potential out in a natural market, the numbers obviously become very compelling and very important. We export more to Brazil than we do to China, more to Chile where we are visiting than we do to India.
In terms of the summit process, I think the region has found its voice on the world stage. We have a much more mature dialogue in the region than in any times, I think, in the past. I think it is time to put our consultations on a more regular basis and I think this Santiago summit will accomplish that. We'll schedule the next time and place for the next summit meeting. I think the agenda has been one reached by consensus and I think, in that regard, we have a common agenda. The issues that we address in Santiago are issues that matter to the American people and to the people throughout the Americas.
I think the real opportunity of Santiago is to change the very shape and nature of the character of our relationship in the hemisphere, and to have truly a foundation for both security and prosperity as we move toward the 21st century.
AMBASSADOR BARSHEFSKY: I'll try and be brief. We've talked about the political declaration that the leaders made in 1994 at Miami, that there should be a free trade area of the Americas. As important as that political declaration was in 1994, the formal launch of these negotiations following three and a half years of preparatory work, ensures the realization of the Miami vision. There will be a free trade area of the Americas. A comprehensive launch will be initiated in Santiago, along with all that that implies.
And let me tell you what has been agreed. First off, the entire negotiating structure from here to 2005 has been agreed. The first three years of the process will be hosted by Miami. The final two and a half years of the process will be co-chaired by the United States and Brazil. We in the United States were very concerned about this launch that is in the start and the conclusion, because there are two parts of a negotiation that matter, and only two: the setup in the beginning, and the end.
The middle will always go as the middle goes -- up and down, sometimes fast, sometimes slow, the trajectory is usually positive. But the setup is very, very important, and that's Miami. And the conclusion, by co-chairing with our other major hemispheric partner, ensures that we will indeed conclude the agreement on time.
We have also agreed on concrete progress by 2000. I think this will largely be reflected in the negotiation and adoption of a series of business facilitation measures. Let me give you some illustrative examples of what that might encompass: customs, meaning customs coordination, meaning paperless entry with respect to customs; a series of provisions related to government procurement and transparency in government procurement -- there is very little transparency of the process in our hemisphere now; services trade, I think we'll see some progress there of a very concrete nature. I also think we'll see some progress with respect to telecommunications trade and some other areas.
We have also for the first time established a committee within the FTAA itself to receive the views of labor, environmental NGOs, and other groups who obviously have a stake in the outcome of the process. The setting up of this committee is really rather a milestone in the history of the FTAA thus far. Our hemisphere has been reluctant to establish a committee within the FTAA to listen to the views of civil society broadly and to take those views into account in the course of the negotiation.
This year there has been rather -- I should say over the last several years -- there has been rather a change of attitude, and I think a growing recognition in our hemisphere that people -- all segments of society -- need to feel empowered by this process of hemispheric integration, not disempowered by it. And so we have for the first time now established a committee within the FTAA to be chaired by the ministers themselves, that is to say, by those most responsible directly to their political constituencies, to take into account these views and to translate these views, where appropriate, into negotiating objectives.
In addition to, as Mack said, a credible launch, the launch will be very comprehensive, covering all areas of trade and covering areas of trade we can project into the future -- so global electronic commerce now figures prominently on the agenda, as it should, since Internet usage in our hemisphere has the highest rate of usage, the highest growth rate in the world, including in Asia, interesting.
Economically, as you know, the markets of Latin America are the most dynamic, and the most dynamic export markets for us. And let me just add for your use a couple of extra numbers. As Sandy Berger said, in 1997, our exports for Latin America and the Caribbean grew more than three times as fast as our exports to the rest of the world. During the second half of 1997, we exported more to our hemisphere than to the entirety of the European Union.
In 1997, Mexico surpassed Japan as our second largest trading partner. Think about that a minute. Mexico has an economy one-twelfth the size of Japan. We sell more to Mexico than we do to Japan, and they have now surpassed Japan as our second largest trading partner.
And last, our export increases to the Western Hemisphere accounted for 63 percent of our export growth worldwide in 1997. That is to say, 63 percent of the growth in our exports globally stayed in our hemisphere, went to our hemisphere. And much of that is accounted for indeed by Canada and Mexico.
Let me just say in closing that because of the economic transformation in Latin America, including, as Mack pointed out, reigning in hyperinflation, you have 500 million consumers, a burgeoning middle class, and extraordinary opportunity for American exports. And this is exports in all of the categories that we see, and in all of these categories we've experienced substantial growth already -- and that is in goods, in services, in agriculture as well.
You also have a wave of privatization in our hemisphere, and as we look at areas like power generation, energy, telecommunications, the United States is well poised to capture those opportunities as well. And this range of opportunity will be enhanced substantially as Latin American barriers come down. Their tariff barriers alone average four times what ours are to their products, and non-tariff barriers in Latin America remain a persistent problem. So we see a substantial expansion of opportunity for the United States as we pursue the FTAA.
And by opportunity, of course, I mean U.S. jobs, because that's what the bottom line is here from our point of view. We already have an economy in which, of new jobs created, one in five depend on exports. One in five new jobs are in manufacturing and dependent on exports. And we know that exports pay on average 15 percent more than non-export related jobs.
Our future in terms of increasing U.S. economic growth is in exports; it is in opening markets abroad where the other 96 percent of the world's population lives, and most particularly, in our hemisphere, which we ought to view as our neighborhood. We need to remain well-positioned to capture that opportunity, and that is what the FTAA will do.
MR. BERGER: Questions. Have we worn you down?
Q -- have you been able to convince the labor unions that this is such a good thing for them?
MR. BERGER: We will obviously be consulting as we go along in these negotiations with labor and business, with Congress and all other affected segments of society, to convey what I think is clear, and that is that the future of America's economic growth and a greater production of jobs is going to come in greater trade.
Q How far can you negotiate until you need fast track? How many months or years until you absolutely --
MR. BERGER: Let me answer and then I'll ask Charlene to answer. We launched the Uruguay Round of the GATT negotiations -- in Uruguay, by the way -- (laughter) -- without fast track authority, and did not have fast track authority for over two years in those negotiations. Obviously, as we come to the conclusion -- or before we get to the conclusion of these negotiations, that is something that we will need to have, and it's something the President is deeply committed to obtain, and we will continue to work towards that objective. But I don't think it is necessary for the launch of these negotiations.
AMBASSADOR BARSHEFSKY: Yes, if I might say, I think the fast track question points up to a kind of split dynamic that's occurring in our hemisphere. The launch of these negotiations is as well positioned as it could possibly be. That's with or without fast track. We have precisely the launch, the scope, the U.S. at the center of it, that we want it to have, and that we would have had whether we had fast track now or not.
But what you see in our hemisphere, on the other hand, is an acceleration in sub-regional integration -- that is, in countries integrating with each other around the United States, not with the United States. And so you see an acceleration of ties between Mercosur -- that is, Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay -- and the Central American countries. An acceleration of the ties between Mercosur and the Andeans; an acceleration between Canada and Chile; between Chile and certain of the Central Americans; or between Chile and Mexico; Mexico and Mercosur; the EU and Mercosur; Asia and Mexico.
That acceleration has occurred, I believe, because countries see a potential window of opportunity that they might not have envisioned had the U.S. had fast track right now. That's not from our point of view an overly positive development. We don't object to these sub-regional arrangements, obviously, where they expand trade, as most tend to do. But we do want to ensure that the United States remains at the center, as the center of a constellation of trading relationships. The FTAA launch helps us reassert that central role, but the acceleration of sub-regional integration is something I think we have to look at very carefully.
Q When do you need to have fast track, though? The launch is next week, but obviously, you're going to need -- and it looks now like the administration is not going to even push again until next year.
AMBASSADOR BARSHEFSKY: We have said all along that the timing of fast track depends on two things -- one is the substance, and the second is the chemistry, both of which we continue to consult with Congress on. And, as Sandy has said, fast track remains a priority for this administration.
Q -- going to be embarrassing, really, because this was the goal, wasn't it -- to have Chile on board for a NAFTA thing? It sounds like everything you've said is a rationale of trying to get around the fact that you failed in --
MR. BERGER: I'll say a couple of things, Helen. First of all, what we set out to do in Miami in 1994 was to launch a free trade area for the Americas, a negotiation at this summit; we're going to do that. And those negotiations will proceed vigorously.
There is, in addition to that, obviously more to this summit, as there was more to Miami, than trade. And I think one of the things that I've talked about, Mack has talked about, are the other issues that increasingly are important to the quality of democracy and the quality of society in these countries. Obviously, to take full advantage of the growth in this hemisphere and to reach fruition in a free trade agreement we will need to have fast track authority. But I believe we will have it.
MR. MCLARTY: Sandy, let me just reenforce a couple of points there. First of all, I think the Miami summit, it should be restated -- if the centerpiece, as many suggested, was the establishment of the FTAA with Chile having a comprehensive trade agreement, the heart of the Miami summit was democracy -- the 34 countries that had moved toward democracy; indeed, established political liberty and democracy. And they are two sides of the same coin.
Secondly, I think we should keep agreements in perspective. What is driving this process and these numbers are not trade agreements. What is driving this process is the interconnective global economy and the private sector, both businesses large and small, and ultimately the consumers' knowledge of and desire for lower priced, competitively priced goods and services.
So I think Helen, had the President and the administration -- and I have heard this on my some 40 or so trips to Latin America -- not made a concerted effort to achieve fast track, then I think you would have some concerns and problems. I think it is well recognized in these democratically elected governments that, as we discussed earlier, our batting average on legislation and trade legislation is very good. They have their own Congresses, and they're not always successful in a perfectly straight line either.
So I think what is important is to move forward with momentum on this agenda, as Ambassador Barshefsky has noted. And finally, I would suggest the actual summit agenda, which was reached by consensus, was actually essentially agreed upon in large measure over a year ago, well before the fast track vote even took place.
Q Ambassador Barshefsky, you said that the United States is at the center of this process. In Santiago, Brazil will be signing a number of trade agreements, and the President won't be signing any. I wonder, most commentators seem to think that Brazil is now at the center of this process. How do you avoid having the President look like he's become superfluous?
AMBASSADOR BARSHEFSKY: Well, should I start with the fact that we're a $7 trillion economy? The United States will always be at the center. But your question goes exactly to the point I made before, which is you see an acceleration in the coming together of sub-regional arrangements to the exclusion of the United States. And this is really where fast track becomes important -- not for the launch; the Uruguay Round was launched without fast track and we're well positioned here, excellently positioned here with respect to the launch of the FTAA negotiations.
Where the rubber hits the road is where you see other countries integrating around us, and for that we're going to need fast track authority.
I do think, now that there will be this comprehensive launch of negotiations, we will soon see countries focus their resources on that. And I think that will begin to subsume a lot of this other sub-regional activity, but for right now what you see, in this last six months especially since the fast track vote was postponed, is an acceleration with respect to the level of sub-regional negotiation. But in terms of the United States, the United States is a 7 trillion pound gorilla.
MR. MCLARTY: One quick thing, I think the negotiations are not win-lose. I think the FTAA is clearly a win-win proposition, and I think the markets are indeed very complementary of each other. I think we see that in terms of resources -- I spoke of energy -- and of investments in the region, which Charlene spoke of, infrastructure projects -- so I want to make sure when we talk about the center of what we do need to have is the position in the launch, which we have, to shape the agreements, particularly on issues that are important to us and the American people.
Q Is Pinochet going to attend the Congress, the National Congress event on Friday? Do you know what to expect?
MR. BERGER: We don't know whether he will.
Q Have there been conversations with Chilean officials about whether he's going to come?
MR. BERGER: I know it's been a subject of some discussions at the advance level, but I have no idea whether he's going to be there or not.
Q Will that affect what the President says if he's in the audience?
MR. BERGER: No, he will say the same thing whether he's in the audience or not. Chile is a democracy with a glorious recent history of having reclaimed its democracy, and I can assure you that what the President says will not be affected by whether General Pinochet is in the audience or not.
Q And what bilaterals is he going to have on the sidelines of this summit?
MR. BERGER: Not absolutely clear because of the nature of this. This is a little bit more like -- for those of you who were on the Africa trip -- Entebbe in a sense than a situation where there will be formal bilats. There will be opportunities in the breaks for the President to sit down with President Zedillo, Prime Minister Chretien, and a number of others. It will be somewhat more informal.
Q What about -- will he have a special message about Paraguay's recent turmoil over the elections there?
MR. BERGER: Our message will be the same as the message of all of the countries that are in the region -- Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and others -- which is that we hope and expect that constitutional democracy will be upheld in Paraguay.
Q Sandy, two of the subjects of the summit are education and combatting poverty. What is the United States going to do concretely on those issues? Are there going to be commitments of money or --
MR. BERGER: Well, on education there will be commitments, not only in terms of multilateral funding but also bilateral commitments as well. I'll let Mack, perhaps, speak more specifically about it. Go ahead, Mack.
MR. MCLARTY: John, I'll get you the precise figure. I think your question is on point in terms of marshaling resources and leveling and leveraging the multilateral agencies, particularly the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank and both President Iglesias and President Wolfensohn will be in attendance at the summit. I think the AID has had an active program in the hemisphere; as you know, they will continue that with somewhat reduced funding over the last several years, but targeting that funding, particularly in terms of the poverty efforts.
But I think what you will see is a continued, concerted, focused, and effective effort on the part of the governments, both at the federal, state, and local levels in Latin America, take full advantage of these expanded resources. And I think you will see their efforts in terms of poverty alleviation to be quite effective and to be sustained efforts. We obviously want to be fully supportive of that.
In terms of education, there will be a number of memoranda of education agreements signed with Chile, with Brazil. And Secretary Riley, of course, will be on the trip and can answer, I think, in specific detail the educational aspects that will take place at the summit and with Chile.
Q I apologize if it's been asked before -- are there American business leaders going with the President.
MR. BERGER: There are not American business leaders going with the President. There of course are many American companies that have subsidiaries in Chile. The President will be speaking to the American Chamber of Commerce in Chile, as he does in a number of countries. But there -- as far as I know, none going on the trip.
Q So there's no delegation as there was to Africa.
MR. BERGER: There will be a Congressional delegation that will be going with us, as there has been in all of our trips in the second term. And we look forward to that. But I don't -- there will be no private delegation.
Q Many members of the Hispanic caucus in the delegation?
MR. BERGER: Yes.
Q Mack, you mentioned that on the economic agenda, international financial stability will be a big point in Santiago. Right after the peso crisis, the United States took the lead in international fora, particularly the G-7, to address this problem through the IMF, with greater transparency and surveillance of international banking, et cetera. And for about a couple of years, there was an awful lot of self-congratulations, that a lot progress had been made -- it's even in the Halifax and Leone communiques -- and boom, we got the Asian crisis when there had been every indication that enough prevention had taken place.
What are you going to be doing in Santiago to reassure investors and consumers and everybody else in the world that something is finally taking hold to prevent this kind of crisis?
MR. MCLARTY: Well, I think, increasingly, as I noted, Latin America has been looked at as a model to emulate, not avoid, in terms of financial institutions, central banking functions and reform of the banking system. I saw that both at the APEC conference in Vancouver, where you had Asian leaders and members of the private sector from those countries attending APEC talk to President Zedillo, discuss with President Frei, what they had done in that regard. I saw it again at the Davos Conference World Economic Forum.
While it is not perfect, clearly the leaders in Latin America have had the capacity and the will to act in terms of fiscal discipline. That's why their inflation rates have stayed under control, that's why their budget deficits are much, much smaller, I think, overall, than even many countries in Europe. And I think we will want to support an increasing and deepening of that kind of transparency and openness that the financial markets clearly judge. And I think that's why you have seen to date stable financial markets in Latin America despite a sharp decline in oil prices, where many of the economies are very dependent on oil prices.
I think you're correct in terms of the efforts the President has made to provide leadership in overall financial architectures -- Secretary Rubin and Secretary Bentsen before him and actually started at the G-7 in Naples. I think it's clear more needs to be done, and particularly reform, in a local basis in the individual countries affected, which is at the very heart of the IMF program. I think the difference is Latin America has taken those reforms and has taken very positive steps, and in some of the areas they have not.
MR. BERGER: And if you meant to ask by that question whether we would welcome Congress passing the supplemental, which would provide IMF funding and funding for the NAB, which grows directly out of Halifax and is specifically designed to provide for these kind of circumstances -- the answer is yes.
Q Sandy, also what I was wondering about was having put their house in order, as you put it -- the Latin American countries -- are you going to try and enlist them in Santiago to help you globally, have them put some pressure on Asian finance ministries and banking supervisor groups and so on.
MR. BERGER: I think this is happening informally already. In Vancouver, when APEC met at the end of last year, I think President Zedillo had an enormous impact there. In a sense, he's walked through the valley of the shadow of death, and he's come out on the other side. And he said to the leaders, there are certain rules that you've got to follow: you've got to tell the truth, you've got to take the hard knocks as quickly as you can, and you've got to restore the confidence of the markets.
I think there is beginning to be, as I've said before, a differentiation in this global financial marketplace. Not all emerging markets are alike; not all Asian markets are alike; not all Latin Americans are alike; some are more disciplined than others; some are better run than others. And I think that the time that's passed since the Asian problems began, in some ways established that degree of differentiation on the part of international investors to be a little bit more discriminating and a little less spontaneous in terms of the movement of capital.
Q While we're on international stabilization issues, Japan a few weeks ago announced a package of stimulation measures to revive the Japanese economy. But despite that, the IMF global world economic outlook today forecasts zero growth for Japan for 1998. Does that mean that they have taken insufficient steps? Are you looking for them to do anything else?
MR. BERGER: Well, I don't know what factors they took into account when they made that judgment. We have said that the steps that the Japanese government undertook last week were good steps forward but that, as we've said before, it is extremely important that that economy be stimulated and increase at a faster rate of growth -- not only for its own health but also for the overall health of the Asian economies.
Q Sandy, you just touched on drug trafficking briefly -- what progress do you expect on the idea of multilateral drug certification and on the possibility of a Latin counter-narcotics center in Panama?
MR. BERGER: Well, let me answer and then ask Mack to add. We will make progress at this summit in expanding the multilateral alliance against drugs that we began to talk about when we were in Mexico and Brazil and elsewhere. The purposes of these efforts are to increase cooperation throughout the hemisphere, both a demand reduction and supply reduction. And to the extent that we can -- and they will include an element of evaluation of the performance of individual countries. And we think this is an important step forward.
Q Could this be a replacement of certification with time?
MR. BERGER: Well, certification is an act of Congress; it's the law of the land. We obviously intend to comply with it. Both of these are directed toward the goal of enhancing cooperation in fighting drugs in the hemisphere. If at some future point the alliance were strong enough and viable enough that it were advancing that goal, obviously one might take a look at that. But I think at this point I would say they complement each other.
Q Yes, but if this certification is U.S. -- I mean, unilateral measure from the United States, and as you are trying to build a partnership with Latin America, this alternative would be the only politically correct solution on the long run, wouldn't it?
MR. BERGER: Well, we certainly want to be politically correct. As I said, both of these -- the motivation of both of these regimes is to enhance the cooperation throughout the hemisphere on fighting drugs, which is a deadly threat to each country in this hemisphere. Whether it's the United States that purchases $57 billion worth of drugs, which poisons our children, or other countries where the narco-traffickers are eating away at the very foundations of democracy, there is no greater threat we have in common. And so it is extremely important that we work on this problem together through whatever means we can. We think the alliance against drugs will be one more instrument to advance that cooperation.
MR. MCLARTY: Well, the only -- I think Sandy really has covered the subject very well. The only additional point I would make in terms of the cooperation is that from a Latin standpoint or a Caribbean standpoint, they view this deadly threat, as Sandy noted, as seriously as the families of our countries do. This is not something we are imposing are having to try to change any views. The truth is, it is a very formidable foe. So I think it calls for increased cooperation. I think that will be achieved at Santiago. The goal of cooperation, the multilateral drug alliance, and certification are the same. Certification is the law, as Sandy noted, and we'll continue certainly to abide by and enforce that law.
In terms of the Panama multilateral drug counter-narcotics center, it is an idea that has been well received, but there are a lot of issues still outstanding, and I would not anticipate that it would come to fruition at this summit. I think it could obviously be a part of a multilateral effort.
MR. LOCKHART: I just wanted to let you all know about a change in the schedule on the trip we're taking tomorrow. The President will now overnight in Houston and travel Wednesday morning to Alabama to view the tornado damage and the work that FEMA and the local authorities are doing to help with the cleanup.
The trip presents some logistical challenges to us, not the least of which is some of the people who are going on that trip are also going on the Chile trip, besides some other ones we're working through. So we will let you all know as soon as we can, possibly by tonight, on the coverage details, but I think it's important that people going on the trip tomorrow pack for two days.
Q Will he then come back here?
MR. LOCKHART: He will come back. There is a possibility that we will bring the press plane back tomorrow night and just take an expanded pool for the trip over to Alabama. We are working through those things now, but for your own comfort you should assume you're staying for an extra day.
Q Will the press charter leave at the same time from Andrews?
MR. LOCKHART: The press charter is still leaving at the same time, and that's what we're trying to work through now, how we reconcile the two things. But the press charter is still leaving early Wednesday morning.
END 4:40 P.M. EDT