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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release November 16, 1998
              Restoring Growth, Strengthening the Safety Net
                         Monday, November 16, 1998

Today, President Clinton and Vice President Gore announced new steps that the U.S. is taking to restore growth, expand trade and strengthen the social safety net in Asia. This work builds on the action plan the President outlined in his speech to the Council on Foreign Relations to contain the financial crisis and help countries that have been hard hit by the turmoil to recover quickly. Dealing effectively with the financial crisis is critical to protecting American jobs and prosperity.

Restarting Private Sector Growth. Today, as Vice President Gore represents the United States at the APEC meeting in Kuala Lumpur, the U.S. and Japan announced that they will launch the Asian Growth and Recovery Initiative to revitalize private sector growth in Asia. The centerpiece of this initiative is a program to:

Accelerate the pace of bank and corporate restructuring by providing strong incentives to remove constraints that block restructuring now. With the support of the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, we aim to mobilize $5 billion for governments initially, which should leverage substantial new private investment. We will also provide enhanced technical assistance to help equip countries with the expertise they need to overcome the complex financial and corporate restructuring issues they face.

New Measures to Encourage Trade and Investment in Asia. The Vice President will announce that the U.S. Export-Import Bank will provide an additional $3 billion in medium term financing for Thailand, South Korea, and Indonesia on top of the $5 billion in trade finance it has already made available in the wake of the crisis. The Vice President will also announce that the Overseas Private Investment Corporation will provide more than $2 billion in insurance and financing to support new private investment in Asia.

Strengthening Social Safety Nets. We are also taking steps to develop social safety nets to help the people who have been most affected by the downturn, especially the poor, children, and the elderly. The World Bank and Asian Development have agreed to substantially increase their support for his effort, and will spend nearly $6 billion to strengthen social safety nets in the region over the next two years. And the Vice President today unveiled a new U.S. initiative that combines bilateral assistance, technical assistance, and micro-credit-- so that we can help to ease human suffering, and build a broader prosperity. We urge other nations to join us.

Building on Our Progress. This initiative builds on the progress we have already made since the President outlined his strategy to contain the crisis and restart growth in Asia and emerging markets around the world:

We have secured full funding for the IMF, leveraging nearly $90 billion to help the IMF step up its efforts to contain the financial crisis. We have given the IMF new tools to help nations with sound economies ward off contagion and put in place a comprehensive IMF program in Brazil to do just that.

Central banks in Europe, America and Asia have lowered interest rates to spur growth.

Japan has committed substantial resources to reviving its baking sector and has just unveiled a new initiative to stimulate its economy.