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Office of the Vice President

For Immediate Release July 13, 1999


I am pleased to announce some good news for America's steelworkers, their families, and the U.S. steel industry: we have reached an agreement with Russia to protect against surges of Russian steel imports into the United States. Put simply, this agreement will protect the interests of our steelworkers and steel industry, without closing U.S. markets.

Promoting free trade is important, but so is protecting the livelihoods of Americans whose hard work has made us the world's greatest economic power.

And that is why late yesterday night, we concluded a comprehensive agreement with Russia that will provide predictability in the U.S. steel market and guarantee a low level of Russian imports -- below the levels in place before the surge of Russia steel into our markets. This agreement will prevent import surges from Russia and make it easier to enforce reduced import levels.

Russian Prime Minister Stepashin called me yesterday afternoon -- about ten hours before the deadline -- to review the issues facing our negotiators. I clearly laid out for the Prime Minister the fundamental U.S. requirements necessary to reach an agreement.

The talks continued in Paris without agreement, and I heard late last night from our negotiators about an opportunity for a breakthrough. I immediately called Prime Minister Stepashin an hour before our deadline of midnight, and urged him to instruct his negotiators to come to closure. In the end, I am proud to say we reached an agreement that is in the best interests of both our nations.

I want to thank representatives of the union and the steel industry for working so diligently to reach this agreement. I want to thank Congressional leaders for their forceful advocacy, and I salute our Department of Commerce and Secretary Daley for their ongoing leadership on this issue.

Today, thanks to all their efforts, we open a new, more predictable, and mutually prosperous era in steel trade for the United States -- one in which our workers, their families, and our industry have a fair opportunity to compete and to prosper in the global economy.