THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESS BRIEFING BY NATIONAL ECONOMIC ADVISOR GENE SPERLING, UNITED STATES TRADE REPRESENTATIVE CHARLENE BARSHEFSKY, AND SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE DAN GLICKMAN The Briefing Room
4:20 P.M. EDT
MR. TOIV: Good afternoon, everybody. As you know, the President will speak at the Democratic Leadership Council later today on some very important trade issues and on our trade agenda. And here to brief on the speech are Gene Sperling, the President's National Economic Director, who will give an overview; and we have U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky, and Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman, who will talk about the agricultural issues.
MR. SPERLING: Today will be the first day that President Clinton lays out his full and comprehensive agenda on the new WTO round in Seattle. In the following weeks, several Cabinet members -- several senior officials at the White House, and most particularly Charlene Barshefsky, will lay out more details and talk at greater extent on specific aspects of this agenda. But this will be a drumbeat we will continue to pound through Seattle, which, as you know, starts on November 30.
This is a new type of round for a new century. It is a new type of round in that it is a more timely round, one that aims to be completed within three years. It is a new type of round because it will allow for early results. It is a new type of round since it will be the first trade round of the Internet era. And it is a new round in the degree of its focus on reducing subsidies and tariffs in agriculture, one of the oldest industries and one where such improvements would have significant effects not only for United States farmers and agriculture producers, but also for those in developing countries around the world.
And, finally, I think in many ways it is the first round that takes place in the context of increased interest and, as President Clinton has said, putting a human face on the international economic agenda. It is the first to take place in the context of focus on debt relief for the poorest countries, focus on the type of bilateral efforts we are trying in terms of the Africa and Caribbean Basin Initiative, and the type of technical assistance the World Bank and others are focusing on.
This is extremely important to this President's economic agenda. As we have often said, the President's economic agenda has a three-part focus: fiscal discipline and deficit reduction to spur higher savings in private investment, number one; number two, an investment in people, in our children to assure that we are able to assure that growth is shared and that we are able to have the most productive work force and sound families; and, three, that we have the type of open markets that we believe allows for growth, development, innovation, peace, freedom of ideas both in the United States and around the world.
We are very committed to this agenda, even as this legislative year comes to its latter part. We are still very focused on passing the Africa trade initiative, very focused on passing the Caribbean basin initiative. We are working hard on the Hill with both Democrats and Republicans on both of those, and we still remain committed and hopeful on finding an agreement with China that would bring them into the WTO in a commercially viable and strong manner.
In the President's speech today, he will speak about really a five-part agenda, which Charlene and Dan Glickman will go through in greater detail. But one, expanding opportunities for agriculture, two, opening markets for American goods and services. Included in that is our hope of reaching a transparency in government procurement agreement that we feel would be positive, not only economically, but improve government and bringing transparency, fighting corruption.
Third, continued freedom in the new industries of the future, E-commerce, ITA2, the information technology furtherance agreement. Four, the issues of putting a human face on the global economy that the President has sought to wove into his international economic agenda on labor and environment and child labor, on focusing on bringing more openness to the WTO, itself.
And, finally, on expanding the community of nations that benefit from and play by the rules of the trading system, bringing more nations into an open trading system and ensuring that developing countries fully benefit from the open trade system.
Obviously, as deeply committed as everyone in this administration is, there is no one who lives this more every day than the person who will be the head honcho at Seattle, which is our USTR, Charlene Barshefsky. So she will speak. Dan Glickman will follow her and then we will take questions. But I would advise you that when we get to the question part to start by addressing them toward Secretary Glickman because he may have to depart early.
MS. BARSHEFSKY: Thanks very much. As Gene said, Dan will go through in quite some detail the agricultural agenda because, as you know, agriculture is really at the center of this next round.
But let me, if I can, just take you very quickly through a broad brush of the agenda. I'll give you some highlights, and as Gene said, we can take questions.
Of course, the President called for this new round in the State of the Union Address last January. This will be the 9th round since the founding of the global trading system in 1947; that was the old GATT system, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. This is the first will be the launch of the first round since the WTO was itself created. And that opens up a number of opportunities for us to look at a round as more than just a market access negotiation, but as an institutional framework in which we can achieve broader and enduring goals.
Let me say that I'll cover three broad areas. Gene talked about five things, I'll talk about three things, and Dan will talk about one thing, and that way, it will make it easier. Let me say three broad goals. First of all, we're looking for a global economy that offers greater prospects for growth here at home, for jobs, for rising living standards, and that means necessarily we've got to work toward major improvements in market access for American goods, services and farm products. So in agriculture, which Dan will talk about in more detail, we will be seeking very aggressive reform.
This will include the abolition of agricultural export subsidies, the reduction and in a number of cases the elimination of tariffs, the reduction of trade-distorting domestic support programs, improved management of the way in which agricultural commodities are imported into foreign countries, disciplines on state trading enterprises -- these are enterprises like the Canadian Wheat Board that do not operate on commercial terms, and we will want to achieve an understanding with respect to biotechnology that approval processes for bioengineer product must be transparent, must be science-based, and must be timely.
With respect to services, we will take up a vast array of services industries. There is virtually nothing that we will leave uncovered. Whether it's audio-visual services, construction services, professional services, further opening in financial services, in telecommunication services, distribution services -- the full array of services sectors.
Services sectors make up about 70 percent of our economy, $264 billion in exports last year. But we could do much better. So we will be looking to further market opening in the full range of services sectors, and we will need to ensure that the WTO can anticipate development of trade through new technologies. The virtual store on the net shouldn't be discriminated against relative to the actual store on the ground. We need to ensure that trade rules will apply in a non-discriminatory fashion across the board, regardless of the mode of transmission -- that is, regardless of the way in which the service is provided.
On industrial goods, we're going to be addressing tariff and non-tariff barriers. Our tariffs are half those of the OECD average. They are a quarter those and, in some cases, a fifth of those of the rest of the world. We need to get global tariffs down. We would like to go for the elimination of tariffs in a broad range of sectors. And we want to ensure greater access for the least developed countries.
This is particularly sub-Saharan Africa which, as you know, would be covered by the African Growth and Opportunity Act. But we want to ensure that with respect to tariffs and other market access issues the least developed countries achieve some greater benefit than the developed economies or than the more advanced developing economies.
Second major goal, we need to build a more technologically advanced and progressive world economy by ensuring that the WTO keeps pace with the scientific and technological revolution. We have laid very considerable ground work for this already by negotiating the Information Technology Agreement, which eliminates tariffs on over $700 billion of trade in high-tech goods; the basic telecommunications agreement, which opens access to an almost a trillion-dollar world telecom market; and our global financial services agreement, which covers about $50 trillion of financial transactions per year.
But the next major step needs to focus on E-commerce. This is a very complicated area, but will begin in Seattle with work toward agreement by all WTO members to ensure, to continue to ensure duty-free cyberspace. That is the extension of a commitment, not to put tariffs on electronic transmissions on the net.
Then, we will also be seeking a very ambitious work program at the WTO, because we absolutely have to address questions to ensure, as I've said, previously that WTO rules don't discriminate against new technologies and methods of trade. We've got to handle the problem of digital products. This is an enormous field, an enormous area, and WTO rules with respect to digitized content are not clear.
We must also ensure the full protection of intellectual property rights, not merely as we do today, but also on the net. And then, all of that will need to be balanced by a capacity building program, again for the least developed countries to expand their ability to use the Internet to their advantage and to spur technological progress in these nations.
And the third goal will be to help create a global economy which more fully reflects the concerns of ordinary people through a program of reform and improvement of the WTO. First, trade and the environment. We have to be sure that further market opening complements and supports our international environmental goals. We will begin here in the U.S. with an early environmental review of the round. This will be an analytic piece of work with respect to the effect of a new round of trade liberalization on environmental protection.
We will continue with identifying various opportunities that promote environmental protection while at the same time increase trade. For example, we want to open up fully all trade and environmental goods and services and technologies -- zero tariffs, no trade barriers -- because we want to see those technologies and those goods and services that help clean up the environment and promote environmental protection diffused throughout the world.
We want to eliminate fishery subsidies which contributes to the drastic depletion of fishing reserves globally. We want to eliminate all agricultural export subsidies, which has led to vast deforestation in many parts of the world. That is to say, subsidizing nonproductive agricultural activity.
And we want to be sure that there is a committee in the WTO that can analyze all of the negotiating proposals on the table with respect to environmental implication; so that as we're negotiating market opening we can take into account the effects of that market opening on the environment and that may well change the negotiating course. And, of course, it goes without saying anyway our own very high standards of health safety, environment and consumer safety protections.
Second, trade and labor. We want to ensure that further market opening helps promote internationally recognized poor labor standards. And not only will this encompass collaboration with the ILO, but we will work hard to seek a working group on trade and labor. It's an analytic working group to review and analyze, in cooperation with institutions like the World Bank and the Fund and the ILO, UNTAD and others, questions such as the availability of social safety nets in various countries, the best means to promote adjustment, to intensify global competition among the working population, the relationship between market opening and the observance of internationally recognized core labor standards.
This will be, I think, very, very useful work done, and only the WTO can coordinate among the multilateral institutions on the basis on which we need that coordination to occur.
Transparency. We need to open up the WTO more to observers and public participation. We, as you know, want to open up dispute settlement proceedings further, get those panel reports made publicly available, and enhance the ability of civil society groups to meet and speak with delegations and staff, and we are very, very pleased to have spearheaded what will be an NGO day on Monday, November 29th, which will be an officially recognized activity of the WTO itself. This is the first time this has ever been done -- where we can hear concerns from a broad range of civil society groups, environmental groups, labor groups, with respect to the trade agenda.
We want to extent the WTO to new members, as Gene said, and we are looking at many of the former Soviet republics -- Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Bulgaria, Moldova, Georgia -- there are a range of these countries that, in the last 10 years, have decided to make a move toward market economics. We will see many of them accede by Seattle. I think that's an extremely interesting and important achievement.
And then we want to see a series of practical improvements in the WTO itself, particularly capacity building and technical assistance for least developed countries, much better coordination with World Bank programs, as well as programs of national governments like USAID with respect to these countries.
And there must be much more coordination between the WTO, on the one hand, and the World Bank and the IMF on the other, because, as we saw in this last financial crisis, trade policy can play a very important role in the recovery of nations in financial turmoil. And yet, these large, multilateral institutions -- the Bretton Wood institutions have no relationship, one with the other, and, it seems to meeting, doesn't make any sense at all.
And then, last, we are going to seek as we move toward Seattle some specific near-term goals. The extension of the moratorium on duty-free cyberspace, very important. We'd like to see an agreement on transparency in government procurement. This will not only subject foreign government procurement to due process, to transparency in bidding and so on, it is also a very substantial bit of progress toward eliminating bribery and corruption, which is rife in government procurement.
And we would like to also see consensus on several market access initiatives like the elimination or harmonization of tariffs on a number of industrial sectors, as well as conclusion of the second generation of the information technology agreement, which would add new goods and services to duty-free treatment and barrier-free treatment.
These are only highlights. This is a very comprehensive agenda. It goes far beyond what we've ever tried to do in any previous round, but we're ready for it and I think the global community is actually ready for it as well. Let me turn it to Dan Glickman on agriculture.
SECRETARY GLICKMAN: Thank you, Charlene and Gene. Just quickly, if you'll notice in the President's statement, all of the aspects are extremely important. But if you notice, he does begin, and the number one issue is agriculture, and I think that's for a couple of reasons. Number one is that 96 percent of the world's consumers live outside of the United States, but when it comes to agriculture, it has historically been the most export-dependent of all industries. One out of every three acres that's in production in this country is exported, and it is the area where the trade tensions have been at their highest levels in recent years.
I like to say that there are a lot of trade tensions with the blood pressure of countries over agricultural issues -- tend to be higher at least in recent years for a lot of different reasons. So, while agriculture is not going to dominate the next WTO round, it is a critical part of the next WTO round, and Charlene mentioned a few of the issues that we will be focusing on, but one is, of course, the reduction of agricultural tariffs.
Right now, tariffs on agricultural products worldwide averaged 50 percent. In the United States, it's less than 10 percent. We are, I believe, the lowest in the world, and that has to change. We just can't continue to have this disconnect here between tariffs here and tariffs elsewhere in the world.
Number two is that we must ensure market access is based on sound, fundamental scientific principles. Now, whether it's in the issue of biotechnology which is a controversial issue, but one which really demands sound science be the prime arbiter, or whether it's been in some of the other issues that we've gone to the WTO on, like beef hormones, where we have gone there because we believed that sound science justifies our positions. And we've got to make sure that we do not lose farm exports because of trade barriers which are enacted in a flawed and unscientific way.
And this is a very serious problem, I think, in the years to come, as we begin to see many countries talking about ways of protecting their markets and their people, but not necessarily based upon sound science.
Number three, we need to work to eliminate export subsidies, especially the European Union, which accounts for 85 percent of all export subsidies. And that not only works to our disadvantage in our country, but what it does is you see their domestic farm programs allow them or require a lot of over-production, which they then must subsidize in the world markets in order to get rid of. And who do those subsidies hurt the most? Usually it's third world and developing countries in Asia, in Latin America and Africa that then cannot possibly compete with that.
And then Charlene mentioned state trading enterprises, and like the Canadian wheat board or the Australian wheat board, or other places where there is not transparency, where we cannot see, actually, what people are doing.
Earlier this month, I was in Montreal. I met with all of the Ag ministers -- I met with the EU Ag minister, the Canadian Ag minister, the Japanese Ag minister, and the Australian Ag minister. It was a very useful meeting. But I did see that there are a lot of very strong positions held and I also see that there is a tendency, I think, to want to preserve the status quo when it comes to agriculture, and that is not acceptable to the United States. Because the fact is that the status quo basically works to the tremendous disadvantage of our country, which is an export-dependent country. It also works to the disadvantage of the developing countries, which need the incentives to develop their market so they can become self-sufficient as well.
So we must ensure that as we maintain our open markets in this country, that we help to ensure those open markets around the world, as well. And I think that will provide fair and equitable opportunities for our farmers and ranchers to compete.
I will stop. I don't really have to leave, so you can go.
MR. SPERLING: We're available for any questions.
Q Will the President seek a timetable for the admission of China to the WTO?
MS. BARSHEFSKY: No. China's admission will be governed by what it has always been governed by, and that is the substance of the commitments it is willing to undertake. We would like to see China enter the WTO this year. China has indicated that that is their goal. But what must come first is a commercially meaningful, highly substantive agreement. And we have had some useful discussions with the Chinese in the last couple of weeks; those discussions will continue. But it's the substance that will govern their accession. No other consideration.
Q If I could just follow up on that. Given that the talks will resume later this month, is there any chance that there will be time for Congress to approve their accession? Is it basically over, at least on the Hill, for this year?
MS. BARSHEFSKY: I don't want to prejudge the situation because we'll have to see what China wants to do. The talks, as you know, were resumed in Auckland when President Clinton and President Jiang met and agreed that negotiations should resume. We had meetings in Washington, and as I said, talks will continue.
Q Are talks currently going on?
MS. BARSHEFSKY: Not today, no. But, yes, I mean, talks have been going on.
Q I have a question for Secretary Glickman. Should the President be signing the farm bill?
SECRETARY GLICKMAN: I actually was with him today out in the Virginia mountains, and by the way, it was a very beautiful visit. But I do not know. Did the Senate approve the bill today? There has been no veto threat issued over this bill. I haven't personally talked to the President about the bill, but it's not one that, quite frankly, I expect a veto on.
I would have to say that, as with most farm bills, a lot comes up at the very end, in terms of what happens in the wee hours of the night. And we're going to examine that bill as we implement it -- assuming that it is signed -- very, very carefully to ensure that we rigorously protect not only farmers' interest, but taxpayers' interest as well.
Q On the same issue, can you tell us if there are going to be -- or can any of you tell us, will there be trade implications to the bailout measures for farmers that are indicated there?
SECRETARY GLICKMAN: I don't like to use the word bailout measures, okay? I understand your question, however. I think that the farm bill, as proposed, is in full compliance with our WTO requirements. That is, does it exceed the caps under the various trade laws? I don't believe so.
Q Did the United States agree to talk about competition, policy and/or anti-dumping countervailing agreement?
MS. BARSHEFSKY: No.
Q Can I follow up on that? Why is the administration delaying the decision on the section 201, anti-dumping charges against Japan's steel wire?
MR. SPERLING: Quite honestly, it's a difficult case and there were some differences within the advisors to the President, and he is taking his time to make sure he carefully reviews it and comes out with a reasonable decision. I expect that shortly.
Q Given the amount of opposition that other countries have to this program that the U.S. has put forward, how optimistic are you that you'll come out in Seattle with an agenda that the U.S. can accept? Is it likely you'll just paper over whatever differences you have?
MS. BARSHEFSKY: I think that there is quite a bit, actually, of international agreement with the contours of the U.S. agenda. The notion of a very focused look at market access issues, the notion of a three-year round, something very, very short, which is, from the point of view of the developing world, a sine qua non of their participation. They don't have the resources for another 10-year Tokyo round or 8-year Uruguay round; they just won't do it. And that's very much in our interest, actually, that is that a round be short.
The focus on institutional reform is, I think, one shared by many, many countries, as is the issue of the environment. The issue of labor is more controversial, but I do think we will have European Union support, which is a big change from two years ago. and issues of the other accessions, further improvements in the functioning of the WTO, capacity building for the least developed countries are all issue broadly shared by many, many countries.
So I am reasonably optimistic that we will succeed in the vision that we've laid out. That is to say that a global round of talks should be more than just a negotiation on market access, but also must lead to further improvements in the global trading system as a whole, quite apart from negotiation; and must also reflect better concerns of citizens with respect to labor and environment, food safety issues, where the global trading system can play a very important supportive role, need not be in conflict with other objectives, but where those other objectives also need to be acknowledged.
Q And agriculture?
MS. BARSHEFSKY: I think on agriculture, as Dan can tell you most of all, Europe is an enormous problem; Japan, Korea -- those three, in particular, have very little interest in agriculture liberalization. We have worked very, very closely with Latin America, with the Cairns Group of competitive exporting countries; with sub-Saharan Africa; with a number of other nations -- all of whom are roughly in accord with the agenda we've laid out. So I think you will see a lot of global pressure, particularly put on Europe, and that is pressure long overdue.
Q Ambassador Barshefsky, the U.S. position, with respect to the round, on two issues -- one, you have companies in this country, textile and apparel area, who say, by and large, the big developing nations are closed to our exports and they would like to see market openings. And, secondly, there are those nations who are big shippers to the U.S. who say, look, we've got to speed up the elimination of the -- well, quote, "elimination" -- by 2000, 2005 -- coming at different ends -- just what is the U.S. position on each of those?
MS. BARSHEFSKY: I don't see much pressure in Geneva at all for accelerating quota elimination. If you assume the rounds in 2003, the quotas come up January 1, 2005. It's a difference, essentially, of a year. So there's very little talk, actually, in Geneva about further acceleration of textile quota elimination.
With respect to other textile issues, we are going to spend a fair amount of time consulting with the industry. You know, the textile and apparel industry covers quite a wide cross section of companies and interests. We'll spend a fair amount of time consulting with them; we already have. We have not put forward an affirmative position, one way or another, on the textile and apparel issues, but we are examining other proposals made by other countries, and we'll take those into account as we move forward.
Q Can you give us your reaction to a proposal from a group of developing countries that seem to want to open up a lot of different parts of a lot of different WTO agreements that exist right now? I mean, what does that mean for speed of this round? Is this more than you thought you'd face? It all seems to be going the other direction from what the U.S. and other countries --
MS. BARSHEFSKY: No, this has been an issue that cropped up, oh, probably two years ago, actually. It's getting some press play now because you're focused on the WTO, but it's been around for a couple of years. There is concern on the part of some countries that they would like to see the obligations to which they agreed in the Uruguay round be pushed. Well, a deal is a deal and an agreement is an agreement, and country obligations with respect to implementing whether it's intellectual property rights protections or other protections, forms part of the package that allowed us to work to close the Uruguay round. So we expect to see countries implement their obligations on time.
We are also happy to provide and have offered very substantial technical assistance to allow countries to implement on time. The World Bank, other institutions are also offering technical assistance in that regard.
Q In your push to open markets for agriculture, sugar growers are concerned that their interests are going to be sacrificed to other agricultural interests. Can you talk about sugar in this round?
SECRETARY GLICKMAN: I don't think that's true. Sugar is a complicated issue because it involves a lot of foreign policy implications, particularly south of our border and in the Caribbean region. But I have told sugar growers and producers that the consultation process will continue, and it's obviously an area where other parts of the world have, at times, problems with our particular policy, but that we would not sacrifice the sugar growers or any other parts of agriculture at this round, and certainly, they would not be treated in any kind of disproportionately negative way.
Q To clarify, when Secretary Summers goes to China for the JCT meetings later this month, will he be engaged in WTO accession negotiations at all?
MS. BARSHEFSKY: No. At that juncture, the Chinese negotiating team is actually in Europe. But certainly, the joint economic commission will look at the macroeconomic situation, will look at the state of economic reform in China. I would expect the WTO will come up, but only in a very general way. But there won't be negotiations at that meeting.
MR. SPERLING: I think for those who are not clear, this joint economic commission is an annual event, so it is not taking this place because of any calendar related to WTO. This is an annual event that Treasury has had with China in the last several years.
Q Ambassador Barshefsky, Public Citizen put out a report suggesting that specific WTO decisions have caused countries, including the United States, to have to back off somewhat from environmental and safety standards. Could you comment on that issue, specifically?
MS. BARSHEFSKY: I've not seen the report in specific, but, no. First of all, the WTO can't force a country to alter it's laws in any respect. A country can always offer compensation in lieu of changing its laws, or another foreign country can retaliate and take out compensation in some form or another. So any decision to change our laws in any respect is solely, solely, up to the United States. Second of all, we have not had to alter any of our fundamental laws with respect to the environment in connection with dispute settlement.
I do know that Public Citizen has talked about the reformulated gas case, which involved absolutely no change whatever to our clean air regulations or statutes, none. The issue there was simply that we discriminated in data requirements from foreigners versus U.S. companies. Well, that's a discrimination that probably should never have been there to begin with and was eliminated. But that didn't alter our clean air standards in any way, shape or form.
Similarly, with respect to shrimp-turtle. The United States lost the case, but only on the grounds that we had discriminated against certain countries in favor of other countries. And that is a discrimination that can be easily removed without at all affecting the issue of shrimp-turtle as an environmental issue. So I think that there is -- very substantial mischaracterization of those cases has occurred. I don't know if that's true in the report just issued.
SECRETARY GLICKMAN: You said something about food safety was threatened, and the inference is just totally wrong.
MS. BARSHEFSKY: It's just totally wrong. The WTO panels have explicitly recognized the right of any country to set any level of health, safety, environmental protection it deems appropriate, even if those standards in that country are far above international standards. And our standards, of course, in many areas, are far above international standards. And we don't intend to lower them one iota, nor have we ever been asked to lower them one iota by any dispute settlement panel, nor could we be forced to lower them one iota by any dispute settlement panel.
Q What's the best way of dealing with biotechnology? Through a working group or putting it all on the table and try and get it resolved in three years?
SECRETARY GLICKMAN: One is, is that we should not reopen the sanitary and phyto-sanitary agreements. There are mechanisms within the United Nations operation, Codex Alimentarius within the OECD, and other places to deal with this issue.
I don't have a specific answer on how to deal with the biotechnology in this round, except to say that it must be done in the context of transparency and sound science. This is a subject that we are dealing with in this country on an interagency process, as well -- and also talking to our European friends about the fact that they do not have a food safety regulatory regime that allows them to deal with these issues on the basis of sound science. And I do not want to see issue relating to sanitary and phyto-sanitary measure, whether they're biotechnology or others, become part of some sort of non-science -based hysteria, which would further complicate the ability to see that the markets where these products remain open and remain subject to sound science principles.
So I think there is going to be a little bit of wait and see on how this issue will develop, not only in the WTO, but in the other forums as well.
Q What do you think it will do to your bargaining leverage if you go into the Seattle Round as it increasingly looks like you will, without a China agreement and without any major trade legislation passing in the United States?
MS. BARSHEFSKY: I don't think having a China agreement or not having a China agreement has any bearing on leverage at all. With respect to fast track, which is, I assume, what your question is, I'm not concerned. It's an issue that is rarely brought up in Geneva among the other countries who tend to assume the U.S. will have the authority it needs when it's time to conclude the round.
You have to bear in mind that no president has ever had the authority to conclude the round he embarked upon -- none. We didn't have the authority for the Tokyo Round or the Uruguay Round. That is not new to the old GATT process or the WTO process. This seems to be an issue that attracts more attention in the U.S., I think, than it does internationally, but there is a high level of confidence as we survey the countries in Geneva that Congress will provide the necessary negotiating authority when it comes time for the round to close.
Q I think that question also is asking about the current status of the CBI-Africa trade, the so-called mini trade bill or whatever it is we're calling it these days. Have you talked to Senator Lott? Is he going to keep his promise to the committee to let it come up?
MR. SPERLING: We believe that there is no reason that we should not be able to conclude both Africa free trade and the Caribbean Basin Initiative this year. Actually, maybe Charlene can finish this. She did have conversations with Senator Lott.
We've spoken broadly -- when the President spoke with Senator Moynihan and Senator Roth in the Oval Office meeting, we talked explicitly about CBI and Africa. Both of them were very committed to working together. They wanted to know that we would be working hard to garner support, and we have been engaged in that effort.
We've recently had several of the Presidents from the Caribbean countries, some of them hard-hit by Hurricane Mitch, come and speak, not only again to our administration, but many members of Congress. And I think many were very moved by the degree that they deemphasized aid and emphasized the ability to export and to be part of open markets as a way of rebuilding their economies. So there's absolutely no reason that this should not be completed this year.
Q Gene, what kind of international support do you see for the Internet tariff ban? And also, what is the U.S. looking for in Information Technology Agreement II?
MS. BARSHEFSKY: Right. There's I think very broad support for continuation of the commitment not to impose tariffs on electronic transmissions. We've really undertaken a fairly major educative effort in Geneva. There are many, many countries who don't appreciate the magnitude of the change that will be caused by E-commerce and the importance of that change to their own prosperity and economic growth, particularly for small and medium-sized business for whom E-commerce is especially vital and cost saving.
So we've undertaken this very large effort in Geneva. A lot of work has gone into this. We'll see, I think, very broad support for our duty-free cyberspace initiative. I think we will see support for a working group on E-commerce, the balance of the agenda perhaps being even larger than what I've just indicated. But I think countries appreciate that they've got to get a handle on this and the WTO provides a very good institutional vehicle for them to do that.
With respect to ITA II -- you know, ITA was so all-encompassing, covering, as I said, about $700 billion in goods related to high-tech trade, semiconductors, integrated circuits, computers, phones, faxes, the works. But when we went back we saw that we left out some areas -- there may be some ares of consumer electronics or some navigational and satellite related equipment that was just left out, either because it didn't exist at the time, which shows you the change in technology over two years; or because they were simply left off.
So ITA II will be necessarily much, much smaller by ITA standards. And there's not much you can do that covers $700 billion in trade in one fell swoop. But we would like to keep the ITA current and current with technology as it proceeds. And to keep those markets open, zero tariffs.
We're also undertaking a bigger push on non-tariff barriers with respect to high-tech products, and that also forms part of the overall initiative.
Q What kind of pressure are you under from foreign countries to include ADCBD laws on the agenda? And do you see that possibly being used as a bargaining chip as you seek the elimination of ag subsidies and tariffs?
MS. BARSHEFSKY: I won't comment on bargaining chips or anything of that sort. There is very substantial global interest in seeing anti-dumping countervailing duty laws on the agenda. That's not uniform because there are many countries that are substantial users of those laws, particularly the dumping laws that don't wish to see them on the agenda.
Our position is, I think, a sensible one; and that is, we have a working group on these laws in the WTO. There are very, very major problems with implementation by foreign countries of the basic commitments made with respect to those laws. We would like to see implementation occur and the working group has been working on that, but there is just a tremendous amount to be done and we want to see implementation occur before we discuss reopening these agreements in any respect.
So our focus is on implementation of commitments made in the Uruguay Round in connection with dump and countervail laws, not a reopening of those agreements.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 5:05 P.M. EDT