THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Okinawa, Japan) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release July 22, 2000 PRESS BRIEFING BY DEPUTY NATIONAL ECONOMIC ADVISOR LAEL BRAINARD Rizzan Sea Park Hotel Okinawa, Japan
6:54 P.M. (L)
MR. SIEWERT: Sorry we're late. Before I give Lael a chance to begin, I think we made all the announcements, we have a new schedule back there, but just so everyone knows, the Blair bilateral will take place at 9:20 a.m. tomorrow morning at the President's hotel, which is a slight change from the written schedule. The President will then attend the final G-8 working session at 10:00 a.m., and will depart at 12:30 p.m., arriving back at Andrews at 4:30 p.m. His schedule after that is still TBD. But I think Joe gave the pool some sense that he'll be right back at work when he returns.
Much of the day was focused on information technology and the President's efforts to focus the attention of the G-8 and the energies of the G-8 on bridging the global digital divide. Lael can run you through a lot of that. We also have private sector representatives who have made some commitments here from the Markle Foundation and also from Andersen Consulting, who are around here. We can help you find them afterwards. Markle and AOL were instrumental in identifying steps that the private sector can take to help bridge the global digital divide. So they're here as well. But without further ado, I'll let Lael run you through the substance of the meetings today, particularly that effort.
MS. BRAINARD: The discussions for a good part of today were focused on development priorities. The leaders clearly came to the meeting having been energized by their discussions in Tokyo with developing country leaders, the private sector, heads of multilateral organizations. They came very focused on taking action, moving forward with commitments to address key development priorities.
As you know, often the summits get overwhelmed by outside events. This year, what has been notable is a very disciplined focus on a development agenda. I would say the President opened the day by talking at some length about what he saw as the challenges facing the developing world. He talked in particular about the global divide and technology, basic education and health.
Okinawa, I would say, is shaping up to be the development summit, with a focus on creating opportunity for the least-developed. The G-8 leaders closed their first session by issuing a document, which I'll go into some more detail. Clearly, they are sending a message to the world that all people should have access to basic education, to modern technology and the tools to combat infectious diseases.
First, I think many of you have seen the Okinawa charter, which is intended to unleash the power of information technology for all the world's citizens. It contains a very strong statement about the kinds of environments, with competition, with innovation that sustain vibrant information technology development and dissemination.
Secondly, they called for the creation of a digital opportunity task force, the DOT force, involving the private sector, the G-8, developing countries and the multilateral organizations. The mission of the DOT force is to set concrete goals and to coordinate efforts on areas such as training, connectivity and access. And, finally, they asked that the DOT force report back to the Genoa summit in 2000 on its activities. We anticipate that this organization will operate like, for instance, previous organizations -- Y2K -- and we look forward very much to an active year next year.
To support the U.S. contribution to this effort, the President, before coming here, issued a call of action which has been embraced by 40 leading companies and nonprofits in the United States. And, in fact, a number of U.S. and international companies have already indicated they want to make down payments. I'm going to mention just a few. I believe that we're issuing fact sheets that have a much more detailed description of all of them.
The Markle Foundation, The World Economic Forum, IBM, Harvard and UNDP are going to create a global task force on readiness which will offer self-assessments on network readiness to less developed countries. Cisco has announced that it's expanding its network academy program, which offers training to 24 of the least developed countries. Third, Andersen Consulting International is going to work with Markle and UNDP. It's offering strategic consulting services to the DOT force. I think in total they think it's worth about $5 million of strategic consulting.
And just one more -- AOL is working with Gateway and HP for the first time to expand their Power Up program, which provides computers and training to under-served youth. It's going to go international in four international locations.
And finally, in the Internet area, President Putin of Russia offered up the suggestion that the G-8 leaders should be connected by e-mail, I think probably to surpass sherpas, like myself, but in any case, it was warmly welcomed by all the other leaders.
Second area where many of the countries are coming forward with concrete commitments, and all of the countries expressed great determination to do more is in combatting infectious diseases -- HIV-AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in particular, that are disproportionately affecting the least developed countries. The President talked about our own $4 billion budget request. The World Bank released a commitment to triple lending of -- concessional lending from $200 million to over $600 million per year. Japan, as you know, has announced a $3 billion initiative over five years. In addition, Italy, Canada, and the UK have told us that they are significantly expanding their efforts in this area as well.
I think it's worth noting that this year is the first time that the G-8 is mobilizing resources in a coordinated way around the summit to address this crisis.
Let me just wrap up there, and I'd be happy to take your questions on the discussions today or on some of these announcements.
Q Can you talk about the call for a WTO meeting before the end of the year?
MS. BRAINARD: The leaders all talked, in addition, about how important trade is for the developing world, as well as, of course, for sustaining positive economic prospects in the developed world, and all talked about how important it is to launch a WTO round. And I believe that that priority will be stressed in the communique that is issued tomorrow.
Q You give this long laundry list of things that were done today, but some of the development groups, NGOs seem to be underwhelmed by what's happening. I think Jubilee 2000 is burning a computer as we speak now to protest that the digital divide initiative really isn't going to help poor people. How do you address the fact that they're very unhappy that the debt relief issue doesn't seem to have gone beyond what was done in Cologne last year and that these other things -- digital divide they think isn't going to do that much to help?
MS. BRAINARD: Let me say, first, that everyone recognizes and, in fact, it was mentioned by the President today that information technology is an important instrument in achieving the whole multitude of development goals -- education and health. It's clear that information technology holds promise, providing an entire library to the most remote places that can't even get access to books right now, that it provides the potential for information on health care. He often talks about his experiences in Rajasthan, where he saw a new mother getting information on how to care for her baby on the one computer at the community center.
So, in fact, the developing country leaders, in our meetings in Tokyo, stressed the importance of their getting access to the opportunities created by information technology, and I think everybody noted that this is part of a multifaceted effort; and, obviously, basic health, basic education are critical development priorities. Similarly, everybody talked about the importance of moving forward with vigor and resolve on achieving the Cologne goals on debt reduction.
Q Was anything done to move forward? What was done here to make that happen?
MS. BRAINARD: Well, again, I believe there are going to be and there have been several announcements of new commitments mobilized towards these goals, and leaders are going to work and to ask their ministers to work to ensure that we do, in fact, achieve the Cologne debt targets.
Q Can you explain if there was any discussion about basic problems with the infrastructure that might make this digital divide solution that's being proposed or programmed sort of moot? I mean, a lot of the schools have no electricity; how would you propose connecting a school without electricity to the Internet?
MS. BRAINARD: There was some discussion today, and even more discussion with developing country leaders and the multilateral organizations in the private sector on Thursday about making sure that any efforts to bridge the global digital divide are tailored to the particular conditions of the developing countries. And, in fact, part of what the DOT force is going to look at is, are there different kinds of applications, different kinds of devices that are well-suited to the conditions, the infrastructure or lack thereof in the least-developed countries.
Q A Japanese official in a briefing said that President Clinton and Prime Minister Mori agreed that Japan would reduce the amount of money that it pays for U.S. forces on Okinawa. Can you give us any figures, how much did they agree --
MS. BRAINARD: I actually can't speak to the discussions on the security issues. I believe that Jake Siewert and Jim Steinberg provided some information on that earlier today.
Q How do you evaluate the chairmanship of Prime Minister Mori? Is he simply reading the -- in the meetings?
MS. BRAINARD: I think Prime Minister Mori has shown outstanding leadership at these meetings. He has clearly pulled off a very focused and an ambitious agenda. He has kept the level of discussion and debate at these meetings very high. And I think everybody in the room has been energized by his facilitation and by his remarks in the discussions.
Q Can you describe Mr. Putin's input into some of these issues and address whether Russian debt restructuring or relief came up at all?
MS. BRAINARD: Yes. President Putin has been quite engaged on the whole host of discussions, including on bridging the global digital divide, on infectious diseases. As I said earlier, it was really his suggestion that the leaders develop an e-mail network amongst them.
He did talk about the economic reforms that he has announced and that he is working to implement. There was actually no discussion of the issues of debt, with regard to Russia.
Q President Clinton joked around a little bit in a photo op today about, this is my last photo op, be serious. Has there been any discussion in the meetings about this being the farewell summit, and President Clinton's tenure, eight years here the senior statesman?
MS. BRAINARD: There has not been any explicit discussion of the President's status. But I will say that it's very evident in all of the discussions that the President has established real relationships with all of the leaders in the room, that there is a very high degree of comfort with him. I would say that many have recognized his leadership in a variety of areas, such as infectious diseases, such as on Internet. And just generally speaking, I think the fact that he has been coming to these meetings for eight years in a row is very much on display in the discussions.
Q Was there any discussion of environmental guidelines for export credit agencies? And if so, what was the result of that?
MS. BRAINARD: In fact, the President did raise the importance of moving forward with the establishment of environmental guidelines. He noted that this was an area that we had committed to in Cologne; that the G-8 needed to work together cooperatively; that this was a major priority, in fact, of environment. And he expressed his desire that this be achieved as soon as possible.
There was some discussion with the other leaders on this topic, as well. I don't want to characterize their remarks, but I believe there was a general agreement that we do need to move forward.
Q About the IT -- there are some Japanese experts, some skeptical analysts in Japan who maintain that the United States is leading the G-8 to date on the IT revolution because the United States, both the government and the private sector, wants to dominate the IT world in the new century. How would you respond?
MS. BRAINARD: I would simply note that the Japanese government, itself, I think very wisely and with great vision, proposed that we make information technology a major theme of this summit and they have been a driving force in developing a very ambitious charter. I would also simply note that the EU itself, when they met in Lisbon, had a summit specifically and solely devoted to information technology issues.
And you can see in the room among the leaders, among all the discussions, that everybody is very much focused on assuring the widest possible dissemination of this technology to ensure that everybody within their own borders and, in fact, among the poorest of the world, can benefit from the opportunities afforded by the Internet.
Q Can you give us some idea of what will be on the agenda during the fourth year of the deregulation talks?
MS. BRAINARD: Again, I don't want to speak in any great length about the U.S.-Japan issues, but I believe that the deregulation initiative will continue to work on some of the significant areas such as medical devices, such as telecommunications, energy, housing -- that they have been productive to date. It's been a very good forum for achieving advances that benefit both Japan's own aspirations, as well as U.S. concerns about open markets and competitiveness.
Q Will the IT charter deal with the taxation of e-commerce?
MS. BRAINARD: There is a discussion, or there is a policy principle on taxation in the IT charter which, I believe, discusses the important principles of equity, neutrality and simplicity.
Q -- programs of private companies are getting involved with -- are they programs that they expect to make money from, or are these pure charity?
MS. BRAINARD: I would imagine not. I believe that these are all offered in the spirit of addressing the digital divide, reaching out to the poorest. I believe we do have a few people in the room that can give you a little bit more information on that, from the private sector, as Jake suggested. So I'll leave you to ask them some questions, perhaps, afterwards.
Q Lael, the President says he won't even e-mail his daughter because he's worried it will get intercepted. You're saying that these leaders are going to start e-mailing each other?
MS. BRAINARD: The leaders were all quite enthusiastic about establishing an e-mail network. And again, I think the main reason is so that they can surpass people like me.
Q What's his e-mail address? (Laughter.)
MS. BRAINARD: I think we still have to work out the details.
Q Have you heard any discussion in these meetings, anything about the U.S. presidential race? Did anybody bring it up? Have you been told about that?
MS. BRAINARD: No, there has been no discussion of the U.S. presidential race.
Q The Japanese have ponied up $15 billion for this digital divide. Have they asked other countries to chip in, or is that on the agenda at some point?
MS. BRAINARD: I think that there is a general expectation that everybody will participate by mobilizing government resources, by helping to mobilize focus and energy at the multilateral organizations, by energizing the private sector. So I think over time that all of us will try to get the whole array of people and organizations that are really involved in the Internet to play a role in the DOT force.
Q Does that mean no public spending, additional public spending by the Americans?
MS. BRAINARD: I'm sorry. We actually do have, building on the Vice President's leadership in this area, several programs, which we are expanding. We have the Leland initiative, and I believe we're going to expand the Internet for Economic Development initiative -- I want to say by about 50 percent, in terms of the number of countries covered.
MR. SIEWERT: Thank you.
END 7:15 P.M. (L)