[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1994, Book II)]
[October 3, 1994]
[Pages 1679-1681]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks to Business Leaders on the General Agreement on Tariffs and 
October 3, 1994

    Thank you very much. Senator Mitchell, I was thinking even before 
you spoke how much I would miss you. Now, after that introduction, I 
feel it even more keenly. Ambassador Hills,

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thank you for your steadfast support and your leadership on GATT. 
Ambassador Kantor, thank you for what you have done on this, and 
congratulations on the agreement with Japan, too, by the way. You did a 
fine job, and we're proud of you. To all the distinguished Members of 
Congress who are here and those who would like to be here who cannot be, 
and all the members of the business community and others supporting the 
GATT today, I thank you for coming here. To the distinguished leaders of 
previous administrations who are here, including Larry Eagleburger, 
Brent Scowcroft, Herb Stein, and others, I thank you for being here.
    Much that needs to be said about the GATT has already been said. 
Mickey Kantor reminded me this morning of something I confess I had not 
thought of on this day. It was 3 years ago today that I announced my 
candidacy for this job. And he did it because there is a line here on 
the first page of the talk which said, ``I refuse to be part of a 
generation that fails to compete in the global economy and so condemns 
hard-working Americans to a life of struggle without reward or 
    The great challenge of our age economically is to figure out how we 
can create jobs and increase incomes for people who work hard, without 
having too much inflation. It is obvious to me that in order to do that 
we have to do three things: We have to bring the deficit down; at the 
same time, increase investment in education, training, and technology; 
and expand trade and investment. If we can do those things and if our 
neighbors do those things--in short, if we do them together, then we 
will be able to create more jobs and find productive lives for our 
people without unacceptable inflation. We will also be able to end what 
is now nearly two decades of people working harder and longer without 
ever getting much of a pay raise.
    I'm encouraged that in just this year we see incomes rising at about 
6 percent in the United States with nowhere near that sort of inflation. 
Why? Because of productivity, investment, and trade. That is what we 
have to do. In the end, that needs to be our bipartisan commitment to 
our children and to our grandchildren and to our future. Our commitment 
to make America great in the 21st century involves a commitment to make 
America a good leader but a good partner as well.
    We have cut the deficit with $255 billion in spending cuts and 
revenue increases, and 3 years now in a row the deficit will go down for 
the first time since Mr. Truman was here.
    We have shrunk the Federal bureaucracy. It's already more than 
70,000 people smaller than it was when I came. But the Congress has 
adopted a bill to reduce it by 270,000 over 6 years. That will make the 
Federal Government the smallest it was since President Kennedy served 
    We have increased our investment in education and training, and we 
are opening the doors of trade, removing barriers to the sales of $35 
billion in high-tech export items and of course working hard with trade 
initiatives like NAFTA and GATT.
    Carla already alluded to this, but I think it's worth pointing out 
to those who said that NAFTA would be a disaster that our trade with 
Mexico is growing at 3 times the rate of our overall trade in the world, 
that exports of automobiles and trucks to Mexico have increased by 600 
percent. At a lot of those auto factories, people are working overtime 
for the first time in a very long while.
    So I feel very good about the direction in which we are going. In 
the last year and a half, 93 percent of all the new jobs in this country 
have come in the private sector. That means that the strategy will work, 
but we have to keep it going.
    A lot of tribute has been paid to the people in the three previous 
administrations who have worked hard on this. I just want to add my 
words to those who have spoken before and to say a special word of 
thanks not only to Ambassador Kantor but to all those in the 
administration who worked so closely with him, to Secretary Espy, who is 
here and whose agriculture reform bill just passed the Congress, to 
Secretary Bentsen, to Secretary Brown, and to Laura Tyson, the Chair of 
our Council of Economic Advisers, and others.
    We know, we know this is in our national interest. You might wonder, 
since we all know it, what are we doing here today? We all know this. 
I'll tell you what we're doing here today. We're trying to do this with 
the least possible delay. We're trying to do this in the shortest 
possible time.
    We know that when the GATT is finally implemented, it will add $1 
billion to $2 billion to our economy every year. We know the GATT

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plays to our strengths for the reasons Ambassador Hills has already 
mentioned. We know that our pharmaceutical and computer software firms 
can harness America's brainpower and now put it to work all over the 
world. We know our tractors can plow the soil of every nation. We know 
that from cars to computers, from furniture to frozen foods, we can 
still make the things the world wants to buy, and when GATT is fully 
implemented, we'll be selling those things everywhere in the world.
    The GATT passed the House Ways and Means Committee by 35 to 3, the 
Senate Finance Committee by 19 to 0; has a phenomenal amount of support 
from business, consumer, labor groups, over 400 economists. But the 
point I want to make is, we need to do it now. Secretary Bentsen has 
estimated that even a 6-month delay will cost our economy up to $70 
billion in extra economic growth over the decade, a 6-month delay.
    So we are here today to say: The work has been done. The path to the 
future is clear. Our obligations are plain. We thank all of you for your 
support, and let's do it now and do it this year.
    Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 12:14 p.m. at the West Wing Portico of the 
White House.