[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book I)]
[April 16, 1998]
[Pages 575-579]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks to Business and Community Leaders in Santiago
April 16, 1998

    Thank you very much, Mr. President, Mr. 
Fernandez, Mr. Riesco, Mr. Mayor, ladies and 
gentlemen. First, let me thank President Frei for the warm welcome that 
Hillary and I and

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our entire delegation feel with our trip to Chile. I have looked forward 
to it for a long time.
    To those of you who wonder about the commitment of the United States 
to this relationship, I would just note that in the audience here I am 
joined by the Secretary of State, the 
Secretary of Commerce, National Security 
Adviser, our Trade 
Representative, our National Drug 
Control Policy Director, my Special Envoy 
to the Americas, the Director of 
the Small Business Administration, the Director 
of OPIC, and five distinguished Members of the 
United States Congress, Congressmen Hamilton, Hinojosa, Rodriguez, Levin, and 
    We are glad to be here, and together we hope we will be able to 
persuade you by our presence, if not by my words, of the importance that 
we attach to our growing relationship with Chile.
    I'm told that when this city was founded in 1541, it was called 
Santiago del Nuevo Extremo--Santiago of the New Frontier. On the verge 
of the 21st century, Santiago is again on that new frontier. It is a 
window through which we can see over tomorrow's horizon to a future of 
freedom and broadly-shared prosperity.
    You are helping to build that future. The Summit of the Americas 
that President Frei will host this weekend is 
helping to build that future. Never before have the Americas been so 
united in values, interests, and goals. We have to keep that in mind as 
there are bumps along the way or inevitable differences as all human 
beings will have.
    Chile and the United States are working hard to seize the promise of 
our shared values and interests and visions. The President has already outlined all the things we have agreed to 
do together today. No one can fail to be impressed by the economic 
performance of this great nation. Sound, consistent policies have 
produced high growth, low inflation, more savings, less poverty. Chile 
stands at the vanguard now of a new revolution of freedom and enterprise 
that is indeed embracing all of Latin America. Last year Latin America 
and the Caribbean combined had an average growth rate of more than 5 
percent, with the lowest inflation rate in 50 years.
    There has been an explosive increase in commerce within our 
neighborhood, and more than goods are flowing across our borders. 
Between 1991 and 1996, the number of minutes for telephone calls from 
the United States to South America tripled. In that same period, the 
number of planes that left Miami for Central and South America increased 
by over 50 percent. More and more young people from our countries are 
studying in each other's schools and colleges, enriching their lives and 
our cultures. Thanks to the new spirit of openness, capital flows across 
our borders are absolutely massive.
    I remember it was just a month after our first Summit of the 
Americas in Miami in 1994 that the Mexican peso crisis struck. It shook 
the entire region. I'm sure some of you have a vague memory of it. 
[Laughter] But instead of closing their doors, Mexico, and indeed, all 
of Latin America, deepened their reforms. Now Mexico is back and is our 
country's second largest export market.
    In general, Latin America has grown so strong that I think even a 
lot of you are probably surprised that this region has weathered the 
shock of the Asian financial crisis as well as the region has. It is a 
great tribute to those of you who have worked for and fought for and 
lived by smart, sensible, disciplined policies over the last several 
    Now, of course, we know that there is more to do. Just last December 
our Finance Ministers committed here in Santiago to tighten bank 
supervision, fight money laundering, and to provide new credit to the 
smallest entrepreneurs--the kind of people that President Frei just mentioned, that we met with a few moments ago in 
San Miguel. But every outside observer knows that Latin America has 
found its voice, its confidence, and its well-earned seat at the 
international table. The United States is delighted by the success of 
Chile and, indeed, all our neighbors. Our futures are joined like a cord 
that gains its strength from the many threads that are tightly 
    Today, more than 40 percent of America's exports go to our 
hemispheric neighbors. Our exports in this region are growing more than 
twice as fast as anywhere else in the world. With three of our four top 
energy suppliers in the Americas, we can literally say that this 
hemisphere fuels our growth. Your prosperity lifts ours, just as a 
healthy United States economy helps you. The better you do, the better 
off we will be in our increasingly interdependent world.
    The United States, therefore, will continue to work for more 
cooperation and more integration. At our summit this weekend, we'll take

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the next step toward open trade in the hemisphere by launching 
comprehensive negotiations for the free trade area of the Americas, as 
we committed to do 4 years ago in Miami. All of you know, as the 
previous speakers have said, it will create opportunities for producers 
throughout the Americas; it will create new jobs and higher living 
standards for our workers; it will create better buys for 800 million 
consumers; it will help to lock in market reforms and democratic 
triumphs throughout the hemisphere.
    And let me also say that it won't be the first time that the United 
States has launched its own involvement in negotiations of this kind 
without fast-track authority. Before they're done, we'll have it and it 
will work.
    Let me also say, I am especially pleased that for the very first 
time we are creating a special committee to expand the role of 
environmental and labor groups in our trade deliberations. Those who 
want to protect and enhance the role of working people in the global 
economy, and those who remind us that we dare not sacrifice our 
children's planet for present profits should be heard. Their voices and 
their concerns should shape, but cannot reverse, our emerging 
partnership. We can grow the economy and not only preserve but indeed 
improve the environment. We can have prosperity and indeed enjoy more of 
it if we assure that it is broadly shared.
    The benefits for America's workers and companies and consumers for 
expanding trade should make, in my judgment, a clear case for fast-track 
authority. I thank you for the support you have given it. I will 
continue to work hard with Congress to build support for fast-track. But 
let me say something to you that I am convinced of. There is not a 
majority in either House of the United States Congress for a return to 
misguided protectionism. What there is in the United States and in our 
Congress is what you have in every country in Latin America: there is a 
continuing and vibrant debate about how we're going to grow in the 
global economy in a way that gives everybody a chance to be a part of 
that growth and in a way that recognizes values that may not be built 
into today's market systems, like environmental preservation. And what I 
am doing my best to do is to persuade our Congress that walking away 
from what I believe to be a colossal opportunity with Chile and with the 
rest of our partners in Latin America is neither the best way to lift 
labor standards or to preserve the environment. But the debate is worth 
    So be patient with us. You may decide to have the debate yourselves 
before it's over in some other forum which may prevent some decision 
from being made as quickly as you would like.
    Winston Churchill once said that democracy was absolutely the worst 
system of government except for all the others. [Laughter] He also once 
said in a moment of frustration with our country that the United States 
invariably does the right thing, after having exhausted every other 
alternative. [Laughter] So just stay with us; we'll get there.
    But we must recognize, let me say again, that the combined force of 
globalization and technology have given us all economies in which a 
rising tide does not necessarily lift all boats. People without the 
right education, without training, without skills, without bargaining 
power can be stranded on yesterday's shore. And remember, some Latin 
democracies have not been that way all that long, and we cannot afford 
to have conditions in which ordinary people--the kind of people the 
President and I met with today--lose faith in the ability of this 
system, not only to produce wealth in the aggregate but to actually 
change their lives and to give their children better lives than they've 
had--if they work.
    So that--we have to continue to see the enhancement and broadening 
of democracy and free enterprise together. As we encourage more business 
contracts, we must also strengthen the social contract. For every 
citizen must believe that he or she can have a place in the future we 
are building together. Of course, the only place to start in such an 
endeavor is with our children and their education. It is the best path 
out of poverty, and it is very good for business' future.
    In order to do that, I might also add, we have to give every child a 
chance to go to school by making sure they're not in the workplace 
illegally. The United States is working with Central America to launch a 
new initiative to combat child labor while helping parents to find good 
jobs. Earlier this year, I asked our Congress for a tenfold increase in 
our investment to combat child labor abuses worldwide. I hope our 
neighbors will join us in that fight. Again, no one has a long-term 
interest in taking children who ought to be in school and putting them

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in the workplace. And over the long run, that will diminish a nation's 
wealth, productivity, and strength.
    We must do more to deepen democracy's roots with a free press, an 
honest, efficient judiciary, strong protections for existing laws on 
working standards. We have to work harder to reduce the gap between rich 
and poor, which has been widening in most industrialized and 
industrializing countries in recent years. We must continue the fight 
together against corruption, drugs, and crime. They erode the fabric of 
all our societies. And we must do more together to protect our 
    Harnessing the forces of globalization to work for all our citizens 
is literally a challenge for every nation in the world. I just got back 
from a long trip to Africa, and I saw the same thing in every country. 
It will be a major focus of the Summit of the Americas, thanks to the 
leadership of President Frei. It will be at the 
top of the agenda when the G-8 countries meet in Birmingham next month, 
because everybody knows we have to figure out how to do this. Those of 
you in business can help us lead the way.
    In the meeting that the President and I mentioned to you with small 
entrepreneurs and people who had gotten an education and worked their 
way out of poverty, a few moments ago, they didn't talk to us about the 
intricacies of trade, but they did understand education, child care, 
jobs, and access to credit. They will trust us in our respective 
countries to make these big structural decisions, and to make them 
right, as long as they feel that somebody is making some decisions that 
give them a chance to make their future along with ours. Working 
families in that sense, from Santiago to San Diego, may not be all that 
much different.
    I want our nations to work together. And let me say, I have been 
profoundly impressed by President Frei's 
commitment to improve and expand access to education. Chile has doubled 
its social spending since 1990, largely for education--more classrooms, 
longer school days, better access for disadvantaged children. Our 
agreement on education is quite substantive. We've agreed to exchange 
more students and teachers, to develop higher standards of learning and 
teacher training, to work to bring technology into every classroom. And 
I can tell you again, on every continent where I have been where 
education is a crying issue, and many children in small rural areas have 
no access to it, I see how we can skip a generation of development, 
painful development in education, if we make the most of today's 
    No country can do it without the active, aggressive partnership of 
the business community in every country, and I hope you will help 
President Frei in that regard. You can 
revolutionize the future of Chile's children if you do.
    Let me just make one other substantive point. I have had great 
conversations with the President about what I 
believe is the imperative for all nations to work together on the 
problem of climate change. In many developing economies, there is a 
reluctance to participate in trying to meet the goals announced at Kyoto 
in Japan last year, because many people believe that poor countries 
cannot become rich countries without emitting more greenhouse gases and, 
therefore, that any attempt by the developed countries like the United 
States, who are already big offenders in the greenhouse gases we emit, 
must be some dark conspiracy to hold others down.
    In the first place, that's bad economics, because the United States 
should want all of our trading partners to get wealthier. That is what 
is in our interest. No one is interested in that. But I can tell you 
this--I said before when the President and I had our press conference--
for 30 years, every time we have sought to improve the environment in 
America, someone has stood up and said, ``If you take this step to clean 
the air, to clean the water, to improve the health of the food supply, 
you will cost jobs and hurt the economy.'' And for 30 years, every 
single step we have taken to improve the environment has helped the 
American economy.
    We can reduce greenhouse gas emissions worldwide and grow the 
economy, and we need to do it in the most comprehensive way possible. I 
respect very much the President's leadership on 
that, but I will make you a prediction that those of us--our successors, 
whoever will be sitting here 15 years from now at a speech like this, 
representing your group, will be overwhelming concerned with the 
condition of the global environment and what it does or does not do for 
their ability to make a good living. So I hope we will deal with this 
now when it will be less painful, instead of waiting until later when it 
will be much more costly.
    Through bold commitments like the FTAA negotiations, to improve 
education, to work on

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strengthening our justice system and freedom of expression, our new 
hemispheric alliance against drugs, more work to alleviate poverty, the 
Santiago summit that President Frei is chairing 
is going to make a difference to the future of the Americas. We will 
leave the summit with a clear message to the world that Miami was not a 
one-shot effort, that we are broadening our cooperation, but that we 
intend to move forward with more determination across a broader range.
    I know that all of you will support that. What I ask you to do is to 
do all you can to make sure that everyone with whom you work and anyone 
with whom you have contact back in the United States understands what 
we're doing and why.
    In 1811, as Chile struggled for its independence, it chose to 
dedicate its national flag on July 4, which is our Independence Day, at 
a celebration held by United States citizens in Santiago, long, long 
ago. On that day, the American flag and the new Chilean banner were 
raised together in many public places, entwined with one another. At 
last, our partnership can fulfill the potential of those two entwined 
flags, for our goals and our dreams are clearly intertwined. We can make 
them real for tomorrow's generation; we can make the Americas a model of 
hope and unity for the world. We can do it if we follow the lead that I 
have seen set by this great President and this 
great nation. And we're glad to be here.
    Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 3:50 p.m. in the Teatro Municipal. In his 
remarks, he referred to Alex Fernandez, president, Chilean-American 
Chamber of Commerce; Walter Riesco, president, Confederation of 
Production and Commerce; and Mayor Jaime Ravinet of Santiago.