President Clinton recently transmitted to the Congress the "Export Expansion and Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act of 1997." This proposal is designed to renew "fast-track" procedures for trade agreements requiring congressional approval and implementation as well as to renew the President's authority to proclaim tariff reductions in return for tariff reduction commitments by U.S. trading partners.
The proposal reactivates a partnership between the President and the Congress that dates back over 6 decades. Recognizing that the high protective U.S. tariff walls it established in 1930 had only served to deepen the Depression, the Congress 4 years later enacted the first reciprocal trade agreements act. In that act, the Congress gave the President authority to negotiate mutual tariff reductions with our trading partners. The Congress renewed that authority repeatedly over the years, and successive Presidents used the authority to dramatically reduce tariff barriers around the world.
"Fast track," first put in place under the Ford Administration, is a further expression of the partnership between the President and the Congress in bringing down barriers to U.S. exports. Under fast track the Congress and the President work together, ensuring that the United States can effectively negotiate away foreign tariff barriers to U.S. products as well as non-tariff barriers -- such as quotas, protectionist product standards, and subsidies -- which foreign governments have increasingly substituted for tariffs to exclude U.S. products. Fast track lapsed along with most of the President's tariff reduction authority 3 years ago.
Remarks at Tropical Shipping Warehouse
Statement by the President on Scheduling of House Vote on Fast Track Legislation
Remarks to the "Democratic Leadership Council"