Building a Stronger Economy Through Free, Fair Trade
January 2000

Opening Markets So American Workers Can Compete Abroad
The United States has just four percent of the world’s population but 22 percent of its income; to maintain and expand our prosperity, we must sell to the other 96 percent of the world’s people. The more than 270 trade agreements concluded by President Clinton since he took office have helped us do just that. These include the Information Technology Agreement, which helps to eliminate tariffs on high technology products, and a landmark WTO agreement that will dramatically liberalize trade in telecommunications services. Since 1992, U.S. exports have increased 62 percent, in part due to market opening agreements like these.

Trade Has Contributed To Our Record Economic Expansion
Open markets, fiscal discipline and investments in education, health care, science and technology, have been the foundation of our strong, non-inflationary economic growth. Export expansion has accounted for more than one-quarter of the record U.S. economic growth between 1992 and 1998. The American economy has grown nearly twice as fast as those of all other G7 countries. Real industrial production in the U.S. is up over 34% since 1992, compared to a 4% gain for Germany and a 1 percent decline for Japan. American workers benefit too: from 1992 to 1998, export-related jobs paid 15 percent more on average than non-export-related jobs.

Reaching A Historic Market-Opening Agreement With China
After 13 years of negotiation, the Clinton Administration concluded an historic trade agreement that will open Chinese markets to American goods and hold the Chinese government to international standards. The agreement will significantly lower Chinese tariffs, and ensure fair treatment for both American businesses in China and American workers here at home. In the agreement China agreed to grant the United States new access to its markets, while the United States agreed to maintain the market access policies we already apply to China by granting it permanent NTR. China’s commitments are enforceable in the WTO and include specially negotiated rules. Highlights of the new agreement include:

  • Lower tariffs on U.S. priority agricultural products: Tariffs will drop from an average of 31% to 14% in January 2004. China will expand access for bulk agricultural products, permit private trade in these products, and eliminate export subsidies.

  • Industrial tariffs on U.S. products will fall from an average of 25% in 1997 to an average of 9.4% by 2005.
    Tariffs on information technology products such as computers, semiconductors, and Internet related equipment will decrease from an average of 13% to zero by 2005.

  • The agreement also opens China’s market for services, including distribution, insurance, telecommunications, banking, professional and environmental services.

Supporting American Agriculture Through World Trade
American agricultural production far outpaces domestic consumption, meaning that our farmers and ranchers rely on overseas markets to sustain their livelihoods. The Clinton-Gore Administration has worked to reach trade agreements, including the 1994 WTO Uruguay round. These agreements have improved market access for farmers and ranchers, reduced unfair trade practices, preserved our right to maintain the highest possible standards of food safety for consumers, and provided a strong and credible means of settling disputes. Today, the United States is the world's largest agricultural exporter, with $49 billion in exports expected this year. We also benefit from an $11 billion agricultural trade surplus. Agricultural exports support nearly 750,000 American jobs on and off the farm and exports represent approximately one quarter of total U.S. agricultural production.

Putting A Human Face On The Global Economy
The United States has worked to build a new consensus on trade by urging world trade institutions to move toward labor and the environmental standards. President Clinton has called for a Working Group on Trade and Labor to explore ways that can encourage countries to adopt core labor standards. And the President ratified a historic international convention that would ban the worst forms of child labor.

Working For A Healthy Environment And Strong Economy
President Clinton signed an Executive Order requiring careful assessment and consideration of the environmental impacts of trade agreements, including through detailed written reviews of major, environmentally significant trade agreements. The President also directed trade negotiators to pursue trade liberalization in a manner that is supportive of our commitment to high levels of protection for the environment.

Promoting American Exports
President Clinton and Vice President Gore created America's first national export strategy, reforming the way government works with the private sector to expand exports. The Trade Promotion Coordination Committee has been instrumental in improving export promotion efforts, coordinating our export financing, implementing a government-wide advocacy initiative, and updating market information systems and product standards education. The export strategy is working, with the United States regaining its position as the world's largest exporter.

Action To Help The Steel Industry
In his 1999 State of the Union speech, President Clinton reaffirmed his commitment to vigorously enforce our trade laws to ensure that our trading partners play by the rules saying "We must enforce our trade laws when imports unlawfully flood our nation." Through tough enforcement of trade laws and high-level negotiations with steel exporters, the President was successful in turning back the surge of imports, and key exporters have now reduced exports to pre-crisis levels. The Clinton-Gore administration also developed and released a Steel Action Plan to prevent future crises.

Working to expand trade benefits in Africa and the Caribbean
President Clinton has worked to build new economic relationships, and has called on Congress to pass the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act and the Caribbean Basin Trade Initiative. These agreements would broaden trade and investment with Sub-Saharan Africa and deepen ties with our Caribbean and Central American neighbors.


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