Remarks on Free and Fair Trade to Members of the United States Information Agency Volunteer International Council
Thank you all very much, and welcome back to the White House. I would like to begin by thanking Charlie Wick for bringing you all together today. As many of you know, Charlie has served as Director of the USIA longer than any other Director in our history. And Charlie's been not only a trusted adviser but a good personal friend. Thank you, Charlie.
it's my job just now to say a few words. But whenever I'm asked to speak after
lunch, there's a certain story that comes to mind. It dates back to ancient
you know, I'll be leaving on Sunday for
trade will, of course, represent a topic of central concern at the
the news this week of continued improvement in the American trade deficit is
encouraging and welcome. But consider what the trade deficit arose from: the
unparalleled American economic expansion, now in its sixth year; and the
openness of the American market to foreign exports. These two factors have
generated export-led economic growth in
our administration, working with Congress, eliminated many, but not all, of the
protectionist measures from the recent omnibus trade bill. And I'm looking
forward to signing an improved version of this bill as soon as Congress sends
me a bill that will strengthen
Now, I don't want to say a great deal about this matter of the world agricultural trade crisis. You'll be hearing a great deal about it as the negotiations progress this year. But there's a simple rule that's as true in agriculture as in any other endeavor: When you tax something, you get less of it, and when you subsidize something, you get more of it. It so happens that this year the world's industrialized nations are subsidizing agriculture to the tune of $200 billion a year. Is it any wonder there are world surpluses of so many crops or that so many markets for agricultural goods have become so distorted? Our position on this is simple: By the year 2000, all subsidies and market barriers that distort trade in agriculture should be eliminated -- all of them. Is that a tall order? You bet. But we've filled tall orders before. In fact, the European press has given our position on agricultural subsidies a nickname that sort of appeals to me. They've started calling it the zero option. [Laughter]
I've enjoyed economics ever since I started studying it during my college days. And, no, it's not true that I was able to tell you the story of the prisoners and the lions because I was an eyewitness. [Laughter] But there's one quotation about world trade that I especially cherish. It comes from the 18th century French economist Frederic Bastiat, who wrote that protectionism ``is the sacrifice of the consumer to the producer, of the end to the means.'' And I guess that's what a belief in free trade comes down to: keeping the ends in view. The ends of continued world growth, that the lives of individuals -- of men and women and children -- might become even better. Those are the ends that brought me to this high office, and those are the ends I'll continue to fight for until the very day I leave this grand old house.
I appreciate the personal commitment that each of you has made to be a part of the USIA International Council. Through you, the business and opinion leaders of the world, we are better able to understand international perceptions of our country and directly communicate our message. And again, I thank you all, and thank you for being here, and God bless you all. You'll forgive us, but we've got to get back to work.
Note: The President
spoke at following a luncheon in the East Room at the White House.
The Council examined overseas perceptions of