Step to Expand Trade & Create Jobs
World Affairs Council National Conference
Organization of American States
January 16, 2002
6:30 P.M. EST
Well, thank you for that very warm welcome. It's such a pleasure to be here
tonight for this gathering. I want to thank the World Affairs Council for promoting
citizen interest in global issues -- especially an interest in our own hemisphere
and its importance to our country.
Eldon, thank you very much for your fine introduction. Back stage he was wondering
whether or not I could understand his accent. I said, that's not the problem,
the problem is can you understand mine? (Laughter.)
I want to thank Jerry Leach, as well. I want to thank the leadership here at
the OAS. Cesar, thank you very much for your continued hospitality and leadership.
It's good to see my friend, Luigi, again. I want to thank Enrique Iglesias,
as well. I want to thank members of my Cabinet who are here, in particular,
Mel Martinez, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Thank you, Mel.
I'm pleased to see Roger Noriega, el Embajador de los Estados Unidos a la OAS,
for being here. Thank you, Roger. (Applause.)
A new member of my team is Otto Reich, Assistant Secretary for the Western Hemisphere.
I appreciate Otto being here. (Applause.)
And, of course, I want to thank members of my National Security Council who
are here, Condi Rice and John Maisto, for their sound and solid advice. Thank
you all for coming. (Applause.)
In September of last year, I welcomed my good friend, the President of Mexico,
to the White House. Standing together on the South Lawn, President Fox and I
spoke of building a hemisphere of freedom and prosperity and progress. That
was five days before the terrorists attacked the peace and security of the world
-- murdering thousands of citizens from over 80 nations, including almost every
nation in this hemisphere.
Since the attacks, the United States has received incredible sympathy and support
from our neighbors and friends. I've been in close contact with democratic leaders
such as Prime Minister Chretien, and President Fox, and President Cardoso, President
Lagos and President Toledo, to name a few. We've been talking on a regular basis
about our common interests. Democratic leaders throughout the Americas have
offered help and wisdom, friendship, and even peacekeepers, and for that this
country is very grateful.
The nations of the Western Hemisphere are resolved. We refuse to live in fear,
so we will fight terror wherever it is exists. And we're committed to building
a prosperous and free and democratic hemisphere. Nothing will distract us, nothing
will deter us, in completing this great work.
We meet, however, at a time when there are some who question the path to prosperity
and stability. Some wonder whether free market reforms are too painful to continue.
Some question the fairness of free and open trade, while holding out the false
comfort of protectionism. And there is even greater danger -- that some may
come to doubt democracy itself.
Our answer to these questions and doubts must be clear and it must be consistent:
The hopes of all our peoples, everybody who lives in this hemisphere, no matter
where they live --lie in greater freedom. Free markets and open trade are the
best weapons against poverty, disease and tyranny. And democracy is the non-negotiable
demand of human dignity.
The future of this hemisphere depends on the strength of three commitments:
democracy, security and market-based development. These commitments are inseparable,
and none will be achieved by half-measures. This road is not always easy, but
it's the only road to stability and prosperity for all the people -- all the
people -- who live in this hemisphere.
Our first commitment is to democracy and political freedom. This is affirmed
in the Democratic Charter of the Americas, which holds this: only democracies
can be part of our inter-American dialogue and system. And these governments
cannot be democratic in name only. Citizens and businesses must know that the
town hall -- the alcaldia -- is free from bribery, and cronyism and all forms
of corruption. These old attitudes and habits are a form of theft, stealing
from people their money and their trust, and their hopes for a better life.
For freedom and prosperity to come, corruption must go. Freedom -- the freedom
to vote, the freedom to speak your mind, the freedom to worship and Almighty
God, the freedom to own your own property -- is the great idea of our time;
it is the great idea of all time. And by building governments that are more
open and honest and fair, we will make freedom more meaningful for all our citizens.
Our second commitment is to security, security against acts of terror. It is
the great calling of the 21st century. And I can assure you this nation will
not tire, we will not fade. We'll be resolute in our determination to rout out
terror wherever it exists -- in our neighborhood or neighborhoods around the
world. Security against the lawless violence of drug cartels and their accomplishments
-- accomplices. Our citizens must know that they can exercise their freedoms
in security and in peace.
And that is why, for example, the United States, Canada and Mexico are cooperating
in unprecedented ways to build "smart borders" for the 21st century
that ensure safety for ordinary people and trade, but filters out terror and
And that is also why the United States remains committed to helping nations
like Colombia defend her democracy. Colombia and the Andean nations are strengthening
law enforcement, reducing illegal crops, and expanding legitimate business opportunities
as viable alternatives to drug farming and drug trafficking. The United States
Congress and I recently approved $625 million to support these efforts. America
will help all nations in the region in cutting off the supply of drugs. And
just as importantly, America will help the nations of the regions by reducing
the demand for drugs within our own borders. (Applause.)
Our third commitment is to growing and stable economies where the benefits of
growth are widely shared; economies where small business owners, and farmers
and workers and investors are all able to build and earn their own prosperity.
We must foster policies that reward, not punish, entrepreneurship, work and
creativity. We understand that sustained development depends on market-based
economies, on sound monetary and fiscal policies, and freer trade in our neighborhood.
Recent events in Argentina do nothing to change this reality. America is deeply
concerned about the difficulties facing our ally and our friend; and we're deeply
concerned about the effects of the economy on Argentina's great people. We share
ties of commerce and culture and family. America is hopeful that Argentina will
get through these tough times. It was an encouraging sign that the President,
on taking office, expressed a desire to pursue a Free Trade Area of the Americas.
Argentina -- and nations throughout our hemisphere -- need to strengthen our
commitment to market-based reform, not weaken it. Shortcuts to reform only lead
to more trouble. Half-measures will not halve the pain, only prolong it.
The United States is prepared to help Argentina weather this storm. Once Argentina
has committed to a sound and sustainable economic plan, I will support assistance
for Argentina through international financial institutions. This assistance
can soften the impact of the crisis on the lives of the Argentine people, and
help their country return to growth and prosperity.
Success in the global economy comes to countries that maintain fiscal discipline,
open their borders to trade, privatize inefficient state enterprises, deregulate
their domestic markets, and invest in the health and education of their people.
And those who promise painless protectionism or security through statism, assure
a bleak and stagnant future for their people.
Countries that stay on the hard road of reform are rewarded. Just look at Chile.
Chile has cut its poverty rate in half over the last decade. It has cut its
child mortality rate by almost two-thirds since 1980. Mexico withstood the setbacks
of the mid-1990s, and its economy has grown by more than 4 percent annually
since 1996. Costa Rica's emphasis on education and attracting foreign investment
has transformed its economy over the past decade. Costa Rica's exports of computer
products are now almost four times greater in value than its banana exports,
and nearly eight times greater than its coffee exports.
My nation is no stranger to the difficulties of reform and restructuring. A
generation ago, our government made a mistaken and failed experiment with wage
and price controls. Later, during the 1970s and 1980s, millions of our workers
were displaced as our industries adapted to the demands of a new global economy.
We've grown through the pains of recession, inflation and unemployment by strengthening
our commitments to markets, by enacting sound monetary and fiscal policies,
and by embracing free trade. In the end, each of these challenges made us stronger
and more prosperous. With all its tests and difficulties, a faith in freedom
is never disappointed.
This belief in markets is justified within our borders, and beyond them. Open
trade and investment bring healthy, growing economies, and can serve the cause
of democratic reform. From the success of NAFTA, we know these are facts, not
Acting on this belief, we went to Doha, and strongly support a new global trade
In this region, we are acting on a number of fronts. We're working to build
a Free Trade Area of the Americas, and we're determined to complete those negotiations
by January of 2005. We plan to complete a free trade agreement with Chile early
this year. And once we conclude the agreement, I urge Congress to take it up
quickly. And I ask the Senate to schedule a vote, as soon as it returns, on
renewing and expanding the Andean Trade Preference Act. (Applause.)
Today, I announce that the United States will explore a free trade agreement
with the countries of Central America. (Applause.) My administration will work
closely with Congress toward this goal. Our purpose is to strengthen the economic
ties we already have with these nations; to reinforce their progress toward
economic and political and social reform; and to take another step toward completing
the Free Trade Area of the Americas.
All of these efforts depend on one thing: Congress must pass trade promotion
authority. (Applause.) The House of Representatives acted. In the Senate, the
Finance Committee has given its strong bipartisan approval. Now it's time for
the full Senate to approve trade promotion authority, so I can put it to work
for the good of America -- and all of the Americas.
Markets and trade, development and democracy, rely on healthy and educated people.
Therefore, we are also working to bring better health care and greater literacy
to the nations of our hemisphere. The United States' funding for international
basic education assistance programs this year will be over 45 percent higher
than last year. And this spring, the first of our regional teacher training
centers will open in Jamaica. Additional centers will be operating in South
and Central America by year's end.
I have called upon the World Bank and other development banks to increase the
share of their funding devoted to education. The Inter-American Development
Bank has significantly increased this share over the past year. All the development
banks should keep moving in the direction of making sure our neighborhood is
I've also urged the World Bank to provide up to 50 percent of its assistance
to the world's poorest nations in the form of grants rather than loans -- grants
for education, for health, for nutrition, for water supplies and for sanitation.
To this end, my next budget will include nearly $50 million increase in aid
to the World Bank programs that assist the poorest countries. If the Bank demonstrates
it can use the funds to achieve measurable results and helps move forward reform,
I'm prepared to consider requesting increases over $100 million in each of my
subsequent budgets. This would mean that the amount -- the annual U.S. contribution
to these World Bank programs would be 30 percent higher than three years ago.
This hemisphere is on the path of reform, and our nations travel it together.
We share a vision -- a partnership of strong and equal and prosperous countries,
living and trading in freedom. Together, we will defend that vision against
lawlessness and violence. We will assert it against terrorism and protectionism.
Especially in times of adversity, we'll maintain our vision, because it unleashes
the possibilities of every society and recognizes the dignity of every person.
Together -- and I mean together -- we will build and defend this hemisphere