Compilation of Weekly Presidential Documents - November 20, 2000 - Remarks and a question-and-answer session with the APEC business advisory council in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei

Monday, November 20, 2000


Volume 36, Issue 46; ISSN: 0511-4187


Remarks and a question-and-answer session with the APEC business advisory

council in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei



� November 15, 2000



� The President. Good morning, and thank you, Dr. Hamdillah. Your

Royal Highness, fellow leaders, Madam Ambassador, members of the

Business Advisory Committee. I thank you all for your support of

this process. And if I might, I'd like to say a special word of

appreciation to the three members of ABAC from the United States, Sy

Sternberg, Paul Song, and Ernie Micek.



� I appreciate what the private sector involvement has done for

APEC-for example, last year's auto dialog, which brought regulators

and firms together to lower trade barriers. I hope we can do the

same this year with the chemical industry dialog. I thank you for

your ideas and for your impatience, reminding us always that none of

these commitments made at APEC mean anything if we don't follow them

with actions.



� As you know, this has been a rather interesting week in the United

States. [Laughter] And as a result, I did not arrive here until late

last night. One of the things I think we have learned is that we

should all be very careful about making predictions about the

future. [Laughter] But I know I can safely predict that this will be

my last APEC Summit. [Laughter] I just don't know who will be here

next year. [Laughter]



� Let me say a few words about the organization, if I might. I

remember our first summit in 1993, the first leaders' meeting in

Washington State at Blake Island. Some of you were there. Before

that, APEC had been doing good work but in a low-key way, I think

largely unnoticed by many of the politic leaders among all the

countries here represented. I wanted to establish a mechanism to

bring together the leaders of the most economically dynamic region

in the world. I thought that together we could work to be better

prepared for a world that was becoming more and more integrated,

more and more interdependent, a world in which the Asia-Pacific

region was destined to play a larger and larger role.



� In 1993 we didn't use the word "globalization" very much, but that

is what we were preparing for. And I think we knew the process

inevitably would be about more than economics. By bringing our

economies and our societies closer together, I believed then, and I

hope all believe now, that we could advance not only prosperity but

the cause of human freedom and our common ability to avert conflict

in this vital part of the world.



� By inviting the APEC leaders to Blake Island, I wanted to send a

clear message, also, that Asia was even more important to the United

States after the cold war. I believe that our partnership with Asia

is stronger today than a decade ago and that Asia's future is




� There is no longer any doubt that our link to this region is

permanent, not passing. Our troops remain here as a force for

stability. We have renewed our alliance with Japan. We have worked

to preserve the peace in the two likeliest flashpoints of conflict,

the Taiwan Strait and the Korean Peninsula.



� In 1994, with our ally South Korea, we negotiated an agreement that

froze North Korea's production of plutonium for nuclear weapons. And

now President Kim Dae-jung has made his courageous journey of

reconciliation, for which he justifiably won the Nobel Peace Prize.



� We have encouraged China's historic choice to open its economy to

the world and applauded the similar choice made by Vietnam. I think

it is a fitting symbol of where the world is going that Vietnam now

chairs ASEAN, an organization originally created in part to contain




� In Indonesia, 200 million people are struggling to overcome recent

severe economic and political problems, but at least they now have

the chance to shape their own destiny. They have great resources and

great talent and a great future.



� I believe in these years, APEC has made a difference. I believe

these annual leaders summits and the business meetings associated

with them have made a difference. I hope very much that they will

continue indefinitely. I think it is very important for the leaders

to meet, to work together in an informal atmosphere. It creates a

much greater sense of community, and I think it's very important for

all of you to come here to help us work through practical problems

and keep the pressure on the political systems to move forward.



� Particularly after the hard economic times of 1997 and 1998, I

certainly hope we all know now we have a stake in each other's

success. We have,no interest in pitting one part of the region or

one trading bloc against another. We are managing our crises better,

and not just economic ones. Last year in New Zealand, for example,

we used the annual APEC leaders summit to forge the coalition that

ended the violence in East Timor.



� During the last 8 years, we have worked also to ensure that the

open world economy works as a means to raise living standards and

lower poverty for all nations. We've learned that meeting that

challenge requires more than the continued expansion of rulesbased

open trade. It also requires strong social safety nets, more quality

education, antipoverty efforts, and labor and environment standards

so that people believe that globalization is leading not to a race

to the bottom but to higher living standards for all who work hard

and are a part of it.



� In no part of the world has globalization been put to the test as

much as in Asia in these last few years. You have felt both its

great benefits and its temporary but brutal sting. On balance, the

global economy and more open markets clearly have been a positive

force in Asia and, indeed, around the world. That is not to downplay

the impact of the financial crisis or the abject despair it brought

to millions. It is also true that countries with more closed

economies did not suffer as much during the crisis, but those same

closed economies, isolated from the risks of the global economy,

have also been isolated from its fullest rewards.



� APEC has pushed all of us to seize those rewards. And the rewards

are clear. Per capita GDP in East Asia has doubled since 1990. Among

lower income economies in APEC, incomes have grown by 60 percent in

the last decade, even as they have shrunk for many less developed

countries outside APEC. In 1970, before economic expansion through

trade began, infants in this region were 5 times more likely than

today to die at birth. Children were 6 times more likely than today

to die before age 5.



� I think a fair reading of history is that the greatest Asian

financial crisis was not the brief one now coming to a close but the

one that lasted almost two centuries before Asia began to open its

economies to the world. Fifty years ago most of this region was

desperately poor. Many economists predicted that the country with

the best chance of success, because of its human and natural

resources, was Burma. In reality, the most successful countries were

not those which started with the biggest advantages but those that

made the most of the advantages they had by opening their markets

and ultimately their societies.



� That is why APEC has been a force for free markets. In our 1994

summit, we agreed to achieve free and open trade in the Asia Pacific

by 2010 for industrialized economies and by 2020 for developing

economies. We've been making steady, sector-by-sector progress. In

1988 more than half the APEC economies had average tariffs of 10

percent or more. Today, only four do. APEC exports have more than




� Of course, the region is not out of the woods. It would be a cruel

irony, indeed, if the recovery were to breed a complacency that

stalled the very changes making recovery possible. I believe we need

to meet four related challenges to keep the recovery and our share

of prosperity going.



� First, we must continue to modernize our economies by promoting

E-commerce and applying information technology to the full range of

economic activity, from agriculture to heavy industry to

transportation, to reduce costs and raise efficiency.



� To maximize potential, we must turn the digital divide among and

within our nations into digital opportunities. That will be a big

subject of this summit. Internet use is growing in the region, and

Asia is poised to participate in what will be a $7 trillion global

E-commerce market by the year 2005. At the same time, it has been

estimated that if we simply maintain the current rate of growth, in

11 of the 21 APEC economies the percentage of the population online

by 2005 will average just 4 percent, compared to an average of 72

percent in the top eight economies.



� As we discuss Internet access, we must also address the obstacles

to E-commerce. For example, being able to order a package online is

not enough if a competitive airline cannot fly it to you at low

cost, if it can't get through redtape at customs, or if there's no

delivery service to take it the final miles to your home. APEC has

encouraged all its members to make a comprehensive assessment of

their readiness for the information age. The assessment asked

questions about access to the Internet, about the reliability and

price of services, about the number of schools connected, about

local language content, about the business environment for

Ecommerce, about the protection of intellectual property, and a host

of other issues.



� Now that the roadblocks are being identified, we propose that

governments in this region and companies like yours launch pilot

projects to start removing them. I hope as many of you as possible

will participate. We cannot close the digital divide without your

efforts to provide distance learning, to donate software and

low-cost computers for villages, and to train people to use them. We

need initiatives like APEC's Knowledge Network, which is compiling

on one Internet site information on all the service companies-all

the services which companies are providing to help economies close

the digital divide.



� Now, people are talking about tripling the number of people online

in our region by 2005. With your help, I believe we can easily

quadruple the number and perhaps do even better.



� APEC has also agreed to adopt one test and one standard for all its

members to use to measure the safety and quality of computers,

agreed that only legitimately licensed software can be used in

government offices so companies can be more certain of their

copyrights, and to continue its moratorium on E-commerce duties.

That's a good step toward meeting the second big challenge we face,

to continue to open our markets to more trade and more investment.



� At this summit, the United States, Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, and

Singapore are announcing the first multilateral open-skies agreement

in the world, a model we hope others will emulate and join. APEC

members are also agreeing to post on the Internet our individual

action plans for reaching free trade in the region, so you can judge

our progress and, frankly, so you can put a little more pressure on

us to get it done. The most important thing we can do is to launch a

new trade round at the WTO. It ought to happen as early as possible

next year.



� A third challenge is to continue doing what we all said had to be

done in the wake of the recent financial crisis, to improve

transparency, to speed up financial restructuring, to strengthen the

rule of law, and to build more accountable political institutions.

That's easy to say and hard to do. But surely it can't be as hard as

living through another crisis. And the imperative for reform will

only grow as our economies become more and more intertwined.



� The challenge is especially profound for two nations in this

region, China and Vietnam. Both have signed trade agreements with

the United States as steps toward joining the WTO. For China and

Vietnam, these agreements are about much more than lowering tariffs;

they are declarations of interdependence, recognition that in a

global age no country can succeed without continuing to open up to

the world.



� Both agreements require far-reaching change, dismantling command

and control economies, giving people more access to information and,

ultimately, I believe, more freedom to use that information to shape

the decisions that affect their lives.



� A final challenge is to recognize that open markets alone cannot

guarantee the kind of growth that lifts everyone, as I said earlier.

We know we need strong safety nets, especially in regions like Asia,

with rapidly aging populations. We know we need to invest more in

education and spread access to education as broadly as possible. As

the private sector knows better than anyone, even if you have 100

percent literacy, every dollar you invest in education continues to

bring ever greater economic returns.



� We also need to fight the infectious diseases that kill people and

progress in too many of our nations. There will not be a lasting

recovery in Asia if Asia becomes the next epicenter of a global AIDS

crisis. But that could happen without concerted leadership.

Government cannot provide that leadership alone. Companies will have

to educate their workers; CEO's will have to add their voices to

those trying to destigmatize the disease. This is not someone else's

problem; it is all our problem. As APEC is recognizing, we must

fight it together.



� In short, we have a lot to do if we don't want this recovery to be

as fleeting as the latest Elvis fad in Japan. The good new is, we

know what to do. Painful experience has also taught us what not to

do. Experience has also taught us to have faith in this region's

capacity to overcome very great challenges. After all, how many

people foresaw a generation ago that Asia would grow so rapidly we

would be talking today about a Pacific century? How many people said

2 years ago that Asia's success was a thing of the past? The truth

is, the problems the financial crisis exposed were very real, and

they haven't all been solved yet. But the achievements and the

resilience of Asia's people are very real, too, and a lot has been

done in the last couple of years.



� The commitment of Asia's friends and the stake we have in Asia's

success is also real. That is what drives APEC. With your help, it

will keep us on the right path.



� These last 8 years have been a great honor and opportunity for me

to try to tie the United States firmly and forever in a very

positive way to the Asia-Pacific region. I think this work should

continue. I think the leaders' meeting should continue. I think the

involvement of the business community is essential.



� So I thank you for what you have done, and I hope that you will

continue to move forward on these four challenges.



� Thank you.



� Dr. Hamdillah Ha Wahab. It is, sir, a very rare opportunity for the

President of the largest economy in APEC to grace his presence in

this year's summit, hosted by the smallest economy of APEC.

[Laughter] And I would like to take this opportunity to invite our

CEO summit delegates to raise questions to the President of the

United States of America.



� Please.



� The President. I just want to say, after I saw this facility, I did

not believe this was a small economy. [Laughter] I have here with me

today the Secretary of State, our Trade Ambassador, Charlene

Barshefsky, as well as Secretary Albright and many other

distinguished people from the American Government, and I know

they're going to be pushing for us to build an outpost on the South

China Sea. [Laughter] Now, this is an amazing place.



� Does anyone have a question? Yes, sir. Integration of Technology

and Education



� Q. [Inaudible]-and we're here with some students

from-[inaudible]-and the United States, covering this event. And so,

on behalf of the students, I'd like to ask a question, and that is,

how do you feel APEC and the members of APEC can do a better job the

integrate technology and education?



� The President. Well, one of the things I think that-we're going to

be talking about that at this meeting, and it's one of the subjects

of the leaders' meeting. So I will answer that question, but I would

also just say to you, sir, if you and the students have any ideas

you want to share with us, this is the time to do it because it will

be a major focus of the discussions we have all day tomorrow.



� I think perhaps the most important thing we can do is to identify

what is now taking place in every country and to see whether or not

the best practices in each country can be spread to the others as

quickly as possible. I also think it's worth looking at what's being

done in some non-APEC countries that might have particular relevance

to the developing economies.



� I spent some time a few months ago in India, and I went out into a

couple of small villages, as well as being in some of the larger

cities. And in the State of Rajasthan, which is not one of the

wealthiest States in India, they will have a community computer

available to all the citizens and all the children of the community

within 3 years in every village in the State. In another State where

I was, they already have 18 government services on the Internet,

more than most American States do, I think.



� So I think what we need to do is to take-- look, the technology is

out there. We are going to have to have, as I said in my remarks,

more activity from the business community in donating both the

hardware, the software, and the expertise and a lot of things that

particularly are needed in the developing areas. But I think we

ought to make a commitment to quadruple access over the next 5

years. And I think we can do much better than that.



� But I think that it shouldn't just be E-commerce. There ought to be

a serious focus on the schools and having Internet access in the

schools and making sure the proper educational software is available

and that international communications are available among the

schools, which I think are quite important.



� Anything else? Yes, in the back.



� Asian Economic Integration



� Q. [Inaudible]



� The President. I think that there are inherent constraints on APEC

which-the EU is becoming a common economic unit, and I do think that

there will be more regional economic cooperation within Asia, as

well as more cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region in the future.

And I tried to make a very pointed reference to that in-my remarks.

I don't see the two things in conflict. And I know there are some

people who apparently believe that building a stronger Asia-Pacific

cooperative economic network is inconsistent with building greater

Asian economic integration. I simply don't agree with that.



� And I think that we make a grave mistake when we start to create

zero-sum games in the global economy. I think it's a mistake; it

ought to be avoided at all costs.



� Now, I do think that we should look at ways in which this

organization could be stronger and more effective in actually

pushing for the changes that we recommend. But you know what the

problems are. I mean, many of you agree that we ought to do certain

things, but the things that you think we ought to do are politically

difficult for some nations to do once the leaders go back home and

have to deal with the political reality on the ground.



� So I think one of the most important things that perhaps could be

done is an examination of what the business community both within

countries and beyond countries could do to support the political

leaders who are willing to try to make the changes that we all think

ought to be made. Because it's very easy for us to come to this

beautiful place and recommend all these changes, and these changes

may well be beneficial to all the business people represented here

from all the countries. But it doesn't mean that they can be made

painlessly by political leaders when they go back home.



� So I think one of the things I'd like to see all of you discuss is

what you could do not only to put more pressure on the leaders here

once a year but what you could do to provide more systematic support

to the leaders who are prepared to make these tough decisions who

live in the countries where the decisions are indeed difficult to




� Yes.



� Next President and the Trade Agenda



� Q. [Inaudible]



� The President. Well, without commenting on what kind of leadership

we will have in the other countries, which I think is inappropriate

for me to comment on and also not possible to predict, one of the

things that both Vice President Gore and Governor Bush agreed on in

this election is that the United States should continue its strong

leadership for a more integrated global economy and for expanded

trade. And as nearly as I could tell, there was virtually no

disagreement on that, except that there were disagreements about the

extent to which we also ought to push the trade-plus agenda, if you

will, that I've been talking about for the last several years. But

on the question of leadership for trade, I think the world can rest

easy because both our candidates made strong commitments to do that.



� Yes, sir.



� Post-Presidential Plans



� Q. [Inaudible]-NAFTA and trade relations with China, but I have a

question to ask you. You're still young, articulate, intelligent,

and the President of the United States. What do you do now?




� The President. Well, now I have a United States Senator to support.

I understand that's an expensive proposition. [Laughter] I don't




� Let me just say that the important thing for a former President, it

seems to me, is to find a way to be a useful citizen of both my

country and the world and to continue to pursue the things that I

think are most important to making the world a better place but to

do it in a way that does not get in the way of my successor.



� The United States can only have one President at a time, and it's

very important to me that I continue to be active in the things that

I care about-many of which I was talking about here today-in a way

that is respectful of the fact that the country has a new President,

and the people need to bond with the new President, and the new

President needs to establish his relationships and role in the




� But I think I can find a way to do that. So I'll be around. But I

also have to support a Senator, and I'm going to do my best to do

that, as well.



� Thank you very much. Thank you.



��NOTE: The President spoke at 11:25 a.m. in the Ballroom at the

Empire Hotel. In his remarks, he referred to Hamdillah Ha Wahab,

chairman, APEC-CEO Summit 2000; Prince Abdul Qawi of Brunei; U.S.

Ambassador to Brunei Sylvia Stanfield; Sy Sternberg, Paul Y. Song,

and Ernest S. Micek, U.S. members, APEC Business Advisory Council;

President Kim Dae-jung of South Korea; and Republican Presidential

candidate Gov. George W. Bush.




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