[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents Volume 35, Number 37 (Monday, September 20, 1999)]
[Pages 1727-1732]
[Online from the Government Publishing Office, www.gpo.gov]

Remarks to American and Asian Business Leaders in Auckland

September 12, 1999

    Thank you very much, and good morning. Ambassador Bolger, thank you 
for the fine introduction and for the years of friendship and 
cooperation we have enjoyed. Prime Minister Shipley, thank you for being 
here today and for making my family and me and our American group feel 
so welcome in New Zealand.
    Since this is the sort of economic engine of APEC, all of you, I do 
want to note that my mother-in-law and my daughter and I did our part to 
support the New Zealand economy yesterday, and we got some nice free 
press for doing it, in the newspaper. I appreciate that.
    I'd like to thank Jack Smith, who is up here with us, the CEO of 
General Motors, for his leadership, and those of the other American 
business leaders--John Maasland, the CEO of APEC; Ambassador Beeman. I'd 
also like to thank the American team who is here with me--our Secretary 
of State, Madeleine Albright; our Trade Representative, Charlene 
Barshefsky; National Security Adviser Sandy Berger; and National 
Economic Adviser Gene Sperling.
    I am delighted to be here in Auckland for the last gathering of 
Asia-Pacific leaders in the 20th century. We primarily deal with 
economic issues, but today, if you'll forgive me, I'd like to begin with 
a few comments about security issues, because the eyes of the world 
today, not just in Asia but throughout the globe, are on East Timor, 
where the people voted overwhelmingly for independence, where, I 
believe, Indonesia's Government did the right thing in supporting the 
vote, just as it did the right thing in holding its own free elections 
earlier this year.
    Now it is clear, however, that the Indonesian military has aided and 
abetted militia violence in East Timor, in violation of the commitment 
of its leaders to the international community. This has allowed the 
militias to murder innocent people, to send thousands fleeing for their 
lives, to attack the United Nations compound.
    The United States has suspended all military cooperation, 
assistance, and sales to Indonesia. I have made clear that my 
willingness to support future economic assistance from the international 
community will depend upon how Indonesia handles the situation from 
today forward. We are carefully reviewing all our own economic and 
commercial programs there. The present course of action is imperiling 
Indonesia's future, as well as that of the individual East Timorese.
    The Indonesian Government and military must not only stop what they 
are doing but reverse course. They must halt the violence not just in 
Dili but throughout the nation. They must permit humanitarian assistance 
and let the U.N. mission do its job. They must allow the East Timorese 
who have been pushed from their homes to return safely.

[[Page 1728]]

They must implement the results of the balloting, and they must allow an 
international force to help restore security.
    We are ready to support an effort led by Australia to mobilize a 
multinational force to help to bring security to East Timor under U.N. 
auspices. We all have a great deal at stake in the resolution of this 
crisis. We have a strong interest in seeing an Indonesia that is stable, 
prosperous, and democratic, the largest Muslim country in the world, a 
nation where soldiers are honored for their commitment to defend the 
people, not to abuse them--all of that has been called into question in 
the last few days. We don't want to see the will of the people 
overturned by violence and intimidation. And because the U.N. helped to 
organize the vote in East Timor, we have a special responsibility to 
help to see it through, to stand up to those who now break their 
promises to the international community.
    It is not just the people of East Timor who deserve a democratic 
future, though they do. It is not just the people of Indonesia who have 
embraced their own choices in a free election, though they, too, deserve 
a democratic future. We must help both the people of East Timor and the 
democratic process in Indonesia because the world community seeks to 
have the integrity of democracy protected everywhere. And today, again I 
say, the eyes of the world are on that tiny place and on those poor 
innocent, suffering people.
    I would also like to say just a couple of other words about security 
issues. I will meet here with President Kim and Prime Minister Obuchi to 
discuss peace and reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula. The people of 
North Korea need food and opportunities. They need engagement with the 
south and the chance for a brighter future. They do not need new 
weaponry that threatens the security of the region and the world.
    I would also like to say a word about China and the present tensions 
between China and Taiwan. The United States has enjoyed friendly 
relations with both China and Taiwan for some years now. Our policy has 
been rooted in our commitment to one China, our commitment to a peaceful 
resolution of the differences between China and Taiwan, our commitment 
to continuously expanding the cross-strait dialog. We have a clear 
policy enunciated in the three communiques and in our Taiwan Relations 
    I reaffirmed to President Jiang yesterday, and I will do what I can 
to support while I am here and after I leave here, the proposition that 
these peoples have too much at stake in a peaceful future, benefiting 
all their--all--their children to let the present difficulties 
deteriorate into a confrontation in which, in the end, all would suffer. 
I hope all of you, to the extent that you can, will reaffirm that 
    Let me say that, returning to economics, this is a much happier 
occasion than the last APEC meeting. I think the uniform of the day for 
the business people sort of illustrates that. [Laughter] Last year you 
might have met in straitjackets. [Laughter] But economies that were 
going downhill then, now seem to be clearly on the road to recovery.
    Just for example, South Korea's industry has produced 30 percent 
more this June than last. Its economy is expected to grow at least 6\1/
2\ percent this year. All over the region, key stock markets are now 
above pre-crisis levels, currencies are stronger, workers are going back 
to work.
    And for every one of you that had something to do with this 
recovery, I want to express my thanks to the businesses that had to 
tighten their belts, but pressed ahead; to the governments that had to 
pursue difficult, but vital reforms; to the international community 
which mobilized over $100 billion in assistance and applied it wisely; 
to the countries which, like the United States, kept our markets open to 
keep the crisis from becoming worse and to help it turn around more 
    Still, the consequences of the last couple of years have been quite 
severe. Far too many people lost their jobs, their businesses, and their 
dreams. There are longstanding concerns about stability, openness, human 
rights, and the environment which remain.
    Therefore, the main thing I want to say about economics today is 
that this is not a time for complacency. There is still hard work to be 
done and a great deal to be won on the eve of this new millennium.
    Here in Auckland, we should put APEC's weight behind the new trade 
round to be

[[Page 1729]]

launched at the WTO meeting in Seattle. We should continue to reform the 
global financial architecture. We must work together to promote 
stability, as well as peace.
    We, in the United States, knew when this crisis started that we had 
to work in all these ways. We have worked on the global financial 
architecture. We have worked to try to promote a new round of world 
trade. We also, remembering the awful experience of the Great 
Depression, worked hard to keep our markets open. For the first half of 
1999, our trade deficit was more than double what it was in the first 
half of 1997.
    But I think it is clear that that decision, even though it's 
somewhat controversial in the United States, was the right decision for 
American workers and for American businesses because we always need to 
be looking at the long term and the prospects of creating a global 
economy in which there is more trade, not less.
    With 45 percent of the world's trade, the APEC nations have a vital 
interest in whether we take this direction or not. We can lead the way 
to a stronger, fairer, world trade system just as we did with the 
information technology agreement 3 years ago with APEC. Our APEC 
ministers already have backed an ambitious trade agenda; now it's time 
for the leaders to follow suit.
    When we get to Seattle, we should then try to make APEC's agenda the 
world's agenda. We should be committed strongly to dramatic increase of 
market access in agricultural, industrial, and service areas. We should 
be committed to reaching some other agreements along the way during the 
process of the trade round--for example, to keep the information 
superhighway free of tolls, with a permanent moratorium on electronic 
commerce duties--to improve openness in government procurement, to speed 
up tariff liberalization in all the key areas we've identified. And I 
also believe we should be committed to completing the entire round 
within 3 years. Our citizens shouldn't have to wait any longer for 
governments to get a job like this done.
    A strong world trading system is good for all the nations of the 
region. It is certainly good for the United States, where about a third 
of our economic growth came from expanded trade until the Asian 
financial crisis. Over a third of our agricultural products are 
exported. One in 10 of our jobs depends on exports; millions more depend 
on our ability to import. In our country, we have had remarkable growth 
with low inflation, thanks in no small measure to greater competition.
    The world trading system will be even more beneficial as more 
nations commit to play by its rules. Yesterday I had a very good meeting 
with President Jiang. And China and the United States reaffirmed our 
commitment to China's entry into the WTO on commercially viable terms. I 
hope we can make it happen soon. I want to assure you--every one of 
you--that we are working hard to make it happen soon.
    I also believe strongly that our world trading system will grow in 
popular support if it supports our values. And I mean values that are 
generally shared by civilized nations across cultural, religious, and 
regional lines. Twice in the last year or so, I have gone to Geneva to 
talk about a world trading system for the 21st century and the 
importance of honoring our values when it comes to labor, when it comes 
to the environment, when it comes to the openness with which powerful 
bodies make their decisions.
    Just as we will continue to enforce our trade laws at home to ensure 
fair competition, we will continue to address what I believe are 
commitments all of our people really want us to embrace--to decent 
working conditions and to the health of the global environment.
    This will not be, however, about erecting new barriers, but about 
lifting the lives of all people. I am very pleased, for example, that 
the delegates at the International Labor Organization unanimously 
adopted a convention banning the worst forms of child labor.
    I am encouraged by our common commitment to address the challenge of 
global warming. Let me say this is still a very contentious issue among 
some developing and some developed countries. There are many developing 
countries that honestly believe that developed countries will use the 
whole climate change debate as a way of slowing economic opportunity for 
people in developing countries.

[[Page 1730]]

    I completely disagree with that. Those who hold this view believe 
that the only way to grow an economy in the 21st century is with the 
same energy use patterns we saw in the 20th century. But if you talk to 
Mr. Smith--and, Jack, I read your press in the morning paper today--and 
what did he say? He said there are three dramatic changes going on in 
the automobile industry. One is in commerce--GM sells its first car in 
Taiwan over the Internet. Two is that cars are becoming automated 
information, communications, and entertainment systems, self-contained. 
And three is that the internal combustion engine is being changed in 
fundamental ways. And before we know it, there will be both blended-fuel 
and alternative-fuel vehicles which will be emitting far less greenhouse 
gases into the atmosphere, in ways that accelerate economic growth 
rather than diminish it.
    So I'm going on--as you can see, I'm not looking at my text here; 
this is something I really believe. One of the central--the world works 
by adherence to our departure from big ideas. And we organize ourselves 
around them, and then people like you do real well when you figure out 
how to improve on them, modify them, find a little niche in which to 
move. But if you stay with a big idea that's wrong too long, no matter 
how good the rest of our creativity is, we all get in trouble. And no 
matter how hard we work, we get in trouble, because we work harder and 
harder and harder at the wrong things.
    So I just want to say--I only get to make one more of these 
speeches, and then I'll be gone. [Laughter] I'll be an ex big idea, 
right? It will be over. [Laughter] One of the big ideas the world has to 
abandon is the idea that the only way to build a modern, prosperous 
economy is with the industrial energy use patterns of a former era. It 
is not true.
    And when you look at the future of China, when you look at the 
future of India, when you look at all the other developing economies, 
and you imagine what you can do with the cell phone, with the Internet, 
and with alternative energy development, a lot of very poor places in 
Africa and Asia and other parts of the world can skip a whole generation 
of economic development unless we stay in chains to a big idea that is 
no longer true.
    I hope you will help to lead the way to bring the developing and the 
developed countries together around finding new technologies that will 
both improve the economy and the environment at the same time.
    Finally, let me say, I am very grateful that there is a growing 
recognition that the world trading system and the WTO itself should be 
more open and accountable. I think this is very, very important. I think 
that there's a lot of controversy about it from time to time on the 
specifics, but in the end, greater accountability and greater openness 
and greater involvement of all elements of society in these 
decisionmakings will build greater support for a global economic system.
    I'd like to say just a few words about the global economic 
architecture, if I might. I think there's a real danger that I sense 
growing of people to say, ``Well, things are fine now; we don't need to 
continue to do anything about the economics of the financial 
architecture.'' I think that's a mistake.
    The Asian financial crisis came after a high tide of capital washed 
into the region, often highly leveraged, flowing quickly into countries 
without adequate risk assessment. When the tide receded just as rapidly, 
if not more rapidly, it left behind a legacy of mounting debt, 
devaluation, and severe dislocation.
    For us in the United States, the crisis underscored our tremendous 
stake in the stability and success of Asia. It demonstrated how closely 
tied our economies had become. And as our Asian markets dried up, our 
companies, our banks, our workers, our farmers clearly felt the effects.
    We've been seeking new ways to help the international system 
moderate the cycle of boom and bust in much the way that individual 
economies have learned to do since the Great Depression. We are working 
more closely to make sure that all, including the developing economies, 
have a seat at the table, through new mechanisms like the financial 
stability forum. I just want to urge you all to keep this progress on 
    Emerging economies, of course, have work to do--they still have to 
continue to restructure their banking systems, make their corporations 
more accountable, reduce reliance

[[Page 1731]]

on short-term loans, encourage greater direct investment. Creditor 
nations must improve our own financial supervision and regulation so 
investors will assess risks more carefully and banks will lend more 
    The IMF now has special financing available to help a country head 
off a financial contagion--something we in the United States worked very 
had to set up--provided the country has maintained responsible economic 
policies. We must continue to develop such tools.
    Working with the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, we must 
also strengthen safety nets so people have unemployment insurance and 
job training, so that impoverished children are not the first and 
hardest hit victims of an economic downturn. We must, in short, continue 
our efforts to put a human face on the global economy--not because it is 
charity, but because it is the right thing to do from a humane, as well 
as from an economic standpoint. It is essential to the long-term success 
of the market. An active role for government is important not to 
restrain competition or to dictate the flow of investment, but to ensure 
fair dealing and a level playing field.
    New Zealand is leading efforts to broaden competition in domestic 
markets. The United States and other APEC partners are working with the 
private sector across the region to make it easier to move goods and 
services across borders. Our economies will work even better when we 
have stronger standards for disclosure by businesses and governments.
    One of our leaders made a comment the other day that I kind of 
wished I had made because I thought it was so clever. Speaking of the 
broad consensus for greater openness, President Estrada said, ``Now, 
when Alan Greenspan and the common people have the same view, we should 
listen.'' [Laughter] I don't know whether Mr. Greenspan liked that, but 
I liked it very much. [Laughter]
    Let me say in one last point, I think more openness, more honesty, 
more responsibility in our business dealings gives us a more supportive 
political system and, therefore, gives us better economic results. I 
don't believe nations can reap the full benefits of the technology 
revolution if the free flow of information is curbed, for example. I 
think entrepreneurs and investors will flee nations where the most 
lucrative deals are made in secret, where contracts aren't honored, 
where courts aren't fair, where creativity is stifled, where there are 
grievous worker complaints.
    Instead, I think they will be drawn to countries where there's 
fairness and openness and freedom, good education system, and broad 
participation in the prosperity of the nation. These things are 
important to all of us.
    So I say I'm glad you're here in these relaxed jackets instead of 
straitjackets this year. I'm grateful for what all of you have done to 
support APEC and its trade liberalization agenda and, specifically, to 
help lead the nations of Asia out of its financial crisis. But there is 
still a great deal for us to do together to expand trade, to strengthen 
the financial architecture, to strengthen the conditions among and 
within nations for success of the global economy with a human face, and 
to provide the basic framework of security without which economies 
cannot grow freely.
    On balance, I think one would have to be quite optimistic looking 
toward the new millennium. But I think we also would have to be quite 
sober in the price that we will pay if any of us should fail to fulfill 
our responsibility. If we work hard at the right things, our children 
will live in a much better world.
    Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 9:35 a.m. at the New Zealand National 
Maritime Museum. In his remarks, he referred to New Zealand Ambassador 
to the U.S. James B. Bolger; Prime Minister Jennifer Shipley of New 
Zealand; President Clinton's mother-in-law, Dorothy Rodham; U.S. 
Ambassador to New Zealand Josiah H. Beeman; President Kim Dae-jung of 
South Korea; Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi of Japan; President Jiang Zemin 
of China; and President Joseph Estrada of the Philippines.

[[Page 1732]]