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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
April 27, 2002
Radio Address of the President to the Nation
The Bush Ranch
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. This week, Americans had some good news about strong growth in our economy, yet we cannot be content or complacent. Job creation and business investment are still not what they should be. We want short-term recovery to become long-term expansion. And one of the best ways to encourage high-paying jobs and long-term growth is expanded trade.
I'm pleased that the United States Senate is set to begin an important debate on trade legislation that will help American workers and farmers and consumers. I have traveled around the country and seen the value of trade, and foreign leaders have told me how trade will strengthen security and economic growth in our hemisphere.
The benefits of greater trade are beyond dispute. During the 1990s, U.S. exporters generated about one-quarter of our economic growth through the sale of American goods abroad. Trade boosts our productivity and creates higher-paying jobs. The latest global trade agreement and NAFTA have improved the average standard of living for an American family of four by up to $2,000 a year.
Now is the time to build on this record of success. The Senate should pass the pending trade legislation without delay. Trade promotion authority would give me the flexibility to negotiate with other countries to open their markets and get the best deals for American producers and workers. Congress would still have the final up or down vote on any trade agreement. The previous five Presidents have had this authority; it expired eight years ago. And, since then, America has sacrificed its traditional leadership role in trade.
For two decades, trade promotion authority was a bipartisan commitment. It was a commitment because it represented our national interest in expanded foreign markets. More than 150 trade agreements exist throughout the world. The European Union is party to 31 of them, and Mexico to 10. The United States is party to just three. Passage of the TPA will give America's entrepreneurs and workers and farmers and ranchers a fair shot at the markets of the world.
The Andean Trade Preference Act is a good example of how trade can also help increase the security of America. Over the past 10 years, this law has given the four Andean nations more access to our markets, which they report has created 140,000 jobs. The law has also helped provide an economic alternative to the production of drugs. We need to renew and expand the Andean Trade Preference Act as soon as possible. If we fail to act before May 16th, 90 days worth of import duties will come due, raising prices for American consumers and hampering the region's economic development.
I recognize that some American workers may face adjustment challenges as a result of trade. I support helping these workers by reauthorizing and improving trade adjustment assistance programs that will give workers impacted by trade new skills, help them find new jobs quickly, and provide them with financial assistance.
Nearly five months have passed since the House of Representatives approved trade promotion authority and the Andean trade legislation. Every day we go without expanding trade is another day of missed opportunities to strengthen our economy.
The Senate must act and affirm America's trade leadership in a bipartisan manner. We cannot let this initiative fall victim to partisan politics. Our trading partners are waiting for us. American workers are depending on us. And America cannot afford further delay.
Thank you for listening.