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 Home > News & Policies > August 2002

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
August 1, 2002

Excerpt from the August 1, 2002 Press Briefing by White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer

Click here for the full transcript

QUESTION: Ari, I have two questions for you on trade promotion authority. First of all, you sounded very optimistic today that things are going well. In case the President gets the Senate approval before he goes to Crawford, Texas, would he have a bill signing ceremony here, just like he did?

MR. FLEISCHER: No, I think that the bill won't be ready and enrolled and sent to us. And in any case, I don't think we need to move that quickly on the signing. I think you may hear from the President about how important this is, perhaps tomorrow, in terms of -- this is a singular, major accomplishment. And let me tell you what will follow as a result of free trade agreement -- free trade -- trade promotion authority being given to the President now.

There are several agreements that are trying to be negotiated around the world. Without trade promotion authority the President's hands are tied, he can only negotiate one country at a time. Most of the big trade agreements that lead to the most jobs for America's workers are the broader agreements that involve multiple countries.

Following the effort in Seattle back in the mid- to the late 1990s to negotiate a worldwide trade agreement, the Seattle talks, as everybody remembers, broke down. In Doha in 2001, through Ambassador Zoellick's work, the talks were successful. What's necessary now is to move beyond those Doha first round of talks and now implement a worldwide trade agreement. And Ambassador Zoellick stands ready, once the President has trade promotion authority, now to implement that on a multi-country basis.

The Free Trade Agreement of the Americas is another important regional trade initiative that is standing by, ready to be acted upon, if trade promotion authority can be granted to the President. Then, of course, these agreements would have to be submitted to the Congress for a straight up or down vote. They would not be amendable. That's one of the key strengths of trade promotion authority.

The bottom line of all these fuzzy sounding global agreements is more opportunities for the American people to market the products and the services they make abroad. The more foreigners buy American products, the more jobs there are for the American people. That's the strength of the Senate action today.