• Fifth, that the nations of the world join the United States in not imposing any tariffs on electronic commercial transmissions sent across national borders. The revolution in information technology represented by the Internet is the greatest force for prosperity in our lifetimes; we cannot allow discriminatory barriers to stunt the development of this promising new economic opportunity. An electronic commerce work program was agreed to at the May 1998 WTO Ministerial. It will be reviewed at the 1999 ministerial meeting.
• Sixth, that all WTO members make government purchases through open and fair bidding and adopt the OECD antibribery convention. Prosperity depends upon government practices that are based upon the rule of law rather than bureaucratic caprice, cronyism or corruption.
• Seventh, that the WTO explore a faster trade negotiating process and develop an open trading system that can change as fast as the global marketplace. Positive steps include annual tariff and subsidy reductions in agriculture, greater openness and competition in the services sector, further tariff reductions in the industrial sector, and stronger intellectual property protection. Export Strategy and Advocacy Program
The Administration created America’s first national export strategy, reforming the way government works with the private sector to expand exports. The new Trade Promotion Coordination Committee (TPCC) has been instrumental in improving export promotion efforts, coordinating our export financing, implementing a government-wide advocacy initiative and updating market information systems and product standards education.
The export strategy is working, with the United States regaining its position as the world’s largest exporter. While our strong export performance has supported millions of new, export-related jobs, we must export more in the years ahead if we are to further strengthen our trade balance position and raise living standards with high-wage jobs. Our objective remains to expand U.S. exports to over $1.2 trillion by the year 2000, which will mean over 2.5 million new American jobs and a total of over 14.6 million jobs supported by exports. Enhanced Export Control
The United States is a world leader in high technology exports, including satellites, cellular phones, computers and commercial aircraft. Some of this technology has direct or indirect military applications. For that reason, the United States government carefully controls high technology exports through a licensing process involving the Department of Defense, the Department of State, the Commerce Department and other agencies. Changes to U.S. export controls over the last decade have allowed America’s most important growth industries to compete effectively overseas and create good jobs at home while ensuring that proper safeguards are in place to protect important national security interests.
The cornerstone of our export control policy is protection of our national security; but imposing the tightest possible restrictions on high technology exports is not always the best way to protect our security. In an increasingly competitive global economy, the United States retains a monopoly over very few technologies. As a result, rigid export controls increasingly would not protect our national security because the same products can be obtained readily from foreign sources. Rigid controls would make U.S. high technology companies less competitive globally, thus losing market share and becoming less able to produce the innovative, cutting-edge products for the U.S. military and our allies.
Our current policy—developed in the Reagan and Bush Administrations and continued by President Clinton—recognizes that we must balance a variety of factors. In the wake of the Cold War, the Bush Administration accelerated the process of moving the licensing of essentially commercial items from the State Department’s Munitions List to the Commerce-administered Commodity Control List in order to promote high technology exports by making license decisions more predictable and timely. In 1995, by Executive Order, President Clinton expanded the right of the Departments of Defense, State and Energy and the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency to fully participate in the decision-making process. Previously, these agencies reviewed only certain dual-use applications; as a result of the Executive Order, they have the right to review every dual-use application. If any of these agencies disagree with a proposed export, it can block the license and put the issue into a dispute resolution process that can ultimately rise to the President. As a result, reviews of dual-use licenses are today more thorough and broadly based than ever before.
While our export controls and the regulations that implement them have become easier for American exporters to follow, we have also enhanced our ability to identify, stop and prosecute those who attempt to evade them. For example, in fiscal year 1997 efforts of the Commerce Department’s criminal investigators led to over $1 million in criminal fines and over $16 million in civil penalties. We have significant enforcement weapons to use against those who would evade our export controls, and we are using them vigorously.
Finally, U.S. efforts to stem proliferation cannot be effective without the cooperation of other countries. To that end, we have strengthened multilateral cooperation through the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Missile Technology Control Regime, the Australia Group (for the control of chemical and biological weapons-related related items), the Chemical Weapons Convention, and the Wassenaar Arrangement, which through U.S. leadership is shaping multilateral export controls for the next century. These multilateral efforts enlist the world community in the battle against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, advanced conventional weapons and sensitive technologies, while at the same time producing a level playing field for U.S. business by ensuring that our competitors face corresponding export controls.
Providing for Energy Security
The United States depends on oil for about 40 percent of its primary energy needs and roughly half of our oil needs are met with imports. Although we import less than 10% of Persian Gulf exports, our allies in Europe and Japan account for about 85% of these exports, thus underscoring the continued strategic importance of the region. We are undergoing a fundamental shift away from reliance on Middle East oil. Venezuela is our number one foreign supplier and Africa supplies 15% of our imported oil. Canada, Mexico and Venezuela combined supply more than twice as much oil to the United States as the Arab OPEC countries.
The Caspian Basin, with potential oil reserves of 160 billion barrels, promises to play an increasingly important role in meeting rising world energy demand in coming decades. We have made it a priority to work with the countries of the region to develop multiple pipeline ventures that will ensure access to the oil. We are also working on several fronts to enhance the stability and safeguard the independence of these nations. While these developments are significant, we must remember that the vast majority of proven oil reserves lie in the Middle East and that the global oil market is largely interdependent.