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Public Papers - 1990

Remarks at the Presentation Ceremony for the ``E'' Star Awards

1990-05-23

To distinguished Members of Congress and other guests, welcome to the White House. It's a pleasure to have two of our administration's top trade team people here today: Secretary Bob Mosbacher and Ambassador Carla Hills. These two are working every single day, day and night, to open markets for American goods and services. And in my view, they're successful, and I am grateful to both of them. And I also want to single out Susan Engeleiter, head of the SBA here; and all Members of the Congress, once again, welcome.

For American business, confronting protectionist barriers is like having a door shut rudely in your face. And more and more, American business is looking to Carla to open the door and Bob to help them through it. But in the end, it is up to American business to step beyond the open door to enter foreign markets, and that's why I'm here today to present the ``E'' Awards, honoring American firms that have been such outstanding competitors abroad. Later on I'll let you know what the ``E'' stands for, but first -- it does not stand for Elvis, I was asked to point out. [Laughter]

Before I get to the awards, let me talk trade. I believe the protectionist path leads to closed markets, lower living standards, unemployment in our country; and so, our direction is to open markets, expanding trade, and negotiating a set of clear and enforceable rules to govern world trade. And this is the path to prosperity and growth and high employment, and that's why my top trade priority for this year is an ambitious multilateral agreement. We must conclude that Uruguay round of global trade talks by December. And unfortunately, world trade has outgrown the rules of the GATT, of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, that served us so well for four decades.

The United States and almost a hundred other nations, representing more than 85 percent of the world's trade, are working with us to revise and improve GATT's rules. And this is what we're striving to achieve: First, we seek to reform agricultural trade, a market inadequately covered by GATT rules and badly distorted by subsidies and trade barriers that cost farmers and consumers alike hundreds of billions of dollars. There simply cannot be a successful conclusion to the Uruguay round without fundamental agricultural reform. Second, we want to expand market access. We challenge our trading partners to join us in creating a world of sharply reduced tariffs. Thirdly, the United States wants to curb hundreds of billions of dollars of trade-distorting subsidies. And we believe that entrepreneurs should compete on the basis of price and quality, not on the basis of government's deep pockets. Fourth, we want to ensure that the rules we have and those that we are negotiating apply to developing countries so these countries are no longer at the margin of the trading system. Fifth, we want to develop fair rules for new areas -- services, investment, intellectual property -- not covered under current GATT rules. Sixth and finally, we want to create swift and effective means to resolve trade disputes.

All told, we're striving to incorporate roughly trillion worth of goods and services, a third of the world's trade, that is not sufficiently covered by rules of fair play. In our efforts, we will, of course, work closely with our friends in the Congress and the business community as well, especially the private sector advisers, many who are here today. But time is short; our task is great. I call on our trading partners to move these negotiations forward at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development meeting this month and at our Houston economic summit in early July.

This round of GATT is an ambitious undertaking, the last, best chance for the world to enter the next century with free and fair trade for all. So, let me be blunt: To the United States, no agreement is better than a bad agreement.

Even as we're driving at full speed to complete the round, the United States is also making progress in market-opening negotiations with Japan, in keeping the flow of goods and services open with Canada and Mexico, by intensifying our dialog with the dynamic states of the Pacific rim, and by ensuring that America will have access to Europe after creation of this historic single market in 1992.

We're also negotiating trade and investment agreements with the democratic governments of Eastern Europe and engaging in market-opening initiatives with Latin America. They stand to reap enormous gains from the Uruguay round and other steps to integrate their economies into this big global trading system; but the United States will also gain from their new found freedom to invent, to invest, and to imagine. Our objective is to anchor these countries in the ideal of freedom -- economic as well as political freedom. And so, we're striving for free trade not just because it is good for America but because it is good for all mankind.

As the winds of freedom blow down old barriers and liberalize markets from Managua to Warsaw, we must be prepared to take advantage of this historic opportunity to compete and to win. And that's why today I directed the Economic Policy Council to undertake a Commercial Opportunities Initiative to encourage American business to move competitively into foreign markets. The EPC will implement this initiative through a working group called the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee, TPCC, to be chaired by Bob Mosbacher, our Secretary of Commerce. This Committee will for the first time harness all the resources of the Federal Government to serve American exporting businesses. It will provide a focal point for business and industry in the markets of the world's emerging democracies. And I'm also directing the Committee to promote U.S. businesses in new or neglected markets through official Presidential trade missions, missions to be headed by the Secretary of Commerce.

And so, that is an overview of our trade picture. And now for the ``E'' Awards, a word. At the height of the Second World War, ``E'' Awards were presented to those war plants in recognition of excellence in production. In a time of peace, we used the ``E'' symbol to celebrate excellence in American exports. And as it turns out, this is a very appropriate time to confer these awards.

You see this week, the Commerce Department is joining with State and local governments, international trade groups, and universities throughout the Nation to celebrate World Trade Week. And this week, I think we really have something to celebrate: last Thursday's announcement that U.S. exports in March hit .3 billion -- a record high.

And this is yet another sign that America remains a superpower in world trade. But America's exporting strength is no accident, as all of you here today know. It's the result of the hard work of leaders like our Secretary of Commerce and our dynamic Trade Representative, Carla Hills, here with us here today, but first and foremost, it's because of the leadership of the American worker, the American farmer, the American entrepreneur.

You and all the other ``E'' and ``E'' Star Award winners that we honor today started the decade off in a winning spirit. And you've done something more than just represent your firms: you've represented American drive and creativity to the world. And for that, you have our gratitude and my congratulations and my thanks.

And so, it's a pleasure now to join Bob and Carla in presenting this prestigious award for exporting excellence to 11 outstanding companies that have earned the highest level ``E'' Award, the ``E'' Star. And now, Bob, if you will take over from here.

[At this point, the awards were presented.]

Thank you all very much. Thank you for coming, and congratulations to all these winners. Now everybody else go out there and work harder. Thanks a lot.

Note: The President spoke at 2:04 p.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Susan S. Engeleiter, Administrator of the Small Business Administration. The ``E'' Star Award was presented to the following individuals: Jan R. Endresen, president of Aerotech World Trade Corp.; Harvey L. Herer, president of the American Bureau of Collections; William P. Farrell, president of the American Hardware Manufacturers Association; William E. Fisher, chief operating officer of Applied Communications, Inc.; J.S. Brown III, president of Bruce Foods Corp.; Jonathan M. Kemper, president of Commerce Bank of Kansas City; Robert W. Reid, Jr., president of the Jacobsen Division of Textron, Inc.; Bill Aossey, Jr., president of Midamar Corp.; Dan Williams, president of the Mid-South Exporters' Roundtable; Herman Proler, chairman of the board of Proler International Corp.; and William F. Welsh II, president of Valmont Industries.

The Office of the Press Secretary issued a fact sheet on the same day which contained the following additional information on the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee (TPCC):

The TPCC will for the first time unify and streamline Federal trade promotion activities, including: collection and analysis of market information; trade events, including trade missions, and identification of agents and distributors; dissemination of information on export financing; representation of U.S. business interests with officials of foreign governments and international organizations; assistance in identifying joint venture partners and foreign research and development projects; and counseling on foreign standards, testing, and certification requirements.

TPCC members include the Departments of Commerce, State, Treasury, Agriculture, Defense, Energy, and Transportation; the Office of Management and Budget; the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative; the Council of Economic Advisers; the Export-Import Bank; the Overseas Private Investment Corporation; the U.S. Information Agency; the Agency for International Development; the Trade and Development Program; and the Small Business Administration.

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