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[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents]

[Page i-ii]
Monday, October 27, 1997
Volume 33--Number 43
Pages 1611-1656

[[Page i]]

Weekly Compilation of



[[Page ii]]

Addresses and Remarks

    America Reads initiative--1622
    Argentina, Nahuel Huapi National Park in San Carlos de Bariloche--
    Asia Society and the United States-China Education Foundation 
    Congressional Caucus for Women's Issues--1624
    Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee dinner--1626
    National Board for Professional Teaching Standards honoring board-
        certified master teachers--1643
    National Geographic Society--1629
    Radio address--1618
    Voluntary national testing for basic education skills--1622
    White House Conference on Child Care--1634

Bill Signings

    Second continuing resolution for fiscal year 1998, statement--1641

Communications to Congress

    Narcotics Traffickers in Colombia, letter transmitting notice--1616

Executive Orders

    Further Amendment to Executive Order 13038--Advisory Committee on 
        Public Interest Obligations of Digital Television Broadcasters--

Interviews With the News Media

    Interview with Argentine reporters in Buenos Aires, Argentina--1611


    Continuation of Emergency With Respect to Significant Narcotics 
        Traffickers Centered in Colombia--1616


    National Character Counts Week--1617
    National Forest Products Week--1617
    United Nations Day--1642

Statements by the President

    See also Bill Signings
    Death of Ann Devroy--1641
    Japan-U.S. trade agreement on access to Japanese ports--1615

Supplementary Materials

    Acts approved by the President--1656
    Checklist of White House press releases--1655
    Digest of other White House announcements--1653
    Nominations submitted to the Senate--1654


Published every Monday by the Office of the Federal Register, National 
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There are no restrictions on the republication of material appearing in 
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[[Page 1611]]

[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents]

[Page 1611-1615]
Monday, October 27, 1997
Volume 33--Number 43
Pages 1611-1656
Week Ending Friday, October 24, 1997
Interview With Argentine Reporters in Buenos Aires, Argentina

October 17, 1997

MERCOSUR Trade and the World View

    Q. I will begin with a question about one of the main aspects of 
your visit to Brazil and Argentina, which was the MERCOSUR question. 
During several months it appeared that there were controversial views in 
the U.S. concerning MERCOSUR. Since you strongly backed, both in Brazil 
and Argentina, MERCOSUR, the question is how you built up your 
conclusion or your position over the MERCOSUR, and did you consider, 
eventually, other approaches before taking a final decision, 
particularly in Brazil the other day?
    The President. Well, I think that the impression developed--first of 
all, let's talk about how the impression developed.
    Q. Yes.
    The President. I think the impression developed because some people 
in the Government and in the press in America I think had the impression 
that MERCOSUR might be used as a vehicle to limit the growth of trade 
and investment with the United States in ways that would have adverse 
consequences for our long-term political, as well as our economic, 
cooperation. Now, let me say, at the end of the cold war there were 
Americans who felt that way about the European Union as well. When I 
became President, there was a group of people, good people, in our 
Government, permanent civil servants, who had the same feeling about the 
European Union.
    But I have a very different view. I believe that the United States 
should do whatever it can to promote the political and economic 
cooperation of democracies, not simply to grow the economy but in a 
larger sense to lift the conditions of ordinary people and to strengthen 
democratic institutions so that they cannot be reversed, and finally, 
because the threats we face today at the end of the cold war are much 
more likely to be threats that cross national borders, like terrorism, 
drugs, organized crime, as opposed to threats from other nations. So we 
all have to adjust our thinking.
    What I'm trying to do is to promote a process of reorganization of 
the world so that human beings are organized in a way that takes 
advantage of the new opportunities of this era and permits them to beat 
back the problems. If you start with that presumption, instead of a 
political organization in South America that doesn't include us is a 
threat to us, then you come to a very different conclusion. My 
conclusion is that MERCOSUR has been good for the countries that are 
members of it because they've torn down barriers among each other. That 
helps them all economically. At the same time, our trade with all the 
MERCOSUR nations has increased.
    And it permits other things. For example, Brazil and Argentina 
worked with us to stop the interruption of the democratic process in 
Paraguay. We now have the problems of potential terrorist activities in 
the tri-border--the countries are now better equipped to do that. So to 
me this is a positive thing.
    Now, having said that, what I had hoped to do on this trip is to 
convince the leaders, not just the Presidents but the leadership, 
generally, that it is also in our interest to follow through on the 
commitment we made at the Summit of the Americas in Miami to work toward 
a free trade area of the Americas, and to see MERCOSUR, NAFTA, Andean 
Pact, CARICOM as building blocks in this. This is very important, 
because if the rest of the world should happen not to agree with us 
philosophically, then having a big trade area will be a great insurance 
policy for all these countries. And if we can prove that you can merge 
integrated economies and integrated democracies, then we'll be more 
likely to build a global system of this kind.

[[Page 1612]]

    So that's a long answer, but anyway it's important that you 
understand that this MERCOSUR issue for me is part of a very big world 
view. I just never felt as threatened by it as a lot of people who saw 
it in terms of this particular negotiation over this tariff or this 
custom or that sort of thing.

Social Inequity

    Q. Mr. President, in this era of free market in the region, the 
problem of social inequity is a great deal for our countries and also 
for the strength of our democracy. I would like to have your views about 
    The President. First of all, I think it's important to point out 
that this problem of social inequity is a problem that every country in 
the world is facing, even countries with very robust growth. No country 
has solved the problem perfectly of how to grow the economy and preserve 
more equality and at the same time move more poor people into the middle 
    Let me just give you a couple of examples. Look at France, which has 
a very strong social contract but pays for it with very high 
unemployment. Great Britain has opted for a policy more like ours, where 
they're generating lots of jobs now--their unemployment rate is 6.5 
percent, only about a point and a half higher----
    Q. Five-point-nine yesterday.
    The President. ----5.9 yesterday, so it's only a point higher than 
ours. And they're open to immigrants now, as the United States is. But 
as a result of that, because the modern economy favors technology and 
education, they've had increasing inequality there, just as we have.
    I think it's important to point out that most of this is due to the 
structural changes in all advanced economies driven by technology. Trade 
is a part of it, but mostly it's the changing of the paradigm, if you 
will, away from the industrial society to the information age. And I 
believe the answer is to have the Government have less destructive 
involvement in the economy, but the Government should have more 
constructive involvement in the society.
    Basically, you have to do, I think, three things. You have to, first 
of all, have a system of lifetime education and training so that 
everybody can participate. Secondly, you have to have a strategy to 
bring the benefits of free markets to the places that are untouched. 
Technology can help. Investment can help. I think that is very 
important. And thirdly, you have to have adequate protections for people 
who, through no fault of their own, are not participating. This is easy 
to say and difficult to do, because if it costs too much to do this you 
will weigh down the economy. But essentially that is what must be done.
    So the challenge in Argentina, the challenge in Brazil, the 
challenge in Latin America is, in a different way, the challenge that we 
in America face--in the United States--and that the Europeans are trying 
to do--even the Japanese now are having to deal with it. So this is the 
new social challenge of the 21st century. The answer is not to withdraw 
from the trade or to pretend that the technology doesn't exist, the 
answer is to get all the benefits.
    Argentina for example--I will make you a prediction here. If you can 
maintain these levels of growth that you have now, your unemployment 
will go down, but it will not go as low as you want unless you have real 
systems to create more small businesses, to hook small business into 
technology and exports, and to create much more universally effective 
education systems. But that's no criticism of the last 7 years; you had 
to fix all the problems of the past before you can confront the 
challenges of the present.

Integrity in Government

    Q. Mr. President, to follow up what you just said, corruption makes 
inequality even worse. You said that the applying of the term ``endemic 
corruption'' to Brazil has been a mistake. What's the precise meaning of 
widespread corruption that had been implied in the same document to the 
Argentine situation?
    The President. Well, first of all, I wasn't even familiar with this 
document. I didn't know it was issued. I don't know who wrote it.
    But let me back up and say when you are in a period where the 
Government has had heavy-handed involvement in the economy and then 
things start to change and arrange- 

[[Page 1613]]

ments are unsettled, that's a point where, in general, civil societies 
are vulnerable to corruption. Also, human nature being what it is, there 
will nearly always be someone somewhere who is doing something wrong.
    So what you want, however, is a system where the incentives are to 
be honest; where there are disincentives--sanctions--for being 
dishonest; and where you're moving in the right direction. I told 
President Menem--we had a talk about this last night--I was 
complimenting President Caldera of Venezuela because he took the lead in 
making sure that our hemisphere--we have, basically, the only convention 
against corruption of any hemisphere in the world.
    And I said to President Menem, and I said to the young people

at the townhall meeting yesterday, what my experience is, just from my life 
in politics. And that is that if a civil society can maintain a vigorous, 
free press, an economy that works, and you can just preserve democracy, 
time takes care of a lot of this. That is, I believe that 20 years from 
now, an American President will be sitting here, and either you will be 
sitting here or your successors will be, and I will predict to you that if 
democracy survives in Argentina, which I believe it will, there will be 
less corruption, but you could still ask a question about corruption. Do 
you see what I mean? You could still ask.

    So what my advice would be here, because this country has come so 

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