|Countering Terror with Trade
The Washington Post
By Robert B. Zoellick
America has been attacked by a malevolence that craves our panic, retreat and
abdication of global leadership. This grave test of a generation's fiber is an
assault on more than buildings and innocent people -- it is a strike against
liberty itself. Our enemy's selection of targets -- the White House, the
Pentagon and the World Trade Towers -- recognizes that America's might and light
emanate from our political, military and economic vitality. Our counteroffensive
must advance U.S. leadership across all these fronts.
Our nation has drawn together in shock, mourning and defiance. Now we
must thrust forward the values that define us against our adversary: openness,
peaceful exchange, democracy, the rule of law, compassion and tolerance.
Economic strength -- at home and abroad -- is the foundation of America's hard
and soft power. Earlier enemies learned that America is the arsenal of
democracy; today's enemies will learn that America is the economic engine for
freedom, opportunity and development. To that end, U.S. leadership in promoting
the international economic and trading system is vital. Trade is about more than
economic efficiency. It promotes the values at the heart of this protracted
Prior Americans recognized the role of
economic ideas in overcoming international adversity. Congress granted Franklin
D. Roosevelt the authority to employ free trade as a cure for the protectionism
of the Great Depression and then to help Harry Truman revive a devastated world.
Throughout the Cold War, Congress empowered presidents with trade negotiating
authority to open markets, promote private enterprise and spur liberty around
the world -- complementing U.S. alliances and strengthening our nation.
Congress now needs to send an unmistakable signal to the
world that the United States is committed to global leadership of openness and
understands that the staying power of our new coalition depends on economic
growth and hope. In particular, Congress needs to complete action on the U.S.
free trade agreement with Jordan, our first such commitment in the Arab world.
It needs to put the finishing touches on our trade accord with Vietnam, a former
foe that is recognizing that its future depends on markets, not Marxism.
Congress also should reauthorize critical trade preference legislation for
Andean democracies struggling against internal threats and for other developing
nations relying on open markets to counter those who can destroy but not build.
And most important, Congress needs to enact U.S. trade promotion authority so
America can negotiate agreements that advance the causes of openness,
development and growth. It is a sad irony that just as the old world of bipolar
blocs faded into history and the new world of globalization fast-forwarded, the
United States let its trade promotion authority lapse.
President Bush has been reestablishing American trade leadership by
moving on multiple fronts: globally, regionally and with individual countries.
In the wake of last week's attack, we affirmed our commitment. The United States
is working to launch new negotiations to open markets at the World Trade
Organization meeting in November. In the past few days, we acted to bring China
and Taiwan into the WTO this year. Yesterday, President Bush met President
Megawati Sukarnoputri of Indonesia to emphasize our support for the success of
democracy in the largest Muslim country. Next week, I will go to Moscow to work
on Russia's accession to the WTO. Before long, I will meet with African trade
ministers to build new networks through the African Growth and Opportunity Act.
We are pressing ahead with negotiations on a free trade area for all 34
democracies of the Americas. We are driving to complete free trade agreements
with Chile and Singapore. New U.S. activism on trade has been drawing others
toward us so we can pursue free trade in a way that fosters a new type of
alliance for openness and fairness.
inextricably linked to the global economy. Trade and earnings on international
investments now amount to one-third of our nation's output. Exports account for
25 percent of gross cash sales for America's farmers and ranchers -- a projected
total of $ 57 billion for next year. The jobs of one out of every five U.S.
manufacturing workers rely on exports. And the annual gains from our last major
trade agreements -- the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Uruguay
Round -- amount to between $ 1,300 and $ 2,000 for the average American family
America cannot lead effectively if it slips
in international markets. Yet the United States is a party to only two of the
more than 130 free trade agreements in the world; the United States belongs to
only one of the 30 free trade agreements in the Western Hemisphere. When
multiplied across products and countries, the cost to America's strength -- and
to workers, farmers and families -- of falling behind on trade soars
America's trade leadership can build a
coalition of countries that cherish liberty in all its aspects. Open markets are
vital for developing nations, many of them fragile democracies that rely on the
international economy to overcome poverty and create opportunity; we need
answers for those who ask for economic hope to counter internal threats to our
common values. To address the relationship between trade agreements and other
international objectives, the president has proposed that we build on openness
and growth in developing countries with a toolbox of cooperative policies. There
is no "one size fits all" formula that can deal with environment, labor, health
and other challenges. Other nations are more likely to work with us to improve
local standards if our approach is positive, not intimidating. As former
president Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico said, some supposed friends of the
downtrodden "seem strangely determined to save the developing world from
development." For certain, we should not deny the benefits of trade until we
reach domestic consensus on global application of social policies.
We need to infuse our global leadership with a new sense
of purpose and lasting resolve. Congress, working with the Bush administration,
has an opportunity to shape history by raising the flag of American economic
leadership. The terrorists deliberately chose the World Trade towers as their
target. While their blow toppled the towers, it cannot and will not shake the
foundation of world trade and freedom.
The writer is
the 13th U.S. trade representative.
Copyright 2001 The Washington Post
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