Clinton pledge to promote free trade and growth

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The Independent Online
PRESIDENT Bill Clinton undertook yesterday to engage the United States in promoting economic growth world-wide, pledging himself to free trade and to monetary cooperation.

Declaring that the world stood at the 'third great moment of decision' of the 20th century, Mr Clinton called for a tearing down of trade barriers and said the economic health of the US was vital to the world. In his first foreign affairs address since becoming President last month, he said that there was 'no such thing as a purely domestic policy'.

'Will we repeat the mistakes of the 1920s and the 1930s by turning inward? Or will we repeat the successes of the 1940s and 1950s by reaching outward and improving ourselves as well?'

Mr Clinton, who has created an image of the 'domestic President', spelled out what he has been hinting at for months: that trade and economics will supplant security as the core components of US foreign policy. 'We still face, overarching everything else, this amorphous but profound challenge in the way humankind conducts its commerce.'

His speech, at the American University in Washington, also contained a barely disguised warning to Germany and Japan that they can expect direct pressure to stimulate their economies: 'You, too, must act as the engines of global prosperity.

'Our major partners must work harder and more closely with us to reduce interest rates, stimulate investment, reduce structural barriers to trade, and to restore robust global growth.'

In remarks aimed at today's meeting in London of finance ministers from the Group of Seven nations, Mr Clinton hinted also at the need to reform G7. 'We must look anew at institutions we use to chart our way in the global economy and ask whether they are serving our interests.' And looking ahead to the G7 summit of world leaders in Tokyo in July, he said he hoped he would be in a position to demonstrate that deficit-cutting efforts in America had begun.

Underlining the economic linkages further, he added: 'The world can't grow if America is in recession, but it will be difficult for us to grow coming out of this recovery unless we can spark a renewed round of growth in Europe and Japan. We have got to try to work more closely together.'

Improved monetary co-operation formed part of a five-point agenda for foreign economic relations.

Alongside it is the President's domestic economic plan, increased aid for Russia and for developing countries, and a commitment to free trade, starting with the conclusion of the Gatt negotiations, which had 'dragged on entirely too long'.

On Russia, he acknowledged the risk of 'millions of Russian citizens' fleeing to western Europe if economic reform was not allowed to succed there.

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