PRESIDENTIAL DEBATEOctober 16, 1996
JIM LEHRER: All right, the question is for President Clinton. Does anybody have a foreign affairs question in this section? Yes, sir.
MICHAEL SMITH: Good evening. I'm Michael Smith. I'm a electronics technician in the Navy. My question was how you plan to deal with the trade deficit with Japan?
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Let me tell you what we have done. We have concluded with Japan 21, about to be 22 trade agreements now. And since we did that, in the areas where we concluded trade agreements, our exports to Japan have gone up by 85 percent in the last four years, and our trade deficit with Japan has gone down. Until about five months ago, the Japanese economy was in a deep recession. It's coming back now, so they can buy even more American products, and I think it'll go down more.
But I'm very - that's one of the real success stories here of the work we've done. We're selling Japanese rice from California for the first time. I visited a Chrysler dealership in Tokyo. I visited a Jeep plant, the oldest auto plant in America, in Toledo, Ohio, where they're going to export 41,000 right-hand-drive Jeeps this year, and they've got 700 new jobs because of it.
There is no easy way to do this. When you're dealing with an economy that's traditionally been more closed and one that's traditionally been more open, you just have to gut it out issue by issue by issue. We just - but we agreed in principle on our insurance agreement, and we're working on three or four other areas now. But the way you have to do is make sure you're competitive - we're the most competitive country in the world now - and then just fight to open those markets and go try to make the sale. And that's what our trade ambassador, our commerce secretary, and all the other people in our administration have tried to do.
JIM LEHRER: Senator?
MR. DOLE: Well, the bottom line is we've got to stop exporting jobs. We need to keep jobs here. I said there are 357,000 good jobs, manufacturing jobs which were lost. And I assume some of those because of our trading partners; we didn't have access to their markets.
We ought to insist on access. If we don't have access to their markets the same way they have access to our markets, we ought to say, wait, that's enough, time out. When you give us access, we'll give you access.
It's very hard to get into the Japanese market, as everybody knows. They want to get into our market. They sell a lot of automobiles here, create a lot of jobs - those who sell exports. And it's very important to the economy. But I think we want to make certain.
I supported the president's trade policy. But we've got to be more aggressive. Once you have a policy, then you've got to go out and be aggressive and enforce that policy. There are American jobs that are being lost. This is what Ross Perot complains about. And I'd say to the Reform Party, take a look at the Republican Party. We're the reform party. And we're going to make things better. And one of the things we're going to do is stop exporting jobs in America.
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Let me say again, we've had over 200 separate trade agreements in the last four years, by far the largest number in American history. Not just the big ones you've read about, but a lot of smaller ones. And now what we have to do is to focus on those things we're real good at and make sure we're getting a fair deal.
We just had a pretty serious dispute with China because they were copying our CDs and costing thousands of jobs in places like California. So we had - we said, you know, if you want to keep doing business and sell your products over here you're going to have to quit pirating our CDs. And they agreed to do a number of things and to let us verify that they'd done it. But I think they're going to make the problem much better.
But there is not a simple, easy answer. You just have to work on this day in and day out, every month, every year, every issue to make sure that we have not only free trade but fair trade. I'm proud that we're better off on that than we were four years ago.