PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 8966


Photo of Keating, Paul

Keating, Paul

Period of Service: 20/12/1991 to 11/03/1996

More information about Keating, Paul on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 14/09/1993

Release Type: Press Conference

Transcript ID: 8966

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PM: Let me just say at the beginning that I'm very satisfied with the outcome of my
visit to Washington. The visit has been, I think, very important for Australia because
we' ve been dealing herm with fundamental questions which have a big bearing on
Australia and its future prosperity. Arid these of course are APEC, the Uruguay Round,
Austraia-U. S, relations and the U. S. role in our paut of the world.
If's important to put a lot of effort into getting these big questions right bemause so much
will depend on them in the future. As T said to you ealier, the timing of the visit has
been excellent because the very things Australia wants to talk about happen at this time to
be high on Americas own agenda. This is a very favourable circumstance, to have this,
when I'm visiting here as an Australian prime minister, in WashingtorL
Througbout my visit I have been impressed by the priority which currently attaches in
* WasiT~ o~ tofundaynental questions of international trade sb'. ucturts. The
adminstration is taking a very strong interest in APEC and economic opportunity in Cast
Asia and there is a lot of concern here about the ai-c: of the Uruguay Round of reported
French m~ oves to reop en the Blar House Accord. And the United States administration
and Congress are now starting to focus seriously on. NAFTA ( Worth American Free Trade
Agreemnent). It's very important to be here now to put Australia's point of view and
represent our interes~ s on these important questions which will, of course, be important to
us for a long time into the future.
The cenitrepiece of the visit, of course. was the meeting and working lunch today with
President Clinton. I'm very pleased that we got on well and established, what I am sure
should be a stong w~ rking relationship. I found President Clinton to be very charming
indeed and with an impressive Srasp of policy and a public spirited, interested, open
personality. As well -as affirming the importace both sides attach to our bilateral
relationship our meeting produced three important results. The first is we agreed to work
closely togetheT for a successfill outcome of the informal APEC leaders' meeting in
Seattle in November. in such a way that the meeting itself takes the historic step of

defining an Asia-Paiic Economic Community and-gives political authority and
weight to APEC's work
Secondly, we agreed that it was very importat to?~ vorld & towth and jobs to achieve a
succ~ ssfijl and balanced outcome of the Urugay Round by the maid-December deadline
and. that any move by the European Community to reopen the Blair House Accord on
agriculture would seriously jeopardize the whole Round. Ths sends, I think. a very
Wtong and, I hope, a very clear message to Europe. Thirdly, the President and
Ambassador Kantor each recognize Australi's concern about the damage that the EET
subsidies cause our grain exports and said they would make every effort to minimise the
effect on Australian interests. They cited, for example, their decision to stay out of the
Indonesian market as a bona fide of their sincerity in this regard. They explained that, of
course, the EEP was aimed at countrc~ ting Europe= n subsidies and that the only fully
effective way to reduce the impact on Australia's grain exports was to conclude the
Uruguay Round as soon as possible.
I rigjit also say that all my other meetings were also worthwhile. I was particularly
pleased with the very attentive response I received on Capitol Hill from both Senate
Leaders and the Leaders of the House of Representatives. The main messages I
emphasised were the continued relevance of the Australian-U. S. relationship, the great
economic beneits whbich were now available to the United States in the Western Pacific;
and the importane of establishing institutional structures to secure benefits of the variety
we're talking about, like APEC.
So having finished my program in Washington I must say to you that I think I am please4
with the results. It's clear that Australia's standing is very highi in this city and that we're
regarded as an important friend and ally of the United States. And naturally I should be
happy to take questions.
1: Can you explan how you expressed your concern over the U. S.' s human rights
position and what was your motivation behind raising it?
PM: Just as I think how the President expressed his view today. I think if you read the
transcript of what I said and what hr. said you'll find that it is exactly the same view. Th1at
democracies Like Aastralia have a lot to offer the Asia-Pacifle area and our standards and
values are important * not just to us, but to them: And we put them and should put them
tellingly. forcefully -but see the totality of these relationships for what they are. That is,
representing a whoIle range of issues. A9 the President said, this afternioon in respect of
China with proliferation issues; in their ternis with very major trade issues and
recognising the central point that, of course. one can not influence whatsoever, sidelining
the very large societies if one were to take that view.

Now, Australia has never taken that view and because of that wet're more influential in
these matter than countries that might take the view that they can't deal with themn over
human rights.
j. But we wvere led to believe, Mr Keating, that you told specifically the
Congressmnen ont Capitol Hill and Mr Kantor that you would like to see some more
balance in the way the U. S. deals with bilateral frictions particularly with regard to
humnan rights and specifically you mentioned Indonesia and China.
PM: Not see more balance but basically what I said was the balanced way that
they're dealing with them is the right way.
1: But don't we have a different view on how we relate trade policy and human
rights. The U. S. has trade sanctions against Chin* and now Indonesia over human rights.
Australia does not do that And presumably because we are a smaller country we don't
have the don't have more to lose thtan the U. S. Don't we have a differencee with the
U. S. over....
PM-I don't think so, Again I refer you to what the President said today. You can get
no gmeter authority that him, himself, and the expression which he made at the Press
Conference which I think was square on with our own view.
Mr Keating, can you. tell us a bit about what you have to do between now and November
on behind the scenies work on making sure that APEC is a success. What is the least that
you hope will come out of that avetin, and what is the most?
PM: Well, the first thing would be a good attendance at the meeting; that it is attended
at a high level, that the very attendance as I said this afternoon, helps to define the Asia-
Pacific Economic Community) and that we have some understandings before we arrive
about what the process of the meeting might be. how it's conducted and what we can
expevt to glean fromn it in terms of APECs future program and progress.
J: Will you be seeking to enshrine that definition into some sort of Communiqui at
the end of the meeting?
PM: I think we'll leave that up to the meeting, probably. It's a, I think the view the
President's takcing -which I thiink is wise that we don't want a pre-cooked meeting.
That is, with papers that are floating around which have all been negotiated arnd which
basically get a rubber stamp at the end. And that is why his preference and my preference
is for the leaders to attend without staff but only with interpreters. So that it is a
genuinely informal discussion about the Asia-Pacific and about opportunities and trade

opportunities. And that if we do produce any statement of principles or any corrimuniqud
that may follow it, it's something that will be puttogether there by the people involved.
Asia Pacific Economic Community what do you mea= I mean how would
you see the Community working in practice?
PM: Well, if~ s already more integrated if you look at the APEC countries their trade
with one another already has them at a higher level of integration than the European
Community or NAFTA. So, the attendance of the leaders of these countries anid the
membership, the membership of APEC the confirmation of the current membership of
A. C at leadership level and for its agenda which will be a trde liberalising and trade
inducing agenda means that as a group of countries it is defined and it can only be
defined as an economic community of countries. So that the initegration we already have,
which is alrcady high, we hope to be able to improve and to improve the velocity of
growth and trade. So that everybody wins from an APEC-typ arrangement.
1: Arc you and Mr Clinton confident the three Chinas problem can be overcome?
PM: I think that thats likely that China will attend and that is currently being
discussed, of course, and hopefully they will attend at a very high level.
J1: You mentioved in your 9 Februar'y speech a much wider agenda for A. PEC than
had bee previously put forward. Has the U. S. admnistration and particularly
President Clinton embraced those points and any of them specifically in terms of the
November rneeting?
PM: Well, I think they see that general direction as the right direction, whether every
particular point is embruced or not, in a sense. is immaterial provided the general
direction is one where we work at ways of lowering impediments to trade and
investment. And whether it be through dealing with protective devices, non-tariff barriers
or harmonisation of standards, these are all things which I think fit very nicly into most
of the participant member countries' ambitions for APEC,
J: How seriously should we take President Clinton'g assurances on the EEP? As
seriou. sly as we took George Bush's or does he go beyond that?
PM: Well. I think the important thing to recognise is that the Export Enhancement
Program is legislated by the United States Congress. So it has Congressional authority
Iit-lfleislation. The key thing then is how it is administered. What the President
was saying today was giving you an indication of how he would administer it as he had
earlier given me at the lunch, as we discussed this question at some length. And that's
why I think he was very forthcoming at the press conference in what be had to say about

it. And he had indicated earlier that the U. S. staying out of the Indonesian market was
already and indication of how the U. S. feels toww& d Australia in terms of the EEP, but
making the more obvious point that the best w~ ayI6 deal with it is a successful] conclusion
of the GATT Round, which is about pulling these subsidies down. And the Blar House
Accords so, you know, his commitment today is in that context and I think we have to
accept it in that context.
J: Prime Minister you described APEC and NAFTA as a compatible GATTr overlay.
tn the event of t~ he Uruguay Round not going ahead can you see these two discrete area
communities in some way rnergng into a big compatible trade grouping against the EEC?
PM: Wells that's certainly not envisaged at the moment. And I think that it will take, in
practical terms, many years to affect a trade liberalising and harmnising agenda within
APEC and also no doubt, withini NAFTA. I don't see any profit in speaking of APEC as a
protective grouping. B~ ecause I think the greater opportunity exists in openness in trade
and I don't think we should assume, at this stage anyway, that the GATT Round is going
to fail-We are coming towards the end of the fast-track deadline which the Congress has
given the President, of December 15, so the weight is on as far as GATTr is concerned.
Hopefiully we'll get an agreement on the GATT but the GATT doesn't deal with non-tariff
barriers and its going to take more than the GATT to deal with that anyway. So. wc've
got to think of ways of dealing with sorne of these other problems amd fanly when you
look at a lot of the APEC economies many of the devices are frankly hurting themselves.
And when I think that people understand that they will pitch in and commnit themselves to
a broader agenda.
J: Mr Keating, with the easing of Cold War tensions have the Amnericans at all
implied that they might want to reduce the scale of their intelligence and defence
, operations in Australia?
PM: Well. the Americans are doing what is called a bottom up review of their whole
defence structure as a result of the Cold War and obviously there will be a somewhat
smaller core force than they have largely had over the intervening twenty or thirty years.
And that will probably mean a reassessment by them in terms of intelligence collections
and what they think is worthwhile and what, if you like, methods of collection are
imnportnt to then,. I would tend to think the Australian facilitieswill still have relevance
to the United States a long time into the future. Even if, in some primary way, their
intelligence gathering shifts.
1: NU Keating, in any time in your discussions with the Amrericans did you tell them
that their agricultural subsidies whce ompared with their free trade rhetoric, were

PM: No, because the Ameicans have been the largest, most burly sentry at the gate of
fiee trade for the last seven year through the GATT Round. So there's not much point in
saying to a real ally on this question that they are iing hypocritical, because I don't think
theyore. They've taken up EEP and some of these agricultural subsidies in defence of
their position in markets against the European Community, But they know that it's
distorting their pattern of agricultural production and their budget and that is why they are
very committed to the Blair H-ouse Accord to bring those price and volume levels
down in subsidies. So. that happening, all these other things will in a sense, take care of
themselves. So the key point is to succeed on the GAIT and to do things which help the
GATT to succeed. beating in mind we've had a substantial, again, coramitment on the
Export Enhancement Program.
I3: Presidentt Clinton said today that America would go out of its way to avoid
hurting Australia's trading interests. Do you take that as a stronger commitment than they
have made in the paut on that?
PM: Well it's quite a specific commitment, that's what is important. It is a specific
commitment and it is one which he reiterated to me at some length over lunch and one
which, I think, having thought about it he was prepared to reiterate in public later.
J: Do you have in your own mind some timetable for the development of APEC?
How it might develop over the decade and do you have any idea how it might be
prevented from becorning rather open ended and just going on and on and on for several
years without malting the sort of progress dint we might want.
PM: Well. it's developing at a very fast pace. I mean, to take this thing from its
infancy in 1989 to what it will be, I hope, by the end of this year is the development of a
body of this dimension in, one would have to say, very quick time. And, therefore, I
don't Lament that we're not going fast enough. We are going quickly enough and were we
to go any faster we would not be getting the appropriate coinitment or consensus
amonos the member countries that will materially advance APEC's cause. So I don't
think there should be any concern about any tardiness in developing APEC and it sort of
drifting on. I think there's been a lot of focused attention by major powers the U. S. in
particular Japan, Korea and the ASEAN countries and as well as other large playein
like China.
J: Tn meeting with President Clinton you talked about the importance of establishing
a personal relationship with him. How did you find himn as a man in the meeting today?
PM:-Well, I gave you some indication in my opening remarks. I think that I found
him interesting, charming an engaging fellow who obviously is in the business of
doing good public works. That is, looking for good outcomes, trying to push U. S. policy

in the right directions foT good reasoAs and that Sort of openness and public spiritcdness.
one would have to find that comforting in any cqntext given that the President of the
United States has such a pivotal role in ii ention*. policy and the leadership of the
world in mnany area. To find someone so interested in policy so mnuch at ease with the
intricacy of policy and looking for good outcomes simultaneously is, J think, quite
comforting for anybody let alone another head of government.
J; Is he your sort of President?
PM: Well. jtes not a mater of saying whether bes my sort of President, I think that the
United States has done very well in finding Bill Clinton as it's President. And this his
thoughtfUlnecss and openness is just what America needs, I think at this time to engage
some of these big questions, to set up the strategic directions. to look at the big picture
and to follow it through to logical conclusions.
J: You did speak today about the need to put flesh on bones of APEC before thene's
an expansion of NAETA into South Amecrica Are your worried that uless APEC gets
some sort of a move on following your agenda that America's interest will tend to be
dra'm southwards rather thin into Asia?
PM: No, if you look at the North Amnerican economies and the peckinig order for
membership of NAFTA in South America, it's not going to dranarally change the
weight of North American GDP. But it is going to extend opportunities into South
America. There is a view in Asia that NAPTA has an introspective, inward looking
quality about it That is a view. What * I was saying today is that if we put some flesh on
the bones of APEC so that it is clear to those countries that APEC is actually developing
sensibly, properly, expeditiously there'll be less concern about NAFTA and its directions.
3: How imnportant is it that APEC is institutionalised at a leaders' level? And also do
you foresee any problems in the future where United States human rights policies couild
cause some trouble for APEC members?
PM: Well, I think it is very important that APEC is institutional ised. Because without
the authority of the leaders of the governmeots of the member countries it won't get the
agenda it deserves. It won't get the political borsepower it needs to break through some
of these problems. Arnd, so apart from the utility of actually getting the job done it also
gives it status and weight which I think is important to it. On the human rights question I
don't see that it would be any larger a problem in an APEC context than it would be in
any other context.
J: Prime Minister the Congress has expressed a view about the Beijing bid for the
Olympics-Was that at all raised in your talks, either Yesterday or today?

PM; No. No it wasn't.
J: ( iadbe rsdn Suhazno attendi4the APEC meeting. Are you hoping to
prOvide some sort of link into the East Asian caucus there and how are t talks
progressing with Malaysia and Indonesia on A. PEC?
PM: Well, 1 think. Certainly with Indonesia. President Suharto has played a
very important role in the acceptance of APEC within the ASEAN group of countries and
his attedance itself is important. And be can play a furter role, I think, in seeking to
define APECs directions and indeed. doing so speaking on behalf of the ASEAN group
of countries. So, I do see his role as being fairly important it has already been, to
APEC and to the development of leaders meetings which I think has been facilitated or
helped in par by his very clear acceptance of the need for them and his attendance.
3: The lack of discussion here about t security angles of Australian-American
relations reflects the state of the world but could you give us some idea of what you and
Mr Aspin talked about in your meeting? Particularly what you see now as the main
security issues in the region for Amrerica and Australia.
PM: Well, I made clear to him that the alliance that we have between Australia and the
United States is a key part of our defence and foreign policy stance. That we have a long
term relationship obviously, and that relationship is doing as well today as it has ever
done. But that said, we'd also had our own Force structmr review in the middle 19808.
Whit. e we could not have anticipated the expeditious completion of the Cold War, if you
like, end of the Cold War and that change. Our Force structure review was actually set up
as though, in some way we knew that was going to happen. And the result that carne
from it gives Australia a more independent defence capability and capacity than it would
otherwise have. But that's part of, still, a broader defence and foreign policy relationship
with the United States in the region.
And I suppose our general message to the United States is, that while these bilateral
defence treatiestmattr to the region and to the United States they will matter more
if the commercial relationship is thickened-up. That is, if the trade and investment links
in the area continue to improve, particularly between the U. S. and the region. So, the old
notion that the British had that where the flag goes the trade will follow iA now -I think
you're seeing the converse of that -where the trade goes the flag will follow. That is,
that the defence and strategic relationship can actually dove tail in, complement a broader
trade and investment relationship.
I. On a defence related issue, did you and the President talk at all today about the
New Zealand nuclear issue and do you detect any softening on the U. S. part any desire
to change the strategic isolation situation?
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PM: No, the Preident and I didn't. But I did with Scretaiy Aspin and I think our
position on that is as it has been of late. That is, that we look forward to New Zealand
rtrning to Mii ally status under ANZUS and we~ h Australia would encourage that
happening as indeed, so would the United States. But I think we have a commuon view
that it won't happen and shouldn't happen that iS, a retur to Wul ally starus unless
and until New Zealand accepts the obligations of that status.
[( Ifnot on the strategic then what about on the political issue. Do you see the U. S.
softening their position about elevating political tics with New Zealand?
PM: Well, I didn't press Secretary Aspin on that but I think that the United States does
have a vMi comnmon sense view of this. They are leaving an ambience about this that
eneouages or leaves open the option for New Zealand to retur to this kind of situation
or status which they formerly enjoyed, and would encourage them to do that. So I don't
think the United States will be doing anything at the political level which discourages
that J: ( inaudible)., link between defence and trade. Did you propose at any of your
meetings thAt Austr-alia and the U. S. share intelligence gathered at the joint bases, with
some of our Asian neighbours?
PM: No.
J: On the GATT. the agreement with you and President Clinton to call on the French
not to do what they look like they are going to do. Why should that make any difference?
PM-Well, I think the Europeans have got to understand that an acceptance by them of
French argument about the Blair House Accord a view on the part of France that it
seeks to open the Blair Mou. se Accord means that the fast track schedule of December
is likely to leave the United States without the legislative authority to conclude the
Round. And that an unwinding of Blair House places onus and responsibility on the
French in particular and the Europeans in general for the problems the Pound would then
have its likely failure. And to say that we regard an unwinding of the Blair House
Accord as unacceptable. They are a minmum set of standards, a set of minimat agreed
beyond which, we believe, we should not go. And having been agreed that it is now
inappropriate at this very late stage in the piece for the Government of France to try and
undo them.
J When is the soonest that you thidnk Australia cant hope for a totA abolition of

PM: WeU, again you asked me a question earlier about this. I see EEP in the context
of the Uruguay Round and the remedy to these kiros of intrusive trade subsidies as being
a general solution to trade which can come from a-ilntcrnational response. So, all the
moie reason why I think that Blair House needs to be maintained. And if it is maintained
then the Round can be concluded within the Decemnber 15 deadline.
J; But there would obviously be a lag between a successful Uruguay Round and any
winding down of EEl'. So what's the timeftame as far as..?
PM: I'ye riot had any discussion about that.
J: ( inaudible),.. subjects you covered with Mr Clinton. And did you discuss Health,
for instance?
PM. We discussed the Australian health care system. We discussed Australian social
policy. We discusse the Australian corporate tax system. We discussed other social
innovations like the Child Support Agency. He was very interested in the way in which
thewc agencies have been developed over time these innovative things we've used the
Australian taxaion system for. Dividend imputation and its influences on the equities
market and on the investment, The utility of our health insurance system and how it
works. [ t was quite an interesting lunch time conversation over all these isses.
J: Mr Keating, a few days from today the Olympic bid will be open. What do you
plan to say in your final pitch in Monaco to sway anybody who might still be sitting on
the fence, about whether Sydney is the best place for the Olympics?
PM: Making the obvious points about Sydney and its being the most superior of the
bids in technical termns. That Sydney is the at this time arguably the best bid, that
Australia is a county which has showni more than its share of the Olympic spirit. That it
has been in it for the sport of it and the Olympic ideals and that as the year 2000 is
obviously going to be the era of the Pacific, Sydney is the right choice.
3: There was some talk around the White House today that China might get the bid
because it is more politically correct. That people need Chinese trade more than
Australian trade-H-ow do you counteract those arguments?
PM: Well, I diink there has to be in the minds of the Olympic Committee the need to
keep the inteerity of the Olympic movement clear in terms of the process of selction and
the motivation of the selection. And that geopolitics is not the business of the
International Olympic Committee. Its business is seleciing host cities for the Olympic
Games and that should go to the interests of the competitors and the interests of the
ryr~ n. j r A

Transcript 8966