Released: February 18, 1997
CONCERNING WTO AGREEMENT ON TELECOM SERVICES
February 15, 1997
Today's agreement in the World Trade Organization will build the Global Information Highway. It will bring the benefits of the information age to developing and developed nations. And it will directly boost economic growth and job creation in the United States.
I congratulate President Clinton, Vice President Gore, our terrific USTR-designate Ambassador Charlene Barshefsky, and Deputy Ambassador Jeff Lang for their indefatigable, visionary and tough minded negotiating. They have brought the world into agreement with the principles of open markets, fair rules, objective decisionmaking and reasonable interconnection prices.
By this agreement, the Telecommunications Act enacted a year ago by Congress has become the world's gold standard for pro-competitive deregulation. Sixty-five countries have bound themselves to the Reference Paper embodying the Congressional vision of free competition, fair rules, and effective enforcement.
In Buenos Aires three years ago, at the first International Telecommunications Union development conference, Vice President Gore challenged the nations of the world to build a network around the globe linking all human knowledge and creating global opportunities. One year ago, Congress delivered a clear and compelling blueprint for the competition that will build this network. Today, the nations of the world endorsed that blueprint.
This agreement is great news for American consumers. Today, international calls cost almost a dollar a minute; the process advanced by this agreement will, over time, reduce that price by 80%. For American companies, the agreement is also great news. They will be the master builders of that Global Information Highway.
It was a pleasure for the FCC to provide technical expertise to USTR in this important process. I want to extend my deepest thanks to the talented and hard working FCC staff and to my colleagues on the Commission who devoted themselves to this effort.