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Rockefeller says U.S. must keep up on foreign markets

October 13, 1998

Jay RockefellerBy DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer, Charles Town

photo: RICHARD T. MEAGHER / staff photographer




SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., traveled to the Eastern Panhandle Tuesday to deliver a serious message about the state of the world.

The United States has no choice but to compete in a new globalized economy, Rockefeller said during a luncheon at the Bavarian Inn and Lodge.

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But as U.S. leaders look overseas, they see economic unrest from Japan to Russia. And with other sensitive issues like 20,000 intercontinental ballistic missiles based in Russia, American leaders are faced with unprecedented challenges, said Rockefeller.

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"We have never really faced anything like this before," Rockefeller told about 100 politicians and business leaders from Jefferson and Berkeley counties.

Rockefeller said it's important to understand what is happening abroad because of the state's dependence on trade.

Last year, West Virginia industries exported more than $2.2 billion worth of goods to Asia, much of it in the form of chemicals and coal, Rockefeller said.

But just as U.S. industry survived and prospered in the wake of a downturn in the 1980s, Rockefeller believes Asian markets can do the same.

Rockefeller urged the nation's leaders to be "immensely engaged" in foreign affairs in coming years, and he said U.S. industry can still find trade business overseas. Foreign countries still need U.S. goods, he said.

Rockefeller also said foreign investments in the United States are safe. Despite doubts about the Sino Swearingen jet plant at the Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport, Rockefeller said the project is "rock solid."

He said the fact that 75 of the company's jets have already been ordered is proof the factory is coming.

Sino Swearingen formed in 1995 with Taiwan investors backing American aircraft manufacturers. The company started with about a dozen people and now has about 200 at the corporate headquarters in San Antonio.

Rockefeller made his visit while controversy swirls over President Clinton's sex scandal.

He said he has not seen Congress so unproductive as it has been recently, and it's "very frustrating" to him as he tries to deal with other issues facing the country.

Rockefeller railed against the media's nonstop interest in the Clinton scandal.

He said network news shows amount to nothing more than "who can out-niche who" with their cast of well-known lawyers who debate every shred of information about the scandal.

"That's why people are so sick of it," said Rockefeller.

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