WASHINGTON — The Secretary of Commerce also addressed changes in Eastern Europe: ``I think there's great opportunity in Eastern Europe. The risks are certainly high. So are the rewards. This is great time to get in.
``How would it work? Let's say a company from the US decides to put together a joint venture with a Polish Company. The labor is cheap and the work is good, producing high-quality products. Even without shipping the product out ... there's a big market right there in Poland, of 38 million people. What we're trying to do is build up a level of comfort for companies in this country to do joint ventures. We're working in several areas: OPIC [Overseas Private Investment Corp.]; ExIm Bank; the business and economic agreement we're working on with both Poland and Hungary; the stabilization fund, to which we've contributed, will make the zloyty convertible.
``The Europeans have in some cases agreed to a system of trade preferences with Eastern Europe, but not as much as we'd like to see. The generalized system of preferences which the US has given to Poland and Hungary, means no tariff on 4,100 items.
``We don't get credit for what we do. I hear the Democrats saying that the Bush Administration is too timid. The truth is, in our quiet way, we've accomplished more [with economic and trade agreements with Eastern Europe] than most of the European countries, and without a lot of fanfare.
``For instance, in the business and economic agreement, we had a big group of major companies from Europe who were very anxious to sort of tag along and get their people to see what we're doing in the business and economic agreement. Germany went in and signed a two-pager, but it's not as comprehensive as our agreement.