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U.S. Takes Trade Lessons To Kids

Commerce Secretary William Daley began a tour this week that takes him across the country to speak to students about the importance of trade. The program is part of the Clinton administration's goal of finding common ground on trade issues that have divided Americans.

In his State of the Union Address, Mr. Clinton said, "When you come right down to it, now that the world economy is becoming more and more integrated, we have to do in the world what we spent the better part of this century doing here at home: We have got to put a human face on the global economy."

Daley hopes to take the president's words to the little people - American children whom he hopes will get a head start in "trade education."

So far, Daley says, the importance of trade has not gone over their heads.

"I talked to the students about trade and how it plays an important part not only in their lives today, but more importantly, in the future jobs for them," he told CBS News.

"They understand more than we did as young people -- the global nature of the economy, and how important it is for them to learn a second language, and to be aware of the cultures around the world because, if you look at the future of our economy, we are very much connected to the economies of the world," he says.

However, Daley doesn't just want kids to understand how trade affects the country. He wants their parents, who may be suspicious of an open market, to know how the new policies benefit the United States.

"There are some who want to move us back to the days when we were protectionists and keep all goods off our shores," Daley says. "The fact of the matter is the open system that we've had has benefited us. We are the envy of the world today...because we're the most open trading nation in the world."

One of the trade issues that has divided the country recently is the problem of steel dumping by Russia, Japan and Brazil. The influx of steel has been a problem for the U.S., and has forced several American steel manufacturers unable to compete with the rock-bottom prices of imports to close their doors.

To counteract the problem, Daley says the Commerce Department has taken on President Clinton's "aggressive stance" in enforcing trading laws. A recent trade agreement blocks Brazil and Japan from continuing the practice.

"We have taken action, we believe in the open trade system but we will not be taken advantage by other nations," Daley says.

However, the American steel industry is still upset over the remaining Russian imports. Daley says that keeping the economically depressed Russia afloat is in America's best interest.

"We're protecting our economy from illegal action, not from legal and fair trade, but from illegal and unfair trade...It is difficult," he says.