Remarks to Business Leaders at a White House Briefing on the Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement
welcome to the
In this world there are many conflicting visions of man's economic life. You know the old saying: Ask three economists a question -- you get seven different answers. But beyond the fine-tuning of experts, there's a more fundamental division of world views. One sees the resources and potential of this world as finite, and most likely insufficient for the needs of a growing humanity. It posits a world of limits and describes not only a present of insufficiency but a future of increasing scarcity, and insists on cruel but, in its view, necessary choices.
That's the life raft view of humanity. We're adrift here, at the mercy of natural forces, our food is running low and not much hope of rescue. In the meantime, we don't have room for the luxuries of the past. In fact, to keep from sinking, we may have to throw them overboard. And it's our freedom that is always the first luxury to be jettisoned.
that deeply pessimistic view that I have just cited here has never really taken
like the story of the
whether we're skeptical Yankees, or recent immigrants to the
In this, the bicentennial year of our Constitution, we look back in wonder at the feat of imagination that designed our democratic institutions, so responsive and flexible, yet enduring. But perhaps as great an intellectual break with the past, as great a leap of progress, was the rejection of the mercantilist philosophies -- or hostilities, I should say -- that had been tearing our young nation apart, and the establishment of free and unfettered trade among these newly united States.
we're poised to make another great leap of progress by creating free trade anew
between our country and
tearing down the walls, the tariffs, that block the flow of trade and
eliminating the tangle of restrictions and regulations that bind our commerce
and inhibit economic cooperation. As this agreement takes effect, Americans and
Canadians will conduct business, invest, and trade where they like. Two proud,
independent, and sovereign nations --
have broken new territory by covering areas, such as investment and services,
traditionally beyond the scope of trade agreements. What better model could
there be for the Uruguay Round, which is currently underway in
spring, I visited Prime Minister Mulroney in
know, some time ago -- way back in those prehistoric times known as the
seventies -- I called for what I named a North American accord that would
embrace our whole continent -- the
Now, I know it's bad manners to quote oneself, so please forgive me if I read you a few lines from that speech -- the speech I delivered in November 1979, announcing my candidacy for President: ``A developing closeness between the United States, Canada, and Mexico would serve notice on friend and foe alike that we were prepared for a long haul, looking outward again and confident of our future; that together we are going to create jobs, to generate new fortunes of wealth for many and provide a legacy for the children of each of our countries. Two hundred years ago, we taught the world that a new form of government, created out of the genius of man to cope with his circumstances, could succeed in bringing a measure of quality to human life previously thought impossible.''
us dare to dream, I said, of some future date, when the map of the world shows
a North American Continent united in commerce and committed to freedom. I say
now it is time to dream even bigger dreams -- dreams of an entire hemisphere,
we look at the news, when we read history, it sometimes seems that wars and
cataclysms dominate man's life. But, in fact, that is
a misperception. It is in the peaceful, everyday business of work and trade
that the real story of human progress unfolds. I am confident that when people
look back on this pact it will stand out as one of the premier achievements of
the 20th century, not just a free trade agreement between two nations but the
catalyst of a hemispheric, perhaps world, revolution -- a peaceful revolution
of expanding freedom and growing friendship between nations. That's why I
pledge to you that this achievement, great as it is, will be only the
beginning. We will, together with our new partner in peace and freedom,
know, I can't help but think of a story, a few years ago, when I was connected
with a place called
Now, one of them was a movie that I escaped being in, and Dennis Morgan did the part I was going to do. [Laughter] But it was with Ann Sheridan, and they played two workers at Lockheed aircraft plant, which was only a few blocks from Warner Brothers Studio. And one of the scenes in the picture called for them to be at the lunch hour out in the parking lot, playing a scene together, talking together.
at that point, the Minister of Education of Poland grabbed
And, you know, it's just increasingly struck me that we're trying to build a world of undeveloped nations and make them believe that their only progress, economic progress, must be in exporting. Well, what would happen today if all the countries of the world could be like ours and the people who made all these wonderful products were also the customers who bought them and could afford to buy them?
There aren't too many countries where that's true. Ours is, yes, we're the biggest exporter in the world. And yet, we have a trade imbalance because we also buy more than anyone else, into the country. But again, our biggest market happens to be our own people. And when that becomes more worldwide, we're going to find that a lot of the economic problems of the world go away.
I don't know why I brought that up, except that I just came from a meeting talking about the present situation here with the deficit. [Laughter] But anyway, I just want to thank you all here, and God bless you all, and hope that we can make this particular agreement go and show the way. If 200 years ago the Constitution came into being, in large part, because the 13 Colonies that had become States of the United States still thought of each other as a foreign country and, therefore, had tariffs and all kinds of obstructions to trade across the borders, and now we've eliminated all of that with our Constitution, and here we are with 50 States trading freely with each other, why wouldn't that fit with other countries, too? Particularly here, the neighbors on our own continent -- and why wouldn't it work?
Well, I think we've made a start with this agreement. And I hope we all have your help in making it come to be a reality. Thank you very much.
Note: The President
spoke at in Room 450 of the