Remarks on Signing the
United States-Canada Free-Trade Agreement Implementation Act of 1988
September 28, 1988
The President. This is a moment future
historians will cite as a landmark, a turning point in the forward march of
trade, commerce, and even civilization itself. That's a dramatic statement, I
know, but I think everyone here is aware of the historical import of what we do
today. Today, September 28, 1988, I am signing into law
the United States-Canada Free-Trade Agreement Implementation Act of 1988.
agreement brings down the tariff walls between our two nations and, in so
doing, creates the world's largest free-trade area. Businesses and consumers in
both our countries will have unprecedented freedom to choose among a staggering
array of goods and services. It'll mean lower prices for consumers, jobs galore
for workers, and new markets for producers. It'll stimulate investment in both
economies, which will mean the rapid advancement of new technologies. It means
a stronger and freer marketplace for the United States and Canada. There'll be a rich
flow of agriculture and energy resources from one country to the other in a way
that will profit both. We also deal with the service sectors of our economies,
providing for the first time an explicit assurance that in such areas as
accounting, tourism, insurance, and engineering our peoples will be free to
choose their suppliers.
U.S.-Canada Free-Trade Agreement, which recognizes the similarities between our
economies and our political systems, also respects our different histories,
aspirations, and densities -- the reality that Canada and the United States are two distinct
variations of a common theme of freedom, democracy, and human rights. As
leaders of the free world, Canada and the United States are pointing the way toward
the future. Canada's visionary Prime
Minister, Brian Mulroney, and its able Ambassador, Allan Gotlieb,
understand well that free trade is an idea whose time has come. One of the
signs of this change is the very passage of this bill. We must make sure the
freedoms we enjoy include the freedom to choose at home and the freedom to be
chosen abroad. This nation, which was born to nurture human freedoms, must take
the lead in establishing the principle that one of the most important human
freedoms is free exchange.
principle was the animating force behind the sterling work of Ambassador
Clayton Yeutter [U.S. Trade Representative]
and former Treasury Secretary James Baker. The cooperation among them, the
administration, and Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle was
decisive. The congressional leadership promised and delivered prompt action,
and the result was overwhelming approval by both Houses. They deserve the
Nation's thanks for a job well done.
legislation reflects overwhelming support for the elimination of barriers to
trade between the United States and Canada. It reflects the sound
economic principles of free trade that benefit American businesses and workers.
The bill is a hallmark of free trade, in marked contrast to the damaging
protectionist textiles bills that I vetoed earlier today.
the United States and Canada are accomplishing on a
bilateral basis is an example of what we can and must achieve multilaterally.
That is why we look forward to continuing the midterm review of the Uruguay round [multilateral
trade] negotiations in Montreal later this year. This
agreement is a model for those talks to follow. Just as the pessimists were
wrong about this agreement, so will the pessimists be wrong about the Uruguay round. Today we not
only commemorate this legislation as the happy conclusion of a bilateral pact
but pledge our commitment to the successful completion of the Uruguay round by 1990. The
midterm review will be the most important trade matter in the last months of
this administration, and I urge our trading partners to be ready to do business
in December. We sure will be.
the 5,000-mile border between Canada and the United States stand as a symbol for
the future. No soldier stands guard to protect it. Barbed wire does not deface
it. And no invisible barrier of economic suspicion and fear will extend it. Let
it forever be not a point of division but a meeting place between our great and
true friends. This bill is the product of the vision of the American and
Canadian people, who are leading the way toward a new era of freedom. Now, I
thank you. May God bless all of you. And I shall now
sign this agreement.
Note: The President
spoke at in the Rose Garden at
the White House. H.R. 5090, approved September 28, was assigned Public Law No.
100 - 449.