Radio Address to the
Nation on the Canadian Elections and Free Trade
November 26, 1988
week, as we prepared for Thanksgiving, Canada held an important
election, and I'm pleased to again send my congratulations to Prime Minister
Mulroney. One of the important issues in the Canadian election was trade. And
like our own citizens earlier this month, our neighbors have sent a strong
message, rejecting protectionism and reaffirming that more trade, not less, is
the wave of the future.
in America, as we reflect on the
many things we have to be grateful for, we should take a moment to recognize
that one of the key factors behind our nation's great prosperity is the open
trade policy that allows the American people to freely exchange goods and
services with free people around the world. The freedom to trade is not a new
issue for America. In 1776 our Founding
Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence, charging the British with a
number of offenses, among them, and I quote, ``cutting off our trade with all
parts of the world,'' end quote.
that same year, a Scottish economist named Adam Smith launched another
revolution with a book entitled ``The Wealth of Nations,'' which exposed for
all time the folly of protectionism. Over the past 200 years, not only has the
argument against tariffs and trade barriers won nearly universal agreement among
economists but it has also proven itself in the real world, where we have seen
free-trading nations prosper while protectionist countries fall behind.
America's most recent
experiment with protectionism was a disaster for the working men and women of
this country. When Congress passed the Smoot-Hawley tariff in 1930, we were
told that it would protect America from foreign
competition and save jobs in this country -- the same line we hear today. The
actual result was the Great Depression, the worst economic catastrophe in our
history; one out of four Americans were thrown out of work. Two years later,
when I cast my first ballot for President, I voted for Franklin Delano
Roosevelt, who opposed protectionism and called for the repeal of that disastrous
since that time, the American people have stayed true to our heritage by
rejecting the siren song of protectionism. In recent years, the trade deficit
led some misguided politicians to call for protectionism, warning that
otherwise we would lose jobs. But they were wrong again. In fact, the United States not only didn't lose
jobs, we created more jobs than all the countries of Western Europe, Canada, and Japan combined. The record is
clear that when America's total trade has
increased, American jobs have also increased. And when our total trade has
declined, so have the number of jobs.
of the difficulty in accepting the good news about trade is in our words. We
too often talk about trade while using the vocabulary of war. In war, for one
side to win, the other must lose. But commerce is not warfare. Trade is an
economic alliance that benefits both countries. There are no losers, only
winners. And trade helps strengthen the free world.
today protectionism is being used by some American politicians as a cheap form
of nationalism, a fig leaf for those unwilling to maintain America's military
strength and who lack the resolve to stand up to real enemies -- countries that
would use violence against us or our allies. Our peaceful trading partners are
not our enemies; they are our allies. We should beware of the demagogs who are ready to declare a trade war against our
friends -- weakening our economy, our national security, and the entire free
world -- all while cynically waving the American flag. The expansion of the
international economy is not a foreign invasion; it is an American triumph, one
we worked hard to achieve, and something central to our vision of a peaceful
and prosperous world of freedom.
the Second World War, America led the way to
dismantle trade barriers and create a world trading system that set the stage
for decades of unparalleled economic growth. And in one week, when important
multilateral trade talks are held in Montreal, we will be in the
forefront of efforts to improve this system. We want to open more markets for
our products, to see to it that all nations play by the rules, and to seek
improvement in such areas as dispute resolution and agriculture. We also want
to bring the benefits of free trade to new areas, including services,
investment, and the protection of intellectual property. Our negotiators will
be working hard for all of us.
back in 1776, our Founding Fathers believed that free trade was worth fighting
for. And we can celebrate their victory because today trade is at the core of
the alliance that secure the peace and guarantee our freedom; it is the source
of our prosperity and the path to an even brighter future for America.
next week, thanks for listening, and God bless you.
Note: The President
spoke at from his ranch in Santa Barbara County, CA.