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93/06/21 Opening Remarks at the U.S. Binational Commission Mtg.
Office of the Spokesman

U.S. Department of State
Office of the Spokesman

Washington, D.C.

Opening Remarks as Delivered by
 U.S. Secretary of State
   Warren Christopher
U.S.-Mexico Binational Commission Meeting
June 21, 1993
Washington, D.C.

I want to welcome everyone here today -- Foreign Secretary Solana, all 
our Mexican friends, my colleagues from the Cabinet and throughout our 

This is our Administration's first Binational Commission meeting, and 
our first chance to discuss the relationship between Mexico and the 
United States on a comprehensive basis.  I hope that our Mexican friends 
will understand that I am directing my remarks not only to you and to 
the Mexican people, but to the American people as well.

American foreign policy begins with Mexico and Canada.  With these two 
nations in particular, foreign policy concerns are domestic concerns.  
In our relations with Mexico, the fundamental interests of both nations 
converge:  economic growth and immigration; border security and drug 
trafficking; environmental protection and working conditions.

Today, at this tenth BNC meeting, members of President Clinton's cabinet 
and our Mexican counterparts are working to strengthen our cooperation 
on all these important issues.

Let me mention someone who is not here today:  President Salinas.  His 
leadership and vision have helped to forge the most productive ties the 
United States and Mexico have ever enjoyed.  As President Clinton has 
made clear, our challenge is to strengthen and deepen the partnership 
that so clearly benefits the people of both our nations.

Together, and in conjunction with Canada, we can meet this challenge by 
moving forward with the North American Free Trade Agreement.  Our 
Administration intends to seek and win congressional approval later this 
year so that the agreement can go into effect, on schedule, on January 
1, 1994.

NAFTA is in the overriding national interest of the United States.  For 
over half a century, every American President -- Democratic and 
Republican alike -- has stood for closer cooperation and for more open 
trade through the hemisphere, beginning with Mexico.  Now the leaders 
and people of Mexico are embracing historic reform -- economic and 
political -- to open their country to the global economy.

For both nations, this is an historic opportunity that simply must not 
be lost.  Through the NAFTA agreement, the United States has a once-in-
a-generation chance to open up a new frontier of trade with our neighbor 
to the south.  I am confident that when the American people and the 
Congress hear the debate and consider what is at stake in NAFTA, they 
will give it their strong support -- because it is good for our nation's 
prosperity and good for our security.

Some voices are telling the American people that the way to prosper is 
to close our borders, to retreat behind walls of high tariffs and trade 
barriers.  In American history, I am glad to say we have rejected such 
advice time and time again -- and we will reject it this time.

The American people realize that our interest lies in an open, 
competitive international marketplace.  We have reason to be confident 
of our strengths.  We are the number one global exporter.  We have the 
most productive labor force.  Our high technology is the envy of the 
world.  Given an open market, our workers and companies can compete and 

Our experience with Mexico proves just that.  Since Mexico began to open 
its markets in the last decade, our trade balance has improved steadily.  
In 1990, we registered our first trade surplus with Mexico in a decade -
- and we have remained in surplus in each of the last two years.  In 
1992, we exported over $40 billion worth of goods and services to Mexico 
-- more than double our exports five years ago.

Some will tell you that there is no constituency in the United States 
for NAFTA.  But they overlook the fact that our exports to Mexico now 
sustain the jobs of approximately 700,000 Americans.  And the U.S. jobs 
supported by exports to Mexico are good jobs -- paying about 12% more 
than the U.S. national average.  NAFTA will lower U.S. and Mexican trade 
barriers even further -- and allow trade to grow even faster.  We 
estimate that NAFTA will generate an increase of about 200,000 jobs in 
the United States.

NAFTA is not an us-versus-them issue, where Mexico's gain is our loss.  
Americans know that we can't prosper if our trading partners stagnate.  
No nation has done more than Mexico to open its markets in recent years.  
Mexico is our fastest-growing export market -- buying two-thirds of its 
imports here in the United States.  Last month, Mexico replaced Japan as 
the second largest purchaser of our manufacturing products.  As a 
percentage of per capita income, Mexicans spend over seven times more on 
U.S. goods and services than Europeans or Japanese do.  And as Mexican 
incomes go up, they will likely buy even more from us.

By spurring economic growth in Mexico, NAFTA will give Mexico greater 
capacity to make progress on issues involving the quality of life on 
both sides of the border. 

Our environmental cooperation with Mexico has deepened substantially in 
the last five years.  The U.S.-Mexico Integrated Border Environmental 
Plan, an unprecedented $1 billion environmental initiative, is designed 
to clean up the border, to conserve resources and to undertake joint 
water treatment projects from California to Texas.  We are cooperating 
on air pollution, rain forest preservation and other important 
environmental projects.

Mexico is also taking strong steps on its own.  There are now four times 
as many trained Mexican environmental inspectors patrolling the border 
as there were in 1990.  But we must do more together to protect the 
environment -- and we will.

Cooperation on labor standards and workplace health and safety is also 
intensifying.  Seminars are being held with employers and unions in 
specific industries in Mexico.  Best practices are being shared.  And we 
are addressing child labor concerns.

Mexico recognizes that illegal narcotics is a shared problem that can 
only be solved through close cooperation.  President Salinas tripled 
Mexico's antidrug budget, tackled the related problem of corruption and 
took on the drug barons.  Many of Mexico's most notorious drug 
traffickers are now behind bars.  This is breakthrough progress -- but 
we simply can't let up.

In the spirit of the broader cooperation that NAFTA envisions, we are 
negotiating supplemental agreements to strengthen environment and labor 
standards.  These agreements are crucial in two respects.  First, they 
offer the means to achieve real progress in raising these standards that 
are so vital to the people of both countries.  Second, these agreements 
must show that just as the United States takes seriously the enforcement 
of its standards in these areas, so does Mexico.

We also must consider the relationship between NAFTA and illegal 
immigration.  President Salinas has said that "more jobs will mean 
higher wages in Mexico, and this in turn will mean fewer migrants to the 
United States and Canada."

Let me be clear with respect to immigration.  People who have emigrated 
to the U.S. from Mexico have immeasurably enriched our country.  Legal 
migration from Mexico and other nations will continue to make an 
important contribution to American diversity and democracy.  At the same 
time, the U.S. is committed to reducing illegal immigration.  A growing 
Mexican economy will reduce that pressure.

Our partnership with Mexico is also dedicated to the collective defense 
of democracy and human rights.  Just two weeks ago, Mexico and the 
United States together took the lead in calling for immediate action by 
the OAS to stand by democracy in Guatemala.  Our cooperation made a 
difference -- and today Guatemala is standing firm as a free and 
democratic nation. 

Mexico and the United States came together in the same spirit of trust 
and friendship to support a successful, negotiated conclusion to the war 
in El Salvador.  NAFTA will further solidify our cooperation on these 
vital issues of concern to our two nations and the entire hemisphere.

Throughout this hemisphere, we are working in an atmosphere of mutual 
respect on the great challenges of the Nineties.  We are working to stop 
the spread of weapons of mass destruction.  We are combatting narco-
trafficking.  The Clinton Administration is making a new commitment to 
join with our neighbors to protect the environment and address 
population growth.  On all these issues, the United States and the 
nations of Latin America can make real progress if we work in 

President Clinton strongly endorses the goal of linking the democracies 
of the Americas through free trade.  From the Caribbean to Cape Horn, 
nation after nation is removing barriers to foreign investment and 
trade.  Free markets and free trade do far more than any aid program to 
create real growth and upward mobility -- and the prosperity that is 
vital to the strength and success of democracy.

Let me emphasize that the vote of the Congress on NAFTA will be the most 
important signal the United States sends to Mexico and all of Latin 
America in this decade.

In domestic terms, NAFTA is a test of our confidence.  It will measure 
whether Americans believe in our ability to compete in open markets -- 
or whether we will shrink from that challenge and be passive in the face 
of a changing global economy.

In foreign policy terms, NAFTA is the opportunity of a generation.  It 
is a test of America's willingness to cooperate across a diverse range 
of issues with Mexico -- and with our other democratic neighbors to the 

Given a clear choice, the American people will choose to compete in the 
international economy, not cower from it.  They will support the cause 
of democracy in the Americas, not turn away from it.

I am confident that when this Commission meets next year, NAFTA will be 
in force in the United States, Mexico and Canada.  And I am confident 
that we will be on the way to building a Western Hemisphere community of 
nations linked by democratic values and open markets.

Thank you very much.

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