93/09/24 Remarks at NGO Meeting on NAFTA (Washington, D.C)  Return to: Index of 1993 Secretary of State's Speeches/Testimonies || Electronic Research Collections Index || ERC Homepage

Note: This Electronic Research Collection is an archive site. For the most current information, please visit the State Department homepage.

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE 
93/09/24 Remarks at NGO Meeting on NAFTA
Office of the Spokesman



                        REMARKS BY
          SECRETARY OF STATE WARREN CHRISTOPHER
                AT THE NGO MEETING ON NAFTA
                    September 24, 1993

                   Department of State
                     Washington, D.C.


SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: I'm delighted to have you here today at the State 
Department.  I'm glad to acknowledge the presence of Bill Daley who, I'm 
so grateful, has come from Chicago to help us in the enterprise.  

I want to thank Tim Wirth for having joined the State Department.  We're 
really pleased and proud to have someone of Tim's caliber at a very 
senior level, helping us move into an important new area -- that is the 
area of global affairs, in which the crowning part of it really is the 
environment.  So we are fortunate to have Tim here doing that.  

We are also very fortunate to have Carole Browner at the EPA.  I 
understand you have just come back, Carole, from the White House, where 
you welcomed the good news that the Court's blockade on NAFTA has been 
removed.  So that's great news, and thank you also for being here 
Carole.  

Carole and I first got acquainted down in Little Rock when we were each 
in quite a different role, and it's marvelous for me to see the 
tremendous achievement that she has made in the short time she has been 
the head of EPA.  

We are committed -- that is President Clinton and Vice President Gore, 
and all of us here at the State Department team -- to making America a 
leader, not a laggard, in environmental matters.  We are trying to move 
ahead on environmental issues generally, especially population growth, 
to put America at the forefront of the efforts around the globe.   These 
issues cut across national boundaries, so it is so appropriate for us to 
have an Under Secretary for Global Affairs leading the way on this.  

We believe that the environmental side agreements to NAFTA --and the 
efforts to find substantial funds for border environmental cleanup -- 
are very important issues in elevating the environment as a whole to 
public attention and really in the lexicon of issues that is so vital to 
our national future.  

I think I would be probably preaching to the converted if I said that 
NAFTA is a good environmental policy.  It is an environmental agreement 
almost unique -- or perhaps even unique -- in the history of trade 
negotiations.  I don't think there has ever before been a trade treaty 
which has embodied as much environmental protection as NAFTA does.  The 
word "breakthrough" is perhaps over-used in our business, but this is a 
breakthrough that is worth preserving.  

NAFTA, in our judgement, in my judgement, will expand cooperation 
between the United States and Mexico along the border in a way that will 
increase environmental protection and enforcement.  Moreover, it's clear 
enough to me that a strong and prosperous Mexico will have more 
resources, more energy to face and deal with the cross-border problems 
that affect so many Americans, and so importantly affect the 
environment.  

NAFTA, in my judgement, is very good economic policy.  It will bring 
jobs to the United States as it creates the world's largest trading 
community.  Sometimes I think we're asking the wrong question about 
NAFTA.  If you ask the question whether NAFTA will solve all the 
problems of the past -- that is, all the jobs that have moved out of 
this country in the past, or all the immigration that has occurred in 
the past -- of course NAFTA won't.  

But the right question to ask is whether or not NAFTA will be useful in 
the future, and on that issue I think the result has to be a resounding 
"yes." It will produce jobs for the United States, it will create a 
Mexico less likely to have the immigration push that causes their people 
to want to move here.  In short, it's very good economic policy.  But if 
I'm wrong about that -- and I don't think that I am, but I'm not an 
economist -- I assure you that NAFTA is good foreign policy.  

It will strengthen our ties -- not only with Mexico, but throughout the 
entire hemisphere -- in a way that is critical for the United States.  
You know, Latin America has been one of the bright spots around the 
globe in recent years.  We don't pay much attention to bright spots -- 
it's only the trouble spots that cause us trouble -- but the emerging of 
democracy throughout the hemisphere, the opening of markets throughout 
the hemisphere, the increased trade throughout the hemisphere has been 
really a beacon all around the world; and we need to accelerate that 
trend, grasp it and take advantage of it as we would through NAFTA.  

You can see the importance of NAFTA for the foreign policy if you just 
look at the other side of things.  In the job I have, I always day in 
and day out have to look at the alternative and the consequences of the 
alternative.  The consequences of NAFTA being turned down are really 
very grave from the standpoint of foreign policy.  It would set back our 
relations with Mexico a long, long time.  I think it would plunge us 
back into the days when there was so much tension between the two 
countries rather than cooperation.  

It would certainly set us back with the countries around the hemisphere 
and around the world that expect us to live up to our agreements.  The 
rest of this hemisphere can hardly wait to have a similar kind of treaty 
that we are talking about with Mexico and that we now have with Canada.  

NAFTA is, from a foreign policy standpoint, a real test of American 
leadership.  It tests our ability to cooperate across a broad range of 
diverse issues, including, importantly, the environment.  It tests our 
ability to work with our closest neighbor.  

As I close, I just want to thank you all for the constructive work that 
all of you have done.  Many of you have provided a large amount of time 
in consulting on the environmental side agreements, helping us make them 
better.  I think that you have helped us achieve the breakthrough that 
these environmental side agreements constitute.  I thank you for coming, 
I hope that you will decide to come out in favor of the NAFTA package.  
In the months ahead, I hope that we can work together to try to address 
any questions that remain, to talk it through together, and then to 
create a more productive North America by the approval here in the 
United States of NAFTA.  

Tim, Carole and Bill, thank you all very much.  ItÍs been a pleasure to 
be up here for a few minutes, and I hope on this really gorgeous day -- 
this is one of the days when Washington just sparkles -- you will enjoy 
the city and you will enjoy being here.  

Thank you very much.  

(###)

To the top of this page