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U.S. Department of State
93/11/02 Remarks at Los Angeles Foreign Affairs Co. & Town Hall
Office of the Spokesman

                    U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
                    Office of the Spokesman
Speech as prepared for delivery           November 2, 1993

                      LOS ANGELES TOWN HALL

                          Biltmore Hotel
                     Los Angeles, California
                         November 2, 1993

It is wonderful to return to the City of Angels from the City of Angles.  
It is even better to be back home and among friends.

The last time I spoke to an audience at this hotel was June 2, 1992, the 
night the voters of Los Angeles approved the reform measures recommended 
by the Independent Commission on the Los Angeles Police Department.  
What has happened in the life of America in the intervening 17 months 
has been remarkable.  The country has elected a new President, has seen 
him craft a striking new domestic agenda, and has watched as he helped 
orchestrate the most wished-for handshake in recent history.  Certainly 
this has been a time of dramatic change in my own life as well.  My own 
journey over these 17 months has not been calm, but it has given me 
challenges and an opportunity to serve for which I am deeply grateful.

It is a great pleasure to serve as the catalyst for a joint meeting of 
two strong and independent forces in the Los Angeles community.  The 
World Affairs Council makes the vital educational link between the 
people of Southern California and the practitioners and analysts of our 
foreign policy.  Town Hall and its thousands of members have been 
sharing food for body and food for thought for more than 50 years, and I 
am honored to stand before you today.

My presence here is intended to underscore that there is no longer a 
bright line separating our foreign and domestic policy interests.  For 
America to be strong abroad, we must be strong at home.  And to be 
strong at home, to achieve the domestic renewal our nation needs, we 
must reject the voices of isolationism; we must be engaged 

No issue more clearly illustrates the links between foreign and domestic 
policy than the North American Free Trade Agreement.  Winning approval 
of NAFTA is among this Administration's highest priorities.  In fact, 
just last week at a Cabinet meeting, our Treasury Secretary, Lloyd 
Bentsen, turned to me and said, "Young man, you're going to have to go 
out on the road for NAFTA."

So here I am.  Today, I want to speak both as Secretary of State and as 
someone from this community who continues to care personally and deeply 
about its future.

NAFTA is in the interest of California and Los Angeles -- and it is in 
the overriding interest of the United States of America.  And today, a 
distinguished group of Americans are with the President at the White 
House to underscore that message.

NAFTA is an essential part of the Administration's strategy to promote 
prosperity through trade expansion.  That strategy has other elements 
crucial to America's economic renewal:  concluding the GATT Uruguay 
Round negotiations by December 15; negotiating a new economic framework 
with Japan to correct our trade imbalance; and developing the Asia-
Pacific Economic Cooperation forum as an important mechanism for 
spurring growth and creating jobs around the dynamic Pacific Rim.  A 
vote to approve NAFTA will move this entire strategy forward.

This agreement will allow us to take command of our economic future and 
strengthen our security.  NAFTA will give our exporters the opportunity 
to sell without barriers in what will be the world's largest free trade 
area, a unified market of 370 million consumers.  Mexico is America's 
fastest-growing major export market, and we have a vital stake in its 
further growth and openness.  NAFTA will enhance the trade opportunities 
that have lifted our exports to Mexico more than 200 percent since 1986, 
creating more than 400,000 American jobs in the process.  NAFTA will 
create even more high-wage, high-skill American jobs--and it will boost 
our ability to compete globally.

The European nations and Japan leave no stone unturned to compete in 
their regional markets, where they have a natural advantage.  America's 
economic self-interest demands that we compete in every region.  But, 
like the European Community and Japan, we must have a trade strategy 
tailored to our region -- and NAFTA is crucial to that strategy.

Almost 90,000 jobs in this state are supported by exports to Mexico.  
NAFTA will prove particularly beneficial to California.  For example, 
California's high-tech firms will see their sales rise dramatically 
under NAFTA.  Our vast agricultural industry also stands to gain 
substantially from NAFTA.  For California, increased trade offers a 
logical avenue to economic recovery and renewed prosperity.

I have certainly not forgotten that border states like California endure 
burdens even as they enjoy benefits.  But I am convinced that NAFTA 
gives us the chance to multiply the benefits and better manage the 

For the United States and Mexico, NAFTA is about more than tariffs and 
trade, growth and jobs.  It is the symbol of a new relationship and a 
new structure of cooperation.  Approval of NAFTA and the important side 
agreements accompanying it will increase Mexico's capacity to cooperate 
with our country on a wide range of vital issues that affect our 
security in direct and tangible ways.  Let me discuss three of them:  
illegal immigration, the environment, and narcotics.

California -- and all of America -- will continue to find strength in 
diversity.  Indeed, one reason Los Angeles is a world-class city is that 
people from all over the world have chosen to live here and to 
contribute to its enormous vitality.  At the same time, the Clinton 
Administration is committed to reducing illegal immigration, and NAFTA 
is critical to that effort.  Attorney General Janet Reno said in San 
Diego a few weeks ago that the passage of NAFTA will help her protect 
our borders.  She said, "NAFTA is the best hope for reducing illegal 
immigration in the long haul."  And she warned that if NAFTA fails, 
"stopping the flow of illegal immigrants will be much, much more 
difficult, if not impossible."

NAFTA will help us address another issue that transcends political 
boundaries--the problem of pollution.  This Administration has made the 
environment a foreign policy priority because we can address 
environmental concerns only with cooperation from other countries, 
especially our neighbors.

Mexico recognizes its pollution problems and is addressing them, both on 
its own and in cooperation with the United States.  NAFTA reinforces 
that cooperation.  Unlike any previous trade agreement, NAFTA explicitly 
links trade with the environment.  With the NAFTA side agreement on the 
environment--and with our efforts to find innovative and reliable 
funding for border environmental cleanup--we are taking steps to fight 
pollution along the border.

NAFTA will also help us make progress in combating narcotics.  Mexico 
recognizes that illegal narcotics is a shared problem that can be solved 
only through cross-border cooperation.  President Salinas has tripled 
Mexico's counter-narcotics budget and has shown the resolve to attack 
corrupt government officials and drug barons.  Some of Mexico's most 
notorious drug traffickers are now in prison.  This is breakthrough 
progress--and it must be sustained.

We are also working with Mexico to defuse conflicts and crises in other 
parts of the hemisphere.  Our two nations came together to find a 
settlement to the civil conflict in El Salvador and to defend democracy 
in Guatemala.

For many years, the United States and Mexico were, as one observer put 
it, "distant neighbors."  Until recent times, Mexicans saw U.S. power as 
a source of pressure and even danger, while Americans saw Mexican 
poverty as a source of instability.

But Mexico has been growing and changing, modernizing and developing a 
middle class.  In the last few years, Mexico has made unprecedented 
efforts to open its economy and reform its political institutions, 
including the judiciary and the electoral system.  Mexico's attitudes 
about the United States and the world have also changed dramatically.

Now, with NAFTA, we can move beyond old suspicions and outdated 
assumptions.  NAFTA will mark a turning point in the history of our 
relations throughout Latin America.  It will encourage democratic 
governments throughout the hemisphere that have opened their economies 
to American trade and investment.  As President Gaviria of Colombia 
wrote to President Clinton, "NAFTA ... is a vehicle for political change 
and for strengthening democracy and the respect for human rights 
throughout the region."

In many respects, Latin America is pointing the way toward a more 
hopeful future in the post-Cold War era.  Democracy is ascendant.  
Markets are opening.  Conflicts are being resolved peacefully.  By 
approving NAFTA, the United States will send a powerful signal that we 
support these developments.

For more than half a century, every American President -- Democrat and 
Republican -- has stood for closer cooperation with Mexico.  NAFTA 
reflects a bipartisan commitment to widening and improving America's 
ties to our Latin neighbors, beginning with Mexico.  Today, NAFTA has 
the support of all five living former Presidents of the United States -- 
an unusual display of bipartisan unity.

I believe the vote on NAFTA will be one of the most vital decisions that 
the Members of Congress make in this decade.  To recognize fully what is 
at stake, we have to consider not only the economic and diplomatic gains 
we will realize if NAFTA goes into effect, but what America--and 
Americans--stand to lose if it is defeated.

One of my duties as Secretary of State is to consider the downside of 
alternate courses of action -- and I can tell you that the downside of 
rejecting NAFTA could be enormous.

First, defeat of NAFTA would seriously damage our relations with Mexico.  
Our carefully nurtured efforts to improve relations would be scuttled as 
a sense of rejection sets in across the border.  For the United States, 
that would be a self-inflicted setback of historic proportions.  And 
defeat of NAFTA would undermine Mexico's capacity to cooperate with us 
on the vital cross-border issues such as illegal immigration and 
pollution that affect millions of Americans.

Second, it would hand our major economic competitors in Europe and East 
Asia a gilt-edged invitation to go after what should be a natural market 
for our goods and services.  If we reject NAFTA, investors and merchants 
from Japan, Taiwan, and Germany will be on the phone--or on the next 
plane--to Mexico City immediately after the vote.  They will not 
hesitate to gain a foothold where we feared to tread.

Third, it would send a chilling signal about our willingness to engage 
in Latin America at a time when so many of our neighbors are genuinely 
receptive to closer cooperation with the United States.  It would 
complicate our efforts to find diplomatic solutions to regional crises 
that threaten peace and stability in the hemisphere.

Fourth, there is no good time -- but there could be no worse time -- to 
turn our backs on NAFTA.  The Uruguay Round of the GATT negotiations is 
in its climactic stage.  Between now and December 15, the President must 
be in a position to exercise maximum leverage to conclude the Round 
successfully.  Rejecting NAFTA could create the perception that America 
is not prepared to act on behalf of its global economic interests at a 
time when those interests are so clearly at stake.

Fifth, and finally, NAFTA's rejection would undermine our commitment to 
open markets and a liberal world trading order.  Opposing an agreement 
that eliminates tariff barriers is really an argument for protectionism.  
It is only a short intellectual walk from opposing the lowering of 
tariffs to favoring the erection of higher trade barriers.

That is simply the wrong course.  We have seen the consequences of 
protectionism once in this century, in the late 1920s and the 1930s--and 
once was enough for those of us who grew up in the Depression.  Make no 
mistake about it:  to oppose NAFTA is to reject the principles of free 
trade that have helped to make the last half century the most prosperous 
in American history.

Beyond all the specific points that can be marshaled for NAFTA, a 
broader, overriding principle is at stake.  America cannot and will not 
thrive if we try to withdraw from the world.

The defeat of NAFTA would not only forfeit an opportunity to strengthen 
our economy.  It would also constitute a profoundly disturbing move 
toward isolationism -- toward abdication of the role America must assert 
to protect our interests and promote our values.  It would weaken our 
position not only on international economic issues but also on other 
foreign policy concerns important to our security.  The vote on NAFTA 
will determine whether we choose to engage or retreat from the global 
economy; whether we will enable our workers -- the most productive in 
the world -- to compete and win or whether we will try in vain to 
insulate ourselves from rapid worldwide economic change.

NAFTA is a once-in-a-generation opportunity that must not be lost.  It 
is nothing less than a test of American leadership--and America's sense 
of purpose in the post-Cold War world.  Whether we like it or not, the 
vote on NAFTA will reveal how we see ourselves and it will be reflected 
in how the world sees us.

I do not believe that Congress will choose to shrink from a natural and 
growing market for our goods and services.

I do not believe Congress will decide to undercut the President at a 
time when negotiations on the Uruguay Round are reaching their final 

I do not believe Congress will endorse the kind of economic isolationism 
that squanders the chance to create American jobs and surrenders a part 
of America's global leadership.

Let me tell you what I do believe.  I believe Congress will vote to 
approve NAFTA--and I believe that vote for American engagement will echo 
throughout our hemisphere and across the world.

I believe Congress will choose a course that expands political freedom 
and free markets throughout our hemisphere and extends cooperation 
between the United States and the countries of Latin America.

I believe Congress will reinforce the foundation of free trade that will 
be a platform for prosperity in the next century.

I believe the vote to approve NAFTA will represent a defining moment for 
American principle and power.

I believe--in fact, I know--that approval of NAFTA will signal our 
confidence at home and strengthen our credibility abroad.  With NAFTA, 
we are building an economic future and a foreign policy worthy of our 
great nation.



MODERATOR:  Mr. Secretary, the first question regards our neighbors on 
both the north and the south.  During the campaign in Canada Prime 
Minister-elect Chretien was very critical of NAFTA.  He seems to have 
hardened his stand since the election.  Yesterday President Salinas of 
Mexico seemed to distance himself from NAFTA.  

How will these events affect the vote in Washington on November 17?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Not at all, I think.  With respect to Canada, 
President Clinton has said that he sees no need for renegotiation of the 
NAFTA agreement.  I think that the vote will go ahead on November 17 
without interruption, without being thrown off course by this.

The United States and Canada have had a dialogue on trade issues for 
many years.  The agreement has been three years in operation, and I feel 
confident that with a new government in Canada we will be able to work 
out the problems that they have.

I was very pleased to see the new Prime Minister indicate that he thinks 
that the side agreements do definitely improve the initial NAFTA 
agreement, and I think we ought to move forward from here.

With respect to President Salinas, he has been a stalwart supporter of 
NAFTA from the very beginning.  I think that we ought to have great 
confidence in his leadership in Mexico, and I think that the three 
countries will march together forward if the Congress approves NAFTA on 
the 17th of November.

QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, to quote this week's London Economist, 
"Americans like to lead, but they also dislike paying the price.  When 
it comes to seeing the need for foreign adventures, there's often a huge 
gap between the professional foreign policymakers and the more reluctant 
American public."

How do you propose to bridge that gap as it relates to NAFTA and other 
foreign policy issues?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Well, that's an interesting and provocative 
question that, of course, has worried all of us who are involved in the 
making of American foreign policy.

Our principal responsibility is to protect the vital interests of the 
United States; and I think we've done that well in connection with 
promoting global growth through things like GATT, through the NAFTA 
agreements, through our negotiations with Japan.

A second vital interest is to promote good relations with Russia, and I 
think the President's foreign policy team have done that well.

I think that we have also done well in our relations with China and 
Japan.  Our positions on non-proliferation and other global issues such 
as population and the environment are positive steps for the well-being 
of the world as a whole.

Good stories don't make much news, and so you're reading in the paper a 
number of the stories which present problems, such as Bosnia and Haiti 
and Somalia.  I would say that we need to have a national dialogue on 
how far we ought to go in expending our natural and national resources 
in dealing with failed states around the world.  On our vital interests, 
I think our positions are very sound.

As far as dealing with failed states, states such as Somalia and Haiti, 
we are finding our way; and we need the help of organizations such as 
this, the Congress and the media to develop a sound policy for the 
United States.

But as far as the Economist is concerned, I must say the United States 
has got nothing to apologize for as far as our commitments around the 
world.  We had 28,000 troops in Somalia to try to deal with the crisis 
of hunger there.

Consistently, one place after another, the United States has borne the 
burden, as we did in the Gulf War.  The European columnists who are 
concerned about whether the United States has the stalwartness and, if 
you will, the stomach to take the major risks, I think -- look at the 
record.  The United States has always done its part.

QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, would you please expand upon your remarks 
concerning the effect NAFTA will have on immigration, particularly 
illegal immigration.

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  In the longer term, the problem of illegal 
immigration is importantly related to the success of the economy in 
Mexico.  If they have a vibrant economy with good jobs in Mexico, it 
will remove one of the principal factors causing illegal immigration.  
It's not the only one, to be sure.  The question of family ties, 
cultural ties, other things tend to draw Mexicans to the United States; 
but I think a major factor in reducing illegal immigration to the United 
States will be the improvement of the economy in Mexico.  I think that 
NAFTA gives a great opportunity through the free trade, which will 
improve their economy as well as ours, to reduce the push factor.

I saw a piece in the Los Angeles Times this morning that estimated that 
there would be a dramatic reduction in illegal immigration to the United 
States, or immigration to the United States, after ten years' operation 
of NAFTA.  I think that is the promise of NAFTA as far as reducing the 
push factor in illegal immigration.

QUESTION:  In today's Los Angeles Times, Pat Buchanan refers to "The 
asking price of NAFTA as a loss of our national sovereignty."  Would you 
comment on this?  

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  There is absolutely no loss of our national 
sovereignty in the passage of NAFTA.  Reducing trade barriers to the 
United States is something that we've done for countries around the 
world and much to our benefit and sometimes to theirs as well.

The side agreements enable us to continue to enforce our own laws on the 
environment and labor laws and pollution.  They simply put a premium on 
the other nations enforcing their laws in that regard as well.  So I 
simply reject the notion that there's any loss of sovereignty in the 
NAFTA agreement, no more than there is in any other consensual agreement 
between the United States and any other trading partner.

I remind you that these agreements -- our membership in the GATT, open 
trading system -- is absolutely fundamental to the future prosperity of 
the United States.  We cannot have a successful economy without global 
growth, and global growth requires an open trading system.

QUESTION:  This question follows on to your answer there a bit.  Isn't a 
GATT agreement more important than a NAFTA agreement?  Why isn't the 
Administration working harder on a GATT agreement?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I guess I have to quarrel with the premise of 
the question.  We're working very hard on both agreements.  There's a 
November 17 deadline on NAFTA, so it happens to have front-and-center 
stage right now.  We're working continuously to try to bring the so-
called GATT  agreement -- which bears the unusual title of the Uruguay 
Round, after the place where the negotiation started many years ago -- 
but we're working very hard to bring that to conclusion as well.

As most of this well-informed audience will know, the Uruguay Round 
provides for dramatic reductions in tariffs in a wide range of important 
issues -- issues like telecommunications, for example -- very important 
issues in the Uruguay Round, very important that that negotiation be 
concluded as well.

As I said in my remarks, it would be an adverse effect on the conclusion 
of that round if NAFTA is defeated because I think the President goes 
into this period needing to have maximum leverage with our European 
trading partners, who are basically the ones that are holding up the 
conclusion of the Uruguay Round.  I think that the confidence that would 
be generated by a successful passage of NAFTA would help the President 
conclude the Uruguay Round.  But make no mistake about it, those are 
both very high priorities for a President who puts the economic aspect 
of foreign policy right at the top of his agenda.

QUESTION:  From one of the students, Secretary Christopher.  How do you 
think the recent events in both Haiti and Somalia will affect the United 
States role in future U.N. activities?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I think the United States will have learned 
something from both of those experiences as we try to work out a policy 
in this post-Cold War period where there is not the bi-polar world to 
guide us through all of our decisions.

Somalia and Haiti in a sense are both failed states and they represent 
somewhat different approaches to them.  President Bush sent American 
troops into Somalia for humanitarian purposes to feed many starving 
children, and hundreds of thousands were saved.  Now we have the problem 
of the withdrawal of our troops, which I think would have been a problem 
presented to President Bush just as we're having problems of that 
withdrawal.  How can you withdraw without leaving a society that had 
exactly the same problems that you went to prevent before?

Haiti represents a different kind of an approach to the problem, where 
we've tried to work through the U.N. with sanctions rather than using 
our troops.  That's been a frustrating course as well.  The military in 
Haiti have failed to comply to accords that they entered into in New 
York.  Our goal now will be to try to see if those accords cannot be 
resuscitated as that seems to be the best route.

As far as the United Nations is concerned, I think one of the lessons 
we've learned is that the use of United States troops abroad is 
something that all Americans care deeply about.  We don't have any 
Foreign Legion tradition in our country; and I think where American 
troops are used abroad in any kind of a combat situation, we will insist 
on American leadership.  But I  would not underestimate the role that 
the United Nations can play in a peacekeeping role in the future, a role 
that they played so effectively in Cambodia and now Salvador.  So I 
would caution against those two experiences having caused people to be 
so jaded that they don't recognize the tremendous values that the United 
Nations has in a peacekeeping role when used skillfully and recognizing 
the limitations of that role.

QUESTION:  Several questions concerning the environmental aspects as it 
appears to NAFTA.  What are, in very general terms, some of the 
protection clauses in the Treaty, how will challenges be handled in 
terms of various agencies to review the abuses that are questioned, and 
who is going to pay for the cleanup along the borders if environmental 
problems occur?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Let me answer those questions in a general way.  
This is a major subject.  Let me first say that NAFTA side agreements 
make NAFTA the first trade agreement in history that has ever directly 
addressed environmental concerns; and the essence of the approach of the 
side agreements with both Mexico and Canada is to say that each of the 
countries must take an obligation to enforce their own environmental 

We were concerned -- the United Stated was concerned, that other nations 
-- that is, Canada and Mexico -- while they have good environmental 
laws, might fail to enforce them and thus give them a comparative 
advantage against the United States.  The side agreements require each 
country or call upon each country to enforce its environmental 
agreements and provide for a mechanism for the United States to call 
that to the attention of Mexico and Canada.

There's a slightly different enforcement mechanism in connection with 
Canada than there is with Mexico.  With Mexico we have the opportunity 
at the end of the line after it's been brought to their attention, 
brought to the attention of a mixed commission, a possibility of $20 
million fines.  At the end of the day, if none of those things are 
successful in achieving compliance, then there's the possibility of 
trade sanctions.  There's a somewhat parallel structure in Canada that I 
won't take the time to elaborate.

But these are opportunities to make sure that all through this 
hemisphere environmental laws are obeyed and that the neighboring 
countries have a right to call attention to the failure to obey 
environmental laws, because we all know that pollution does not stop at 
the borders.

As far as how we will pay for a cleanup, as you know, there's been some 
very innovative thinking done of the creation of a border organization 
to be funded by bonds that would pay for the environmental cleanup in 
what I say is quite an innovative way of funding the cleanup that's been 
going on at the border between the United States and Mexico for some 

Overall, I think it's significant that seven or eight of our largest 
national environmental organizations have, after the side agreements, 
endorsed NAFTA as a progressive step.

QUESTION:  We have time for one last question, Mr. Secretary, and it 
relates to jobs.  What protection does NAFTA give against jobs leaving 
the U.S. and going to cheaper labor in Mexico?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  The question, I think, needs to be addressed in 
terms of what the net effect of NAFTA will be.  NAFTA will have a net 
positive effect on jobs.  The estimates are approximately 200,000 new 
jobs created in the next two years.

Unquestionably, there will be some jobs lost; and in order to compensate 
for that the Labor Department has developed a large retraining program.  
Congress is considering one that will take up in 1995, but in the 
interim between now and then Secretary Reich has been working on a 
retraining program.

As you also know, there is a new development proposal that's been 
recently agreed to by President Clinton that will provide for retraining 
and provide for the development of new industries, new businesses in 
those areas where they lose businesses in the United States.

I think we have to recognize in this era of change there will be some 
jobs that are lost, but more jobs will be gained; and the essence of 
NAFTA is to produce higher wage, better paying jobs, and then at the 
same time to find compassionate, effective means of dealing in a 
retraining and developmental way with the jobs that are lost.

Thank you very much.


Since this is my home, I couldn't come here without expressing sympathy 
and commiseration to the great suffering that's taken place here because 
of the fires -- I saw some as I was flying in -- and I express great 
concern about that and also great admiration and appreciation to the 
many efforts of volunteers -- firefighters and others -- who have helped 
the community once again weather this in a real sense of community.  So 
I applaud you, but I want you to know I'm concerned and give you my 
sympathy and commiseration.  Thanks so much again for letting me be 

(Sustained applause)


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