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U.S. Department of State
96/05/06 Remarks: Council of Americas Washington Conference
Office of the Spokesman

 
 
                        U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE 
                         Office of the Spokesman 
 
                                                                 
As Prepared for Delivery                                May 6, 1996 
 
                               REMARKS BY 
                SECRETARY OF STATE WARREN CHRISTOPHER 
                                 AT THE 
             COUNCIL OF AMERICAS WASHINGTON CONFERENCE 
 
                          Department of State 
                           Washington, D.C. 
 
 
 
Thank you.  I am very glad to have the chance to meet with you this 
morning.  I am honored to be back in the distinguished company of the 
Council of the Americas founder David Rockefeller, as well as Chairman 
John Avery and President Ted Briggs.  I especially want to welcome my 
NAFTA colleagues Trade Secretary Blanco of Mexico and Trade Minister 
Eggleton of Canada.  
 
I also want to take this opportunity to welcome and introduce Acting 
Assistant Secretary for Inter-American Affairs Jeffrey Davidow.  As our 
former Ambassador to Venezuela and a diplomat with wide experience, he 
is eminently qualified to help realize the bold vision of economic 
growth and integration set out by President Clinton at the Miami Summit 
of the Americas. 
 
This Council and its members have played an invaluable role in 
supporting the triumph of open markets and democracy in our hemisphere.  
Through your commitment to dialogue, you have helped foster a deeper 
understanding among leaders throughout the Americas.  As a channel 
between the U.S. Government and the business community, you have helped 
ensure that our policies meet the real needs of our companies and our 
workers. 
 
Since the day he took office, President Clinton has placed job creation, 
open markets and fair trade at the center of our economic strategy.  He 
fought to ratify NAFTA and to complete the GATT Uruguay Round.  He 
united the leaders of the Asia-Pacific to forge a strong commitment to 
open trade.  He and the leaders of the European Union have committed to 
build a new Transatlantic Marketplace.  At the Miami Summit, he shaped 
the consensus to negotiate a Free Trade Area of the Americas that will 
encompass a 12 trillion dollar market of 850 million consumers.  His aim 
is to make this hemisphere an even more dynamic hub of the global 
economy, and to open markets, create jobs and lift living standards for 
all the citizens of the region. 
 
We remain on track to achieve a Free Trade Area of the Americas by 2005 
(FTAA).  At trade ministerials in Denver and Cartagena, we laid the 
foundations for negotiations.  Working groups covering everything from 
market access to intellectual property are developing a data base of 
trade practices throughout the hemisphere and negotiating strategies for 
each of their disciplines.  We will consider their recommendations at 
the third trade ministerial next year in Brazil, where we will discuss 
how to open formal negotiations on an FTAA. 
 
I cannot stress enough the importance of your advice and support through 
the Business Forum and other mechanisms.  As I told business leaders two 
months ago in Sao Paulo, you must be engaged and intensely involved in 
developing the FTAA if we are to meet our goals on the road to 2005. 
 
Through the continuing implementation of NAFTA, the United States, 
Canada and Mexico are strengthening the basis for regional prosperity 
and economic integration.  NAFTA is benefitting all the citizens of the 
region.  U.S. exports to Mexico last year were 11 percent higher than in 
any pre-NAFTA year.  In the first two months of 1996, they have risen to 
record levels. 
 
NAFTA is the most dramatic symbol of the new era of cooperation that the 
United States and Mexico have entered.  From the beginning, President 
Clinton has recognized that the United States has a vital interest in a 
stable, prosperous, and democratic Mexico.  One year ago, the President 
stood with Mexico during its peso crisis because he realized that 
immediate action was necessary to secure the financial stability of our 
closest Latin neighbor -- and that of emerging markets across our 
hemisphere.  President Zedillo also acted decisively to pursue an 
economic program that has sustained Mexico's commitment to open markets 
and helped its economy return to the path of long-term growth. 
 
Our two nations have broadened and deepened our cooperation in many 
other critical areas.  Later today I will lead the largest ever U.S. 
Cabinet delegation to Mexico City for the thirteenth meeting of the 
U.S.-Mexico Binational Commission.  The Binational Commission is both a 
reflection of the growing breadth of our relationship and a mechanism 
for helping us to meet shared challenges.  Let me briefly highlight some 
of our top priorities: 
 
We will bolster efforts to fight drug trafficking and crime.  With 
General Barry McCaffrey in charge, we are developing a coordinated drug 
strategy through our new High Level Contact Group.  Mexico's recent 
action to make money-laundering a crime will help our joint efforts.  We 
are also improving our law enforcement cooperation by strengthening 
extradition procedures. 
 
In recent days, Mexico has taken the historic step of extraditing three 
Mexican nationals to the United States.  We hope that this unprecedented 
action will help persuade other Latin American countries to overcome 
their aversion to extraditing their nationals. 
 
We will also continue to cooperate on the difficult issues surrounding 
migration.  We will seek to improve the enforcement of U.S. immigration 
laws and to crack down on alien smuggling, while protecting the rights 
and dignity of all individuals.   
 
This year's Binational Commission will launch an initiative enabling 
local officials on both sides of the border to cooperate in protecting 
the air and water supplies that their communities share.  We have also 
expanded the Commission to cover public health issues, and to study new 
cooperative energy policies.  
 
Broad as it is, the Binational Commission represents only a portion of 
our extraordinary cooperation. As two of the hemisphere's biggest 
economies and most influential nations, we can be a strong force for 
achieving common goals in the Americas and around the world. 
 
When I met with you one year ago, some observers pointed to Mexico's 
financial crisis and the fighting between Peru and Ecuador and 
proclaimed the death of the Spirit of Miami.  They underestimated the 
strength of our hemisphere's new consensus.  Working together, the 
region's democracies have proved them wrong.  Instead of wavering in the 
face of Mexico's crisis, Latin American nations reacted by deepening 
their own economic reforms.  The fighting between Peru and Ecuador was 
stopped with the key help of the United States, Argentina, Brazil, and 
Chile -- an effort that is also moving the conflict to a lasting 
solution. 
 
Just two weeks ago in Paraguay, our 34 democracies again demonstrated 
their determination to defend the hemisphere's hard-won gains.  With the 
strong support of the United States, the Organization of American 
States, and MERCOSUR, President Wasmosy and the Paraguayan people faced 
down a threatened coup by Paraguay's dismissed army commander. 
 
Since we last met, there has also been substantial progress toward 
ending Central America's last remaining internal conflict -- Guatemala's 
35-year-old civil war.  The government of President Alvaro Arzu and 
Guatemala's guerrillas have stepped up their peace talks.  This morning 
in Mexico City, they are expected to sign an accord that sets out 
principles under which Guatemala can attain greater economic benefits 
and a better standard of living for its citizens.  The private sector 
has played an important role in this peace process.  We look to 
businesses to invest in the expanding opportunities that a peaceful and 
democratic Guatemala will offer. 
 
During my recent trip to the region, I was struck not just by these 
positive trends but by the warmth and broad scope of our relationships.  
Less than a decade ago, the nuclear programs of Argentina and Brazil 
posed serious proliferation risks.  Now those nations are important 
global partners against proliferation.  As Foreign Minister Lampreia of 
Brazil told me during the signing of nuclear and space cooperation 
agreements, issues that were once on the negative side of the agenda are 
now on the positive side. 
 
One of the most moving moments on my trip came in Buenos  Aires, when I 
reviewed a contingent of Argentine troops bound for peacekeeping duties 
in the former Yugoslavia.  Argentina has now become the leading South 
American contributor to international peacekeeping as its armed forces 
have adjusted to civilian authority.  Across the hemisphere, we are 
working with a new generation of elected leaders who are not only 
dynamic, outward-looking and of the highest caliber themselves, but who 
are surrounding themselves with first-rate cabinet officials. 
 
Let me comment briefly on two other areas where our cooperation has 
entered a new era -- fighting corruption and protecting the environment. 
 
The nations of the hemisphere just negotiated an unprecedented anti-
corruption convention through the OAS that requires countries to adopt 
laws on bribing foreign officials roughly equivalent to the standards of 
the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.  As you know, we have reached 
agreement with the OECD for countries to prevent bribes paid to foreign 
officials from being tax-deductible as a business expense.  We are 
pushing for the next step -- to ensure that bribery is treated as a 
crime.  I have been deeply involved in such efforts since my days as 
Deputy Secretary in the 1970s, and I am gratified to see our efforts 
finally paying dividends. 
 
We will advance our hemispheric efforts to help preserve the environment 
when the Summit's Conference on Sustainable Development meets in Bolivia 
later this year.  At Stanford University three weeks ago, I stressed the 
importance of integrating environmental issues into the mainstream of 
our foreign policy.  Whether in confronting the costs of climate change 
or the impact of deforestation on the consolidation of democracy in 
Haiti, addressing these issues is squarely in America's interest.  That 
includes helping American companies expand their commanding share of a 
400 billion dollar market for environmental technologies.  We all need 
to recognize that pitting economic growth against environmental 
protection is what President Clinton has called "a false choice." 
 
This broad cooperation in Latin America would not be possible without 
the great progress that our hemisphere has made toward democratic 
governments and open markets.  And as we have seen from Mexico to 
Paraguay, that great progress in turn would not have democratic 
governments and open markets.  And as we have seen from Mexico to 
Paraguay, that great progress in turn would not have been possible 
without American leadership and the budget resources that we need to 
support our diplomacy. 
 
The private sector has an essential role to play in making the vision of 
Miami a reality.  It is your companies' investments and innovations that 
are breaking down barriers between our economies and building bridges 
between our peoples.  In the coming months, I look to the continuing 
advice and support of the Council -- and the dynamism of its members -- 
to ensure that the United States leads the way toward the creation of a 
stable, democratic and prosperous Western Hemisphere. 
 
Thank you very much. 
 
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