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U.S. Department of State
96/05/07 Remarks at American Chamber of Commerce-Mexico City
Office of the Spokesman
US STATE DEPARTMENT
Office of the Spokesman
For Immediate Release May 7, 1996
Text As Prepared For Delivery
Remarks by Secretary of State Christopher
American Chamber of Commerce-Mexico City.
Thank you, Mack, for that very kind introduction. It is a great
pleasure to be here with you this morning. I want to commend the
Chamber for the constructive role you have long played to support trade
and investment opportunities between our two nations-- and to help bring
NAFTA from a bold vision to a successful reality.
One of the privileges and pleasures of my job is working with people of
the caliber of Mack McLarty. Mack is a trusted Counselor to the
President, an effective advocate for American business, and one of the
guiding forces of the Miami Summit and the process of economic
integration that it has spurred through the hemisphere.
Let me say a word about another speaker who should have been with us
this morning. Ron Brown was well known in Mexico-- and to many of you
here today. He worked hard to promote trade and investment between the
United States and Mexico-- and he earned enormous good will for America
here and everywhere else he traveled around the world.
Ron's mission to Bosnia and Croatia epitomized our Administration's
approach to international economic diplomacy-- as well our country's
unique tradition of pragmatic idealism. He and his government
colleagues, and the business leaders accompanying them, were opening
opportunities for American companies while promoting our strategic goals
in an area of critical interest to the United States.
This morning I want to call to your attention another opportunity to
invest in peace and reconciliation-- in Mexico's immediate neighbor to
the south. Central America's last remaining internal conflict--
Guatemala's 35-year-old civil war-- is finally coming to an end.
Yesterday, the parties signed an accord that sets out principles under
which their country can lift its economy and the living standards of all
I want to encourage U.S. and Mexican business to invest in the new
opportunities that a democratic Guatemala at peace offers.
This is the fourth meeting of the U.S.-Mexico Binational Commission
meeting that I have attended. In that time, I have seen the emergence
of a new understanding -- that our common challenges can only be met
through cooperation based on mutual respect.
This year's Binational Commission meeting is turning out to be
extraordinarily productive. We welcomed recent progress in our common
fight against drug trafficking-- and agreed to crack down on money-
laundering and strengthen control of precursor chemicals. Today we will
sign an agreement assuring full consular protection for our nationals in
both countries-- and we will reaffirm our commitment to preventing
abuses at our borders, whether by alien smugglers or law enforcement
We will also sign Border XXI-- a new framework that will strengthen our
environmental cooperation and ability to solve pollution problems
locally. And we have agreed to cooperate in research and development of
renewable energy and energy efficient technology.
Our cooperation through the Binational Commission reflects how far our
partnership has come. Our partnership was tested by last year's crisis-
- and it was strengthened by our joint response. President Clinton
immediately recognized the vital interest of the United States in the
stability and prosperity of Mexico-- as well as the threat posed to the
other emerging markets of the hemisphere.
He acted decisively to mobilize U.S. and international support. It was
not the easy thing to do, but it was the right thing to do-- and it is
The tough measures taken by President Zedillo have earned the confidence
of the world and put the Mexican economy back on the road to long-term
growth. Interest rates and inflation are down. Reserves are up.
Mexico is paying off its loans on time, decisively re-establishing its
All the evidence suggests that the courage of the Mexican people in the
face of hardship will be rewarded. Mexico's economy is expanding again.
The costs of adjustment would have been much more severe for Mexico
without NAFTA and our close cooperation.
The contrast with the 1982 debt crisis is striking. U.S. exports to
Mexico fell 50 percent after the 1982 debt crisis and did not recover
for the better part of a decade. This time, Mexico's NAFTA status
allowed it to eliminate its trade deficit by raising exports instead of
restricting imports. As a result, trade has risen in both directions
across the border.
I am confident that Mexico will continue to offer growing opportunities
for U.S. exports and investment in the coming years. As you know so
well, helping U.S. companies expand their presence in this dynamic
economy is a top priority for Ambassador Jones and his team here in
Mexico City and at our 8 other posts around the country.
Their work helped bring about last week's contract signing that will
allow construction of the large electrical power generating plant near
Ciudad Juarez to go forward with U.S. participation. We just concluded
a telecommunications agreement that will pave the way for U.S. firms to
offer satellite transmission services in Mexico for the first time. And
we are working closely with the Government of Mexico to enable U.S.
firms to participate in sectors of the economy recently opened to
We are focusing on overcoming other obstacles to entering the Mexican
market. We are working to strengthen protection of intellectual
property rights, especially of copyrights and trademarks. We are
working to harmonize product standards so that they do not restrict U.S.
exports. Progress in these and other areas will improve the quality and
efficiency of Mexico's business environment-- and benefit companies and
consumers in both countries.
The work of Ambassador Jones and his team is matched by our efforts in
Washington and at our posts around the world to go to bat for American
business. This is an Administration that has been determined to make
commercial diplomacy a top priority. But our continued success depends
on adequate resources for our missions. We welcome your help to insure
that the United States does not retreat into protection and isolation.
We can't compete if we can't put a full-time team on the field.
From the day he took office, President Clinton has placed open and fair
markets at the center of our foreign policy. That is why the President
pushed hard to ratify NAFTA and to complete the GATT Uruguay Round-- and
to break down barriers across the Pacific through APEC and across the
Atlantic with the European Union. And that is why he shaped the
consensus at the Summit of the Americas in Miami to negotiate a Free
Trade Area of the Americas-- an FTAA.
We remain on track to achieve the Free Trade Area by 2005. At trade
ministerial meetings in Denver last June and in Cartagena this March, we
laid the foundations for negotiations and established working groups
covering everything from market access to intellectual property. We
will consider their recommendations at the third trade ministerial next
year in Brazil, and discuss how to open formal negotiations on an FTAA.
The stakes are immense-- a 12 trillion dollar market of 850 million
consumers. The private sector must lend its advice and support to
ensure that every step we take has practical relevance to business. Let
me tell you today what I told the Council of the Americas yesterday
morning in Washington and the American Chamber of Commerce two months
ago in Sao Paulo: without the intensive involvement of the private
sector in the Miami process, we will not be able to meet our goals on
the road to 2005.
The United States and Mexico share great opportunities-- and great
responsibilities. If our governments continue to deepen our
cooperation, we can lift the lives of millions of people on both sides
of the border. If our business people continue to strengthen their
ties, we can create jobs and spur growth in both our countries. I am
confident that the private sector will do its part.
Your companies are breaking down barriers between our economies and
building bridges between our peoples-- and that is the best investment
that anyone can make in our shared future.
Thank you very much.
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