[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: George H. W. Bush (1992-1993, Book II)]
[October 7, 1992]
[Pages 1770-1771]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks at the Initialing Ceremony for the North American Free Trade 
Agreement in San Antonio, Texas
October 7, 1992

    May I start off by saluting President Salinas and Prime Minister 
Mulroney, Secretary Serra, Minister Wilson: Welcome to the city of San 
Antonio. I thank the other foreign dignitaries, Governors, mayors, and 
Members of our Congress and my Cabinet, so many from the business 
community from all three countries that are here.
    We've just been talking about this, and this meeting marks a turning 
point in the history of our three countries. Today the United States, 
Mexico, and Canada embark together on an extraordinary enterprise. We 
are creating the largest, richest, and most productive market in the 
entire world, a $6 trillion market of 360 million people that stretches 
5,000 miles from Alaska and the Yukon to the Yucatan Peninsula.

[[Page 1771]]

    NAFTA, the North American free trade agreement, is an achievement of 
three strong and proud nations. This accord expresses our confidence in 
economic freedom and personal freedom, in our peoples' energy and 
    The United States, Mexico, and Canada have already seen the powerful 
and beneficial impact of freer trade and more open markets. Over the 
past 5 years, as President Salinas reduced trade barriers under his bold 
reform program and as Prime Minister Mulroney and I implemented the 
United States-Canadian Free Trade Agreement, trade between our three 
countries has soared. In 1992 alone, that trade will reach an estimated 
$223 billion, up $58 billion just since 1987.
    If anyone doubts the importance of trade for creating jobs, they 
should come to this great State, come to the Lone Star State. In 1991, 
Texas exports totaled $47 billion, just from this State. And of that 
amount, over $15 billion went to Mexico, almost 2\1/2\ times as much as 
5 years ago. This export boom goes well beyond one State, well beyond 
Texas. Virtually every State has increased exports to Mexico in the past 
5 years.
    NAFTA means more exports, and more exports means more American jobs. 
Between 1987 and 1991, the increase in our exports to Mexico alone 
created over 300,000 new American jobs. These are high-wage jobs. In the 
case of merchandise exports, those jobs pay a worker a full 17 percent 
more than the average wage.
    Free trade is the way of the future. I've set a goal for America to 
become, by the early years of the next century, the world's first $10 
trillion economy, and NAFTA is an important element in reaching that 
goal. With NAFTA, as more open markets stimulate growth, create new 
products at competitive prices for consumers, we'll create new jobs at 
good wages in all three countries.
    NAFTA will do these things and remain consistent with our other 
international obligations, our GATT trade obligations. Let me be clear 
that I remain committed to the successful conclusion of the Uruguay 
round of trade negotiations this year.
    But NAFTA's importance is not limited to trade. We've taken 
particular care that our workers will benefit and the environment will 
be protected. As a result of NAFTA, the U.S. and Mexico are working more 
closely than we ever have to strengthen cooperation on such important 
labor issues as occupational health and safety standards, child labor, 
and labor-management relations.
    Then, on the environment, an issue of critical concern for all three 
leaders here today, we have agreed on practical, effective steps to 
address urgent issues such as border pollution, as well as longer term 
problems, such as preventing countries from lowering environmental 
standards to attract foreign investment. I salute the two gentlemen 
standing next to me, Prime Minister Mulroney and President Salinas, for 
their commitment and their leadership to this environment that we all 
share. As proof of that commitment, the United States and Mexican 
Governments have already developed a comprehensive, integrated plan to 
clean up air and water pollution and other hazardous waste along the Rio 
Grande River.
    I know for some NAFTA will be controversial precisely because it 
opens the way to change. Some of NAFTA's critics will fight the future, 
throw obstacles in the way of this agreement, to mask a policy of 
protectionism. But history shows us that any nation that raises walls 
and turns inward is destined only for decline. We cannot make that 
choice for ourselves or for our children. We must set our course for the 
future, for free trade.
    Mr. President and Mr. Prime Minister: This accord underscores the 
principle that democratic, market-oriented nations are natural partners 
in free trade. We owe it to our fellow citizens to bring this agreement 
into effect as soon as possible, and I pledge my support to that end.
    Thank you very much.

                    Note: The President spoke at 3:06 p.m. at the Plaza 
                        San Antonio Hotel. In his remarks, he referred 
                        to Jaime Serra Puche, Mexico's Secretary of 
                        Commerce and Industrial Development, and Michael 
                        Wilson, Canada's Minister of International