Remarks at a White House Briefing for Members of the American Business Conference
Thank you. And I was listening, and I almost didn't come out here. [Laughter] Well, thank you, and thank you all, and welcome once again to the White House complex.
know as well as I do that
1981 ABC was a cofounding member of the Tax Action
Group, a group that proved crucial in convincing Congress to pass our historic
tax cut. This means that you not only participated in the shaping not only of
American history but of world history. For, I don't know whether you're aware
of it, but the tax cut revolution has spread to nations as diverse as
1983 I made a trip to
And in a moment, I'd like to discuss world trade with you in some detail. But before I do so, it's clear from all I've just said that we have indeed been through a great deal together, you and I. And I just want to pause for a moment and let you know how much your friendship and support have meant to me, and to say: From my heart, I thank you.
there's a great deal still to do in these remaining 10 months, and so to get on
with business, let's consider for a moment America's role in international
trade. Now, you'd think the
But the critics never learn. Since the third quarter of 1986 the volume of American exports has been growing some 4 times as fast as the volume of imports. And much of this export surge is in manufacturing exports. Industry after industry is finding itself in an export boom. As Business Week magazine reported recently: ``Basic manufacturers, once considered a dying breed, are selling products many thought wouldn't even be made in the United States any longer -- escalators to Taiwan, machine tools to West Germany, lumber to Japan, and shoes to Italy.'' Well, the dollar's helped, of course. But what's happening here goes beyond the dollar.
Too many backers of the trade bill currently under consideration in Congress talk about making America more competitive, but support provisions that would do just the opposite. They talk about saving jobs, but they want provisions that have the potential to destroy thousands, if not millions, of American jobs. We've listed our objections to this bill in detail for the House-Senate conference members. My veto pen remains ready and available if the final work product of the conference remains antitrade, anticonsumer, antijobs, and antigrowth. But my hope, which I believe you share, is that I won't have to use that pen.
Now, you all know that the House-Senate conference on the trade bill is working away and plans to finish its job soon. The conference process got off to a good, constructive start earlier this month; however, many objectionable provisions remain, including proposed procedural changes in the law. But I'm hopeful that in the next phase these will be jettisoned. Only wholesale elimination of many of the existing items will produce a bill that I can sign.
But there's another vital trade matter before
the Congress, one that gives the Congress the opportunity to take positive and,
indeed, historical action. I refer, of course, to our free trade agreement
we're tearing down the walls, the tariffs, that block the flow of trade and
eliminating the tangle of restrictions and regulations that bind our commerce
and inhibit economic cooperation. As this agreement takes effect, Americans and
Canadians will conduct business, invest, and trade where they like, rejecting
beggar-thy-neighbor policies, and putting aside special interests in favor of
the common interest. We've broken new territory by covering areas, such as
investment and services, traditionally beyond the scope of trade agreements.
What better example could there be for the GATT [General Agreement on Tariffs
Now, I know it's bad manners to quote oneself, so please forgive me if I read you a few lines from a speech I delivered all the way back in November of 1979: ``A developing closeness between the United States, Canada, and Mexico could serve notice on friend and foe alike that we're prepared for a long haul, looking outward again and confident of our future; that together we're going to create jobs, to generate new fortunes of wealth for many, and provide a legacy for the children of each of our countries. Two hundred years ago, we taught the world that a new form of government, created out of the genius of man to cope with his circumstances, could succeed in bringing a measure of quality to human life previously thought impossible.'' Well, let us dare to dream, I said, of some future date, when the map of the world shows a North American continent united in commerce, committed to freedom where borders become what the U.S.-Canadian border is today: a meeting place rather than a dividing line.
My friends, I look forward to working with you once again in behalf of the economic freedom in which we both so deeply believe. Yes, let us dare to dream, and let us work on to make our dreams come true.
I'm going to finish with just one thing. I know I should have quit long ago, but it's just a little item that, during the war when I was flying a desk for the Air Corps, in uniform -- [laughter] -- I came across something that has been kind of a symbol of government to me and its mistakes. There was a warehouse full of filing cabinets. Someone had inspected them and found that they didn't even have historical interest, and there was no absolute use to them whatsoever. So, in that military type of correspondence, we started up through the channels a letter requesting permission to destroy those files so that we could use those file cases for things current. And all the way it went up, being endorsed, till finally the top level. And then it came back down being endorsed all the way, permission granted for the destruction of those files providing copies are made of each one. [Laughter]
Oh, thank you. God bless you all.
Note: The President
spoke at in Room 450 of the