This will be the first of a series of daily briefings on the
administration's campaign to approve NAFTA.
President Clinton strode into the packed East Room of the
White House with former Presidents Bush, Carter and Ford on Tuesday to
launch a vigorous, administration-wide campaign to fight for the North
American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). In strong remarks, he defined
the debate -- that we will only generate jobs by competing, not
retreating -- by stating "this debate about NAFTA is a debate about
whether we will embrace these changes and create the jobs of tomorrow,
or try to resist these changes, hoping we can preserve the economic
structures of the past."
Addressing the concerns of those who fear the effects of NAFTA,
the President stated, "it is clear that most of the people that oppose
this pact are rooted in the fears and insecurities that are legitimately
gripping the great American middle class. It is no use to deny that
these fears and insecurities exist. It is no use denying that many of
our people have lost in the battle for change. But it is a great
mistake to think that NAFTA will make it worse. Every single solitary
thing you hear people talk about that they're worried about can happen
whether this trade agreement passes or not, and most of them will be
made worse if it fails."
The event -- attended by over 300 guests including nine state
governors and sixty members of Congress, as well as business and
community leaders from around the country --showed that support for
NAFTA is picking up steam. Former Presidents Bush, Carter and Ford each
spoke to the gathering in a demonstration of the bipartisan support for
The pact was also endorsed by major environmental groups
including the Natural Resources Defense Council, Audobon Society,
Environmental Defense Fund, National Wildlife Federation, and the World
Wildlife Federation. In endorsing the NAFTA and the side accords,
Environmental Defense Fund executive director Fred Krupp stated, "[f]or
the first time we have specific commitments in a trade agreement to
improve enforcement of environmental laws and cooperation on
environmental problem solving in North America."
Due to present Mexican laws, American automobile manufacturers
must produce most cars that they sell in Mexico, keeping present U.S.
auto exports to Mexico under 1,000. After NAFTA, these companies expect
to sell 60,000 American-made cars to Mexico in the first year alone.