The White House
Tuesday, October 5, 1993
President Clinton Makes Case for NAFTA at AFL-CIO Meeting
The President stressed that NAFTA would raise labor and environmental standards in Mexico and open the closed Mexican market to U.S. automobile exports along with many other U.S. manufactured goods. He noted that the U.S. in the last five years has seen a $5.7 billion trade deficit become a $5.6 billion surplus. President Clinton also stressed that if the U.S. turns away from NAFTA we would could lose out to Germany and Japan, who are poised to take advantage of the growth of the Mexican economy. Finally, the President asserted that by turning away from NAFTA, we would the opportunity to build on the agreement with the rest of Latin America, opening up rich markets to which billions of dollars of American-made products could be sold.
After setting out his case in support for NAFTA, the President said, "I don't ask you to agree, but I ask you to make the same arguments inside your own mind, because I would never knowingly do anything to cost America jobs. I'm trying to create jobs in this country."
Before closing, President Clinton gave his own view on the roots of the opposition to NAFTA. "What I really believe is that this has become the symbol of the legitimate grievances of the American working people about the way they've been worked over the last 12 years," the President concluded. "And I think those grievances are legitimate. And I think that people are so insecure in their jobs, they're so uncertain that the people they work for really care about them, they're so uncertain about what their kids are looking at in the future, that people are reluctant to take any risks for change."
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