Bill Clinton: Remarks on Signing the North American Free Trade Agreement

(1993)

Explanation and Analysis of the Document

President George H. W. Bush negotiated NAFTA, a landmark treaty to remove trade barriers between the United States, Mexico, and Canada. Clinton supported NAFTA during his campaign despite the fact that most Americans, particularly unionized labor, opposed the agreement because they believed that it would cost the nation jobs. The Texas billionaire Ross Perot, who ran as an independent candidate in the 1992 election, warned voters of a “giant sucking sound” that would accompany the loss of U.S. jobs to Mexico if NAFTA were to be enacted. Once elected, Clinton negotiated a series of side agreements to address his own NAFTA-related concerns regarding the maintenance of labor and environmental standards and cooperation in fighting drug trafficking.

Clinton delivered remarks on NAFTA during the signing ceremony. Early in the speech he mentions the side agreements, commenting that the treaty is about “social progress as well as economic...

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Bill Clinton (Library of Congress)

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