Thursday, September 29, 2016

President George W. Bush originated and signed NAFTA treat

November 14, 1993

The House of Representatives will vote Wednesday on the North American Free Trade Agreement, a complex and ambitious piece of legislation to create the world's largest free-trade zone. It is timely, then, to look at what is proposed and why it has aroused such opposition:


4. Is it a treaty? It is not a treaty. It is an international agreement. This is why it requires approval of both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Treaties require only approval of the Senate. NAFTA faces its biggest challenge in the House, which votes Wednesday.

5. Whose idea was it? It was first proposed by President George Bush and Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari in June as "a powerful engine for economic development, creating new jobs and opening new markets" in both countries. Canada, which created a free-trade zone with the United States in 1989, agreed to join the wider bloc.

6. Why has NAFTA come up now? President Bush signed the original agreement in December 1992. During the 1992 presidential campaign, Bill Clinton endorsed NAFTA on the condition that side agreements be negotiated to strengthen Mexico's implementation of labor and environmental standards. Negotiations on the side agreements lasted until August, delaying congressional consideration. Without the side agreements, it had no chance of congressional approval. Even with them, the outcome of the House vote is uncertain.


December 18, 1992|By Gilbert A. Lewthwaite | Gilbert A. Lewthwaite

President Bush signed the North American Free Trade Agreement yesterday, and his successor-in-waiting Bill Clinton immediately announced that he would not seek the treaty's renegotiation.

Mr. Clinton, in a statement issued in Little Rock, Ark., said the signing represented "an important step" toward the economic integration of North America. He repeated his campaign assertion that there would have to be new job and environmental protections, and safeguards against sudden trade "surges," but these could be settled without renegotiating the treaty with Mexico and Canada before he submitted implementing legislation.

"I will pursue those other things that I think need to be done in the public interest, then I will prepare implementing legislation and try to pass it in Congress," he said.

His new administration would also take domestic action on assisting workers, protecting the U.S. environment, helping farmers, encouraging public participation in consideration of the agreement and closing loopholes for foreign workers, he said.

"I believe these steps do not require renegotiation of NAFTA," said Mr. Clinton, promising to work closely with the two neighboring governments and with congress to "move this process forward."


Mr. Bush's action yesterday fulfilled the requirements of the "fast-track" legislative process, under which Congress can now only vote the agreement up or down. It cannot change the signed document.

Mr. Bush had to allow Congress 90 days to consider the agreement before signing. Yesterday was the first possible day for his signature. The clock will start ticking again when Mr. Clinton submits implementing legislation to make the necessary changes in U.S. law and tariffs required by the treaty. There is no deadline for Mr. Clinton to take this action, but once he does Congress will have up to 90 legislative days to vote up or down on the implementing legislation or change it.


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