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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
April 20, 2001
Remarks by the President Upon Departure for Quebec, Canada for the Summit of the Americas
The South Lawn
10:50 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. In a few moments Laura and I will depart for Quebec City in Canada to attend the Summit of the Americas. This meeting will bring together leaders from all 34 democratic nations in our hemisphere.
Together we will put forward an agenda to strengthen our democracies, to tackle common challenges; and we will seek to expand our prosperity by expanding our trade. This is an important meeting for the United States. The future of our nation is closely tied to the future of our hemisphere.
Many Americans trace their heritage to other parts of the Americas, which enriches our culture. Many American businesses are finding growth and trade in the Americas, which expands our economy. And all Americans have an interest in the peace and stability of our closest neighbors.
Our goal in Quebec is to build a hemisphere of liberty. We must approach this goal in a spirit of civility, mutual respect and appreciation for our shared values. And we must make real progress.
Progress in this hemisphere requires an explicit commitment to human freedom. Only democratic nations can attend the Summit of the Americas. And every nation in our hemisphere, except one, will be there. This is an extraordinary achievement, one that would have been unthinkable just 15 years ago.
Progress requires a commitment to tearing down the barriers of poverty, disease, and ignorance so that every individual in our hemisphere may realize his or her full potential. The United States wants to work together with our neighbors to find ways to give all our children quality education, because learning and literacy are the foundations for democracy and for development.
Progress requires new efforts against illegal drugs. Our country is committed to bringing down the demand for drugs here at home. And we want to work more closely with countries where drugs are produced and traded so countries can better fight the supply of drugs at their source.
And progress in our hemisphere requires a renewed commitment to creating a free trade area of the Americas. This will make our hemisphere the largest free trade area in the world, encompassing 34 countries and 800 million people.
We already know from the North American Free Trade Agreement that free trade works. Since 1994 total trade among Canada, Mexico and the United States has more than doubled. NAFTA has created more choices at lower prices for consumers in all three of our nations. And it has created good jobs for our workers. Now is the time to extend these benefits of free trade throughout the entire hemisphere.
Open trade in our hemisphere will open new markets for our farmers and ranchers, workers and service providers, and high-tech entrepreneurs. It will fuel the engines of economic growth that create new jobs and new income. And it will apply the power of the markets to the needs of the poor. It will give new incentives for nations to reform their economies. It will reinforce our hemisphere's democratic gains because people who operate in open economies eventually demand more open societies.
This third Summit of the Americas will take the next steps in creating an entire hemisphere that is both prosperous and free. Es una tarea importante. Tenemos que aprovechar la oportunidad. It's a great task and an extraordinary opportunity to make the Americas the land of opportunity. And I look forward to getting started this weekend in Quebec.
Thank you all very much.
-END- 10:57 A.M. EDT