Over the course of three days, leaders from across North and South America met in Canada during the Summit of the Americas. The following are remarks and speeches provided by the White House related to that gathering.
President George W. Bush delivered the following remarks on the south lawn of the White House on April 20, 2001, before departing for Quebec City, Quebec, Canada, for the Summit of the Americas.
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.
President George W. Bush delivered the following remarks during a photo opportunity with Andean leaders on April 20, 2001, during the Summit of the Americas.
THE PRESIDENT: I want to thank you all for coming. It is my honor to host what I think is a very important meeting between the members of the Andean coalition and my country. I wanted to visit with the leaders face to face. I met President Pastrana before, it’s good see him again. I have talked on the phone to some of the leaders. I want to assure the leaders here that our nation looks forward to working with you, and particularly when it comes to trade and commerce.
I want to assure the leaders that Plan Colombia means more than just the country of Colombia. I know that’s of concern to the President of Ecuador, that we’ve got plans for all the countries in the region. And it’s not just on helping to fight drugs. It’s on making sure that the economies remain strong, that the infrastructure for education is in place. It is in our nation’s interest that we cooperate together. And so I appreciate the leaders for being here.
It is my honor to host this discussion. I look forward to a very frank and honest exchange of areas where we can cooperate; and if there are some problems, areas that we can work together to solve the problems. So thank you all for coming. El honor es mio.
President George W. Bush delivered the following remarks at Loews Concorde in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada, on April 20, 2001, during the Summit of the Americas. Bush primarily spoke about his administration’s desire to increase trade between the United States and Latin America.
THE PRESIDENT: I want to thank the Presidents from some of the Central American countries for coming here. It’s my honor to say once again hello to the President of El Salvador, the President of Panama, and the President of Honduras. Thank you all very much. I look forward to wide-ranging discussions on the benefits of trade, the need for us to continue to think about how best to have in place measures that will help in the case of future natural disasters, ways to continue to cooperate on issues of trafficking of people and arms and drugs.
So I look forward to a very fruitful discussion. I’m honored you all are here. El placir es mio.
I’ll try to answer a few questions. Sondra, have you got something?
Q Sir, the protests have really flared up outside. What do you have to say to the protestors?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, if they are — if they’re protesting because of free trade, I would say I disagree. I think trade is very important for this hemisphere. Trade not only helps spread prosperity, but trade helps spread freedom. And so I would just disagree with those who think that trade — somehow trade is going to negatively affect the working people and people for whom hope doesn’t exist in some places. So we need trade.
And I am convinced that the leadership that I met with agrees. And we can work together, because they understand that working together we can bring prosperity throughout our entire hemisphere.
Secondly, I would hope that those out there expressing their opinion realize how important it is for the United States and Canada and Mexico to extend our agreements beyond our borders, to Central America and South America, where it’s important to keep our neighborhood intact and to have a strong neighborhood. And these are our neighbors.
I grew up in a world where if you treat your neighbor well, it’s a good start to developing a wholesome community. So I understand some people don’t like trade; I just strongly disagree with them.
Q Mr. President, what are you telling summit leaders when they ask you how likely are you to get fast track?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, they understand that trade promotion authority, or fast track, will be very important for us in order to make sure that we can fulfill our hopes to have a free-trading hemisphere. But we also can, and will discuss, bilateral agreements, or agreements with groups of countries. So it’s a dual-track strategy.
I hope Congress understands the hope and promise of trade promotion authority. It’s important for the President to have trade promotion authority. It will make it a lot easier for us to complete the agreements that we’re all discussing here in summits such as this.
MR. FLEISCHER: Final question.
Q Mr. President, when you met with the President of Brazil —
THE PRESIDENT: You again.
Q Yes, it’s me again — and the other ANDEAN leaders, were they — just following up on fast track — the fact that you don’t have fast track, did they express that as a concern?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, not really. They were more interested in, one, our commitment to the neighborhood. Secondly, they were — we spent a lot of time talking about drugs and drug trafficking, and I assured them I understood that our nation must do a better job of reducing demand, and at the same time, working with the ANDEAN nations to eradicate supply.
An issue that came up, and one that I was aware of is that Plan Colombia could have the opportunity to spread the problems to neighboring countries, outside of Colombia. And therefore, we have to put together an ANDEAN initiative which recognizes that. And thirdly, that relations are — that we must have relations beyond just drug eradication. In other words, that we’ve got to work together to make sure the education systems in our respective countries fulfill their promise; that legal reforms are needed in some parts of the world.
And so we had a very wide-ranging discussion, and I was most pleased, by the way, that the President of Brazil joined in the discussion, because it was — I thought it was a very good signal of his understanding the importance of the ANDEAN region. And he plays a very — his country plays a very important part and a very important role in that part of the world.
Q Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: You got your wish. (Laughter.)
President George W. Bush made the following remarks on April 21, 2001, during the Summit of the Americas.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister. Amigo y amigos, it’s an honor to be here. First, Mr. Prime Minister, I want to thank you for your warm hospitality, and I want to thank all those folks in your government who have worked hard to make this conference a success. My fellow Presidents and Prime Ministers and leaders of our hemisphere’s 34 democracies, it is a great honor to be here.
We have a great vision before us, a fully democratic hemisphere bound together by goodwill and free trade. That’s a tall order. It is a chance of a lifetime. It is a responsibility we all share.
Quebec City is a fitting place for us to begin. Many of the great cultures that have shaped our hemisphere converge in this city. Before Champlain’s ever sailed the St. Lawrence he sailed the Caribbean, visiting Mexico and Colombia, Puerto Rico and Panama. As a matter of fact, he was one of the first to propose a canal from the Atlantic to the Pacific, so that trade may prosper. During the 400 years since Champlain’s travels, our hemisphere, united by geography, has too often — too often — been separated by history of rivalry and resentment.
But we have entered a new era. The interests of my nation, of all our nations, are served by strong, healthy democratic neighbors, and are served best by lasting friendships in our own neighborhood.
My country, more than ever, feels the ties of kinship, commerce and culture that unite us. And I’m proud to have the privilege so early in my administration to meet with all the leaders of this hemisphere’s democratic countries.
Our task is to take the vital principles shaped at Miami and Santiago and translate them into actions that directly benefit the people we answer to. I’m here to offer my own ideas. I’m here to learn, and to listen from voices — to those inside this hall, and to those outside this hall who want to join us in constructive dialogue.
The single most important thing we will do here is to reaffirm that this summit is a gathering of, by, and for democracies, and only democracies. Today, freedom embraces the entire hemisphere, except for one country. And we look forward to the day when all this hemisphere’s peoples will know the benefits and dignity of freedom. Jose Marti said it best: La libertad no es nogociable.
We also understand that democracy is a journey, not a destination. Each nation here, including the United States, must work to make freedom succeed. Elections are the foundation of democracy, but nations need to build on this foundation with other building blocks, such as a strong judiciary, freedom to speak and write as you wish, efficient banking and social services, quality schools, secure ownership of land, the ability to start and own a business. We must strengthen this architecture of democracy for the benefit of all our people.
This is the spirit behind the American Fellows exchange program that I announce here today. This program will sponsor one-year exchanges of outstanding civil servants among nations throughout the Americas. We’ll also provide resources to help reform and modernize judicial institutions, protect basic human rights, root out corruption and other threats to the institutions that sustain freedom.
Our hemisphere support for democracy and freedom is principled, but it is also pragmatic. Freedom is not only a right, it is also our best weapon against tyranny and poverty. Some complain that despite our democratic gains, there is still too much poverty in equality. Some even say that things are getting worse, not better. For too many, this may be true. But the solution does not lie in statism or protectionism; the solution lies in more freedom.
And that is why we seek freedom not only for people living within our borders, but also for commerce moving across our borders. Free and open trade creates new jobs and new income. It lifts the lives of all our people, applying the power of markets to the needs of the poor. It spurs the process of economic and legal reform. And open trade reinforces the habit of liberty that sustains democracy over the long haul.
The United States will work for open trade at every opportunity. We will seek bilateral free trade agreements with friends and partners, such as the one we aim to complete this year with Chile. We will work for open trade globally through negotiations in the World Trade Organization. And here in the Americas, we will work hard to build an entire hemisphere that trades in freedom.
The history of our times is clear: Progress is found in pluralism; nodernization is found in markets. Free enterprise requires liberty and enlarges liberty. Our commitment to open trade must be matched by a strong commitment to protecting our environment and improving labor standards.
Yet, these concerns must not be an excuse for self-defeating protectionism. We know from NAFTA that open trade works. Since 1994, total trade among Canada and Mexico and the United States has more than doubled. NAFTA has given consumers in all three nations more choices, at lower prices. And it has created high quality, high — good wage jobs from the Yukon to the Yucatan.
The time has come to extend the benefits of free trade to all our peoples and to achieve a free trade agreement for the entire hemisphere. Our challenge is to energize our negotiations on a free trade area for the Americas, so that they can be completed no later than the year 2005.
In my first speech to our Congress, I made clear that achieving U.S. trade promotion authority was among my top priorities. I reinforced that message just two weeks ago, when I met to discuss trade issues with congressional leaders. When I return to Washington, I will put forward a set of principles that will be the framework for more intense consultations with Congress. I’m committed to attaining trade promotion authority before the end of the year. I’m confident that I will get it.
Partnership in trade is fundamental to the hemisphere’s well-being. But we know it is not, by itself, sufficient to guarantee the quality of life we seek for ourselves and for our children. Too many people in our hemisphere grow, sell and use illegal drugs. I want to make this clear: The United States is responsible to fight demand for drugs within our own borders. We have a serious obligation to do so. And we will expand our efforts, with meaningful resources, to work with producer and transit countries to fortify their democratic institutions, to promote sustainable development, and to fight the supply of drugs at the source.
This is a message I carried yesterday to the leaders of the Andean countries. The United States so appreciates the difficult challenge they face in fighting drugs, and stands ready to be a consistent and true partner. We’re also committed to deepening our cooperation throughout the hemisphere in fighting the spread of HIV/AIDS, responding to natural disasters, and making sure the benefits of globalization are felt in even the smallest of economies. These goals are at the heart of the Third Border Initiative that we have launched with the countries of the Caribbean.
We’re committed to protecting the hemisphere’s natural resources. That’s why I’m committed to using the Tropical Forest Conservation Act to help countries redirect debt repayments toward local projects that will protect biodiversity and tropical forests. As the program demonstrates success, I’m prepared to work with Congress to boost the funding.
We’re committed to making education a centerpiece of our economic agenda, because learning and literacy are the foundations for development and democracy. The United States will sponsor the creation of hemispheric centers for teacher excellence. These centers will provide teacher training for improving literacy and basic education, both in person and over the Internet.
And finally, we will sponsor the creation of the new Latin E-business Fellowship program. This will give young professionals from throughout the Americans the opportunity to learn about information technology by spending time with United States companies. It will empower them with the skills and background to bring the benefits of these technologies to their own societies.
On the day I became President, I talked of liberty as a seed upon the wind, taking root in many nations. For over two decades, our hemisphere has been fertile ground for freedom. So many men and women have left the shadow of oppression and fear. And for coming so far, this is not the time to grow timid or weary. Freedom is still our best weapon against tyranny and want. In so many places in this hemisphere liberty has been won. Now the blessings of liberty must be extended to every life.
When we reach this goal by our unified efforts, we will inspire the world by our example. Together, let us go forward to build an age of prosperity in a hemisphere of liberty. Together, let us use this Summit of the Americas to launch the century of the Americas.
Juntos podemos. Juntos lo haremos. God bless the Americas and God bless our people. (Applause.)
At the conclusion of the Summit of the Americas, world leaders, including President George W. Bush, made brief remarks on their work. Several of the leaders also took questions at the end. The following transcript provided by the White House is incomplete in that it does not include transcripts of remarks by world leaders in languages other than English.
PRIME MINISTER CHRETIEN: (Remarks in French.) We will start with the President of the United States.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Mr. Prime Minister, thank you very much, and congratulations on a very successful summit. I want to thank you and your staff and the people of Quebec City for their hospitality.
I’ve been most impressed by the discussions we’ve had. It’s clear to me that ours is a hemisphere united by freedom. It’s a partnership that will help us tackle the big challenges that we all face — the education of our children, HIV-AIDS, protecting our environment. It’s a strong partnership. It’s a partnership that will help us all achieve what we want, and it’s that everybody in our respective countries are able to succeed and realize their dreams.
I want to thank my fellow leaders who were here. This is my first summit, as you know. I’ve been most impressed by the quality of leadership. I am most thankful for the generous hospitality each leader showed me. I listened a lot; I learned a lot. There’s no question in my mind we have challenges ahead of us, but there’s also no question that we can meet those challenges.
So, Mr. Prime Minister, thank you very much, sir.
PRIME MINISTER CHRETIEN: Thank you, Mr. President. And now we’ll ask the President of Chile, Mr. Lagos, to say a few words.
PRESIDENT LAGOS: (Remarks in Spanish.)
PRIME MINISTER CHRETIEN: I would like now to call on the host of the next Summit of the Americas, the President of Argentina, Mr. de la Rua.
PRESIDENT DE LA RUA: (Remarks in Spanish.)
PRIME MINISTER CHRETIEN: And now the President of Mexico, Mr. Vicente Fox.
PRESIDENT FOX: (Remarks in Spanish.)
PRIME MINISTER CHRETIEN: I thank you very much, President Fox. And I now call on President Andres Pastrana.
PRESIDENT PASTRANA: Thank you, Honorable Right Prime Minister. First, I’d like to thank you, Mr. Prime Minister, Mr. Chretien, and all of your people for your hospitality in these last few days — hospitality that we have enjoyed in Quebec. I think that those who preceded me have expressed the basic tenets of what has occurred here today, but now I would like to share what President Lagos said, back what he said with regard to the democratic clause, and the importance of it for the Americas.
We have put all of our efforts as leaders of our democracies to strengthen our democracies. And as we have said throughout this summit, we must move from a political democracy to an economic democracy. Through that, we can seek improvement of living conditions of the most poor and the neediest amongst us.
If there is something that has brought us together, or which unites us, or what calls us here today at this summit, what calls 34 heads of state of the Americas together, what calls us together is our concern for human beings, and particularly to improve the conditions of life, as I said, for the poorest and the most needy.
And, as President Fox said, this is the opportunity to thank all 34 heads of state for their support to state politics, the process of peace in Colombia. Thank you for your support to a political and negotiated solution to the conflict which has torn asunder our country for the last 30 years.
And, once again, as says the declaration, we support the peace process. Thank you for your support. And I would also like to call your attention to the uprising, to those behind it, to those who are marginalized and not following the law, and that this is enshrined in our declaration. We can, and we will, quickly reach humanitarian agreements with regard to the respect of human rights, respecting humanitarian international law, and especially to not exclude the civilian population.
PRIME MINISTER CHRETIEN: And now, I would like to give the floor to President Francisco Flores from El Salvador.
PRESIDENT FLORES: When the whole world is facing a creative, technological and scientific revolution, and countries become more and more integrated, it’s key that leaders of the world understand that the possibilities of our countries are based on going from a view of the state as a closed and autonomous organ to a collection of open, integrated societies that support democracy and freedom.
And the definition of a new state is a basis to struggle against poverty, to respect the tremendous diversities that exist in the Americas, and the possibility of moving ahead in the world the way we want to move ahead — especially those of us who believe in principles.
If anything has been learned from the greatest and most recent tragedies in El Salvador, especially the last two earthquakes, is that the foundations of countries are not physical things, they are moral things. They are based on their strength and their belief in principles and in the belief of men, women, and their dignity.
I would like to thank the government of Canada for hosting this meeting that has confirmed these values, which I believe are the basis for hope for the future in the Americas.
PRIME MINISTER CHRETIEN: Thank you. I thank President Flores. I give the floor to Prime Minister Owen Archer of the Barbados.
PRIME MINISTER ARCHER: Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for allowing me the opportunity to share a perspective on behalf of the Caribbean. It is not only the smallest and most vulnerable region in our hemisphere, but the smallest and most vulnerable region in the world.
From the outset in 1994, we were very clear that the exercise in which we are involved through these summits is greater than the mere creation of an integrated economic area, but must entail our creation of a program of development cooperation to support the emergence and the evolution of a truly hemispheric community for the Americas. And from the onset, we were clear that the effort had to stand the test of equity, had to stand the test of inclusiveness, and had to stand the test of relevance. It has to be relevant for today’s purposes and tomorrow’s needs. The Caribbean is pleased to be able to say that this summit has taken us a far distance to being satisfied in all of those tests.
We are not only living in the 21st century, we are now living in a new information age in which there is a great danger of a new dangerous inequality caused by a digital divide. And I believe that in the context of a 21st century society, this summit will stand as that summit where the leaders of the Americas determined that there should be no digital divide in our Americas; that the benefits of the new information technology have been brought within the reach of all of our citizens. Our connectivity agenda is, in my judgment, the most exciting new development from this summit, which I commend to the people of the Caribbean.
We are also very pleased that the arrangements for economic integration have now been so deliberately designed to truly accommodate the special concerns of the smallest and the most vulnerable entities in our hemisphere. And this summit has stood the test of equity.
May I also say, Mr. Prime Minister, that the Caribbean has used this summit as well and the meetings in the margin of this summit to lay a foundation for stronger bilateral relationships with our neighbors, particularly the United States of America, Canada, Central America, and the Mercosur countries and the Andean countries, and that we can leave this summit looking to the prospect of being part of a successful partnership in a successful neighborhood of the Americas.
I thank you.
PRIME MINISTER CHRETIEN: Thank you very much, Mr. Prime Minister.
And now the journalists have the floor.
Q Mr. President, President Bush, I will direct my question to the Prime Minister of Canada, but we would very much like you to answer the question afterwards, if you don’t mind. (Question then asked in French.)
PRIME MINISTER CHRETIEN: (Remarks in French, then in English.) So I don’t think that it is a question of our legitimacy. We are very legitimate. We were elected, all of us. And when you look at what was the Americas some 30 years ago, and what it is today, look at the progress that democracy has made. Look at the clause that we have developed together at this time to make sure that democracy will remain in the Americas.
And a lot of people were invited to comment. We organized a parallel summit, at the expense of the government, and they met, they discussed, they debated, they met with ministers, there were ministers from my government and ministers from many other governments that listened to them. And I’m very proud of the unions, for example, who decided to organize a parade of protest; it was done in a very orderly fashion. They made sure that those who wanted to break everything were not part of it.
There were some hundreds of them who had come with the goal of trying to disrupt us, and I want to say a great thank-you again to the police of the city of Quebec, of the province of Quebec, and the federal police, for the way that they have handled the situation. We could see it on TV. And the restrain, the discipline they’ve shown is an example.
I guess in other summits there will still be some protestors. They communicate among themselves on the Internet and so on, and they have the right to protest. But we will not tolerate breaking the peace of the people. In a democracy, you have a right to speak, but you have to respect the law.
And I don’t know if the President would like to comment on that.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, let me just say that I campaigned vigorously on a free trade agenda. There should be no question in anybody’s mind in my country that I would come to Quebec City to promote trade.
For those who question trade and its benefits, I would urge them to look at the experience that we’ve had as a result of NAFTA. Canada has benefitted; Mexico has benefitted; the United States has benefitted. Sure, there are going to be some who complain, and that’s what happens in a democracy. But the overall benefits have been great for our three countries. And it serves as an example to attract the positive opinions of other leaders who came to this summit. It’s a positive example for the doubters to look at, for the skeptics to see that wealth can be spread throughout our hemisphere.
And we have a choice to make. We can combine in a common market so we can compete in the long-term with the Far East and Europe, or we can go on our own. I submit, and I suspect the other leaders will echo with me — I hope they do, at least — that going on our own is not the right way to do so. Combining in a market in our own hemisphere makes sense. It’s a logical extension of what’s taken place through NAFTA.
There are some people in my country that want to shut down free trade. And they’re welcome to express their opinions. I heard it throughout the campaign. But it’s not going to change my opinion about the benefits of free trade, not only for my country and the people who work in my country and the people who wonder whether there’s a future in my country, but the benefits of free trade for all the countries of this hemisphere are strong. And I intend to vigorously pursue a free trade agenda.
PRIME MINISTER CHRETIEN: Thank you.
Q Thank you, sir. President Bush, you talked at the summit with Peru’s leader about the downing of a U.S. missionary plane in a joint U.S.-Peru mission. Your administration has not clarified the U.S. role in this incident thus far, so I’d like to follow up briefly. How much responsibility do we bear, since it was our spotter plane that identified the missionaries’ aircraft for Peru’s Air Force to pursue?
PRESIDENT BUSH: First, the incident that took place in Peru is a terrible tragedy. And our hearts go out to the families who have been affected. Secondly, I did speak to the Prime Minister of Peru, who expressed his government’s sincere condolences.
Our government is involved with helping, and a variety of agencies are involved with helping our friends in South America identify airplanes that might be carrying illegal drugs. These operations have been going on for quite a while. We’ve suspended such flights until we get to the bottom of the situation, to fully understand all the facts, to understand what went wrong in this terrible tragedy.
Q What was our role, sir, in the downing?
PRESIDENT BUSH: Our role was to, like in other missions, Ron, was to provide information as to tail numbers. Our role is to help countries identify planes that fail to file flight plans. Our role was to simply pass on information. But we’ll get to the bottom of the situation. But I want everybody in my country to understand that we weep for the families whose lives have been affected.
Q Good afternoon. I have a question for the President of the United States. Mr. Bush, you’re personally committed to the liberalization of this hemisphere, but you don’t have a broad-based mandate from the U.S. Congress to negotiate. What can the governments of Latin America do to help you overcome the opposition of economic groups and of legislators in your country? Thank you.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Write your congressman. (Laughter.) I appreciate that so very much. That’s the very same statement that the President of Uruguay asked. I am confident I will have trade promotion authority by the end of the year, because I think most people in the United States Congress understand that trade is beneficial in our hemisphere. We’re going to proceed concurrently with that, parallel to that, with the trade agreement with Chile, and we hope to have that concluded by the end of the year.
But I’ve assured my colleagues that my administration will work to get trade promotion authority. Most Presidents have had what they call fast track; we now call it trade promotion authority. And I intend to get it myself. It’s in our nation’s best interests to have the President have that authority.
In the meantime as I mentioned to you, my friend, the President of Chile, and I will instruct our respective and appropriate members of our administration to hammer out, negotiate and effect a trade agreement between our two countries.
Q President de la Rua, the question is for President Bush, but I would also like your answer if you will, Your Excellency. President Bush, the United States Secretary of the Treasury gave direct financial aid to Mexico to overcome the tequila crisis and to stop propagation to the rest of the region. Given the economic financial crisis in Argentina is already spreading to countries such Brazil, I’d like to know if the United States plans to give direct financial aid to Argentina, as it did with Mexico in the past.
PRESIDENT BUSH: It’s too early to make that determination. Having said that, Secretary of the Treasury O’Neill, as well as others in my administration, are watching closely the situation in Argentina. It is in our nation’s interest that the Argentine economy recover. That’s obviously in the interest of neighbors that it do so as well. But we’re watching very carefully, we’re in touch with your government on a regular basis, and we’ll make the determinations as to either bilateral aid, or additional aid through the international financial institutions as the case merits.
Q President de la Rua.
PRESIDENT DE LA RUA: The support given by the President of the United States and the Secretary of the Treasury is of great value. And assistance to our country has come through multilateral financial institutions and other countries who have given us international guarantees. So this has — insure a fiscal solvency in my country.
There is no risk, in my opinion, of problems in our country, this transitional problem in Argentina extending to neighboring countries. Argentina, with international financial institutions’ help, will be meeting the IMF’s criteria, and is endeavoring in a very determined fashion to reduce the fiscal deficit and to ensure fiscal solvency in every aspect. So there is no risk that we need to be concerned about.
Q I am from a newspaper in Mexico City, and I have a question addressed to President Bush and to Prime Minister Jean Chretien. In Mexico, there is an issue that is of great interest, and I’m referring now to the power issue. I’d like to ask both of you, what is your view for what would be a hemispheric-wide energy plan? What commitments have you already reached, and what would be needed for such a plan to be equitable as between producers and the great consumers of power?
PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, first, if Canadian suppliers and Mexican suppliers of energy and electricity are looking for a market, they’ve found one in the United States. We’re short of energy. We need more energy in our country. Much of what will be explored from the exploration perspective will depend upon price. The farther away you get from market, the deeper the waters, the higher the price must be. But the price of energy is high enough to spur exploration activities on both sides of our border.
What the United States can do is to provide markets by better pipelines, across-border permitting, welcoming supplies of natural gas, regardless of the country of origin. We can work with our friends, the Mexicans, in the south about the development of electricity. I have talked with President Fox about that not only when I was in Mexico, but also earlier this week, and will discuss this very issue with the Prime Minister and the President right after this press conference.
Part of our issue is to make sure our electricity grids are open enough to handle additional power, say, in the western part of our state and obviously the western part of Mexico. There is some very good news in our hemisphere, at least as far as Americans are concerned, and that is that because of technologies, the Canadians have developed vast crude oil resources in what appeared heretofore to be crude oil that could not be recovered from the ground in what they call tar pits, tar sands, and therefore, Canada is going to be the largest exporter of crude oil to the United States. That’s good for our national security; it’s good for our economy.
There’s a lot of work we can do together. It is important for our hemisphere to not only trade liberally, but to move energy throughout the hemisphere as needed, and it starts with the cooperation between Mexico, Canada and the United States.
PRIME MINISTER CHRETIEN: I don’t have much to add to that. I think that the market in the United States is a great opportunity for Canada. Already, as the President just said, we are the biggest exporter of oil to the United States, and it will increase even more in the years to come. We have a lot of natural gas in Canada at this moment.
I remember at the time when I was Minister of Energy, we had to sell our oil and gas in Canada to our consumers, to give them a market. Now, we have a huge market there, but we have to make sure that the development of these resources will be done in a very effective way, that we have assured market. And we do that, having all the time in mind — we have to do that with the mentality that we have to do these things in protecting the environment. But there is a lot of opportunities, and we’ll be discussing that later on this afternoon.
Q This question is for Mr. Bush. If Mr. Pastrana can react to it, too, and, Mr. Chretien, if that’s possible. Regarding the declaration backing of the peace process in Colombia, Mr. Bush, would your government be willing to take a more active role and participate in this peace process? And how committed are you to the peace process in Colombia?
PRESIDENT BUSH: We have funded Plan Colombia, which is over $1 billion of U.S. taxpayers’ money. That’s a very strong commitment. At this summit, we laid out an additional Andean initiative of $880 million, monies not only to go to Colombia, but the surrounding countries to Colombia. Monies that recognize that not only is interdiction important, but also we need to develop infrastructure. We need to have sustainable crop replacement programs.
So our country is committed to the region. I believe firmly that President Pastrana is a strong leader who is doing everything he can to bring the peace. But it’s going to be up to President Pastrana to make the peace. Once he does so, we’ll stand by his side. And so our support has been strong, and it’s been consistent. And we’ll continue to support our friend, the democratically-elected leader of Colombia.
PRESIDENT PASTRANA: Thank you very much for your question. Yes, I think that President Bush has — will resume what has been the help, $1.3 billion, the last year. He talked about a near $1 billion for this next year for what he has been calling the Andean Initiative.
More than money, we are asking commerce. That’s why we are asking the United States; that’s why we were asking Europe. And that’s why President Bush is committing in the extension of ATPA (Andean Trade Preference Act) and the enhancement of ATPA, to try to get to really some preference that will allow us to get more employment for our people.
I think that President Bush is also very committed in drug addiction. I said yesterday to President Bush that a drug addict is a drug terrorist. One smell of cocaine in the United States is a death in Colombia. So that’s why he’s also very committed in working and fighting inside the United States. As you will know, the U.S. is expending nearly $20 billion in drug prevention programs. And he’s really very committed to bring also down consumption in his country.
And I think that we had a meeting in Cartagena, the Andean countries, the ATPA countries, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia. We invited Venezuela as an observer to the ATPA. And we hope that with the help of President Bush and with the help of the U.S. Congress, we will get the ATPA out before the end of this year. And that will bring us new opportunities for the poorest people of our country.
PRIME MINISTER CHRETIEN: And of Canada, I’ve assured the President that if they need us to play a certain role, we’ll be available. There are some discussions to have certain participation. And if we can be useful, we’ll be happy to help. Next question.
Q I’m one of the Salvadoran journalists covering this summit. Could you give us details regarding the negotiation of a free trade agreement with Central America? In particularly, Mr. Bush, if you have in mind a day to start negotiations? If you have in mind a date to sign this agreement? And also if your administration is going to give special treatment to those Central American economies?
PRESIDENT BUSH: Trade — I’m sorry, the very end of your question? Special trade —
Q Free trade agreement with Central America.
PRESIDENT BUSH: My first meeting here in Quebec City is with my — actually, not my first meeting — I had a meeting early — how quickly we forget — with our friends from Central America. And we talked about free trade. And we talked about the possibilities of a free trade agreement with a group of nations.
I did not dismiss that notion at all. As a matter of fact, it should be clear to people that as we discuss the agreement that we’re discussing here at this summit, that our nation is willing to work with others, such as Chile, to negotiate bilateral agreements.
And so I’m open-minded, is the way to describe that to you. And I think the leaders would tell you that we had a very frank discussion, and it’s very possible — it’s very possible that we’ll be able to come to an agreement with a group of nations that would really make a logical extension from NAFTA. So, to answer your question, I don’t have a date specific, but in my mind is the idea of that possibility.
Q Will you support, Mr. Bush, any kind of special treatment for those Central American economies in this agreement?
PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, that’s what I was saying. I would be very open-minded. As you know, we’re committed in your country to helping with natural disasters. It’s in our nation’s interest that your good country, with its brilliant young leader, be — help recover. It’s going to be hard to have a good economic vitality and growth without the aid necessary to help recover from the natural disaster that took place. But I’m open-minded.
Let me just say something on behalf of my government about el President de El Salvador. He is a breath of fresh air. He is a very bright light. And I’ve been most impressed by his candor, his leadership, his integrity. He’s a great leader for your country.
Q My question is for Prime Minister Arthur — and before I do, Mr. Arthur, you would be happy to know that westerners aren’t doing to bad in Jamaica. Now, on the opening on Friday, you spoke of special considerations for the Caribbean in the FTAA process. There have been concerns about the OECD, IDB membership for some of the small states. Going into the conference, what were the Caribbean community and common market’s primary concerns, and are you satisfied that the outcomes address these concerns?
PRIME MINISTER ARTHUR: As I said at the opening, we have committed ourselves to being part of the effort to build a truly inclusive hemispheric community. And one of our basic concerns, obviously, have been to ensure that our framework is in place to accommodate the needs of these smaller, more vulnerable entities within the community.
We are pleased that, as a result of the trade ministers’ negotiations in Argentina, we shall be embraced by heads of this summit that there is a realistic framework in place for the completion of the Free Trade Area of the Americas, and that even more satisfying, that there are now clear mandates given to the individual negotiating groups that would enable us to be sure that we will translate the principle of special and differential treatment for smaller or more vulnerable societies into the final agreement that will anchor the Free Trade Area of the Americas.
The Caribbean was also concerned, having participated in the two previous summits, about the adequacy of the arrangements for implementation. I think we would be remiss were we not to say how heartened we have been, ourselves, by the statement of commitments given by the heads of the OAS, the Inter-American Development Bank, the World Bank — to support our plan of action with appropriate resources and new institutional arrangements.
But you must believe me when I tell you that for the Caribbean, we are excited by the prospect of translating our human capital advantage into new industry in a new information age. Nothing matters more to us than to be able to leave a conference where there is a commitment to a plan of action to put the new information and communications technology within the reach of the people of the hemisphere, making it possible for us to contemplate a future of specialization as service societies in our new knowledge-based global society.
And for me, certainly, this connectivity agenda that will share the benefits of that new technology to small societies is an exciting opportunity that the Caribbean surely will not miss out on.
PRIME MINISTER CHRETIEN: Thank you very much, Prime Ministers. So this concludes the press conference. There will be another one in a few minutes by the officials representative of the regional banks and the World Bank and the political organization of the Americas.
Thank you very much. See you next time.