Public Papers

Remarks on Presenting the Final Communique of the Houston Economic Summit


I would say to my distinguished colleagues that we've had a chance to review the declaration that was agreed this morning by the eight of us. And I first want to thank all of you for the spirit of full cooperation that I think we all agree existed here in this summit. The eight of us -- representing the people of France, the United Kingdom, the Federal Republic of Germany, Canada, Italy, Japan, the United States, and the European Communities -- all met; and our declaration reflects decisions taken during the past 3 days here in Houston to extend our long economic expansion, strengthen the world trading system, reiterate our support for the strengthened debt strategy, ensure open investment, assist reform in central and eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, safeguard the environment, help developing nations, and reduce the scourge of drugs.

On behalf of my colleagues, I'd like to note several points of particular importance to us, summarizing -- not reading in its entirety but summarizing -- some key points out of this declaration.

We are enormously heartened by the resurgence of democracy throughout much of the world. We welcome the spread of multiparty democracy, the practice of free elections, the freedom of expression and assembly, the growing respect for human rights and the rule of law, and the increasing recognition of the strength of open and competitive economies. These events proclaim loudly man's inalienable rights: When people are free to choose, they choose freedom.

We, the G - 7, are now in the 8th year of an economic expansion which has created millions of jobs, accelerated the growth of world trade, and provided tangible support for developing countries. The process of economic policy coordination, which we have developed over the years, has contributed importantly to this economic performance. However, we cannot rest on current accomplishments. Each of us will continue efforts, individually and together, to maintain and improve conditions for growth.

Economic prosperity depends critically on an open world trading system, and we will devote close personal attention in the months ahead to achieving a successful outcome of the Uruguay round of multilateral trade negotiations. We have given our trade negotiators clear instructions on our commitment to conclude a comprehensive agreement which expands trade worldwide while bringing the greatest number of participants into a strengthened General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade -- the GATT. Each of us recognizes that reaching this goal will require difficult steps by all participants. We will not hesitate to take them. This is especially true for agriculture, where we are committed by this declaration to provide the strong political leadership necessary to ensure a successful and enduring result.

We agreed on the significance of the steps underway in the Soviet Union to liberalize and democratize its society and to move toward a market economy. We welcome President Gorbachev's message to us, in particular, his desire for a sustained economic dialog with the West. We want to support the reforms underway in the Soviet Union, and all agree that technical assistance can help the Soviets move toward a market-oriented economy. Some of us are already prepared to extend large-scale credits to the Soviet Union. We all agree, however -- all of us -- that the Soviet Union could greatly improve the prospects for sustained Western assistance if it introduced further market reforms, cut its military spending, and ceased supporting governments which promote regional conflicts. We also took note of the importance to the Government of Japan of peaceful resolution of its dispute with the Soviet Union over the Northern Territories.

We see the need for a considered, comprehensive Western response in support of Soviet reform efforts. We've asked the major international economic institutions to provide us by year's end their recommendations for reform of the Soviet economy and possible criteria for Western assistance.

We are keenly aware of our responsibilities to pass on to the future generations a world environment whose health, beauty, and economic potential are safeguarded. Environmental challenges such as climate change, ozone depletion, deforestation, marine pollution, and the loss of biological diversity require closer and more effective international cooperation and action. We are united on the goals and measures to be taken now, particularly in relation to climate change and the protection of forests. And in this regard, we have agreed to complete by 1992 the work of the IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] on a framework convention on climate change; to begin work immediately on developing a pilot project to address tropical deforestation in Brazil; commence negotiations -- this is the third point -- to commence negotiations on a global forest convention or agreement to curb deforestation, promote biodiversity, and encourage sound forestry practices and reforestation.

We recognize the difficult economic challenges facing many developing countries, including reduced growth and severe debt burdens. We have been in the forefront of addressing these problems, and we are encouraged by the progress that has been made under the international debt strategy over the past year. We have agreed to review options for helping those countries that are heavily indebted to our governments. Economic and political reform are essential for economic prosperity and political stability. For those countries undertaking these difficult steps, we offer our experience, resources, and good will.

We leave Houston renewed by the strength of our common commitments to healthy economic growth and prosperity and freedom for peoples everywhere. And in conclusion, we have accepted Prime Minister Thatcher's kind invitation to meet again next July in London.

Again, my thanks to my colleagues. I think the plan is we now go and have our own opportunity to respond to questions from the press. But I want to thank my colleagues for what I, at least, feel has been a good summit. And we're very pleased you were here. And might I just take one more opportunity to thank the people of Houston for their hospitality. Thank you all very much.

Note: The President spoke at 12:11 p.m. in Assembly Hall at George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, TX.