Public Papers

Remarks on Transmitting the Enterprise for the Americas Initiative Act of 1990


Please be seated. Thank you all very much for being with us today. A most distinguished gathering here this morning. And I want to thank the Vice President, Secretary Brady, Secretary Eagleburger, and Ambassador Hills, and Bill Reilly for being with us today. I'd also like to welcome the OAS Secretary General Baena Soares, and the IDB President Enrique Iglesias. It's very good to have you all here.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, a new generation of leaders, with the support of their citizens, has turned increasingly to market forces as they pursue economic reforms designed to encourage growth. And we've welcomed these developments. And that's why in June we announced the Enterprise for the Americas, a major new initiative to help forge a genuine partnership of free market reform that will sustain both growth and political stability in Latin America and the Caribbean. I consider this one of the most important initiatives of my administration. It opens a bold new chapter in hemispheric relations -- one based on trade, not aid.

Since announcing this initiative, I've been extremely grateful for the warm response that it's received from leaders in the hemisphere. Prime Ministers and Presidents from Jamaica to Uruguay, from Brazil to Honduras have either written or called me to express their support. And as I said back in June, I know there's been some concern in the Americas that with so many things going on in the world that our focus will shift away. But I've assured the leaders throughout our hemisphere that the United States will not lose sight of the tremendous challenges and opportunities right here in what we hope will soon be the first fully democratic hemisphere in the world.

For the first time, the three economic issues of greatest importance to Latin America -- trade, investment, and debt -- have been joined in a single endeavor. On trade, we've set forth clearly our long-term objective -- a hemispheric free trade zone from Alaska to Argentina. As a step in that direction, we offer to negotiate framework agreements and will address specific Latin American trade concerns within the Uruguay round. We've already signed framework agreements with Mexico, Bolivia, Colombia, and Ecuador, and others are in progress. On investment, we want to increase the incentives for countries to adopt policies that will attract capital. And on debt, we're supplementing the Brady Plan with a new proposal to reduce official debt.

The legislation that we're transmitting to Congress today advances both the investment and debt portions of the initiative and contains an innovative approach to the environment. I ask for prompt action this session by the Congress. Without congressional authority we cannot get underway on some of the most important elements of the initiative.

To cite two examples: Our initiative includes a .5 billion multidonor investment fund administered through the Inter-American Development Bank to provide support and technical assistance to carry out investment reforms. And we want to thank the IDB President Iglesias for his strong support of this initiative. And congressional action is also necessary to authorize reduction of the debt owed by our Latin American neighbors to the United States Government. We will also pursue debt-for-equity and debt-for-nature swaps to improve the hemisphere's environment.

We believe these measures together will boost trade, investment, and growth in our hemisphere. This legislation is good for our neighbors. It's good for the hemisphere. And I believe it is very good for the United States of America. It has my full backing and my support. The Western Hemisphere is our common homeland, and its political and economic well-being will always be of the utmost importance to us. That's why we need to move forward. Let's pass this important legislation soon. And so, now I would like to invite our two distinguished guests here, if you would, to join me while I sign this. Please come forward, if you will. Might I express my appreciation to everybody here that worked on all of this. I know David and the others here -- John, everybody -- thank you all very much. I think it's very, very important, and I will assure you, those in the departments that have worked on it, I will push it in every way I can.

And thank you all for being with us.

Note: The President spoke at 10:36 a.m. in the Roosevelt Room at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Deputy Secretary of State Lawrence S. Eagleburger; Carla A. Hills, U.S. Trade Representative; William K. Reilly, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency; and David Mulford and John Robson, Assistant Secretaries of the Treasury.