Public Papers

Remarks at the American Chamber of Commerce Breakfast in Santiago, Chile


That applause did sound heartfelt. I'm reminded of when General Gray went over to see the Marines in Saudi Arabia the other day. He was talking to them, and he looked at them, and he said, ``You have good morale. Remember that.'' [Laughter] Thank you for your heartfelt applause. Hey, look, I am simply delighted to be here; and I want to salute all the members of AmCham because what you're doing is very, very important as North America, the United States, and Chile go forward together towards the very next century. We've got a wonderfully promising setup between our countries now, but it's going to be most successful if your work is successful. So, I salute you. When our Ambassador said I might come over here, I accepted with alacrity.

It is an honor for me to be here and to be the first American President, as Ed pointed out, to visit Chile in 30 years. Ed referred to our entourage. That is a polite way of saying invasion squad -- [laughter] -- because when a President goes, an awful lot of people go with me. And I don't want to hurt any feelings, but there is one with me today who interacts very closely on everything that has to do with the business of AmCham. I would simply like him to stand up in case he has not been introduced. That's our Secretary of the Treasury, Nick Brady. Nick.

As many of you on the U.S. side of AmCham know, he comes out of a distinguished private-sector business background. I think that is very, very important to have in my Cabinet and amongst my very, very top advisers. So, I want to say both he and I are delighted to be here, and the rest of us -- Secretary Eagleburger is with us and Bob Gates and many others, all of whom are making a significant contribution to this trip. Let me just put it this way: I think we've got a damn good Ambassador in Chile, Ambassador Gillespie, and I think you've got an outstanding Ambassador in Washington, DC, and that's good. That's going to help this relationship be even better.

Mr. Minister, I salute you, sir, and thank you -- I see the Finance Minister. I think this bodes well to have this high-level attention on the part of the Chile Government and on the part of the U.S. Government to the work of this chamber. So, I welcome all of you, and I'm very glad to be here.

You know, on that Eisenhower visit three decades ago, he said this to your country's Congress: The friendship between two nations is based on ``shared philosophy -- faith in God, respect for the spiritual dignity of man, and the conviction that government must be the servant of the people.'' Today our two nations are united as never before by those beliefs that Dwight Eisenhower spoke of so eloquently. But we're also united in another way: through our commitment to bring democracy and prosperity to all the people of this hemisphere.

As business leaders, it seems to me you have an especially crucial role to play -- --

[At this point, a spotlight fell, creating a loud noise which interrupted the President's remarks.]

Bombs bursting in air -- they sang about it; here it is. [Laughter] And incidentally, thank you for that wonderful rendition of both Chile's national anthem and the anthem of the United States of America. Thank you, sir, very, very much -- all of you.

But as I was saying, you business leaders do have an especially crucial role to play: to ensure that Chile continues down this clear path to prosperity. Already, as Ed said, you have helped the United States become Chile's largest trading partner. We want to expand that trade. I made that very clear to your able President yesterday. We want to expand it further, and we will, but only if both economies -- and I realize this is a two-way street -- if both economies continue to remain open: open to ideas, open to reform, and especially open to free-market creativity.

That requires continued support for Chile's embrace of democracy. As your President told the Council of the Americas: ``Chile is showing that an expanding, stable, and equitable economy is compatible with an open and democratic political system.''

But you in AmCham have done more than consolidate democracy. You've also shown the spirit of voluntarism that is so essential, so crucial, to the success of free-market societies, especially through the important Telethon for Children, for example, that begins today. You understand that freedom bears special responsibilities, and I salute you for that.

President Aylwin knows that the tide toward freedom, once begun, is irresistible. In that spirit, we can take great pride in recently concluding a trade and investment framework agreement between our two countries. America's confidence in Chilean business is a major reason for this accomplishment. And yet even better times, I believe, lie ahead.

Last June, as I'm sure you're familiar, I proposed the Enterprise for the Americas Initiative to begin a new economic partnership in this hemisphere to help bring prosperity to Chile and its neighbors through free trade, official debt reduction, and foreign investment. It is designed to build on market-oriented economic reforms pioneered by Chile and now sweeping across all of Latin America. Through the Enterprise for the Americas, we can and we must create free and open trade throughout the hemisphere. And let me be clear: I know this is a two-way street. I know that we have much to do in the United States, as the countries south of our border have much left to do.

Progress on free trade can help to actively stem the siren song of protectionism, but free trade is just one way to reach this new world we envision. A second is this official debt reduction. The Enterprise for the Americas Initiative includes proposals to address debt reduction in Latin America. Our Congress has authorized the reduction of food assistance debt, and I will do all that I can to see that our Congress approves the reduction of other U.S. bilateral debt next year. I am pleased that Chile has been a pioneer of similar creative programs to reduce commercial debt.

Reducing the crippling burden of debt is also crucial to achieving the final part of Enterprise for the Americas, and that is increased investment. You know, since 1985 about .5 billion U.S. investment dollars have flowed into Chile. And from 1990 to '95, a projected .2 billion will aid Chile's development.

But we want to spur even more investment. The Inter-American Development Bank is moving forward on a new lending program to help countries improve their ability to attract more investment. In addition, OPIC, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, has begun to encourage investment in Chile. And because Chile is already a pioneer, OPIC members will visit here early next year, bringing a group of private investors to discuss investment and joint-venture opportunities.

What's more, your companies have become an example of reform. Chile, indeed Latin America as a whole, is already proving that market forces work and that market forces are the way to prosperity.

Less than a decade from now, we will enter the 21st century. Already, we see the outline of that century. It will be a world in which those nations which modernize and compete will prosper, a world in which investment and trade will create opportunity and growth. So, my message today is: Let's join together to work towards this new world of progress. And it's a new world of hope, I might add, for all the peoples of the Americas.

I would say this to, well, both the Americans and the Chileans in this office. I know that it must appear to you at times that -- because of the fascinating changes taking place inside the Soviet Union and, indeed, taking place in Eastern Europe -- that there is a propensity on our part, the part of this administration and previous administrations, perhaps, to neglect South America. I want to assure you that that is not the heartbeat of our administration or, indeed, of our country. There will be no neglect.

We don't need slogans; I want the Enterprise for the Americas to be something more than three words. I want it to be successful. I can promise you today, the business men from the U.S. side, the business men and women from the Chilean side, that we will work to make this successful. We will work to make these seeds bear fruit. We are not going to neglect Central or South America. This is our hemisphere, and we want it to be successful.

May I, in conclusion, express my appreciation to our hosts here today -- U.S., Chilean -- that join together in this chamber. May I say to the official representatives of the administration in Chile, I just couldn't be more appreciative for the warmth of your hospitality here in Santiago and there in Valparaiso. I leave Chile stimulated by what I see, warmed by the embrace of the people on the streets, and grateful to each and every one of you for your part in strengthening relations between our two countries.

God bless you all, and thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 8:25 a.m. in the Salon de Directorio at the Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza Hotel. In his opening remarks, he referred to Gen. A.M. Gray, Jr., Commandant of the Marine Corps; Edward Tillman, president of the American Chamber of Commerce; Lawrence S. Eagleburger, Deputy Secretary of State; Robert M. Gates, Assistant to the President and Deputy for National Security Affairs; Charles A. Gillespie, U.S. Ambassador to Chile; Patricio Silva, Chilean Ambassador to the United States; and Alejandro Foxley Riesco, Minister of Finance. A tape was not available for verification of the content of these remarks.