Week Ending Friday, September 26, 2008

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Author: George W. Bush  | Date: September 24, 2008

Remarks to Leaders of the Western Hemisphere in New York City,
September 24, 2008

Listen, thank you all very much for being here. I’m joined by leaders throughout our hemisphere to discuss trade and prosperity. I know they’re going to want to hear about the rescue plan that we have submitted to the Congress. They can see our legislative process is full of give-and-take, that there’s ample debate. But I am confident that when it’s all said and done, there will be a robust plan, and there needs to be.

Each of the 11 countries here has a free trade agreement with the United States or one pending before Congress. Free and fair trade is in our mutual interests.

What’s interesting about free and fair trade amongst the nations is that the people benefit. For example, the Central American-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement is in its early stages, but trade between participating countries with the United States is up23 percent. That translates to jobs and prosperity. In the 5 years since the free trade agreement between the United States and Chile took effect, trade between our two nations has increased by more than 180 percent. And that’s positive. In other words, these agreements are mutually beneficial. And most importantly, they help small-business owners and workers and farmers and ranchers.

In the nearly 15 years since NAFTA entered into force, trade between the United States, Canada, and Mexico has increased by a combined total of more than 200 percent.

Today our countries are launching the Pathways to Prosperity in the Americas Initiative to continue this progress. This initiative will provide a forum where leaders can work to ensure that the benefits of trade are broadly shared. It will deepen the connections among regional markets. It will expand our cooperation on development issues. This is a very promising initiative, and I expect positive results when our representatives meet on these issues later this year.

It’s important for the American people to understand that exports benefit workers. Half of our growth last year was the result of trade. And therefore, it’s in our interest to continue to open up markets, particularly in our own neighborhood. There are three free trade agreements pending in the Congress today: South Korea, Panama, and Colombia. Obviously, two of those are with nations in our own hemisphere. The Colombia free trade agreement will be good for Colombia; it will be good for America. The President and I have worked diligently to make sure this is a fair agreement, and Congress needs to pass it.

The Panamanian agreement—it’s good for Panama, it’s good for America. And Congress ought to pass that agreement too. It’s important that these agreements be passed as soon as possible.

I want to thank the leaders for joining us. I’m looking forward to our discussion. I appreciate your hard work in working to make sure your people and your countries have great opportunities. One such opportunity is access to jobs provided by markets.

Thank you for your vision, and thank you for your leadership. Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 8:01 a.m. at the Council of the Americas Headquarters. In his remarks, he referred to President Alvaro Uribe Velez of Colombia. The Office of the Press Secretary also released a Spanish language transcript of these remarks.

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Chicago: George W. Bush, "Remarks to Leaders of the Western Hemisphere in New York City, September 24, 2008," Week Ending Friday, September 26, 2008 in United States. Executive Office of the President, Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents, Week Ending Friday, September 26, 2008 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2008), 44:1249-1250 Original Sources, accessed July 20, 2019, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=1RUSZ98ETF6UBJG.

MLA: Bush, George W. "Remarks to Leaders of the Western Hemisphere in New York City, September 24, 2008." Week Ending Friday, September 26, 2008, in United States. Executive Office of the President, Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents, Week Ending Friday, September 26, 2008 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2008), 44:1249-1250, Original Sources. 20 Jul. 2019. www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=1RUSZ98ETF6UBJG.

Harvard: Bush, GW, 'Remarks to Leaders of the Western Hemisphere in New York City, September 24, 2008' in Week Ending Friday, September 26, 2008. cited in , United States. Executive Office of the President, Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents, Week Ending Friday, September 26, 2008 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2008), 44:1249-1250. Original Sources, retrieved 20 July 2019, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=1RUSZ98ETF6UBJG.