Statement by Principal Deputy Press Secretary Speakes on the Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement Negotiations

December 10, 1985

The President today gave formal notification to the Congress of the administration's intention to enter into negotiations leading to a bilateral free trade arrangement with Canada. The notification, required under 1984 amendments to section 102 of the Trade Act of 1974, requires 60 days' notice to the House Committee on Ways and Means and the Senate Committee on Finance.

On September 26, 1985, Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney telephoned the President, followed by a formal letter proposing that the two governments explore more directly the scope and prospects for a new trade agreement ``. . . involving the broadest possible package of mutually beneficial reductions in barriers to trade in goods and services.'' The President thereafter instructed the United States Trade Representative (USTR), Clayton Yeutter, to begin the process of informal consultations with the Congress and the private sector. That process having been completed, Ambassador Yeutter recommended that the President proceed with formal notice.

In his notification letters to the congressional committees, the President emphasized that he viewed the initiation of negotiations as an opportunity to significantly enhance U.S. efforts to eliminate trade frictions with Canada. The President also welcomed the Canadian proposal as consistent with administration and congressional efforts to further open foreign markets for U.S. exports. ``As you know, Canada is both our largest trading partner and fastest growing export market, representing one-fifth of our total exports,'' wrote the President.