First he wants to make clear it was G.H.W.Bush who was the architect of the main part of the agreement. Clinton finished up on some details. He says if he hadn’t signed the bill there would have been a million more immigrants from Mexico instead of being the great success it is today. (Huh?) Mexico would have been a lot worse off economically and Canada too I guess. He did it to be a good neighbor.
I thought if you look out into the future, we’re gonna share the Americas with Canada and Mexico, and then Central America and all of South America and the Caribbean. We’re either going to have a good relationship and work together and grow together or we’re not. So under the circumstances that I faced then, with the bill I had, I think I did the best I could with it. …
On balance, we were bringing the world together instead of letting it drift apart and I knew that in the 21st Century we would face a lot of the challenges we are facing now.And you want to be on good terms with your neighbors and you want to be able to grow together because in good times they’re your springboard to the world and in bad times they’re your first line of defence. So I think that under the circumstances I did the right thing.
This is what President Clinton had to say at the signing ceremony.
In a few moments, I will sign the North American free trade act into law. NAFTA will tear clown [sic] trade barriers between our three nations. It will create the world’s largest trade zone and create 200,000 jobs in this country by 1995 alone. The environmental and labor side agreements negotiated by our administration will make this agreement a force for social progress as well as economic growth. Already the confidence we’ve displayed by ratifying NAFTA has begun to bear fruit. We are now making real progress toward a worldwide trade agreement so significant that it could make the material gains of NAFTA for our country look small by comparison.
We cannot stop global change. We cannot repeal the international economic competition that is everywhere. We can only harness the energy to our benefit. Now we must recognize that the only way for a wealthy nation to grow richer is to export, to simply find new customers for the products and services it makes. That, my fellow Americans, is the decision the Congress made when they voted to ratify NAFTA.
We were working for our benefit to grow richer.
He didn’t pass up to opportunity to give himself a pat on the back for the economy under his tenure taking credit for the good times. The economy at that time was boosted by an inflated assets dotcom boom which ultimately burst bringing on a recession.
Hillary has been critical of NAFTA. (So is Donald Trump.) She says she’s been critical of NAFTA for 16 years. But, again, she’s not being truthful. She has been for and against NAFTA as well as switching sides on other trade agreements.
NAFTA was signed in 1993. In 1996 Hillary praised the agreement as “proving its worth”. In 1998 she spoke at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland where she advocated for her husband as President to have fast-track authority to negotiate trade deals with limited Congressional control.
It was during her campaign for the Senate when she started to back away from strongly supporting NAFTA. She said it was flawed.During her presidential run against Obama, she spoke against trade agreements with Columbia, Panama and South Korea. As Secretary of State she changed her mind about Columbia and South Korea. As a candidate in 2007 the South Korean deal was “inherently unfair”. As Secretary of State getting the deal was “priority for me”. Likewise the Columbian deal where in 2008 she said she would do everything she could to get Congress to reject the deal. As Secretary of State the Columbian deal was in the best interest of both countries.
One thing we know for sure about the Clintons and trade, they will trade positions on the issue at their convenience.