Ronald Reagan picture

Radio Address to the Nation on Economic Growth and Free and Fair Trade

June 11, 1988

My fellow Americans:

In one week, I go to Toronto for the annual economic summit with the leaders of the major industrial democracies. The United States along with our strong allies-Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, and the European Community-form the industrial and technological backbone of the free world.

This will be my eighth and final economic summit, and there'll be much to celebrate. Perhaps foremost will be the worldwide economic revolution that has unleashed ever greater levels of prosperity with lower tax rates. America led the way with major tax cuts and tax reform, and the other major industrial democracies have either cut their tax rates or are now in the process of doing so. I'm proud to say that we now lead the world with the lowest top personal tax rate of any of the major economic powers. We are also leading the way in creating jobs, providing employment for a greater percentage of our labor force than any of the other major industrial democracies. In fact, U.S. employment is at its highest level ever, and we've also brought down inflation and interest rates.

It's not surprising that country after country has followed us on the path to greater economic freedom and begun to replace their statist policies with deregulation, privatization, and freer trade. One of the great lessons of the last 7 years is that when people in free economies are allowed to trade with one another around the world the result is greater prosperity for us all. Certainly, the United States has been one of the biggest gainers in the global economy. You've probably heard that we're now in the longest peacetime economic expansion in U.S. history. But this is also the first economic expansion in the postwar period in which the U.S. economy has grown faster than most of its major trading partners. So, yes, we're doing particularly well, but when free countries trade and invest with one another, there are no losers, only winners.

Today we have a global economy in which the United States is at the very center. Of total foreign direct investment in the world, nearly 40 percent, by far the largest share, consists of Americans investing overseas. But it's not a one-way street. At the same time, the United States also receives more foreign investment from abroad than any other country. So, we truly are the investment capital of the world. The same thing is true regarding trade. We import more and export more than any other country on Earth.

With that in mind, I want to reaffirm my commitment to enactment this year of responsible trade legislation. To help achieve positive trade legislation, I've directed my senior advisers to stand ready to assist the congressional leadership on a new trade bill—one that will strengthen America's international competitiveness and create even more new jobs for Americans. And make no mistake, the global economy is the basis of our prosperity and the foundation of our economic future. I can think of no surer way of derailing our economy than to try through protectionist measures to seal America off from trade and investment with the other countries of the world.

I'm reminded of the story of the Sunday school teacher who asks her class, "Who wants to go to heaven?" Well, all of the children raise their hands except for one little boy in the back of the room. The teacher, astounded, says, "Charlie, don't you want to go to heaven? .... Sure I do," he says, "just not with this bunch." Well, fortunately, we and our trading partners are going to deal with economic matters together because that's the only way to move ahead. I'm glad to say we're moving away from protectionism and toward greater economic growth and job creation.

One of the historic events of our time is the U.S.-Canada free trade agreement that I entered into this year with Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. This agreement between the world's two greatest trading partners will eliminate tariff barriers between the United States and Canada by the year 1999 and establish the largest free trade area on Earth. The advantages to both our countries will be enormous in terms of jobs and prosperity. But as much as this pathbreaking agreement does for the people of the United States and Canada, this agreement, looked at in the sweep of history, is truly a gift to the world. It creates a model that can be imitated and expanded and ultimately made universal among free nations. And that's something we can truly be proud of.

And finally, Tuesday is Flag Day, the anniversary of the first official American flag. Nancy and I hope that you'll join us and millions of other Americans Tuesday evening at 7 p.m. eastern daylight time in the annual "Pause for the Pledge."

Until next week, thanks for listening, and God bless you.

Note: The President spoke at 12:06 p.m. from Camp David, MD.

Ronald Reagan, Radio Address to the Nation on Economic Growth and Free and Fair Trade Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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