Ronald Reagan picture

Radio Address to the Nation on the Williamsburg Economic Summit Conference in Virginia

May 28, 1983

My fellow Americans:

Over this Memorial Day weekend, while most of us turn our thoughts to picnics and family outings, an annual summit meeting is taking place in Williamsburg, Virginia, one that's important to our future. It takes place at an appropriate time. A bipartisan majority in the Congress has just demonstrated its support for the recommendations of the Scowcroft commission to modernize our strategic forces and carry us forward on the road to genuine arms reduction.

This is a reassuring signal to our friends and allies meeting in Williamsburg. Here in this old colonial capital, the cradle of so much early American history, the leaders of the major free industrial nations are meeting to discuss the problems, the challenges, and the opportunities that our countries and our peoples share.

Since the last summit in France a year ago, we've made important progress. Today, America is leading the world into an economic recovery that's already being felt in many of the other countries represented here.

Another encouraging development is that more so than any other time in the recent past, the economic policies of the individual summit countries are converging around low inflation and improved incentives for investment, a good sign for a sustained worldwide recovery.

We still have our differences. Friends always will. But they're fewer and less critical today than in a long time. I think most of us are agreed on not only where things stand today but what we must do in the weeks and months ahead. All of us seek the same goal—a healthy, sustained economic recovery that will revive troubled economies in North America, Europe, and the rest of the world. That means more and better jobs. And the way to achieve this is to ensure that the new recovery does not rekindle inflation. We're doing this. And we're seeking trade between our countries that is open and free of protectionist restraints, so that both industrial and developing nations can profit from an expanding, rather than a contracting market.

We're also encouraging responsible domestic economic policies in all of our countries which will make for greater productivity and more stable exchange rates.

Here at home, our economy is already strongly on the mend. The rising tide of recovery is also beginning to reach to many of our friends and allies. But to keep it going, and to extend its benefits to others still in the grip of the worldwide recession, we must all stick to anti-inflationary, high productivity policies that adapt new technology, retrain workers, and increase efficiency. The worst thing that could happen now, and one that could stall or at least slow the recovery that's currently underway, would be a political resort to "quick fixes" that could trigger a new round of worldwide inflation and rising interest rates.

Now, I know that all of this sounds like economic shoptalk—a little remote, perhaps, from the everyday concerns of the average American. But while this is an economic summit, the topics it is considering have an impact on almost every phase of our lives—jobs, low inflation, and the opportunity for a better future for ourselves and our families. For when you get right down to it, freedom is at the base of the enormous productivity of the industrial West, a freedom that has spawned more progress, more individual rights, and more security and opportunity than are enjoyed by any other people living under any other system.

And it's our shared belief in freedom that is the strongest bond uniting each of the seven nations meeting here in Williamsburg this weekend. Each of our nations recognizes the rights and dignity of its citizens. We all believe, in the words of our Founding Fathers, "that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights." That's a simple enough phrase, but it represents an incredible leap forward from the tyranny and injustice that still haunts too many other parts of the globe.

And because we, the nations meeting at the summit, are united in our love of personal and economic freedom, our common commitment to maintain peace and defend liberty is that much stronger. There's been a lot of speculation about what will come out of this weekend's summit. I'll leave the detailed analysis to the Monday morning quarterbacks, though for this one they'll have to wait till Tuesday morning. But I'm confident that we and our friends and allies will leave this meeting more, not less, united, that we'll leave it with fewer, not more, differences, and that while it would have been a good session, much will remain to be done.

For the issues we address here in this beautiful and historic setting in the spring of 1983 will still be with us for many years to come. The Williamsburg summit is not the end of our work, but it marks the beginning of a new, more stable period of the free developed world learning to work together, devising long-term strategies to meet the problems we face, and handing over a better world to the successor generation, the young people born in the postwar era who must carry and protect the torch of freedom as America approaches the 21st century.

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

Note: The President taped his radio address in the Map Room at the White House on Thursday, May 26, for broadcast on May 28.

The transcript of the address was released by the Office of the Press Secretary on May 28.

Ronald Reagan, Radio Address to the Nation on the Williamsburg Economic Summit Conference in Virginia Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under



Washington, DC

Simple Search of Our Archives