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Remarks at the Signing Ceremony for the Computer Trade Agreement With Japan

January 22, 1992

The President. First, let me welcome Foreign Minister Watanabe of Japan and Japan's able Ambassador to the United States, Ambassador Murata. And of course, well-known to all in this audience is our distinguished USTR, Ambassador Carla Hills.

I want to welcome the CSPP, the Computer Systems Policy Project member companies which are represented here by this distinguished group. And in particular, I want to acknowledge James Unruh from Unisys; Ronald Skates of Data General; Dick Iverson, the president of the American Electronics Association; and a special thanks to CSPP Chairman John Scully, who regrettably is not with us today.

And I'm proud to be here as we sign this path-breaking agreement for Japanese public sector procurement of American computers. It's just one of the highlights of our Asia trip. It illustrates the success that we had fighting for America, for American jobs, and for our own future, for America's future. This agreement also highlights why foreign relations have never been as important to our well-being at home than they are now. When we foster democracy abroad, when we strengthen our security engagements with our allies and friends, when we work to open markets and to expand trade, we make a priceless investment in our own children's future.

The promise contained in this agreement is great. For example, in one segment of the computer market, mainframes, foreign companies have 41 percent of the overall Japanese private sector market, but only .4 percent of the Japanese central government market. Ten years ago, Japan's markets were much more closed than they are now. And 10 years down the road, they'll be much more open than they are today as a result of constructive agreements like this one.

In Tokyo, we were determined to ensure that U.S. computer companies be allowed to compete fairly for the total Japanese government computer market, estimated as a $9 billion market. Since our own highly competitive electronics industry employs 2.4 million American workers, this would mean dramatic gains in exports and therefore in quality American jobs. So, we set as a top priority working with the Japanese Government to continue the process to open Japan's markets to free and fair trade.

Ambassador Hills and our negotiators worked with stunning speed, and I am tremendously proud of our team's steadfast commitment to open markets and fair competition. And as a result of their concerned effort and the hard work and cooperation of our Japanese friends, especially by my good friend Minister Watanabe here, this remarkable agreement will help propel our nations together into the next century of global marketplace.

High-tech trade benefits our consumers, strengthens our industries. And we have representatives from America's computer industry here today. They know how important our successful negotiations will be to their future, and they've said so publicly in commending this achievement.

We're entering an entirely different economic world than the one we grew up in, a new age of American competition in a fiercely challenging global marketplace. Agreements like these are only the first step; the next step will come as American businesses meet worldwide challenges. And they will succeed because as long as that playing field is level, American workers, I think, can outcompete and outproduce anyone, anywhere, anytime. I know we all have that confidence in our workers.

In the State of the Union Address, I'm going to present my action plan to move our economy into the 21st century. It's an ambitious agenda for growth, and I'm absolutely confident that the American people will join me in this vision for a new era of expanded markets, growing opportunities, peace, and prosperity.

And overlooked to some degree is, with full cooperation from Japan's Prime Minister and their Foreign Minister, we signed a very important growth agenda with the Japanese. It has broad economic implications for the entire world. And again, sir, I thank you for your personal role in that.

We salute the hard work and determination between our two Governments that brought about this landmark agreement. More than 150 years ago, a British politician, Lord Macaulay, made an observation that could still guide us today. He said that free trade is "one of the greatest blessings which a government can confer on a people." And I think with the signing of today's agreement, Japan and the United States both give their people a gift for the future. This relationship between Japan and the United States is very, very important, and I plan to keep it with very, very high priority.

And now, Minister Watanabe, with thanks to you, sir, for taking time from your other busy schedule here, welcome, and we're just delighted to have you here.

Note: The President spoke at 2:10 p.m. in the Roosevelt Room at the White House. Ambassador Ryohei Murata of Japan and U.S. Trade Representative Carla A. Hills signed the agreement.

George Bush, Remarks at the Signing Ceremony for the Computer Trade Agreement With Japan Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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