Speaking at a summit of North American leaders in New Orleans, US President George W. Bush took a shot at Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic speaker of the US House of Representatives, for blocking a free trade deal with Colombia. Along with Stephen Harper, the prime minister of Canada, Bush hailed free trade deals as making good economic sense, and stood by the North American Free Trade Agreement, which has recently been the subject of spirited debate in the US elections.
GEORGE W. BUSH, US PRESIDENT: Now is not the time to renegotiate NAFTA or walk away from NAFTA. Now is the time to make it work better for all our people, and now is the time to reduce trade barriers worldwide. We spent time talking about the Colombia Free Trade Agreement. Canada is negotiating a Colombia Free Trade Agreement. Mexico has a free trade agreement with Colombia. And a lot of folks are waiting for the United States Congress to bring this issue up and pass it. An agreement with Colombia would level the playing field. And a failure to pass an agreement would send a terrible signal to our neighborhood. The speaker of the United States Congress has killed this bill unless she gives us a day certain for a vote.
STEPHEN HARPER, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: It’s clear that greater North American cooperation is our best option to create jobs and to compete effectively with emerging trading blocks elsewhere in the world. To that end, I specifically raise concerns about the so-called thickening of the Canada-US border. The Canadian and American chambers of commerce have been worried about this for several years, and the North American Competitiveness Council raised their concerns at our meeting this morning.
BUSH: If you do away with NAFTA, there’s going to be a lot of Mexicans, more Mexicans out of work. Going to make it harder on the border. It’ll make it harder to deal. So people who say “Let’s get rid of NAFTA” as a throwaway political line must understand this has been good for America, and it’s also been, you know, good for Mexico and Canada. That’s what you want in your neighborhood.
Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.