President Bush Tuesday said the United States and Mexico are "one family" and are united in their goal to break down trade barriers and in their opposition to Iraq's aggression in the Persian Gulf.
"The size and sophistication of U.S.-Mexico trade today only hints at our potential. We can create and share unprecedented prosperity and jobs," Bush said, referring to the free trade pact that both governments want to accomplish.Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari, joining Bush in speaking at the Monterrey City Theater, emphasized that Mexican migrant workers make a positive contribution to the U.S. economy and said the United States has a "moral and juridical obligation" to respect their human and labor rights.
Bush, on the second day of an overnight visit, also called for resuscitation of the faltering international trade talks known as the Uruguay round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.
He said "the critical moment is at hand" for the talks, which resume next week and are aimed at easing worldwide trade barriers. Negotiators have stumbled over European reluctance to give up agricultural subsidies.
"We must not let the Uruguay round fail," Bush said.
Bush praised Mexico's cooperation in the U.S.-led opposition to Iraq, and its stepped-up oil production that has helped cover the loss of oil from Iraq and Kuwait due to a United Nations-imposed embargo.
"Mexico and the United States stand united in rejecting aggression," Bush said. "The world of global conflict is giving way to a new world order of global cooperation."
Stating that Mexico has contributed to the U.S. cultural, language and architectural heritage, Bush said, "Somos una familia" (we are one family).
When he arrived in Monterrey on Monday night, Bush told tens of thousands of people at an outdoor rally that he had come to Mexico "with a message of respect, of admiration and hope for a brighter future shared by our two countries."
`Viva Mexico," Bush shouted before he and his wife viewed an elaborate fireworks demonstration from a glassed-in stage on the plaza.
Bush's two-day trip focused primarily on the two countries' efforts to negotiate a free trade agreement.
Tuesday morning the president met with a group of U.S. and Mexican business leaders. Later he met for a second straight day with Salinas before they addressed the Monterrey City Theater audience. Bush's schedule also called for a meeting with another group of Mexican and U.S. businessmen and more bilateral talks on issues such as drugs, the environment and economic matters.
Bush Tuesday refused to answer reporters' questions at a photo session with Salinas on the latest developments in the Persian Gulf crisis.
The Mexican president, however, said in remarks prepared for his speech that Iraq's invasion of Kuwait provides new opportunity for international cooperation.
"A renewed international community enables us to maintain the hope that international law will prevail over the invasion and over capricious and arbitrary actions," he said.
Bush heralded the goal of reaching a free trade agreement with Mexico even as Salinas sounded a cautionary note, citing Mexican worries about what they see as U.S. protectionist sentiments.
Both Salinas and Bush say they want the trade agreement to go forward. But Salinas complained in an El Norte newspaper interview published Monday that "American products can enter the Mexican market without restriction. But ours are detained at customs, and there are always many restrictions."
Mexican fruits and vegetables are periodically barred from the United States for not meeting standards.
If Congress approves Bush's request to begin formal negotiations early next year, a free trade pact could be concluded some time in early 1992, administration officials have said.
Graphic: U.S. - Mexico trade relations
1n 1989, top exports from the United States to Mexico included parts and accessories for motor vehicles, telecommunications equipment, electricity-related apparatus and agricultural maize.
Major imports from Mexico included crude oil, electricity-related apparatus, motor vehicles, parts and accessories, telecommunications equipment, vegetables, coffee and furniture.
Source: U.S. Dept. of Commerce