It may not be the perfect document, but the free trade agreement between the United States and Canada is a gigantic step forward in improving trade relations between the two countries, three men said Monday.
There are some trade areas left out of the agreement signed Jan. 2 by President Reagan and Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, but those will be studied in the next few years with the hope they can be included, the three speakers said.The meeting was held in the Alta Club by American Express Travelers Cheque Operations Center and the Salt Lake Area Chamber of Commerce and featured Julius L. Katz, chairman of the Government Research Corp.; Earl H. Fry, associate director of the David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies at Brigham Young University; and David A. Ruth, director of international corporate affairs for American Express Co.
Even though the agreement has been signed by the leaders of both countries, Congress probably will not vote on it until early August. Ruth encouraged those attending the meeting to contact their congressional delegation and push for confirmation of the agreement.
Katz said the main points of the agreement are elimination of tariffs within 10 years or less, removing the restrictions on the movement of goods, new rules and standards for facilitating trade in services, access for investments is opened and stability ensured, and there will be new ways of settling disputes.
The U.S. Department of Commerce has estimated a $25 billion increase in trade between the two countries within the next five years that should result in many jobs being created, Katz said.
Regarding what tariffs will be affected by the agreement, Katz said tariffs on computers, motorcycles, furs, fur garments, whiskey and unprocessed fish will be eliminated Jan. 1, 1989. Within five years, tariffs will be removed from replacement auto parts, most machinery, paper, petroleum products, telecommunications products and service and certain meats.
Within 10 years, the tariffs will be removed on all other products, including most agriculture, textiles and apparel, tires, wine, beer, plastics and consumer appliances, Katz said.
Fry said there are problems with the U.S. economy because of the large trade deficit and the huge national debt, but an American's purchasing power still is high in the world. He said the agreement will provide a good opportunity for Utah companies to sell their items to Canada.
On the debit side of the ledger, he said, the Utah uranium industry will continue to suffer, mainly because of the large stockpiles of uranium that exist. If an American company can prove that the Canadian government is subsidizing uranium production there is an appeal process available under the agreement, Fry said.