With the signing of the free-trade agreement by President Reagan and Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, the United States and Canada have moved toward the fulfillment of an extraordinary opportunity to enlarge their trade and cooperation. It will create new economic opportunities, with expanded employment for both nations.
The agreement must rank, in historic terms, with the three treaties by which the European Community was created more than 30 years ago. The United States and Canada are the world's largest trading partners, together generating about $150 billion in exports and imports with each other each year. Most of that trade already is free of tariffs, quotas and other restraints. Under the new treaty, almost everything will be barrier-free.
"It is a win-win situation for both countries," Reagan commented at the signing ceremony.
So it is. But not everyone sees it that way. Already those for whom competition will be intensified on both sides of the frontier, and those in Canada who have always harbored a fear of American hegemony, are mounting strong campaigns to block the ratification of the trade agreement. And others with special power bases in Congress have managed to dilute the measure to guard the special treatment of such diverse interests as the U.S. merchant marine and the sugar growers.