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Public Papers - 1990 - April

Statement by Press Secretary Fitzwater on the Czechoslovakia-United States Trade Agreement


On April 5, 1990, U.S. and Czechoslovak trade negotiators reached provisional agreement on the text of a trade agreement between the two countries. The President welcomes this as the first trade agreement concluded with an Eastern European country since the revolutions of 1989.

President Bush and President Vaclav Havel of Czechoslovakia agreed during their February 20 meeting that reestablishing a more normal trade relationship should be a top priority for both countries. The speed with which this agreement was reached is testimony to the dramatic changes occurring in Czechoslovakia's economic policies and to our shared determination to move quickly to reestablish close ties.

The agreement, along with its side letters on trade and financial matters, intellectual property, and tourism, is scheduled to be signed Thursday, April 12, by U.S. Trade Representative Carla Hills and Czechoslovak Foreign Trade Minister Andrej Barcak. Ambassador Hills and Minister Barcak will be speaking earlier in the day at a symposium on Eastern Europe sponsored by the Department of Commerce and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The trade agreement, when formally approved by both sides, will provide a number of important improvements for business in each country. Most importantly, the U.S.-Czechoslovak trade relationship will be based on a most-favored-nation basis, including tariffs. This will be a significant benefit for businesses and consumers alike.

The two sides also agreed to apply the rules of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) between themselves, which should put business and trade on a more certain footing. Certain explicit protections for American businesses were included, such as the right to nondiscrimination in renting office space, in paying for local goods, and in establishing bank accounts. Any hard currency earnings from trade may be repatriated immediately. In addition, the Government of Czechoslovakia pledged to continue its economic reform plans, including a commitment to streamline its approval procedures for foreigners and Czechoslovaks wishing to do business together. Other bilateral commitments concern intellectual property protection and tourism.

This agreement should substantially increase two-way trade between the United States and Czechoslovakia. President Bush welcomes this step as an important milestone not only in U.S.-Czechoslovak relations but also in Czechoslovakian reintegration into the global economy and the community of free nations.

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