U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said Wednesday that "Buy American" provisions in the U.S. economic stimulus package will not violate the country's commitments to World Trade Organization rules.
Speaking in Singapore shortly after the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation nations held a two-day conference aimed at avoiding protectionist measures, Kirk said, "We would like a robust trade policy that is one that American people believe operates fairly in their favor as opposed to just the interest of one industry ... as well as protecting the rights of workers that helps us to implement the president's number one objective that is to put Americans back to work."
"Buy American" provisions in the U.S. stimulus bill generally require public works projects covered by the bill to use only U.S.-made steel, iron and other manufactured goods. However, other countries also have also enacted economic stimulus plans that incorporate parallel rules requiring the use of local goods made in those countries.
"I would tell you that the United States has taken very seriously the definition of our president that he expressed not only in London but recently affirmed that we will not engage in protectionist behavior," Kirk said.
"We do not believe that the 'Buy American' provision ... violates that pledge of President (Barack) Obama,” he said.
"It (the provision) expressly said that 'Buy American' provision would be implemented in a manner fully consistent not only with our obligations of the WTO but also our obligation under any of our existing free trade agreements," Kirk said.
Contact Alan M. Field at firstname.lastname@example.org.