World business bodies ask Congress to drop ‘Buy American’ clause

February 10th, 2009 - 11:02 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Feb 10 (IANS) Nine internatioal business organisations, including the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), have urged the US Congress to drop the “Buy American” clause in the over $800 billion stimulus bill.

Commending the call of 15 major US business associations to avoid trade-restrictive mandates in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the group in a letter to Congressional leaders Monday hoped “you will listen to their powerful arguments”.

The letter was addressed to House speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

“Each of our organisations is working hard in our home countries, with our domestic governments and constituencies, to make sure they do not make the mistake of thinking that ‘protectionism’ actually protects,” the group said.

“Our ability to constrain governments around the world from lapsing into isolationism will be much easier if America continues to provide leadership and moral authority on this issue,” the group said.

Hoping that the Congressional leaders “will ensure the US shows that leadership and sends a strong message about living up to multilateral commitments, it strongly urged them “to strip from the final language of the bill anything that others could characterise as breaking the promise made at the G20 conference last November”.

The G20 declaration had promised: “We will refrain from raising new barriers to investment or to trade in goods and services, imposing new export restrictions, or implementing WTO-inconsistent measures to stimulate exports.”

The passage of an amendment in the senate showed that there is an awareness of the importance of international rules, the group said.

“But we would go further: it is vital that the US observes the spirit, as well as the legal wording of the G20 statement, and does nothing that gives others an excuse to accuse her of breaking her word.

“Just as important from your perspective, keeping America’s markets free and open is the right thing to do domestically, in terms of stimulating the US economy,” they said.

“The overall economic interest of the US and of each of our home countries is best served by openness,” the group said strongly urging “you to reject measures that would close off the US market, leading inevitably to other markets being closed to you in return.”

Besides CII, the letter was signed by the Brazil Information Centre/Brazil Industries Coalition, Canadian Council of Chief Executives, Confederation of British Industry, European-American Business Council, Federation of Korean Industries, Keidanren-USA (Japan Business Federation), Representative of Germen Industry and Trade and Turkish Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association.

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