Canada joins EU, Australia to oppose `Buy America’ clause

January 30th, 2009 - 12:16 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaToronto, Jan 30 (IANS) Canada has joined the European Union and Australia in seeking deletion of the ‘Buy America’ clause in the $819-billion stimulus package passed by the US House Wednesday.The ‘Buy America’ bill has been attached to the Barack Obama stimulus plan by the US Congress to shield the country’s crucial sectors from competition.

Speaking in the Canadian parliament Thursday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper feared the new provision could bar exports of Canadian steel to the US.

Canada exports steel worth $7 billion each year, with the bulk of it going to the US.

The prime minister told the House that “this is obviously a serious matter and a serious concern to us”.

Vowing to fight the protectionist clause, the prime minister said it contravened the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) among the US, Canada and Mexico.

He said the provision amounted to backtracking by the US on its “international obligations” to bring down trade barriers.

“I know that countries around the world are expressing grave concern about some of these measures, that go against not just the obligations of the United States, but frankly, the spirit of our G20 discussions,” Harper said.

“We will be having these discussions with our friends in the United States, and we expect the United States to respect its international obligations,” he added.

Harper said he had already spoken to the US ambassador in Canada to express his fears.

Just a day before, the prime minister had announced enthusiastically the date of Obama’s visit to Canada next month.

The economic relations between the two giants, which do annual trade worth more than $600 billion, have been marked by many disputes in recent years, including lumber exports to the US.

Canada, which is also America’s biggest energy supplier, is likely to come under pressure from the Obama administration on environmental issues as extraction of oil from Canadian oil sands leads to pollution.

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