USA’s ‘Buy American’ clause could create a new economic iron curtain

Our leaders must fight protectionism

Strasbourg, 3rd February 2009 – The USA’s proposed ‘Buy American’ clause in its economic recovery package sends a terrible protectionist signal to the rest of the world, and particularly the EU, Sir Robert Atkins MEP, has warned.

The EU’s ambassador to Washington, John Bruton, has protested that the clause, which would ensure that only US iron, steel and manufactured goods are used in construction work that is funded by the stimulus package, would set a ‘dangerous precedent’.

Sir Robert called on the EU’s leaders to send a strong message to the USA by making it clear that they would not resort to protectionism at this extremely difficult time for the global economy.

He said:

“Protectionist gestures from the US and similar responses from the EU will only create a spiral of economic nationalism.

“We cannot turn back the clock to the years of closing our markets to each other. Open trade has increased prosperity and created greater political stability around the world.

“Free trade helps facilitate wealth creation and distribution, and it assists with keeping the peace. If the EU and the USA abandon free trade, so will the rest of the world.

“The EU should put its own house in order before passing judgment on the USA. EU trade and agriculture policy has made our commitment to free trade appear shallow.

“At this difficult time, the EU’s leaders must not bow to understandable pressures to erect a new economic iron curtain.”

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