Wed Jul 22, 3:22 am ET
SINGAPORE (Reuters) – The United States wants a robust trade policy that is in the interest of its people and the "Buy American" campaign will not violate World Trade Organization commitments, Trade Representative Ron Kirk said on Wednesday.
Kirk was speaking after Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) countries agreed in a two-day trade discussion in Singapore to shun protectionist measures, saying it would be a setback for the global economy.
"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," he said.
Kirk said a review of U.S. trade policies was "80 to 90 percent" complete.
"Buy American" provisions in the U.S. stimulus bill generally require public works projects funded by the bill to use only U.S.-made steel, iron and other manufactured goods. Other countries have also issued "buy local" policies.
World Trade Organization Director-General Pascal Lamy, also at the meeting, said this month that governments were unfairly blocking trade in response to the global downturn, hurting wealthy economies most and raising concerns about stimulus measures in both rich and poor nations.
"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."
"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."
(Reporting by Harry Suhartono, Kevin Lim and Kevin Yao; Writing by Kazunori Takada; Editing by Nick Macfie)