The final version of the United States’ $819-billion economic stimulus package will not contain protectionist language, President Barack Obama said Tuesday.
In interviews with major U.S. networks, the president attempted to soothe global concerns that protectionism will be part of the package.
“We can’t send a protectionist message,” Obama said in an interview with Fox News.
“I think it would be a mistake though at a time when worldwide trade is declining for us to start sending a message that somehow we are just looking after ourselves and not concerned with world trade,” he said.
The bill, which is meant to help pull the U.S. out of recession by stimulating the economy and creating jobs, has raised concerns about protectionism.
In its current form, it requires that all steel and iron used for infrastructure projects funded through the stimulation package be U.S.-made. The provision has quickly become known as the “Buy American” rule.
“We believe that with our input on this and constant involvement with the administration, that something is going to come of this that will be better than what’s being proposed right now in the U.S. Senate,” International Trade Minister Stockwell Day said Monday.
Before Obama made his comments, Day told reporters that Ottawa would be pressing forward in its efforts to convince Washington that the provision is a bad idea.
Obama would likely have the law on his side if he opted to block the “Buy American” provision from the final stimulus package due to existing international trade agreements, he said.
Within the constitutional framework of the U.S., the president can overrule something passed in Congress if he believes it violates international agreements, Day said.