'Buy American' Concerns Japan's Steel Industry Chief

Head of a Japanese steel industry group warned the ‘Buy American’ clause contained in the new U.S. stimulus package could spread protectionism around the world.

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The head of a Japanese steel industry group on Wednesday expressed concerns about the so-called "Buy American" clause contained in the new U.S. economic stimulus package.

"It is quite regrettable because this kind of measure that prioritizes products made in one's own country might spread protectionism around the world," said Shoji Muneoka, chairman of the Japan Iron and Steel Federation.

Muneoka, president of Nippon Steel Corp., also noted that the United States agreed with other nations to promote free trade at last November's financial summit of the Group of 20 major industrial powers and emerging economies.

"We will wait to see whether the United States will implement the provision (in question) in an appropriate manner," he said.

U.S. President Barack Obama, in an interview with Canadian television Tuesday, gave assurances that the United States would honor the accords it signed as a member of the World Trade Organization and the North American Free Trade Agreement as it has done to date.

He spoke in response to international concerns about the "Buy American" clause in the $787 billion economic stimulus package that was signed into law by Obama Tuesday.

The clause requires public works projects funded by the new stimulus plan to use U.S.-made goods, including iron and steel.

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