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U.S. Chamber Opposes Counterproductive 'Buy American' Provisions

Thursday, January 29, 2009 - 7:00pm

To Create Good-Paying Jobs at Home, We Need to Sell Abroad

WASHINGTON, DC—U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue issued the following statement outlining the business community's opposition to "Buy American" provisions in the economic stimulus package:

"Some have slammed the U.S. Chamber for opposing 'Buy American' provisions, calling our position 'economic treason.' Try economic patriotism. Such provisions would cost American jobs, trigger retaliation from our trading partners, slow economic recovery by delaying shovel-ready infrastructure projects, and cede our leadership role as a longstanding proponent of free and fair trade and global engagement.

"If our goal is to create good-paying jobs at home by selling American-made goods and services overseas—where 95% of the world's consumers live—then 'Buy American' requirements don't make sense. If we refuse to buy foreign-made goods, then our trading partners will refuse to buy from us. And since we are the world's largest exporter, who will be hurt more?

"'Buy American' casts our trading partners as enemies, which is absurd. Foreign firms employ over five million Americans at good wages, for a total payroll of more than $350 billion. Folks outside the Beltway understand this. In fact, state governors compete intensely to attract the next Toyota or Siemens facility.

"It's easy to demagogue opposition to such a pleasing sounding thing as 'Buy American.' But it's time to face the reality about the real-world consequences of these provisions for American workers, businesses, and our nation's global standing. And let's take note of history. In 1930, when Congress approved the Smoot-Hawley tariffs, other countries responded by closing their markets. The upshot was a collapse in U.S. trade that turned a sharp recession into the Great Depression.

"Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it. Let's not make the same mistakes again, especially now."

The U.S. Chamber recently joined a broad collection of business groups in sending a letter to the congressional leadership outlining our opposition to Buy American-type provisions. The letter is available at: /issues/letters/2009/090122_buyamerican.htm

The U.S. Chamber is the world's largest business federation representing more than 3 million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region.

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