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  • Eyes on Trade is a blog by the staff of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch (GTW) division. GTW aims to promote democracy by challenging corporate globalization, arguing that the current globalization model is neither a random inevitability nor "free trade." Eyes on Trade is a space for interested parties to share information about globalization and trade issues, and in particular for us to share our watchdogging insights with you! GTW director Lori Wallach's initial post explains it all.

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January 29, 2009

Caterpillar worms its way into "Buy America" debate

Lane Corporations are attacking the "Buy America" provisions of the new stimulus package as "protectionism," as if investing U.S. taxpayer money in the domestic market is an abomination of the first order. Todd wrote about this yesterday; it's worth noting now that companies like Caterpillar, who are arguing strenuously against these provisions, have moved much production overseas.

What's more, the arguments being made are specious: the Buy America piece of the stimulus package simply extends existing law, rather than being some kind of brand-new nefarious protectionist scheme. The original Buy America Act was part of the 1982 Surface Transportation Assistance Act, and requires that U.S. steel and iron be used for federal and state transportation infrastructure projects. Notably, this is exempt from coverage under various trade-agreement procurement rules - although this certainly does not mean that said procurement rules are not still seriously problematic (PDF).

We have just released a lengthy memo for reporters and other interested parties on this issue. Many gory details contained therein, including the legal difference between "Buy America" and "Buy American" (yes, they are two different policies).

(Photo: Bill Lane of Caterpillar, back in his CAFTA Fat Cat days.)

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Comments

Flo

Now the rats want some of the pie since they shipped all of our work overseas...Screw 'em

WJM

If it weren't for the removal of the "protectionist" tariffs that we had on imports into this country for over 250 years (and every other country in the world KEEPS on our exports), none of this would be an issue. We have, for instance, a 2% tariff on Chinese goods imported, and they have a 24% one on OUR goods going there. THIS is supposed to be free trade? Not until every country in the world plays by the same rules it's not. It's time to stop thinking of the profits of huge business as being good for the whole country, as they most definitely are not, especially when they are gained at the expense of our national economy. And it's time to stop this nonsense about the "human rights' of corporations. Until corporations can get a cold or the flu, they are not human and should not be accorded the same, or indeed, more rights than the humans in this country.

Tom Skowronski

I want Fair Trade, not free trade! I wish some of these economists and pundits would get out of their ivory towers and prowl the market streets of Japan, Korea, and Taiwan and see what's for sale. I'll guarantee it is not foreign. They do not let anything in. I've read stories in the Asahi Shimbun where Japanese intestines are different and cannot process American beef, only Japanese beef. They stopped Italian skis from being imported because they say their snow is different and only Yamaha's skis will work. This is the crap we have been putting up with for over 50 years. Fair trade not free.

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