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Ask The Ambassador: "Buy American"

09/30/2009 - 4:57pm

This week, Joshua from Chicago, Illinois asked Ambassador Kirk about the recovery act and the "buy American" provision. He asks:

"Can you explain how the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) cooperates with our Free Trade Agreement (FTA) partners? How do the ARRA and the FTA agreements affect the way federal dollars are spent?"

Ambassador Kirk responds:

"Thanks for the question, Joshua. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) requires U.S.-produced iron, steel and manufactured products to be used in public works and public buildings funded by ARRA, subject to certain exceptions (unavailability, unreasonableness of cost and inconsistent with the public interest). ARRA also requires that the "buy American" provision be applied consistent with U.S. obligations under international agreements. That means that the "buy American" requirement is not applied to products from countries that are parties to the World Trade Organization's Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) or a free trade agreement (FTA) where the procurement is subject to the obligations of the relevant agreement.

These procurement agreements are important to our economy, because they ensure U.S. companies get a fair shot at selling their goods and services to governments around the world. Foreign governments spend billions each year, typically 10 to 15 percent of GDP, on everything from new computer software to cleaner power plants or better construction equipment. When U.S. companies win contracts with foreign governments they support good American jobs here at home."

Thank you for continuing our dialogue on trade. Please keep submitting your questions and comments for the Ambassador.