U.S. protectionist pressures concern Canada: report

Thu Jan 29, 2009 9:23am EST
 
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TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's Conservative government is concerned about protectionist pressures in the United States but is confident the U.S. administration will live up to its treaty obligations, the federal industry minister said on Canadian television on Thursday.

Tony Clement, speaking on the CBC program, News: Morning, said the government is building a very strong relationship with the new U.S. administration and that President Barack Obama's trip to Ottawa on February 19 will provide a good opportunity for the two countries to strengthen ties.

Canada is the United States' largest trading partner, and vice-versa.

The U.S. Congress passed a new $825 billion stimulus package late Wednesday that included a clause that said funds made available in the act can be used only on projects in which all of the iron and steel for them are produced in the United States.

Clement said that is a concern for the Canadian government, which will continue to monitor the situation, and to engage both the U.S. administration and Congress.

"The U.S. Congress is a place where you get manifestations of protectionist pressures, there's no doubt about that," Clement told the CBC.

"At the same time, the United States has treaty obligations that they've signed onto, NAFTA is one, the World Trade Organization is another, and we expect the United States to live up to its treaty obligations of open and fair trade."

The new U.S. stimulus package still has to be put to a vote in the U.S. Senate.

($1=$1.22 Canadian)

(Reporting by John McCrank, Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

 
<p>Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa January 28, 2009. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>