Canada welcomes Obama's comments on protectionism

Wed Feb 4, 2009 12:47pm EST
 
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada cautiously welcomed on Wednesday U.S. President Barack Obama's comments decrying protectionism, but said it would still work closely with Washington to address "Buy American" provisions in stimulus legislation before Congress.

"I'm encouraged to hear what the president had to say related to his concerns about protectionism and their legislation," Trade Minister Stockwell Day told reporters.

"It doesn't mean that we're necessarily out of the woods yet in terms of making sure we're going to be absolved of any negative effects of this legislation."

Obama said on Tuesday he would look at altering a "Buy American" provision in his $825 billion stimulus package that allows only U.S.-made iron, steel and manufactured goods to be used in public works projects funded by the bill.

Canada's Conservative government has lobbied hard to either have the provision withdrawn completely or for Canada to be exempt from it, because it would hurt the country's exporters and result in more job losses.

Day, saying Canada would continue its lobbying efforts, repeated that he hoped the two sides can resolve the matter before Obama visits Ottawa on Feb 19.

(Reporting by Randall Palmer and David Ljunggren; editing by Peter Galloway)

 
<p>Canada's International Trade Minister Stockwell Day speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa February 3, 2009. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>