Trade war? Bill would ban government from buying Chinese

By Agence France-Presse
Friday, June 18, 2010 17:48 EDT
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WASHINGTON — The US government would be barred from buying any Chinese goods or services under legislation unveiled Friday by US senators angry at Beijing’s policy of buying only from domestic sources.

The prohibition would last until China, a World Trade Organization (WTO) member for nearly 10 years, signs on to the WTO’s “Agreement of Governmental Procurement,” enabling Washington to challenge Beijing’s procurement rules.

“China continues to discriminate against American businesses, refusing to let our companies bid on Chinese government contracts,” said Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow, the measure’s lead author.

“We want to export our products, not our jobs. Until China agrees to play by the rules, our legislation guarantees federal taxpayer dollars are not being used to purchase Chinese goods and services,” she said in a statement.

The lawmakers, three Democrats and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, complained that US firms cannot compete in China’s government procurement market, estimated at 500 billion dollars, while the US government buys Chinese tires, ammunition, office equipment, and other items.

“I want a good, working relationship with China, but that partnership needs to be fair and equitable,” said Graham.

Beijing’s “indigenous innovation” practice of buy key products from domestic producers only has drawn increasingly heavy fire in the US Congress, where lawmakers face pressure over a gloomy jobs picture ahead of November elections.

“When China fails to play the rules, US tax dollars should not be used to buy Chinese-made products,” said Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown.

“American businesses deserve to compete on an equal footing and our government needs to take seriously China’s unfair practices,” said Democratic Senator Russell Feingold.

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
AFP journalists cover wars, conflicts, politics, science, health, the environment, technology, fashion, entertainment, the offbeat, sports and a whole lot more in text, photographs, video, graphics and online.
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