As the Senate now considers the economic stimulus legislation, a tech trade association is concerned that some well-intentioned “Buy American” provisions could have a negative economic impact. The Computer & Communications Industry Association sent a letter to House and Senate leaders Monday that explained our stance on free trade and our concerns about protectionism escalating with provisions that require all iron and steel goods used in stimulus-funded projects be produced in the U.S. CCIA is concerned the Senate version would go further, expanding the Buy American provision to all manufactured goods.
“We saw ‘every-country-for-itself’ actions during the Great Depression. It didn’t help then and it will likely make things even worse now,” said CCIA President Ed Black. “As part of our long-standing support of free trade, we don’t support taking a protectionist stance when buying goods.”
“Government procurement is part of the WTO agreement. US companies have won nondiscriminatory access to supply products for other governments because of these provisions. Keeping that reciprocity is important to the current economy and the economic recovery we are all hoping to see,” Black said.
“We would have additional concerns if the ‘Buy America’ provisions are extended to IT. We’re particularly concerned this could be expanded to health IT as that was considered in the House bill. The provision would have limited stimulus funds for health IT to technology and software that is manufactured, engineered and programmed in the United States,” Black said. “Health IT is designed to bring greater efficiency, but it can better do so if the choice to use the best technology is available – not limited. We shouldn’t sacrifice the very productivity gains the stimulus package is designed to create.”