The Obama Stimulus Violates International Law
OK, it only violates international trade law obligations, but that’s not nothing! Specifically, the stimulus package recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives contains a number of “buy American” requirements for the purchase of steel by recipients of the stimulus. The EU is already getting set to challenge these provisions at the WTO, if they make it into U.S. law (and there is little doubt that it will). Such provisions probably violate the Government Procurement Agreement of the WTO. The EU will probably have a pretty strong argument, since non-discrimination is at the heart of the WTO system. For instance, under Article III of the GPA, the U.S. is obligated to “provide immediately and unconditionally to the products, services and suppliers of [other GPA signatories] treatment no less favourable than … that accorded to domestic products, services and suppliers.” The stimulus doesn’t do this, at least with respect to steel.
Now as a matter of U.S. law, it is perfectly OK for the U.S. to ignore its international law obligations in this and other circumstances. And that is fine with me. But it should give many more aggressive internationalists some pause that a solemn international agreement of the U.S. will be violated, and that barely anyone in the (Democratically-controlled) Congress or Presidency will care or notice.