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G7 to discuss 'Buy American' stimulus clause: Japan

Finance chiefs from the Group of Seven rich nations are expected to discuss the "Buy American" clause in a US economic package when they meet this week, Japan's finance minister said Tuesday.

Finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of Seven will renew their resolve to fight protectionism when they gather for talks on the global economic crisis in Rome Friday, said Shoichi Nakagawa.

He warned against a return to the protectionism of the 1930s -- seen as a catalyst for the Great Depression.

"We've learnt from the Great Depression that it would lead to disaster" if the same kind of steep import duties were imposed again, he said.

"Previous G7 and G20 meetings have confirmed that we shouldn't get mired in protectionism," Nakagawa told reporters.

The European Union and Canada have fiercely attacked the "Buy American" clause, warning it could start a global round of tit-for-tat trade reprisals and set a bad example for other countries mulling their own stimulus projects.

US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner urged G7 finance ministers Monday to act "promptly to restore health to the global economy," the Treasury said in a statement.

The G7 -- the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy and Canada -- in recent months has taken a back seat to the Group of 20, which also includes leading emerging economies such as China and Brazil.

G7 finance chiefs may also discuss currency issues in Rome, a Japanese finance ministry official said.

"As usual, some people may talk about foreign exchange issues in the context of macroeconomic discussions," the official told reporters on condition of anonymity.

Japan is concerned about the strength of the yen, which is taking a heavy toll on the country's exporters.

-- Dow Jones Newswires contributed to this story --

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Publication:AFP Asian Edition
Date:Feb 10, 2009
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