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Last Updated: Friday, 5 November, 2004, 14:15 GMT
CBI chief hits out at US on trade
CBI chief executive Digby Jones
Digby Jones speaks his mind on trade
The head of the UK's biggest business lobby has attacked the US government's "protectionist" trade policies.

Confederation of British Industry (CBI) chief Digby Jones said the newly re-elected Bush administration should step up efforts to eliminate trade barriers.

"Americans think they're the home of the brave and the land of the free," he told the Reuters news agency.

"Well, they might be brave but they ain't free. They are positively protectionist," Mr Jones said.

He added that America's reluctance to open its borders "doesn't become the most powerful economy on earth".

Lead the way

Speaking three days after President George W Bush was elected to a second term in the White House, Mr Jones urged the new government to do more to encourage free trade.

We would like to see America setting an example around the world on free trade
Digby Jones
"I'll tell you what British businesses would like to see from a second term Bush presidency: We would like to see America setting an example around the world on free trade," he said.

The first Bush administration caused a damaging trade row in March 2002 when it imposed tariffs on steel imports from Europe and Asia in order to protect US producers.

Transatlantic trade relations were also strained by a dispute over tax breaks granted to US exporters.

Mr Jones criticised President Bush's refusal to adopt the Kyoto Treaty, which commits its 126 signatory nations to reducing environmentally harmful greenhouse gases.

Investment pressure

He said new industrial powers such as India and China were unlikely to sign up to the treaty unless the US led the way.

"We haven't a hope of getting China or India to sign up to Kyoto unless the biggest polluter on earth - America - does the same."

Mr Jones, who chairs the CBI's annual conference in Birmingham next week, also warned that British businesses were showing signs of switching investment away from the US towards China.

He said that lower foreign investment could undermine America's capacity to finance its current account deficit, potentially triggering a sharp fall in the value of the dollar.

The UK invests more in the US than the rest of the European Union combined.


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