Thursday, October 1, 2009

Canada may gain exemption from Buy America policy.

Naturally the deal would also give U.S. firms access to Canadian provincial programs as well. One would think that the Canadian government would need to get the agreement of each province for that but perhaps not. Certainly any exemption would help Canadian exporters and manufacturers. However, it seems not to be a done deal as yet. This is from the Globe and Mail.

Deal would give Canada Buy America exemption, report says

Globe and Mail Update Last updated on Wednesday, Sep. 30, 2009 10:44AM EDT
A deal to exempt Canada from Washington's controversial “Buy American” stimulus package clause is imminent, as Canadian and American officials continue to negotiate the details, the CBC reported Tuesday evening.
If an agreement is reached, it would come as a relief to Canadian manufacturers who have been shut out of lucrative American procurement contracts that are funded by American federal stimulus dollars and, as such, are restricted to American suppliers.
The CBC, citing government sources, said any deal would likely require Canadian provinces to open their stimulus programs to American firms.
Dimitri Soudas, a spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, would neither confirm or deny the report.
“At this time, I cannot confirm that the matter has been resolved. The Prime Minister and [International Trade] Minister [Stockwell] Day will continue to make our case until such time that the matter is resolved,” Mr. Soudas said in a late-night statement.
Mr. Harper has repeatedly raised the issue with United States President Barack Obama. Earlier this month, the two men met at the White House, and in a press conference afterwards Mr. Obama suggested there may be a way to exempt Canada from the clause.
“Prime Minister Harper, I want to emphasize, has brought this up with me every single time we've met, so he's been on the job on this issue,” Mr. Obama told reporters. “And our teams have been working together. It appears that there may be ways to deal with this bilaterally, but also potentially multilaterally.”
The stimulus package includes another clause saying it must be applied within existing trade agreements, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Buy American, though popular with voters south of the border, has hurt many Canadian industrial exporters, who have seen American orders dry up. Some have seen their business cut in half.
They characterize the program as a protectionist measure that is impractical in the integrated economies. Among those calling on the White House to issue a Canadian exemption are several American companies, including General Electric, which found many of its programs stalled because of Canadian products included in their planning.
Mr. Soudas emphasized that Ottawa has pressed the issue in Washington.
“The Prime Minister has repeatedly raised our concerns over Buy America with the U.S. President. The Prime Minister also took the opportunity to raise our concerns over Buy America with the Senate and House leadership during his recent visit to Washington,” Mr. Soudas said.

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