Canada eyes "Buy America" relief in Trans-Pacific pact

Thu Mar 14, 2013 1:17pm EDT
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By Doug Palmer

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Canada is pushing hard in trade talks with the United States and nine other countries for changes to U.S. "Buy America" provisions that have complicated cross-border trade, a top Canadian official said on Friday.

"Those provisions don't only have a negative impact on Canada, they have a negative impact on American businesses who are dependent on our integrated supply chains," Canadian Trade Minister Ed Fast said in an interview.

While they are aimed at boosting jobs in the United States, they actually increase costs for many U.S. companies, he said.

Congress, since at least the 1930s, has passed various pieces of legislation aimed at giving preference in government contracts to products made in the United States.

The most famous recent example was the 2009 economic stimulus act that required projects to use iron, steel and manufactured goods made in the United States unless it increased costs more than 25 percent or no U.S. product was available.

Canada, the largest U.S. trading partner, is concerned about proposals in Congress to include similar provisions in new infrastructure project legislation, Fast said.

"That's why we've made efforts to try to secure an outcome within TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) that ... allows our businesses to take advantage of trade liberalization even in the area of government procurement," Fast said.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a proposed regional free trade agreement among the United States, Canada, Mexico, Chile, Peru, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei that negotiators hope to conclude this year.   Continued...

Canada's International Trade Minister Ed Fast speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa October 25, 2012. REUTERS/Chris Wattie