Alaska puts Canada ferry terminal in 'Buy America' dispute on hold

Wed Jan 21, 2015 11:25pm EST
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VANCOUVER (Reuters) - The government of Alaska said on Wednesday that it had canceled the overhaul of a ferry terminal in British Columbia "for the time being," after the project became a trade dispute with Canada over "Buy America" provisions.

The state, which operates the terminal as part of its Alaska Marine Highway System, said it will maintain operations at the existing facilities at normal standards until the issue can be resolved.

The Canadian government invoked rarely used anti-sanction laws earlier this week in an effort to prevent bidders on the construction project, which is located in Canada, from agreeing to use only U.S.-made iron and steel.

It had wanted Alaska to seek a waiver to the controversial "Buy America" law, designed to protect U.S. companies from foreign competition in transportation infrastructure projects.

"A waiver would have resolved this issue, allowing it to move forward without delay," said Rudy Husny, a spokesman for Canada's International Trade ministry.

"Alaska is denying Canadian companies, on Canadian soil, the opportunity to compete, and the clear benefits that arise from our integrated supply chain."

Alaska said the project – estimated to cost $10 million to $20 million – was planned with 91 percent of funding coming from the U.S. federal government and 9 percent from the state.

(Reporting by Julie Gordon; Additional reporting by Jeffrey Hodgson; Editing by Ken Wills)