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Canada asks US for free trade talks on procurement

The Globe and Mail reports that, “Canada has asked the United States for talks on a new chapter of free trade that would cover spending by states, provinces and cities and guard against a feared rise of protectionist Buy American measures.”

“Trade Minister Stockwell Day asked his American counterpart, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, to agree to ‘exploring’ such negotiations – marking the first time Canada has brought the idea directly to the Obama administration.”
Mélisa Leclerc, Mr. Day’s spokesperson, said in an e-mail that the trade minister, “made clear Canada’s willingness to negotiate expanded, reciprocal market-access guarantees with regard to government procurement markets and sought Ambassador Kirk’s agreement to explore the feasibility of such a negotiation.”

“The Canadian strategy is to propose a trade agreement that will prevent (‘protectionist’) actions in the long term and, in the meantime, if the provinces agree, to offer interim guarantees that provincial procurement in Canada will be open to U.S. firms, if the United States exempts Canada now from Buy American provisions.”

“It remains unclear …whether Canadian provinces would agree to strong open-market guarantees for their spending. The federal government is developing a proposal with the provinces now, Ms. Leclerc said.”

“Mr. Kirk, according to Canadian officials, told Mr. Day that he would look at a Canadian proposal, without making any commitments.”

The article is at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/day-pushes-for-new-free-trade-talks-with-us/article1197893/.

This story has been developing all this month:

-Big business calls for new FTA on government procurement (June 2), http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=625.

-Harper seeks new chapter in NAFTA (June 4), http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=643.

-Some premiers do not support reopening NAFTA (June 5), http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=660.

-Clinton says ‘we can promote more procurement’ with Canada (June 13), http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=767.

-Day proposes NAFTA ‘adjunct’ on procurement (June 25), http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=853.

On June 10, Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow and CUPE president Paul Moist wrote the provincial premiers asking them not to give up their powers over procurement. More on that at http://canadians.org/media/trade/2009/10-June-09.html.

We will be taking furrther action on this issue shortly.