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Day proposes NAFTA ‘adjunct’ on procurement

CBC reports that, “Trade Minister Stockwell Day said in an interview Thursday that federal and provincial officials discussed the issue (of procurement) on Monday and that the premiers have been given a draft procurement agreement that would act as an adjunct to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).”

“Day said the measure has general support from provinces, particularly Quebec Premier Jean Charest, but that some premiers have asked for time to review the draft.”

“Day said he talked to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, who was receptive to the action. But he conceded there is no certainty the initiative, which amounts to a unilateral declaration of non-retaliation against Buy America provisions, will convince the U.S. to stand down on its protectionist measures.”

“If it works, Canada would attempt to negotiate a more formal agreement tying provinces and states to free trade in procurement spending…”

“Day said the provinces’ reluctance to sign on to NAFTA provisions for procurement when the treaty was signed by the United States, Canada and Mexico is now being used as a stick in Congress to beat Canadian suppliers.”

Day said, “What they’ve done in Congress, they say (foreign countries) will be allowed to bid, except Canada because provinces did not sign on to the procurement agreement in NAFTA. Some in Congress have used that as an excuse to shut out Canadian procurement.”

On June 10, Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow and CUPE president Paul Moist wrote all the provincial premiers stating, “Contrary to what the federal government and Canada’s manufacturing lobby would have us believe, the freedom to implement local or Canadian procurement is not an oversight that needs to be fixed through more binding international or inter-provincial agreements, but rather an economic strength because it allows local and provincial governments to be innovative in how they manage their economies and responsive to the needs of local communities.”

More on the Council of Canadians-CUPE letter at http://canadians.org/media/trade/2009/10-June-09.html.

The CBC report is at http://www.cbc.ca/money/story/2009/06/25/federal-premiers-trade.html#socialcomments.