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VIEW: ‘Buy North American’, say the Steelworkers

Leo Gerard, the international president of the United Steelworkers union, and Ken Neumann, the Canadian national director, write in today’s Toronto Star that, “The best strategy for Canada is not eliminating preferential procurement policies in the U.S. (the so-called Buy American provisions), but embracing procurement policies that favour goods made in North America over goods imported from overseas. North American manufacturing is highly integrated, with component parts crossing the Canada-U.S. border throughout the production process. A binational approach to government procurement would increase demand for both Canadian- and American-made products and allow firms with cross-border supply chains to fully exploit the advantages of this integration.”

Additionally, the Ottawa Business Journal reports that, “A private member’s bill introduced Monday by the New Democrats would require the federal government to give priority to Canadian companies when purchasing goods and services. Bill C-392, known as the Made in Canada Act, makes exceptions for emergency purchases, cases where there are no Canadian bidders or if the procurement falls under international trade agreements.”

In the ‘non-application’ section, C-392 states, “As regards a country that is a party to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), this Act does not apply to procurements or transfers in respect of which NAFTA requires that Canada accord to the suppliers of another NAFTA country a treatment no less favourable than the most favourable treatment that Canada accords to its own suppliers.”

Gerard and Neumann note in their op-ed that the North American Free Trade Agreement does not apply to provincial, state or local procurement.

The Ottawa Business Journal article is at http://www.ottawabusinessjournal.com/294569800854505.php.

The full text of C-392 can be read at http://www2.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?DocId=3915532&Language=e&Mode=1&File=30.

The Toronto Star op-ed is at http://www.thestar.com/comment/article/640863.