Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Protectionist 'Buy American' Provisions Back, and Canada's Not Happy

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Protectionist 'Buy American' Provisions Back, and Canada's Not Happy

Article excerpt

'Buy American' is back, Canada's not happy

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WASHINGTON - Buy American provisions are back, and the Canadian government is sounding off in frustration.

Canada staged an intervention this week over new allegations of U.S. protectionism, with federal officials producing a list of fresh grievances during a meeting at the World Trade Organization.

The government is now airing its frustration in public over American trade measures that have received little attention so far.

"Canada is very concerned with recent legislation in the United States which reflects repeated attempts to impose domestic content requirements for products purchased by federal, state and municipal-level governments within the U.S.," International Trade Minister Ed Fast said a statement Friday.

"Canada's focus is on eliminating trade barriers, not erecting new ones. Protectionism is bad policy, and bad for businesses on both sides of the border."

Protectionism had receded somewhat as a bilateral irritant the last few years. The Keystone XL pipeline dispute has become the hot-button issue, ever since a 2010 procurement deal calmed earlier tensions over the domestic-procurement provisions in U.S. stimulus legislation.

But the Canadian government has a list of new concerns.

It points to a clause in a major water-infrastructure law just passed by Congress; a transit bill proposed by the Obama administration; several state laws and proposed laws; and a plan to hike inspection fees at the border for agricultural products.

Those irritants were raised at a WTO meeting in Geneva on Wednesday.

Federal officials singled out:

--The multibillion-dollar Water Resources Reform and Development Act, signed into law this month by President Barack Obama. Section 608 of the infrastructure law stipulates that, to be eligible for one of the funding programs, all of the iron and steel products used in a project must be produced in the U.S.

--The new Grow America Act, legislation proposed by the Obama administration, which might not pass Congress. The bill is the administration's attempt to avert a looming crisis: the expiry of funding for U. …

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