Buy American Retaliation: Ontario Plans Bill, Will Discuss with Other Provinces

By Panetta, Alexander | The Canadian Press, February 7, 2018 | Go to article overview

Buy American Retaliation: Ontario Plans Bill, Will Discuss with Other Provinces


Panetta, Alexander, The Canadian Press


Ontario plans bill for Buy American retaliation

--

WASHINGTON - Ontario is about to introduce a bill allowing it to retaliate against any state that adopts Buy American provisions, then plans to start a national conversation with other provinces about measures to punish new cases of procurement protectionism.

Premier Kathleen Wynne shared details of the move in an interview with The Canadian Press.

She said her cabinet has examined legislation to be tabled when the legislature reconvenes later this month. The planned bill would reduce procurement opportunities for states that adopt Buy American provisions, by allowing provincial officials to write regulations targeting individual states.

Wynne insisted the size of each punishment will be proportional to the size of the Buy American exclusion -- no more because, she says, she wants to avoid triggering an escalating tit-for-tat that damages the economy.

''I don't want a trade war,'' Wynne said after a visit to Washington.

''But we have to stand up for Ontario businesses, and Ontario workers, and do that in a proportional way. ... We are not going to roll over.''

Wynne said the move was inspired by a recent infrastructure bill from the state of New York.

The Canadian federal government is aware of her plans, she said. Next she intends to discuss the idea with other Canadian premiers at their upcoming conference: ''I'll certainly be raising it.''

One Canada-U.S. trade expert based in Toronto said the move might not be as dramatic as it sounds. The reason: Ontario procurement already has numerous limits to competition, and is far more protectionist than advertised by its politicians.

''Offence sometimes can be good defence, but in this case Ontario government procurement markets may not be as open now as this suggests,'' said Mark Warner of MAAW Law. …

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