Durham Economic Prosperity Committee

Buy America Targeting Canadian Steel Manufacturing Companies

Submitted by Brad Fougere, National Communications Specialist / Editorial Assistant
and Jayson Myers, President & CEO, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME)

September 18, 2014—Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) is very concerned with the rise of Buy America policies applied to U.S. transportation infrastructure. These protectionist measures are barring access to government procurements for Canadian companies, especially steel manufacturers. As a result of Buy America policy, the town of Morrison, Colorado will have to remove all Canadian steel that was inadvertently included in the construction of the South Park Street Bridge project. These provisions required all steel and iron products used in the project to be sourced and manufactured in the United States. The bridge may now need to be deconstructed and the “Canadian” steel removed.

“It is quite shocking that while Canada does not impose any restrictions to U.S. steel manufacturers for construction of bridges and other large infrastructure projects, Canadian steel manufacturers are being treated unfairly by the U.S. government and its Buy America policy,” said CME President and CEO Jayson Myers. “The kind of situation happening in Colorado should be a wake-up call for the Canadian government to start using their own purchasing power to provide a level-playing field for Canadian steel manufacturers.”

In a recent letter sent to the federal Minister of Infrastructure, the Honourable Denis Lebel, CME urged the federal government to use its exclusion from existing free trade agreements, such as the construction of large transport department infrastructure projects, to level the playing field for Canadian steel manufacturers. In particular, CME called on the federal government to provide incentives for the use of Canadian steel for the construction of the $5 billion Champlain Bridge in Montreal. The federal government has not followed CME’s recommendation and has decided to go ahead with the construction of the Champlain bridge without any incentives for Canadian steel manufacturers.

In an opinion piece published on Sept 13 in the Denver Post, Canada’s consul general in Denver raised her concerns about the impact of Buy American on Canada-U.S. trade. She noted that, “If Canada were to adopt similar local content requirements, it would have a harmful impact on U.S. manufacturers who supply the Canadian market, including those based in Colorado.”

This is exactly what is starting to happen in certain municipalities affected by job losses and re-localization of steel manufacturing plants south of the border. Earlier this month, the towns of Halton Hills and Kingston, ON adopted resolutions calling on all levels of government to react strongly to the rise of Buy America policies. Other municipalities across Canada will adopt similar resolutions in the next months.

CME urges the federal government, provinces and municipalities to adopt a reciprocity policy that would allow a Canadian municipality or any other level of government to reserve the right to buy steel products from those companies located in countries that also allow products made in Canada to be purchased for their infrastructure projects. Those who restrict products from Canada would be subjected to reciprocal treatment until they open their respective markets. Our organization strongly believes that reciprocity of treatment is a necessary condition to achieve fair and open free trade between countries. This is not about being free trader or being protectionist: it is about providing a level-playing field and standing up for Canadian manufacturing jobs.

For more information about CME, contact policy@cme-mec.ca or visit www.cme-mec.ca.

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