Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Exemption from "Buy American" policies is a sham -- CCPA

Frances Russell explains:
Taxpayers' dollars should be used to create and support taxpayers' jobs, not export them to another country.

At least that's what U.S. governments believe. But Canada's federal and provincial governments are so frantic to get exemptions from Buy American laws governing the massive U.S. economic stimulus package that they are preparing to open up $21 billion in provincial procurement and perhaps as much as $84 billion in municipal procurement -- and who knows how many jobs -- to U.S. suppliers in return for a virtually meaningless trade concession.

So says the author of a new research paper from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Political economist and CCPA senior researcher Scott Sinclair says the U.S. has cleverly steered the bilateral talks away from U.S. Buy American laws towards what President Barack Obama has called a "multilateral solution." Obama says Canada can get in on the U.S. stimulus gravy train by following its example and signing up provinces and local governments to the World Trade Organization's Agreement on Government Procurement (AGP.)

But U.S. federal, state and municipal governments have exempted so many Buy American policies from AGP commitments, they're almost a dead letter. Federal spending on highways, mass transit, municipal infrastructure and utility spending already are exempt. Thirteen states have no AGP commitments. Many more exclude steel, motor vehicles, coal and printing. All U.S. municipal procurement is protected. Finally, the U.S. federal government itself has carved out the bulk of its federal stimulus spending, leaving it free to apply its buy-local preferences.

From the Winnipeg Free Press. I really can't fault the Yanks for wanting stimulus funds to be spent at home where possible (much as I might find fault with them for other things); indeed I think we should be doing the same thing.

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