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CME stands with Canadian Steel Producers in support of Minister Fast's Foreign Extraterritorial Measures

Published by Brad Fougere on January 22, 2015

Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters and the Canadian Steel Producers Association support the actions of the Minister of International Trade, Ed Fast to envoke the Foreign Extraterritorial Measures Act against Buy American protectionism applying on Canadian soil.

"We call on the government of Alaska to take the necessary steps to remove these unwarranted conditions, so that this project can proceed on the basis of competitive bidding that includes fair opportunity for Canadian steel to be used," CPSA President Ron Watkins said in the Jan 20 post.

Read the full release below.

Canada’s steel industry fully supports Minister Fast’s action on Prince Rupert port project

This week, Canada’s Minister of International Trade, the Honourable Ed Fast, dusted off a rarely-used Canadian law, the Foreign Extraterritorial Measures Act (FEMA) in support of Canadian industry.  What led the Minister intervene?  Because of an extraordinary situation in Prince Rupert, British Columbia, that would mean only American-made iron and steel would be used on a significant infrastructure project on Canadian land — in fact, on Canadian government-owned land.  All because the government of Alaska insists on the application of Buy America policies to this project in Canada.

How this absurd situation came about has received widespread attention in British Columbia, and beyond.  The basics – it’s a $15 million project being undertaken by an agency of the Government of Alaska, under a lease agreement with the Prince Rupert Port Authority.  The Alaskan agency said it will apply the Buy America provisions that stipulate only American iron and steel.  When this situation earlier came to light, the Government of Canada properly expressed its opposition and asked Alaska to seek a waiver to this extraterritorial application of Buy America.  But to date, the Alaska state government has refused to do so.  Hence, to defend Canada’s economic and sovereign interests, the Minister has invoked FEMA.  So now, an important capital project serving port users in both countries is jeopardized.

Given these circumstances, we fully support Minister Fast’s action in defending Canadian economic sovereignty, and the right of Canadian industry and its workers to compete for work within their own country.  (One can only imagine the outcry in the United States if this table were turned.)

It should not have come to this, nor should it end there.

So as not to place this particular project in limbo, we call on the government of Alaska to take the necessary steps to remove these unwarranted conditions, so that this project can proceed on the basis of competitive bidding that includes fair opportunity for Canadian steel to be used.  To be clear, we are not calling for “Buy Canada” on this project.  If, in the end, U.S.-made steel proves to be more competitive on a fair and open basis, then so be it.

There are broader principles at play.  In our December 2 Globe and Mail article, we proposed a ‘reciprocity’ principle for government procurement, to  assure each country similar access to procurement opportunities in the other.  It would strengthen the efficiency of industrial supply chains in both countries, ensure fair competition for important infrastructure projects, and make sure that projects like Prince Rupert do not get delayed or cancelled due to unnecessary conditions that harm both economies.

Found in: Buy America

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