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Statement: New 'Buy American' amendment buys trouble

Published by Derek Lothian on June 15, 2012

The following statement was issued by Jayson Myers, president and CEO of Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME):

CME has learned that a new Buy American amendment will be introduced next week in the US Congress. The provision will be attached to the 2013 funding bill for the US Environmental Protection Agency and, if passed, would apply to all future water and wastewater projects in the United States through State Revolving Fund assistance. In other words, it will contaminate some $100 billion in funding that's currently available to water and wastewater infrastructure projects throughout the US, our largest marketplace and business partner.

The author of the amendment is Congressman Robert Aderholt from the Fourth Congressional District of Alabama, and would require that any project "for the construction, alteration, maintenance, or repair of a public water system or treatment works" use iron, steel, and manufactured goods produced in the United States. This amendment has not gone unnoticed by CME's membership, especially those companies who must compete with American competitors in the Canadian water and wastewater market and who currently benefit from unfettered access.

In 2009, US lawmakers passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which contained a similar and sweeping Buy American provision. The goal of the legislation was to spur job growth, but – as many American companies soon learned – actually led to lost business opportunities. Why? Because they sell component parts to Canadian manufacturers who were shut out of ARRA-funded infrastructure projects. This is the reality of the Canada-US business relationship and why it is so distinct. We do not simply "trade" any longer – we build things together. And our cross-border manufacturing supply chain has provided communities on both sides of the 49th parallel with good paying jobs, high standard products and competitively priced infrastructure projects. It's a win-win for everybody.

It is also worth nothing that Canada is Alabama's largest buyer of goods – comprised largely of manufactured components. Congressman Aderholt's amendment is a bad idea and will only buy trouble at a time neither country can afford.

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