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Buy America affecting infrastructure projects on Canadian soil

Published by Brad Fougere on November 24, 2014

OTTAWA – Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters is concerned that American protectionist legislation that forbids Canadian participation in US infrastructure projects is now poised to affect projects within our borders. The state of Alaska is taking bids to replace the Prince Rupert Ferry Terminal. The terminal, built on land leased from the Prince Rupert Port Authority, must adhere to rules under Buy America provisions as the redevelopment will be funded by the US Federal Department of Transportation. As such, all iron and steel products used for terminal construction must be manufactured in the US.

“It is time for the US to adopt a policy of exemption for Canadian firms under Buy America provisions or for the Canadian government to adopt a reciprocity policy that will level the playing field for Canadian steel manufacturers. Someone has to step up for Canada here,” said Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters President and CEO Jayson Myers. “This type of protectionist policy has no place in a trade relationship as strong as that between Canada and America.”

Buy America/American policy has prevented Canadian firms from supplying projects under the $900-billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act introduced in 2009 as an economic stimulus measure. Additionally, in 2014 US Congress adopted the protectionist policy for all water and wastewater projects and many States have adopted additional legislation for their own infrastructure projects.

“There is real concern that this policy could affect more and more projects in the Canadian steel fabrication industry,” said Canadian Institute of Steel Construction President Ed Whalen. “All levels of government must act now or risk deeper effects of protectionism on the Canadian economy.”

Municipalities across the country, such as Halton Hills and Hamilton, ON, have been calling for the federal government to address the impacts of Buy America in recent months.

“An issue as contentious as Buy American protectionism appearing on federal land in BC demands our attention,” said CME BC vice-president Marcus Ewert-Johns. “All municipalities across BC, and especially the city council of Prince Rupert, should adopt a reciprocity policy for all their infrastructure procurement contracts.”

Based out of Delta, CME BC member Marcon Metalfab specializes in the design, fabrication and installation of custom steel components for infrastructure projects such as the one in Prince Rupert. Marcon’s President, Ari Burstein, has expressed deep concerns with a free trade regime that allows American companies to bid on Canadian infrastructure projects while preventing Canadian firms from supplying steel products manufactured in Canada for publicly-funded American contracts.

“Free trade isn’t supposed to limit my ability to supply infrastructure projects in my own province,” said Burstein. “I support free trade, but only if it goes both ways.”

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