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Canada-U.S. Reach “Buy American” Exemption Agreement

This is wonderful news!

(Of course, it would have been better if Congress and the White House never put those lame-brained, idiotic, economically-ignorant, and did I mention job-killing “Buy American” provisions in the stimulus to begin with.)

A deal may be imminent that will exempt Canada from the controversial Buy American provision included in the U.S. stimulus package, CBC News has learned.

According to Canadian government sources, Ottawa expects that the White House will use its discretionary power to exempt Canada from the clause very soon. In return, Canada would simultaneously announce that its provincial and municipal doors are now wide open to U.S. companies.

Sources say the announcement could be made when the two trade negotiators, Ottawa’s Don Stephenson and Washington’s Everett Eissenstat hold their first formal meeting.

The provision gives priority to U.S. iron, steel and other manufactured goods for use in state-level and municipal public works and building projects funded with taxpayer stimulus money. Canadian governments and businesses have railed against the policy.

During Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s visit with U.S. President Barack Obama last week, Harper again made a pitch for an exclusion for Canada from “Buy American” provisions.

Harper and Obama said the two sides were looking into ways of addressing the issue, including the possibility of including the provinces in a multilateral deal.

Obama has said the clause conforms with all World Trade Organization and NAFTA regulations because it deals with what’s called sub-national governments — such as states and municipalities — which aren’t included in trade treaties.

Last week, Obama suggested that Canada’s provinces must open their local markets to American companies. Canadian officials say the White House first stated its terms last spring, after Obama’s visit to Ottawa.

One worried trade partner seemingly satisfied, Lord only knows how many more will now come knocking on the door for their exemption as well.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Congress and the White House need to revoke that provision in the stimulus bill.

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