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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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USTR: No Renegotiations of NAFTA

Meant to touch up on this story earlier this week, but it kept getting lost in the shuffle on the Sotomayor Hearing Coverage.

So, in my opinion, this is good news as the sane adults are at least still in charge of the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office (USTR) and the Commerce Department.

Article’s from the Ottawa Citizen, so enjoy the cool “Old English” spellings.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Tuesday he is “delighted” the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama has closed the door to reopening the North American Free Trade Agreement.

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk told reporters in a conference call on Monday that it is not necessary to renegotiate NAFTA to honour Obama’s campaign promise to add stronger labour and environmental provisions.

“The president has said we will look at all options,” Kirk said. “But I think they can be addressed without having to reopen the agreement.”

Harper also noted Obama had been moving away from any anti-NAFTA rhetoric over the course of last year’s presidential primaries, but he still welcomed Kirk’s statement.

“We’re obviously very delighted with this decision from the Americans,” Harper said as he wrapped his up a three-day working visit to Jamaica. “As you know, President Obama has been moving this way really since the primary campaign.”

Harper said both he and President Felipe Calderon of Mexico have spoken to Obama about preserving NAFTA.

“The NAFTA situation, arrangements, can always be improved,” Harper said. “Once we reopen it, it would be very hard to get that cat back in the bag.”

Exactly.  Anyone who’s ever worked in trade or logistics can tell you that there are indeed a number of issues which could be worked out in NAFTA – some of them very legitimate and real, even those raised by natural NAFTA opponents like the AFL-CIO and other unions – but the unilaterally open up the agreement would be akin to opening Pandora’s Box.  Most experts say off the bat the Mexicans would go after cross-border trucking (remember that?), while the Canadians would go after timber and oil shale production to better their own hands.

Of course, Congress may have other things in mind.  This was announced just last month.

Over 100 House Democrats including nine committee chairmen have signed on to legislation that would require President Obama to submit a plan to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and other trade deals.

The Trade Reform, Accountability, Development and Employment (TRADE) Act of 2009 calls on the president to submit a plan to address through renegotiations gaps between existing deals, as well as benchmarks Congress would set on various issues.

It would establish a congressional “super committee,” to be chaired by the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committee chairmen, to formulate the plan.

It also calls for a new “fast-track” law that would require Congress to vote in favor of a new trade agreement before the president offers his signature.

Such a bill, if enacted, would pretty much end global trade as we know it.  It would cause our trade partners to never trust us again since we’d be demanding upon them trade terms on a whim, and hamstring any future President when they would try to negotiate future trade deals since the “modified Fast Track” would make it that nations would be negotiating with an additional 535 people, not just the President.

Wisconsin Democrats on the sponsor list to further destroy the global economy include (in alphabetical order): Baldwin, Kagen, and Moore.

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