U.S., Canada Deal Over "Buy American" Provision Could be a Positive Step for Glass Companies and Contractors
February 8, 2010

The United States and Canada announced last Friday that they have reached a preliminary deal to settle a dispute over "Buy American" provisions in the U.S. stimulus package. These provisions had mandated that manufactured goods purchased with the stimulus funds be made in the United States or in countries with U.S. agreements on government procurement; local-level projects were also mostly confined to U.S.-made goods. Now, some say this recently-agreed-to deal could be a boost for both manufacturing and construction industry companies.

According to a jointly issued statement, this agreement has two major elements. First, it includes permanent and reciprocal commitments under the World Trade Organization (WTO) Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) with respect to provincial, territorial and state procurement. Second, the agreement provides for additional, reciprocal guarantees of access on a temporary basis:

  • Canada has agreed to provide U.S. suppliers with access to a range of construction contracts across Canada's provinces and territories, as well in as a number of municipalities.
  • The United States has agreed to provide Canadian suppliers with access to state and local public works projects in a range of programs funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).

Bill Yanek, executive vice president of the Glass Association of America (GANA), says the association views this preliminary agreement as a good first step.

"GANA's North American member companies certainly desire a close trading relationship with Canada as NAFTA contemplates. Last year, in response to the Obama Administration's work on the Doha Round negotiations, GANA signed on to a National Association of Manufacturers letter that urged the Obama Administration to support trade liberalization, which provides new market access for U.S. manufacturers and others around the world," says Yanek. "This agreement, if coupled with other pro-manufacturing efforts, could generate new trade flows that will benefit American manufacturers and exporters, as well as lead to global economic growth and development."

Stephen E. Sandherr, chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors of America, also sees this agreement as an encouraging step.

"In an increasingly global economy where most construction projects include internationally-sourced components, the stimulus' Buy American provisions have created needless confusion and delay. That is why today's deal is welcome news for the nation's hard hit construction workers, particularly for the one in four who are unemployed," says Sandherr. "We are optimistic this agreement will allow dozens of projects to move forward without having to wait for federal waivers and clarification. Equally important, this deal signals that the administration understands that Buy American provisions are as counterproductive as they are anachronistic. It is extremely encouraging that they've taken our arguments to heart and are taking the appropriate first steps with today's deal. However, we remain concerned that some in Washington continue to advocate for counter-productive Buy American provisions despite overwhelming evidence that they do more harm than good. We will remain vigilant in making sure construction workers aren't made to suffer under the false promise or protectionism."

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