Sunday, June 07, 2009

Economics: Canadian / American commerce: Cdn mayors fite 'Buy American' in US stimulus package, protectionism questioned

Canadian mayors pass anti-'Buy American' resolution CBC News (Jun6,2k9)

In response to the 'Buy American' provisions of the U.S. stimulus package, Canada's mayors narrowly passed a resolution Saturday that could potentially block U.S. companies from bidding on city contracts.

The resolution was passed at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference in Whistler, B.C., by a vote of 189-175.

The resolution says the federation should support cities that adopt policies that allow them to buy only from companies whose home countries do not impose trade restrictions against Canadian goods.

"Today, Canada's cities and communities joined the federal and provincial governments in a common front to try and stop American protectionism," Jean Perrault, FCM president and mayor of Sherbrooke, Que., said in a statement.

"We stand united in the belief that fair trade and an even playing field are in the best interest of our country, our communities and our citizens."

The resolution wouldn't take effect for four months, giving the Canadian government time to lobby the Obama administration.

"This U.S. protectionist policy is hurting Canadian firms, costing Canadian jobs and damaging Canadian efforts to grow our economy in the midst of a worldwide recession," Perrault said.

Some mayors argued the resolution could make it hard for cities to get the best deal on contracts.

But Susan Fennell, the mayor of Brampton, Ont., stressed the resolution is not protectionism, but a message that Canadian municipalities are concerned across the country.

"It's Canadians saying on behalf of Canadians that the fair and free trade that's been in existence for so many years is the way to remain," she said.

Some Canadian companies have complained they are already being affected by the "Buy American" provision, which gives priority to U.S. iron, steel and other manufactured goods for use in public works and building projects funded with recovery money.

The resolution was initiated by the Ontario community of Halton Hills, where two local companies have lost contracts they previously had in the US.
Americans need more jobs desperately, so the USA government has had to prioritize that consideration all the way from the top down to the bottom line. "Buy American" is a slogan that fits the priority and implies that workers will be off Unemployment Insurance and employed again, or for the first time, some of them. The logic is that buying-American will also deny sales to imported goods and services. But Canadians in business and labour want to be able to compete in America on" a level playing field," level to Americans in business and labor--in the USA!

Of course, Canadians offer an untaxed import/export border to Americans who care to exploit it, the result of buying and selling (and shipping) across the US/Canadian border. The price of the Canadian mayors (and the utopic Canadian business fantasy of makin' a killin' off over-the-border trade, the price is: more Canadians get employment and incomes to make the exports and ship them to the USA for Americans to buy, while fewer and fewer American are employed and therefore cannot afford to buy Canadian.

This is but one point to be made, among the many possible that may be suggested both by people who are "pro-Mayors," or people who are critical of them.

In both the USA and Canada, how would we react to an American govt ad on TV that said basically, "Buy American, Hire Americans and Legal Immigrants."

-- EconoMix

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