USW: New Buy America provisions a “significant blow” to Canadian steel industry

Wednesday, 17 July 2019 22:01:30 (GMT+3)   |   San Diego

The United Steelworkers Union in Canada issued a statement in response to the announcement this week that the US will increase content requirements for “Buy America” provisions. The union said that the increase in US-produced content from 50 to 75 percent for federal projects will “restrict access by Canadian producers to the US procurement market.”

“Worse than that, the order demanded that 95 percent of all steel and iron used in US public procurement must exclude Canada and be sourced from the US,” the statement added, United Steelworkers National Director Ken Neumann.

“This is a significant blow for the Canadian steel industry and the whole Canadian economy, and a betrayal of the close alliance and integration of our two economies,” Neumann said.

The union said the US procurement market is more than 10 times the size of Canada's procurement market, so implementing a “Buy Canada” policy will not mitigate the effects of the new requirements. The union said key Canadian industries, including steel producers, have relied on this market for years and will be “greatly harmed when shut out.”

During negotiations for the new USMCA trade deal, the union said Canada explicitly sought access to the US government procurement market. However, when the US resisted, Canada withdrew its demand, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau agreed to the USMCA deal without any procurement agreements.

“This was a sell-out,” said Neumann. “Such access needed to be insisted on by the Canadian government. At minimum, the previous Canadian exemption to ‘Buy America’ provisions should have been included.”

Neumann said the failure to include access to the US procurement market in negotiations was a “major failure on the part of our federal government” and “yet another reason why Canada should not ratify” the new North American trade agreement.

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