Deal reached be­tween Canada, U.S. on Buy Amer­i­can, sources say

Cape Breton Post - - OUR COMMUNITY -

WASH­ING­TON (CP) — Canada and the United States will an­nounce Fri­day that the year­long dis­pute over pro­tec­tion­ist Buy Amer­i­can pro­vi­sions has fi­nally been re­solved af­ter ef­forts that in­volved the high­est lev­els of gov­ern­ment.

A deal will be an­nounced si­mul­ta­ne­ously in Wash­ing­ton by the U.S. Trade Rep­re­sen­ta­tive’s of­fice and in Ottawa by In­ter­na­tional Trade Min­is­ter Peter van Loan, The Cana­dian Press has learned.

The break­through fol­lows months of ne­go­ti­a­tions and con­ver­sa­tions about the dis­pute be­tween Prime Min­is­ter Stephen Harper and Pres­i­dent Barack Obama as re­cently as late De­cem­ber.

A source fa­mil­iar with the ne­go­ti­a­tions said the agree­ment will im­me­di­ately ex­empt Cana­dian com­pa­nies from seven pro­grams un­der the Buy Amer­i­can pro­vi­sions in the US$787-bil­lion eco­nomic stim­u­lus pack­age passed by Congress last year, and in the 37 U.S. states that ad­here to the World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion’s gov­ern­ment pro­cure­ment agree­ment.

In re­turn, Cana­dian prov­inces and mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties will give the green light to Amer­i­can firms bid­ding on projects north of the bor­der.

The deal only cov­ers con­tracts granted un­der the U.S. stim­u­lus pack­age, with its dead­line for dol- ing out cash just around the cor­ner on Feb. 17. But sources say Cana­dian of­fi­cials will con­tinue to push for a per­ma­nent ex­emp­tion for Canada from any and all Buy Amer­i­can pro­vi­sions.

The same pro­tec­tion­ist mea­sures are in the mas­sive jobs bill cur­rently work­ing its way through Congress and are ex­pected to pop up in other pieces of leg­is­la­tion in the weeks and months ahead.

None­the­less, said a source fa­mil­iar with the ne­go­ti­a­tions: “It’s an im­por­tant sig­nal that rec­og­nizes the in­te­grated na­ture of our economies.”

That sig­nal, the source added, would be sig­nif­i­cant once dis­cus­sions on a per­ma­nent so­lu­tion be­gin.

The new deal also fur­thers Harper’s goal of break­ing down in­ter­provin­cial trade bar­ri­ers and gives mo­men­tum to his push to have a sin­gle se­cu­ri­ties reg­u­la­tor, the source said.

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