TORONTO (AP) — Canada's trade minister said Tuesday he's concerned about comments by the U.S. ambassador to Canada defending the "Buy American" provisions in President Barack Obama's jobs bill.
Similar provisions in a bill two years ago became a major irritant in trade relations between the United States and Canada, its largest trading partner
In a speech Tuesday, Ambassador David Jacobson said the "Buy American" provisions are necessary if parts of the bill have any chance of passage through a fractious U.S. Congress. Jacobson said the bill ultimately will be good for both countries and that Canada should "take the bad with the good."
Canada has been seeking an exemption to the proposal that includes a requirement that all iron, steel and manufactured goods used in public buildings or public works be supplied by U.S. firms.
Canada fought for and ultimately won an exemption from the "Buy American" provisions included in the $787 billion U.S. economic stimulus bill in 2009, where U.S.-made steel and other manufactured goods were favored in government-funded building projects.
In a statement issued later Tuesday, Canadian Trade Minister Ed Fast said the ambassador's view was a concern and that trade-restrictive measures hurt both countries.
"History has shown that in times of severe economic challenge, the global economy is revived by lowering trade barriers, and that raising them will have the opposite effect," Fast said.
Jacobson said Obama had to include the "Buy American" provisions.
"In case you haven't noticed, it's not so easy for him to get things through Congress," Jacobson said. "So he had to make a tough call. He had to introduce a bill that had some chance of passing. Hence the 'Buy America' provision. If the bill doesn't pass, the U.S. economy — and the Canadian economy with it — continue to suffer."