Obama tells Harper "Buy American" not threat to trade with Canada
The three Amigos met in Guadalajar, Mexico today. President Obama met with his North American counterparts, President Calderon of Mexico and Stephen Harper of Canada.
The three had many issues to discuss. In Canada's case it was the issue of requiring VISAs for Mexican travelers to Canada. Stephen Harper also, once again, brought up the issue of the Buy American clause in the Stimulus Package. Canadian Premiers have been urging Prime Minister Harper to to keep pressing Obama on that issue.
Harper addressed the issue of the visa requirement with President Calderon stating that the problem was with the way the refugee legislaton reads in Canada. Canada recently imposed visa requirements on Mexican citizen. This was almost done overnight and caught most Canadians and Mexicans by surprise. Harper promised to look at the issue again.
In regards to the "Buy American" provision in the Stimulus Legislation, Obama said it had to be kept in persepective.
He said trade between Canada and the United States hadn't been hurt. The Premiers of Canadian provinces are less than convinced of that. The provision includes iron, steel and other manufactured good. The steel industry in Hamilton, Ontario will certainly feel the effects of that. Although the provision is only designed for public works projects funded by stimulus money, Canada's Premiers believe this will extend beyond that.
It remains to be seen if these short summits come up with worthwhile results.
Prime Minister Harper will be going on his first visit to Washington, since President Obama took office on August 16th. This is in preparation of the G8 conference.
U.S. President Barack Obama said the "Buy American" provision needs to be kept in perspective, saying it has not hurt trade with Canada.
"We have not seen some sweeping steps towards protectionism," Obama said at a news conference wrapping up the so-called "Three Amigos" summit in Guadalajara, Mexico, on Monday with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexican President Felipe Calderon.
"There was a very particular provision that was in our recovery package, our stimulus package. It did not extend beyond that," he said.
The provision gives priority to U.S. iron, steel and other manufactured goods for use in public works and building projects funded with recovery money.
Critics in Canada have expressed concerns that the policy will lead to more protectionism south of the border and close markets to Canadian companies.