'Buy American' - International Response

One of the biggest problems with "Buy American" restrictions on trade is that it elicits retaliatory reponses from our international trading partners as they enact their own local content provisions. Lost opportunities to export to these countries could mean the loss of far more jobs than "Buy American" will ever create. Among the measures we've seen across U.S. borders and abroad:

• On December 22, 2014, the Canadian Manufacturer & Exporters issued a call for Canadian governments at all levels to "ensure that Canadian procurement markets remain open, but only for suppliers from countries that allow Canadian manufacturers access to their markets." This was a backlash against "Buy American" restrictions that led to the December 19, 2014, the closing of a Quebec steel and iron foundry.

• On June 25, 2014, Canadian Minister of International Trade Ed Fast filed an intervention at a meeting of the World Trade Organization Committee on Government Procurement to register the nation's concern with U.S. local content provisions in the Water Resources Reform and Development Act as well as other legislation.

• On June 26-27, 2014, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters Chief Executive Officer and President Jayson Myers sent letters to mayors of four of the nation's cities urging them to retaliate against "Buy American" provisions by adopting "a reciprocity policy that would level the playing field," specifically in relation to "the procurement of goods and equipment used to modernize ... infrastructure, in particular water and waste water infrastructure."

• In July 2012, the Peel Regional Council of Ontario, Canada, voted to impose local content requirements on a massive watermain project, citing the inability for Canadian companies to trade freely with the United States due to "Buy American" as a primary consideration in reaching their decision.

• In March 2012, the European Commission published a proposed regulation that would have permitted member states' authorities to exclude foreign goods and services for public procurement contracts. Many viewed the (ultimately unsuccessful) proposal as a direct retaliation against "Buy American" provisions.

• In June 2009, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, in a 189-175 vote, passed a resolution to "support municipalities who choose to adopt procurement policies which favour free and fair trade by ensuring that local infrastructure projects ... procure goods and materials ... only from companies whose countries of origin do not impose trade restrictions against goods and materials manufactured in Canada."