Premier Underscores Ontario’s Commitment to Free Trade and Partnership, Opposition to Buy American
Premier Kathleen Wynne was in Washington, D.C., today to meet with U.S. leaders and advocate on behalf of Ontario workers and businesses for the importance of maintaining free trade with the U.S.
The Premier sat down with state representatives, including Senator Gary Peters of Michigan, Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Representative Jim Renacci of Ohio, to discuss the importance of Ontario’s economic relationships with these key states.
Premier Wynne also met with the US Chief Negotiator on NAFTA, John Melle, and other members of the Office of the US Trade Representative, as well as Mark Calabria, Chief Economist and Policy Director for the Office of the Vice President, and Ted McKinney, Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to highlight Ontario’s status as a top customer of 28 states, as well as the nearly 9 million U.S. jobs that depend on trade, investment and partnership with Canada.
At a meeting with Representatives Bill Pascrell of New Jersey, Sandy Levin of Michigan, Brian Higgins of New York and other members of the House Ways and Means Committee, the Premier spoke about the benefits of NAFTA and noted that efforts to undermine NAFTA are only one example of protectionist actions that are putting millions of jobs across North America at risk.
In Washington, the Premier expressed her concern that protectionism at the state level will also damage cross-border partnerships that create jobs, referring to New York State’s Buy American provisions, set to take effect April 1. While not as far-reaching as the Buy American legislation originally proposed by New York State lawmakers in early 2017, the Premier has consistently said that she will respond to any Buy American laws that cause unfair harm to Ontario workers and businesses. In the case of New York State, Ontario has been left with no choice but to act.
When Ontario’s legislative session resumes on February 20, the government will table legislation that would enable the province to respond in kind to New York State’s legislation and to any other state that enacts similar legislation, including Texas. The Premier looks forward to working with all parties in the Ontario legislature to ensure swift passage of this important legislation.
Tomorrow the Premier is in New York City to meet with business leaders at a NAFTA Breakfast Roundtable hosted by the Business Council for International Understanding, as well as a roundtable with Kathy Wylde, President and CEO of Partnership for New York City. Premier Wynne will also join Richard Florida, Editor of CityLab, for a fireside chat on inclusive prosperity at New York University.
Minister of International Trade, Michael Chan, and Minister of Economic Development and Growth, Steven Del Duca, are joining the Premier in the U.S. to reinforce Ontario’s position that free and fair trade creates good jobs on both sides of the border.
Promoting trade and partnership while protecting Ontario’s economic interests is part of Ontario’s plan to create fairness and opportunity during this period of rapid economic change. The plan includes a higher minimum wage and better working conditions, free tuition for hundreds of thousands of students, easier access to affordable child care, and free prescription drugs for everyone under 25 through the biggest expansion of medicare in a generation.
- In early 2017, New York State proposed Buy American provisions in its budget that would restrict Ontario businesses’ access to bidding on public sector procurement projects. Michael Chan, Minister of International Trade, Brad Duguid, then Minister of Economic Development and Growth, and Monique Smith, Ontario’s Representative in Washington, engaged directly with legislators in Albany to seek an exemption for Canadian businesses. After successful advocacy by Ontario and other Canadian partners, New York State completely dropped proposed Buy American provisions from its budget in April. Ontario continued to actively engage with legislators throughout the spring to promote open and competitive procurement and underscore the value of Ontario’s economic partnership with New York. Ultimately, New York introduced a significa ntly less punitive bill in June, which was signed into law on December 15, 2017 and will come into effect on April 1, 2018.
- Every day, more than $1 billion in goods are traded between Ontario and the U.S. In 2016, two-way trade between Ontario and the U.S. totaled nearly $400 billion.
- In 2016, more than 60 per cent of the merchandise exports from the U.S. to Canada were destined for Ontario.
- Premier Wynne has met with 33 U.S. governors since January 2017.
“I am pleased that New York State has modified its Buy American legislation to be less harmful to Ontario than earlier versions, but it’s not enough. I have consistently said that Ontario wants free and fair trade. That’s what creates the greatest number of opportunities for our people. New York State’s Buy American law will undermine the spirit of our partnership and give their workers an unfair edge. I have no choice but to respond by introducing legislation of our own. Our U.S. partners need to know that if they choose protectionism, they will pay a price. My hope is that New York State will grasp what is at stake here and work with us to continue tearing down trade barriers and creating good jobs. I am a staunch advocate for open, fair and competitive procurement. But when the well-being of our wo rkers is threatened, I will stand up for them by whatever means necessary. Every time.”
— Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario