Deal could surrender Canadian procurement, while leaving Buy American laws in place: study

November 10, 2009

OTTAWA—Ongoing negotiations between Ottawa and Washington over Buy American laws may give away provincial and municipal procurement sovereignty, says a new study released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).

According to the study, by CCPA trade researcher Scott Sinclair, the agreement now in the works would leave Buy American policies intact while permanently binding Canadian provincial and municipal governments under World Trade Organization (WTO) government procurement rules which could prevent them from preferring local goods or suppliers.

“This is not a loss that should be taken lightly,” says Sinclair. “Preferential government purchasing is an important policy tool in Canada. For example, contracting policies that give preference to Canadian suppliers, buy-local food policies, centralized purchasing of pharmaceuticals, and many other beneficial procurement policies would be at risk under this deal.”

Even if Canada fully signed on to the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement, Canadian suppliers would remain excluded from the bulk of U.S. sub-federal, stimulus funded projects. Such a deal would, however, permanently bind Canadian provincial and local governments under WTO rules, severely curtailing their use of government procurement as a policy tool.

“The real question is why would Canada agree to such an unbalanced deal?” Sinclair asks. “There is virtually no chance that Washington will agree either to scrap the Buy American rules or to exempt Canadian suppliers from them.”

Instead, the report suggests our governments emulate what is best in the U.S. purchasing policies and employ them to benefit Canadians.


Buy American Sell-out: Giving away Canadian procurement sovereignty is available on the CCPA website:

For more information contact Kerri-Anne Finn, CCPA Senior Communications Officer, at 613-563-1341 x306.