POLITICS

New York Drops 'Buy American' Policy: Kathleen Wynne

04/08/2017 10:27 EDT | Updated 04/08/2017 12:18 EDT

TORONTO — Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne says she's "pleased'' the state of New York has dropped proposed Buy American provisions from its state budget.

Governor Andrew Cuomo had proposed the New York Buy American Act, which would have required all state entities to buy from American companies in new procurements worth more than US$100,000. But legislators reached a deal Friday that left Buy American provisions out.

In a statement Saturday morning, Wynne said that decision "reflects a clear understanding among New York state's political leaders of just how important our ongoing partnership is to both economies.''

Wynne said Ontario's economy is "deeply interconnected'' with that of New York state, with was about $30 billion in trade between the two jurisdictions last year.

kathleen wynne

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne says the state of New York has dropped a proposal to give preference to American-made goods. (Photo: Cole Burston/Bloomberg via Getty)

Ontario had urged New York to reconsider Buy American, sending the minister of economic development and the minister of international trade down to meet with legislators, fearing New York's Buy American policy could have a domino effect with other states.

If it had passed, Ontario's cabinet had discussed introducing legislation to allow the province to respond "strongly,'' she said.

Wynne and Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid have been increasingly vocal about their concerns about signs of increasing protection in the U.S., not only in Buy American policies, but also speculation about a border adjustment tax and rhetoric about the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Wynne has already met with the governors of Michigan and Vermont, and spoken with governors of Indiana, Wisconsin, Colorado, Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee, as part of a strategy to win over high-profile allies to Ontario's position on free trade, a senior government official told The Canadian Press last week.

Risks, opportunities for Ontario in NAFTA renegotiation: Duguid

On Friday, Duguid said there are both risks and opportunities for Ontario in the potential renegotiation of NAFTA, and Ontario plans to play an active role with the federal government on the talks. The provincial government has already begun speaking with businesses on what they see as Ontario's interests.

"And by interests, there are things that we need to protect, and there are things that we need to advance, in terms of opportunities,'' Duguid said.

He said it was too soon to give specifics on what those interests are, except that he believes there would be benefits for all business in smoothing out regulations between jurisdictions.

"And we're obviously concerned about anything that adds costs to the border, because that increases the cost of business and reduces competitiveness,'' he said. "We would be concerned about anything that unfairly discriminates against Ontario or Canadian businesses that are doing business south of the border. But, as of now, we are still putting together what our proactive positions will be on these things.''

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