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Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne was “pleased” that New York has dropped proposed Buy American provisions from its state budget, but she remained concerned Saturday about U.S. protectionism and uncertainty about the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Governor Andrew Cuomo had proposed the New York Buy American Act, which would have required all state entities to buy from American companies on new purchases worth more than US$ 100,000. But legislators reached a deal Friday that left Buy American provisions out.
Wynne called it a success for her government’s lobbying efforts in Albany, saying it “reflects a clear understanding among New York state’s political leaders of just how important our ongoing partnership is to both economies.”
If New York’s Buy American provisions had passed, Wynne and her cabinet had planned to introduce legislation that would have allowed the province to respond “strongly,” she said.
“The response would be about defending the interests of Ontario’s workers and Ontario’s businesses in proportion to what the Buy American legislation would have been,” she said.
Wynne and Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid have been increasingly vocal about their concerns over 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 pending renegotiation of NAFTA.
“The thing is, in free trade agreements there’s always a give-and-take, in terms of particular sectors and particular
jurisdictions,” said Wynne. “That’s why it’s so important that we be at the table, and close to the conversations.”
“Auto and agriculture are two that will always be important to Ontario in these discussions, and we just need to make sure we find the right balance while being a free-trading jurisdiction,” she said.
She has already met with the governors of Michigan and Vermont, and spoken with governors of Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, Colorado, Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee, as part of a strategy to win over high-profile allies to Ontario’s views on trade.
Wynne said she doesn’t want Ontarians to have to worry about protectionism threatening Ontario’s economy.
“It is an uncertain time, there’s no doubt about that and it’s very important that, as premier, I pay very close attention to, and put resources into, that protection of our interests — not protection of our border, but protection of our interests,” she said.