Friday, February 6, 2009

Harper, Calderon Agree to Oppose U.S. Trade Threat

(Toronto Star)

Canada and Mexico have most to lose from protectionist measures

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexican President Felipe Calderon have agreed to stand shoulder-to-shoulder in opposition to the protectionist threat posed by the United States, their mutual trading partner.

Harper, who is pulling out all the stops in a campaign to head off “Buy American” provisions in President Barack Obama’s massive stimulus package, telephoned Calderon to discuss economic issues, the Prime Minister’s Office said yesterday.

Speaking as American legislators rushed to hammer out the details of the $800-billion-plus (U.S.) economic recovery plan, the two leaders on Wednesday “stressed the importance of resisting protectionist efforts” that have emerged in the United States and other countries.

As partners with the United States in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Canada and Mexico have more to lose than other nations from the protectionist measures. The economic stimulus package, if passed by Congress, would bar foreign-made goods and equipment from being used in public works projects financed with the $800 billion.

Responding to Obama’s plea to avoid starting a global trade war, senators voted late Wednesday to water down the wording in the Senate’s version of the legislation.

The federal Conservatives welcomed the Senate move as a step in the right direction. International Trade Minister Stockwell Day called it a triumph of Canadian diplomacy and further proof Ottawa will work well with Obama. Read more here.