Canada is prepared to begin talks with the U.S. later this year about procurement issues on non-federal contracts, says Peter Van Loan, minister of international trade. The provision for such talks was part of a U.S.-Canada pact signed in February that deals with “Buy American” issues. Van Loan says he “indicated clearly” in an April 22 meeting with U.S. Trade Rep. Ron Kirk “that we’re prepared to go ahead with those discussions in the second half of this calendar year.”

Van Loan says the pact gives Canada a waiver of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s “Buy American” requirements in contracts awarded by states and other localities. But, he says, “[The pact] goes well beyond just those stimulus provisions. It provides some permanent protection.” One example, he says, is a commitment to begin talks “on a deeper and broader agreement on procurement at the sub-federal level.”

Dawn Kristof Champney, president of the Water and Wastewater Equipment Manufacturers Association, says the February agreement has had no effect on ARRA water and wastewater state revolving fund (SRF) contracts because nearly all of the ARRA SRF money was obligated by Feb. 17 and thus outside the scope of the pact.

But, Champney says, the longer-range U.S.-Canada talks “are in both countries’ best interests.” She adds, “[It’s a] win-win for both of our countries that we have now agreed to explore more comprehensive procurement commitments.”