Quebec mobilizing opposition to New York's 'Buy American' plan

The Quebec government is lobbying New York lawmakers and businesses to oppose plans by the state to impose "Buy American" provisions on large public contracts. 

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, announced the provisions in January. They would require the state to buy goods and services from American companies on all contracts over $100,000 US.

The state is one of Quebec's largest trading partners. According to provincial figures, commercial exchange between Quebec and New York reached $8 billion in 2014.

Quebec Economy Minister Dominique Anglade is worried cross-border trade will suffer if the provisions are passed into law, and is hoping to mobilize enough opposition to convince Cuomo to abandon his plans.  

​Anglade wants to forge a common front with New York businesses that have a northern connection.

"It's important to build links with allies so that people of New York, businessmen and women, say that it's not advantageous for them to have this 'Buy American' act," Anglade told Radio-Canada.

"They have interests in Canada and they want them to be maintained."

Uncertain trade future

Anglade is not alone in hoping to dissuade Cuomo from taking a protectionist turn. 

Maryscott Greenwood, senior adviser with the Canadian-American Business Council, underlined the importance of free trade between Canadian and American entrepreneurs.

"It's the largest economic relationship in the history of the world. Millions of American jobs depend on it," Greenwood said Friday at a news conference organized by the provincial government and the Montreal Chamber of Commerce.

Cuomo's Buy American proposal comes amid more general uncertainty about the future of free trade between Canada and the U.S.

​President Donald Trump, who campaigned on an "America First" platform, has already pulled the U.S. out of a proposed free trade deal with Japan and other Pacific Rim countries.

He also has started the process of renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada.