Trade Cases

New York Joins 'Buy American' Bandwagon

Written by Sandy Williams

New York State legislators approved an agreement this week prohibiting foreign steel to be used for New York roads and bridges. The “Buy American” legislation requires that seven identified state agencies purchase steel and iron manufactured completely in the U.S. for infrastructure projects valued at $1 million or more. Exemptions could be granted for specific projects, and the requirements could be suspended for emergencies or public threats, such as natural disasters. The legislation will pertain to all new contracts submitted after April 1, 2018.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo worked with Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, and others, to reach an agreement on the legislation. “When we Buy American, we support the continued growth of our manufacturing industries here at home, preserve and create jobs and invest in our future,” Gov. Cuomo said. “This legislation will reinvest in the talent that made this state and this country what it is today and strengthen our role as a global leader in manufacturing for years to come.”

“Imports of cheap Iron and steel of potentially questionable quality are putting American companies at a competitive disadvantage,” said Flanagan. “Our new Buy American law will ensure that New York’s most significant infrastructure projects are built with materials that are safe and high-quality, held to contribute to our local and national economies, create new jobs and protect workers right here in our own backyard.”

Agencies impacted by the agreement include the Department of Transportation, Thruway Authority, Bridge Authority, Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Office of General Services, SUNY Construction Fund and Dormitory Authority of the State of New York.

Cuomo hopes to extend the agreement to cover other industries in the state including aluminum and concrete. A 14-person panel will be formed to evaluate further measures and submit final recommendations by 2020.

Canada Disappointed

The legislation was met with resistance by Canadian officials who lobbied to mitigate the impact on Canadian companies that trade steel and iron over the border. The original proposal called for American steel to be procured for projects over $100,000 and would have applied to all state agencies.

Kathleen Wynne, premier of Ontario, said she will seek an exemption for the province before the legislation takes effect next April. She also indicated that Ontario is prepared to respond with legislation that would prohibit non-Ontario firms from bidding on provincial projects.

“I will continue to stand up for the people of Ontario any time and every time Buy American policies are being considered or implemented in states that do business with our province,” she said.

Texas legislators struck a similar “Buy American” agreement in May, denying an exemption for Canada.

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