A group of nearly 25 industry associations asked Capitol Hill lawmakers to avoid inclusion of additional “Buy American” provisions in the proposed American Jobs Act legislation.
“When the United States erects onerous new Buy American barriers to its own procurement market, other countries hide behind our actions as an excuse to keep U.S. goods and services out of their own markets and oftentimes continue to close their markets even more,” the groups warned in a letter on Friday.
“There are numerous examples of these damaging ‘backfires’ on U.S. exporters and their workers,” they added. “The inclusion of the same Buy American provisions in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) in 2009 led countries in Europe, Asia, Latin America and elsewhere to impose additional restrictions on the purchase of U.S. goods and services.”
Some of the groups to sign the letter are the American Council of Engineering Companies, Consumer Electronics Association, National Association of Foreign-Trade Zones, National Foreign Trade Council, Retail Industry Leaders Association, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Water and Wastewater Equipment Manufacturers Association.
Over the last two years, the groups explained that new procurement restrictions were imposed, for example, in Brazil, Canada, China, and Indonesia.
“In part as a response to the ARRA Buy American expansion, the European Commission has also begun reassessing whether to expand its own procurement barriers, making the timing of this latest Buy American measure particularly troubling,” the groups said. “Given that the EU's procurement market that is open to foreign bidders is nearly 10 times larger than the United States' (upwards of $47 billion), U.S. companies and workers stand to lose much more than they would gain in just this one market by embarking on such a restrictive approach.”
Similarly, India has proposed restrictive buy local requirements in the telecommunications and information technology sector for government and licensed telecom-service-provider procurement, citing U.S. Buy American provisions as justification.
“ARRA’s inclusion of expanded Buy American provisions undermined the job growth potential of that legislation,” the groups said. “Some infrastructure projects did not go forward at all, others faced massive delays and still others faced major cost overruns as a result of the Buy American provisions.”