Provincial leaders in Canada stress importance of U.S. trade, but have reservations about certain restrictions. Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo
May 11 (UPI) -- Provincial leaders in Canada said they were committed to secure trade relations with the United States, but had concerns about protectionist policies.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne hosted Rachel Notley, her counterpart from oil-rich Alberta, to discuss trade relations with the United States with President Donald Trump, a former real estate mogul, at the helm. Both provincial economies count the United States as their top trading partner.
"Particularly now, securing our relationship with the United States is key to both provinces' economic strength," they said in a joint statement.
An April survey from IHS Markit said Trump's pledge to reconfigure regional trade policies leaves parts of the Canadian energy market in limbo. Recently, the U.S. president mulled abandoning the North American Free Trade Agreement, a central component of regional trade.
Since taking office, Trump moved policies aimed at strengthening the U.S. economy by favoring domestic industries like steel for energy infrastructure. In late April, the Trump administration introduced a 20 percent tariff on soft lumber from Canada, which Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said was the result of a "couple of decades of disputes."
The provincial leaders added that state policies that favor U.S. goods could interfere with bilateral trade.
"We also shared our concerns regarding the Buy American policies being considered in Texas, a state whose economic strength is intrinsically linked to investments from, and partnership with, both Alberta and Ontario," they said.
Bills moving through the state legislature in Texas, the No. 1 oil producer in the United States, would require only U.S. steel for the construction of state infrastructure projects. Similar federal policies were introduced by the White House, though waivers are in place for projects like the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada.
Alberta in particular has moved to diversify its economy. The provincial trade minister this week hosted business delegates from China after touring Asian countries with Premiere Notley.
So-called Buy America policies are not specific to the Trump administration.