CHICAGO The U.S. Federal
Highway Administration (FHWA) has decided to partially waive
"Buy America" requirements for the construction of a new border
crossing between the United States and Canada.
The decision, which took effect
Dec. 13, came in part because Canada is assuming all financial
liability and risk for construction of the project, according
to a U.S. Federal Register notice dated Dec. 12.
"The basic notion of fairness
weighs in favor of allowing Canadian iron and steel to be used
so long as American iron and steel is allowed to compete on an
equal basis," according to the notice.
The waiver, requested by the
governor of Michigan, applies only to the proposed border
crossing and not to other federally funded highway projects, it
Some supporters of the waiver
wanted ratios of Canadian and American steel and iron to be
established, but the FHWA said establishing such percentages
would be difficult and wasnt in the public interest.
Supporters of the
projectwhich is expected to connect Detroit to Windsor,
Ontarioinclude Dearborn, Mich,-based Ford Motor Co. and
several metals and mining firms, as well as unions and trade
associations, the notice and public comments indicate.
Among them are ArcelorMittal
Dofasco Inc., Hamilton, Ontario; Cliffs Natural Resources Inc.,
Cleveland; Essar Steel Algoma Inc., Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario;
and Gerdau Long Steel North America, Tampa, Fla. Also
expressing support for the waiver were the American Iron and
Steel Institute, the United Steelworkers union and the Canadian
Manufacturers and Exporters trade association.
"Absent this special
arrangement, there would be no assurance that this important
project would go forward, and no assurance that a bridge
financed with non-U.S. funds would be built with only U.S. and
Canadian iron and steel," AISI president and chief executive
officer Thomas Gibson said in September, when the FHWA was
seeking comments on the proposed waiver.
USW president Leo Gerard largely
agreed in comments he submitted. "The United Steelworkers has
been a longtime and tireless advocate for strong and expanded
Buy American laws. ... Yet in this one-of-a-kind
circumstance, we believe the public-interest exception is
appropriate under the unique circumstances at issue," he said,
noting that the project could directly and indirectly create
more than 10,000 U.S. jobs.