OTTAWA — The U.S. appears to be signalling that President Donald Trump’s vow to aggressively promote a “buy American, hire American” agenda is not open to discussion during negotiations on a new North American Free Trade Agreement.The Trump administration has served notice that it’s dealing with the issue outside NAFTA.While it’s being pulled in one direction by Canada and Mexico, urging it to reduce Buy American rules for public-works contracts, and in the other direction by domestic U.S. politicians seeking an increase in Buy American, the administration has issued a reminder that it’s working on a separate path.The U.S. government posted a notice seeking public comment on the costs and benefits of trade agreements on the operation of Buy American laws in government procurement, which appeared just as negotiators were huddled in Washington for the opening round of NAFTA talks.It flows from an executive order Trump signed earlier this year designed to make maximum use of Buy American rules. The order instructed government departments to perform studies within five months, with a report due to the president by Nov. 24.A notice is now inviting public comment for this report. The notice from the Department of Commerce and the U.S. trade czar has just appeared online and is to be officially posted on the U.S. federal register on Monday, seeking industry submissions by Sept. 18.Ohio-based trade lawyer Dan Ujczo says it’s no coincidence that the notice turned up while NAFTA negotiators for Canada and Mexico were still in the U.S. capital.“It’s a strategy,” he said in an interview. “They want people to know that it’s coming out.”Both Canada and Mexico want to expand procurement obligations in NAFTA, giving their companies more opportunity to bid on major U.S. government contracts, particularly lucrative infrastructure projects at the state and local level.Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland in a speech last week referred to the argument that these buy-local rules are poor public policy, driving up prices and resulting in worse infrastructure, and harming the economy: “(It’s) political junk food — superficially appetizing, but unhealthy in the long run,” she said.But expanding procurement flies in the face of Trump’s promise to bolster Buy American laws. One former U.S. trade official once responsible for procurement policy, Stephen Kho, told The Canadian Press last week that it’s hard to imagine Canada making any progress on this.He said expanding foreign companies’ procurement rights to state- and local-level contracts is always complicated and it’s especially the case now, he said, in a political climate marked by a so-called “America First” presidency.Ujczo suspects American NAFTA negotiators now have an easy argument to make: that they just can’t discuss procurement while the domestic process is ongoing. The cabinet officials will review submissions, and provide a report to the president by Nov. 24.“The issuance of this notice is a deliberate strategy for the USTR to then say, ‘We can’t really talk about procurement, it’s a multilateral issue, it’s much broader than the NAFTA … and we have a process underway so we really can’t put this on the table for discussion,”‘ he said.“So I think this is a way to essentially shut down that discussion…In my view, the U.S. is playing hardball on this issue.”It’s conceivable, but not likely in Ujczo’s view, that American negotiators could use the notice to signal to their NAFTA partners that they might be flexible on expanding procurement, depending on the feedback they get from industry. Or, even more unlikely, they might be hoping that the feedback gives them political cover to agree with Canada and Mexico on the issue.But if, as he suspects, the objective is to make procurement non-negotiable, Ujczo said Canada and Mexico will have to decide whether that’s sufficient reason to walk away from the NAFTA talks.He doesn’t believe they should.Indeed, he questions whether NAFTA is the best place to resolve the issue. Ujczo, who has clients in both Canada and the U.S., said Canadian provinces would be better off trying to negotiate reciprocal procurement agreements with individual states, through which most federal money for infrastructure flows.“This isn’t something I would walk away from the NAFTA table for. I would just adjust my strategy for focusing really on the states.”–With files by Alexander Panetta
Show more He said; “If you relapse from a stem cell transplant in the first six months your chances of survival are pretty poor. Doctors have never known anyone to be cured from the relapse I have.”I was told I could either go home and receive palliative care and I could be dead within weeks, or try the option of intensive chemotherapy to give me a second chance of remission.”However, there’s a 10 per risk of dying because the chemotherapy is so intense and there’s a 10 per cent risk that my bone marrow will never recover. Group shows Jon Strawson with children Freya, seven, George, six, and Henry, fourCredit:SWNS But speaking from his hospital bed, Mr Strawson, who received his first chemotherapy dose earlier this month, said he had to try everything. “But being given weeks to live is not long enough. I owe it to my three children to prolong things for longer if nothing else. Hopefully I will go back into remission again.”Being told what I have is not the easiest thing to take in and I’ve had to have some horrible conversations.”My children know I’m ill again and I’m back in hospital but that’s the extent they have been told.”Mr Strawson has been told if his current treatment doesn’t work he may only have a few weeks left to live.He added: “The chance of it working for my blood cancer AML, especially after relapse, are next to nothing.”No further treatment will be recommended because of the short amount of time from transplant to the relapse.”I have three young children so this prognosis is unacceptable. I am not ready to just roll over and die. I owe it to my children and my family to exhaust every avenue.” And he has released this moving image of him embracing his son George who cuddles up with him after his latest round of chemotherapy at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital.Mr Strawson, who lives near Crediton, Devon, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) on his 33rd birthday last year on July 21.Following months of unsuccessful treatments, including a stem cell transplant at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth, his last option is a course of intensive chemotherapy at the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital.Recovery at his stage of the disease is so low that he has not been given odds to indicate what chance there is of it working.And even if he does show signs of improvement, he has been warned he could remain in hospital for the next six months while his body recovers. Mr Strawson is appealing for people to come forward with suggestions of physical, mental, medical or holistic care, as well as information about any new drug treatments, especially those aimed at relapsed AML patients.He has asked anyone who can help to contact him on email at [email protected] This heartbreaking photo shows a cancer-stricken young father with just weeks left to live cradling his son on his hospital bed.Brave dad-of-three Jon Strawson, 33, has advanced blood cancer and has been told by doctors there is nothing left they can do for him.But he is refusing to “roll over and die” and has issued a last ditch plea for anyone to get in touch to offer him help or advice.Mr Strawson said he won’t give up for the sake of his family – Freya, seven, George, six, and Henry, four, and wife Rachel, 30. Jon Strawson with his son GeorgeCredit:SWNS Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.