Feds acting on Michigan foreign waste bill

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TORONTO, Ont. — Canada’s International Trade Minister James S. Peterson says the Canadian government is prepared to step in if legislation tabled in the U.S. to allow Michigan and other states to regulate imports of municipal solid waste from Canada and elsewhere.

“Current draft legislation (Bill 2491) tabled in the State of Michigan appears to be inconsistent with certain obligations of the United States under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, 1994 (GATT),” the minister said in a letter to Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) president, David Bradley.

The minister’s letter, written in response to an earlier letter from Bradley which pointed out the discrepancy between the legislation and current international trade agreements, says the Canadian government “will seek to ensure that the United States respects its obligations under NAFTA,” should both the proposed U.S. federal and Michigan state legislation be adopted.

OTA officials said U.S. House Bill 2491 is a concern for their members because it would amend the U.S. Solid Waste Disposal Act to authorize states to restrict receipt of foreign municipal waste.

“As 70 per cent of Canada’s trade to the United States moves by truck, any hostile move by states to control foreign trade is seen by our industry as having a potential negative impact on our industry’s ability to conduct international commerce,” Bradley said.

“The association believes that Bill 2491 represents a potential threat to all Canadian business and is a piece of legislation that the Canadian federal government should frown upon as a threat to all commodities involved in U.S.-Canada trade.”

OTA officials said they were pleased to learn the government plans to act to protect the interests of Canadians under NAFTA and are looking forward to seeing the minister hold true to his promise to do so should Bill 2491 be passed.

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