President Donald Trump tightened “buy American” federal procurement laws as part of an executive order signed yesterday.
Dubbed the “Buy American, Hire American” order, it sets out to end what Trump described as the excessive use of waivers on federal procurement laws designed to give preference to American goods, products and materials.
Within 150 days the heads of all federal agencies are expected to create policies ensuring federal procurement maximises the use of domestic products “to the extent permitted by the law”. The secretary of commerce is also expected to submit a report on the impact of buy American laws on domestic jobs and manufacturing, including recommendations on strengthening them.
“With this order I am directing every single agency in our government to strictly uphold our buy American laws, to minimise the use of waivers, and to maximise made in America content in all federal projects,” said Trump.
The Buy American Act of 1933 is the earliest and arguably the best know of the buy American laws, but Trump’s executive order covers all statues, rules and regulations requiring federal buyers to use or give preference to domestic goods or production.
In a speech to employees at US tool manufacturer Snap-on shortly before signing the order, Trump said the failure to implement buy American laws led to “countless jobs and countless contracts that have been lost to cheap, subsidised, and low-quality foreign goods”.
“In short, this order declares that American projects should be made with American goods. No longer are we going to allow foreign countries to cheat our producers and our workers out of federal contracts… Everyone in my administration will be expected to enforce every last buy American provision on behalf of the American worker, and we are going to investigate every single trade deal that undermines these provisions,” he said.
Trump also criticised the World Trade Organization, claiming the US had lost 70,000 factories since China joined the international organisation. As part of the executive order the secretary of commerce is expected to produce a report on the impact of WTO and other free trade agreements on buy American laws and public procurement.
The executive order also directed federal agencies to close loopholes on the H-1B temporary foreign worker visa and start the process of tayloring the visa programme to protect jobs for US workers.
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