Will US OEMs shun Canadian suppliers?

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When I see burger chains advertise that they use 100 percent American beef, I roll my eyes.

What’s wrong with Canadian beef? It’s not like anyone’s shipping ground beef from China, right?

But now I wonder if the whole “buy American” thing is starting to go too far.

In November, I spotted a story from the Winnipeg, Manitoba, Free Press that quoted the CEO of a local thermoformer, profile extruder and rotational molder who said some of his potential customers in the U.S. were telling him they’d prefer to buy products from American suppliers.

“It’s the first time in the 15-20 years I have been doing this stuff that I have felt this,” Craig McIntosh, president and CEO of Acrylon Plastics Inc., told the newspaper at a trade summit organized by the Manitoba office of the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters. “It used to be we were greeted as friends.”

I wondered if this was a common sentiment, so I shared it with readers of “The Plastics Blog.” Most of the stories that I see related to jobs and trade are focused on China, not Canada or Mexico. So I asked, are other Canadian processors and suppliers feeling this sort of pressure from potential U.S. customers?

One shared some additional insight into the issue — a column headlined “U.S. again insults its friendly neighbor” by Bill Mann of Marketwatch.

Mann, who frequently writes about Canadian topics, pointed out that U.S. actions — he specifically cited the U.S. government — “show little concern about Canadian concerns.”

They included:

• Protectionist “Buy American” language in President Obama’s jobs bill, as well as in the stimulus bill two years ago.

• The U.S. recently ended an exemption for Canadians flying or sailing into the U.S. as part of a trade deal with Colombia.

• Prolonged talks on a new U.S.-Canada border accord.

• A long delay in approving a second bridge between Windsor, Ontario, and Detroit. Canada calls the proposal its biggest infrastructure priority, and has offered to pay for the bridge. But Michigan is dragging its feet.

Most Americans tend to ignore Canada most of the time. How many of us can name Canada’s last three prime ministers? You can be sure most Canadians can name the last three U.S. presidents.

But is indifference starting to turn into opposition, or even hostility? Is South Park starting to rub off on the U.S. populace? Let’s hope not.

Loepp is editor of Plastics News and author of “The Plastics Blog.”