Tips and guidance on competing in the U.S.
The previous pages provide general guidance in navigating Buy American and Buy America requirements in the U.S. procurement market.
Please remember that each contract is different and can involve exceptions and special rules that are not covered in these few pages. For any specific contract, Canadian firms are encouraged to discuss their situation with their nearest Canadian Trade Commissioner – In Canada or Abroad.
Keep in mind that the U.S. federal contracting officer decides how rules will apply to each contract, so his or her guidance is most valuable. Always research the specific contract opportunity carefully before making any business decision.
The U.S. procurement market is a very competitive market. To succeed, a Canadian firm typically must demonstrate superior technology or significant price advantage of its product over its American competitors to several, if not all, of the following:
- its distributors or representatives;
- subcontractor(s) involved;
- the prime, or general, contractor;
- the consulting engineer that the agency probably employed to write the statement of work and specifications used by the prime contractor;
- the project engineer in the government agency;
- the contracting officer in the government agency;
If a Canadian firm has any doubt about whether its products may be used in a public contract, the firm or its U.S. representative should contact the government contracting officer and ask.
Know the rules
Canadian firms should be certain their sales personnel in Canada and in the United States are aware of Buy America(n) requirements. They should be ready to explain the rules to potential buyers and contractors.
Using a Canadian product in a federal public work without a Buy America(n) waiver is risky. Post-construction audit teams have often inspected a project, identified Canadian material used without a waiver, and ordered those materials replaced with U.S. components – even if the Canadian supplier and its distributor were unaware of the law or waiver requirements.
Violators of Buy America(n) requirements, including the prime contractor and its subcontractors and suppliers, are barred from contracts for three years after the findings are made public.
Many Canadian firms find it unwise to produce or ship goods destined through their distributors for public works contracts until they receive confirmation from the procuring agency that Canadian products may be used in those projects.
For more information:
- State and Local Government Opportunities: (includes detailed provisions on State Procurement Preferences.)
- The website of the relevant procurement agency will often include appropriate contacts and have the most updated information regarding the application of Buy America(n).
- Requests for proposals and tender documentation should also indicate if Buy America(n) requirements apply.
For marketing to U.S. public sector markets, and for assistance with business development strategies or market intelligence, contact your nearest Canadian Trade Commissioner – In Canada or Abroad.
- Date Modified: