March 31, 1988
I am today approving H.R. 2631, a bill "To authorize appropriations for the Bureau of the Mint for fiscal year 1988, and for other purposes.''
In approving this legislation, I note that section 3 of the bill establishes a ``Buy America'' requirement for the purchase of materials, supplies, and services related to the production of coins by the United States Mint, which is part of the Department of the Treasury. It requires the Secretary of the Treasury to grant preference to U.S. producers and suppliers over producers and suppliers whose principal place of business is in a foreign country that does not accord U.S. companies the same competitive opportunities for its mint's procurements as it accords to domestic companies. This requirement, standing alone, conflicts with certain of our Nation's international obligations.
In particular, the United States is a party to the Agreement on Government Procurement of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). The Procurement Agreement requires entities (e.g., government agencies) specified by a party upon its accession to the Agreement to accord national treatment to the products and suppliers of other parties. When we acceded to the Procurement Agreement, the United States designated the Department of the Treasury, including the Mint, as an agency subject to the Agreement. Certain other parties elected not to designate their mints as subject to the Procurement Agreement; however, they may have designated other agencies that the United States excluded from its coverage. Forbidding the Mint from accepting bids from suppliers in countries that are parties to the Procurement Agreement, but that do not accept bids from United States suppliers with respect to their mint procurements, could be viewed by our trading partners as violating our obligations under the GATT Procurement Agreement.
Canada is one of the parties to the Procurement Agreement that has not designated its mint as subject to the Procurement Agreement. Canada and the United States recently signed a Free Trade Agreement. Among other things, the Free Trade Agreement reaffirms, and incorporates by reference, the rights and obligations of the Procurement Agreement. Thus, failure by the United States to grant Canada national treatment with respect to procurements by the Mint could also bring into question our obligations under the Free Trade Agreement, once it enters into force following approval of the implementing legislation which I will submit to the Congress.
Fortunately, section 3 of H.R. 2631 permits the Secretary of the Treasury to waive the Buy America provision in certain circumstances (i.e., when he finds that compliance with the provision would be inconsistent with the public interest or the cost to be unreasonable). The public interest of the United States includes adhering to our international obligations, and these obligations should be taken into account by the Secretary of the Treasury in making procurements affected by section 3 of this bill.
The White House,
March 31, 1988.
Note: H.R. 2631, approved March 31, was assigned Public Law No. 100 - 274.