Justin Trudeau in the United States to lead a charm offensive

(Philadelphia) Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is in Philadelphia on Tuesday, part of his first trip south of the border since his government launched a new charm offensive in the United States.

Officially, he’s in Pennsylvania to speak at a quadrennial North American convention of the Service Employees International Union.

But the trip comes five months after Mr. Trudeau mandated his industry and international trade ministers to pursue a new trade strategy with business leaders, unions, state and city governments. -United.

The plan is being launched as Americans head into a crucial presidential election for both countries.

The possibility of Donald Trump’s return to the White House is reminiscent of the difficult bilateral relations of his first term.

He has already promised to introduce a uniform 10% tax on imports to all countries if he wins a second time.

In January, Prime Minister Trudeau acknowledged that a second Trump presidency was not on Canada’s wish list.

“It wasn’t easy the first time […] and if there is a second time, it will not be easy either,” he declared during an event in Montreal.

He emphasized in the same speech that during the Trump presidency, he had spent a lot of time with the governors of American states to remind them how much they depended on Canada.

A week later, he launched the new “Team Canada strategy on engagement with the United States.”

It’s a strategy similar to that employed during the Trump presidency, when Ottawa avoided attacking Mr. Trump directly as much as possible and instead turned to businesses and state governments that were more open-minded. to discussions.

Bilateral relations during President Joe Biden’s term have been more amicable, but not without friction.

Canada and the United States have moved forward together on a number of clean technology innovations, including closer ties in the electric vehicle supply chain.

But Mr. Biden initially intended to offer a lucrative electric vehicle tax credit only to cars made in the United States. An all-out effort by Canada convinced the United States to expand the scope to include cars made in North America before the credit was finalized.

A dominant market in Canada

Canada is the largest player in the U.S. economy, accounting for nearly a fifth of total U.S. exports. Mexico accounts for about a sixth and China for less than a tenth.

But the United States is a much more dominant market for Canadian exports, accounting for 77% of all exports in 2023, or almost $600 billion.

China is in second place with 30 billion, or 4% of total exports.

Canada has invested $30 billion in the electric vehicle sector in the last two years alone and is becoming the North American hub for electric vehicle battery production. But many of these batteries are intended for electric vehicles that will be completed and sold in the United States.

The United States also views Canada as a key supplier of essential minerals needed for most clean technologies, including renewable energy and batteries.

Any adjustment to import taxes could have a devastating effect on this plan.

Justin Trudeau is also expected to meet with political and business leaders during his one-day visit.

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