US President Joe Biden continued the tradition and held his first ruling bilateral meeting with Canadian head of government Justin Trudeau on Tuesday (23). The usual one-on-one between neighbors, however, has become a virtual meeting due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The coronavirus, on the other hand, was one of the points of cooperation put forward between the two representatives, who sought to turn the page on the Trump era and strengthened their deep ties to also work on the issue of the climate crisis. .
Collaboration is a key point for allies, as Donald Trump’s administration has caused friction with the key ally in North America – the two countries have one of the largest bilateral trade ties in the world. The predecessor imposed tariffs on Canadian aluminum and iron and only went to Canada once, at a G7 meeting in 2018, when he said Trudeau was “very dishonest and weak. “.
The Republican also forced the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, an issue that devastated the government of Canada’s prime minister for years.
“The United States has no closer friend than Canada,” Biden told Trudeau during the video conference, which was attended by senior officials from both governments. “That is why you were the first person I called as chairman and with whom I have my first bilateral meeting.”
The strong program of commitments targets the pandemic, economic recovery, climate change, refugees and migration, the fight for democratic values around the world and the strengthening of national democracy, the American said.
In turn, Trudeau praised the Democratic administration, citing Washington’s renewed focus on climate change, contrary to the policies of his predecessor.
“Thank you again for working so hard to fight climate change. American leadership has been sorely missed in recent years, ”said the Canadian.
The meeting, which was very successful, Biden said at a press conference, is expected to generate a joint cooperation document covering a wide range of issues, according to a US official at Reuters news agency.
Despite the collaborative speech, it is not yet clear whether the meeting will lead to new agreements, such as Canada’s access to vaccines produced in the United States or a common position on the detention of Canadians in China accused of espionage, after the vice-president of finance. president and daughter of Huawei founder Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada at the behest of the Americans.
A US official interviewed by Reuters on condition of anonymity said the White House believed the detention of the Canadians was unfair and would work to secure their release. The US government has stressed, however, that it will not interfere in the affairs of the Department of Justice, meaning it will not interfere with the issue of Meng, who is still under house arrest.
In a press conference after the meeting, Trudeau thanked US support for the case of Canadians detained in China.
The first meeting between Biden and Trudeau took place in a virtual private environment and lasted 45 minutes. According to an official in the Democratic administration, the American would talk about the financing of NATO (Western military alliance) by its members, accused by Trump of not contributing enough.
Prior to the meeting, White House press secretary Jen Psaki had previously spoken about the matter. “We hope that the president, at the meeting, will show the strong and deep partnership between the United States and Canada as neighbors, friends and allies of NATO,” he said on Monday (22) .
According to officials and officials interviewed by Reuters and AFP, the two leaders also plan to address some sensitive points in the bilateral relationship.
One of them would be the cancellation of the authorization for the Keystone XL pipeline, executed by Biden on the first day of his tenure. The $ 8 billion ($ 43.6 billion) project to pump oil from Alberta to Nebraska faced strong opposition from environmentalists, but was backed by Ottawa.
The US President has also angered Canadians by proposing the “Buy American” program, aimed at channeling spending from the United States and its federal agencies to domestic producers, which can have a significant impact on his neighbor to the north. , since the two economies are closely integrated.
In this regard, Trudeau told Reuters news agency earlier this month that he wanted the two countries to work more closely together in the production of electric vehicles and the supply of minerals needed to make batteries for cars and other green technologies. The theme is one of the objectives of the climate package approved by Biden at the end of January.
Another problem with some protectionism from Biden was access to domestically produced vaccines. Although Trudeau has made clear his alignment with Washington when it comes to the pandemic – as well as the environment and foreign policy – a US official said there was little will to provide vaccines, since the priority is to vaccinate Americans.