Sunday, May 8, 2016

On The Agenda - Canada to Host North American Leaders’ Summit in June

Meeting comes as trade protectionism remains dominant issue in the U.S. election campaign

The meeting, the first for the leaders of the U.S., Mexico and Canada since early 2014, comes when trade protectionism remains a dominant issue in the U.S. election campaign.

Canada was scheduled to host the North American Leaders’ Summit last year, but former Prime Minister Stephen Harper canceled the meeting in part because of chilly relations between Ottawa and Washington over the fate of the Keystone XL pipeline.
The June 29 meeting, the first high-level summit Mr. Trudeau will host since taking office late last year, will offer the three countries an opportunity to discuss measures that could boost the continent’s economic competitiveness, expand trade ties and help reach a common climate-change strategy.
Mr. Trudeau will likely aim to build on momentum from his March meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington, in which the two pledged to bolster U.S.-Canada trade flows with an eye toward reducing bottlenecks at the border and streamlining regulations.
“We have made headway on a broad number of files, and we will continue to,” Mr. Trudeau said at a news conference.
Canada is the U.S.’s largest trading partner, with two-way trade—exports plus imports—totaling $671.5 billion in 2015, according to data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The data indicate Canada is the top destination for U.S. exports by a comfortable margin over Mexico.
The threat of protectionism could arise as a topic of discussion, given developments in the U.S. presidential campaign. Donald Trump is on the verge of becoming the Republican nominee, winning the largest share of Republican delegates with an agenda that vows to block a sweeping Pacific Rim trade deal and renegotiate the terms of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Mr. Trump also promised to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Leading Democratic contender Hillary Clinton has also distanced herself from certain free-trade initiatives, most notably the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Mr. Trudeau played down worries over trade policy from the next U.S. administration and said he is prepared to work with whoever wins the November election on boosting economic fortunes for both countries.
Meanwhile, Mr. Trudeau said he was optimistic Canada and Mexico could resolve a visa spat that dates back to last decade under the former Conservative government. Since 2009, Canada has required Mexicans to obtain a visa before entry, in a bid to combat bogus refugee claims.
Mr. Trudeau said he was optimistic a resolution could be reached before the start of the leaders’ summit. His government has pledged to remove the visa requirement.


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