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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is visiting Philadelphia in his first trip south of the border since launching a new “Team Canada” charm offensive in the United States. The trip comes after Trudeau dispatched his industry and international trade ministers to lead the new trade strategy with American business leaders, labor unions, and state and municipal governments. This initiative has been launched as both countries head toward a pivotal presidential election, with the potential return of Donald Trump to the White House, which could bring back memories of a difficult bilateral relationship during his first term. Trudeau has acknowledged that a second Trump presidency is not on Canada’s wish list, highlighting the challenges of dealing with such a scenario.

During Trump’s presidency, Canada adopted a strategy of engaging with businesses and state governments that were more open to discussions, rather than directly confronting the president. The relationship with President Joe Biden’s administration has been friendlier, with Canada and the U.S. collaborating on clean tech innovations, including the electric vehicle supply chain. Initially, Biden intended to offer a lucrative EV tax credit only to American-made cars, but Canada successfully advocated for it to include North American-made cars as well. This underscores the importance of Canada’s role in influencing U.S. policies and decisions related to trade and economic cooperation.

Canada is a significant player in the U.S. economy, representing almost one-fifth of total American exports, compared to Mexico and China accounting for smaller shares. The U.S. is a dominant market for Canadian exports, with 77% of all Canadian exports in 2023, totaling almost $600 billion, being destined for the U.S. market. Canada has heavily invested in the electric vehicle sector, becoming a hub for EV battery production, with many of these batteries being supplied to the U.S. for electric vehicle production. Additionally, Canada is a crucial supplier of critical minerals needed for clean technologies, including renewable power and batteries. Any adjustments in import taxes could have negative implications for Canada’s trade relationship with the U.S. and its clean tech sector.

Trudeau’s visit to Philadelphia includes meetings with political and business leaders, further emphasizing the importance of Canada-U.S. cooperation and partnership. The “Team Canada” strategy on engagement with the United States aims to maintain and strengthen ties between the two countries, irrespective of the election outcome. While challenges persist in the bilateral relationship, particularly with the fluctuating political landscape in the U.S., Canada’s proactive approach in engaging with key stakeholders demonstrates its commitment to advancing mutual interests and fostering economic growth. Trudeau’s visit underscores the significance of ongoing dialogue and collaboration between Canada and the United States to address common challenges and opportunities in trade and clean technology.

In light of the upcoming presidential election and the potential implications for Canada-U.S. relations, Trudeau’s visit to Philadelphia serves as a proactive effort to engage with key stakeholders and strengthen bilateral ties. The focus on clean tech innovations, particularly in the electric vehicle sector, highlights the shared priorities of both countries in advancing sustainable economic growth and environmental stewardship. As Canada emerges as a key player in the North American clean tech market, its collaboration with the U.S. in areas such as EV battery production and critical minerals supply underscores the interconnected nature of the two economies. By fostering dialogue and cooperation, both countries can navigate the evolving political landscape and ensure a mutually beneficial relationship that supports economic prosperity and environmental sustainability.

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