Trump weighs in on on America's trade relationship with Canada: 'We'll be tweaking it'
Leaving little downtime between his visit with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the end of last week, President Donald Trump hosted another foreign dignitary Monday as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau traveled to the White House.
Trudeau – who was elected prime minister from Canada's Liberal Party in 2015 and who reportedly maintained a congenial relationship with President Barack Obama – became the third international leader to personally visit Trump in Washington following his inauguration, trailing Japan's Abe and U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May.
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Hanging over the visit were Trump's promises to renegotiate or withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement – a deal designed to foster trade relations between the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Canada represented the largest buyer of American goods exports in the world last year.
Trump and Trudeau, however, said in a joint statement Monday that they have "affirmed their longstanding commitment to close cooperation in addressing both the challenges facing our two countries and problems around the world."
"No two countries share deeper or broader relations than Canada and the United States," the statement said. "We recognize our profound shared economic interests and will work tirelessly to provide growth and jobs for both countries."
The two individually made similar comments at a news conference Monday afternoon, with Trump promising that America "is going to have a great relationship with Canada" under his watch.
Trudeau, for his part, praised Monday's "very productive meeting" and indicated "maintaining strong economic ties is vital to our mutual success."
"At the end of the day, the president and I share a common goal. We both want to make sure that hardworking folks can go to work at a good job, put food on the table for their families and save up to take a vacation every once in a while," Trudeau said.
Prior to the news conference, the two leaders participated in a roundtable discussion focused on opening up more opportunities for the advancement of female business leaders. Those in attendance included Julie Sweet, who heads information technology outfit Accenture's American and Canadian operations; Carol Stephenson, who sits on General Motors' board of directors; and Tina Lee, CEO of T&T Supermarket Inc., according to White House press pool reports.
Trump's daughter, Ivanka, reportedly played a role in organizing the event. The two North American leaders also announced the formation of the Canada-United States Council for Advancement of Women Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders – an initiative aimed at bolstering female workplace participation and removing barriers holding working women back.
Watch the full joint press conference below:
"This initiative is more than just about dollars and cents. This is about ensuring that women have access to the same opportunities as men and prioritizing the support and empowerment of women who are senior business leaders and entrepreneurs," Trudeau said. "In doing so, we'll grow the Canadian and American economies and help our businesses prosper."
Trump and Trudeau also touched on national security and terrorism concerns during the news conference and made several passing references to trade dynamics. The new U.S. administration has made restructuring trade with Mexico a key priority, but analysts believe Trump won't be able to retool NAFTA without also impacting America's business with Canada.
The two did not appear to have reached any sort of trade finality as a result of their meeting Monday, but their joint statement acknowledged that "Canada is the most important foreign market for 35 U.S. states," that "more than $2 billion in two-way trade flows across our shared border every day" and that "millions of American and Canadian middle-class jobs, including in the manufacturing sector, depend on our partnership."
Trump said he and Trudeau discussed policies that would be "a lot better for trade and a lot better and a lot faster for trade," possibly involving new technological innovations.
But neither leader expanded on Trump's comments.
"We'll be tweaking it," Trump said of America's trade relationship with Canada. "We'll be doing certain things that are going to benefit both of our countries. It's a much less severe situation than what's taking place on our southern border. On the southern border, for many, many years, the transaction was not fair to the United States."
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