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So nice to see you again, Mr. President

UPDATED: Harper and Obama have had their chat. But the really important meetings are yet to come.


 

Afghanistan, energy, trade and the economy were on the agenda during the “brief but productive” meeting between the prime minister and the president, CTV News reports. On the economy, cautious optimism was the order of the day for both leaders: President Obama noted that the two agreed that while there are some “signs of stability”, we’re “not out of the woods yet.” Harper agreed, calling the recovery “fragile.” As for the ongoing mission in Afghanistan, the PM came out in favour of the so-called “surge”—the increase in troop strength that Obama has proposed—but was firm that Canada’s military focus will end in 2011.

But forget that 42 minute photo-op in the Oval Office—as far as the Globe and Mail is concerned, any real business to be done during the Prime Minister’s whirlwind American trip will happen behind closed doors with legislators, where Stephen Harper is expected to mount an aggressive campaign against the protectionist provisions known as Buy American. In what is described as “an unusual series of meetings,” the Globe reports that Canada has put an offer on the table that would allow American companies to bid for provincial and municipal contracts—in exchange for a bye on Buy American. To succeed, Harper needs more than Obama on side—he has to gain the “political blessing” of senior Democrats in Congress, including Senate majority leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. According to Jayson Meyers, who heads up the Association of Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, today’s visit comes at a “crucial” moment in Canada/US trade relations. “It’s clear that the White House is very, very sensitive to what the Congress is saying,” he says—particularly given the ongoing fracas over the Obama health care proposals. “I don’t think we want our Buy American concerns to threaten to become a divisive issue among the Democratic members of Congress.”

CTV

The Globe and Mail


 
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So nice to see you again, Mr. President

  1. This is fascinating and if the PM can pull it off quite the feather in his cap and very good for canadians at the same time. For too long the provinces and the individual states have been at the heart of this particular problem which goes way back and if we could make some headway everyone would benefit. Very well played so far Mr. Harper – keep up the good work.

    • He hasn't succeeded yet. I had the opportunity of meeting one of the negotiators of NAFTA on the Canadian side (and also a guy on the Mexican side). The strategizing was really interesting. For instance, Canadian negotiators arm-twisted representatives in states with a lot of seasonal Canadian residents and US-Canada trade. Alternately, the Mexicans, so as to get a longer stay on their agricultural tariffs, showed the Americans a model from Stanford predicting the amount of illegal immigration to the US, based on corn prices. He said the model was crap, since most corn farmers in Mexico were subsistence farmers anyway that weren't impacted by global prices, but he was happy to use it (it worked too).

      • Not to mention that the US is famous for how it upholds its end of trade deals. Thought personally, I expect they'll let this go through. After all, they got years of illegal duties and a billion dollars or so the last time Harper negotiated a trade deal. Hard to fight the cost-benefit analysis on that one.

      • Not to mention that the US is famous for how it upholds its end of trade deals. Thought personally, I expect they'll let this go through. After all, they got years of illegal duties giving their industries a leg up and ended it with a billion dollars or so the last time Harper negotiated a trade deal. Hard to fight the cost-benefit analysis on that one.

    • Is this guy Mark Plotkin a paid operative for the Liberal Party? This was not a snub in ay way. People need to be reminded this was just a working visit. PM Chreitien received similar treatment when he went to call on Clinton for working visits.

      What would they prefer? That the two leaders have less time for substantive talks?

  2. Shouldn't you all be out shopping instead of paying attention what our masters are doing? Chop chop…

  3. The Obama administration and Mr. Harper's government have each agreed to appoint negotiators to work at removing the "Buy American" provisions written into the U.S. Economic Recovery Act. That act requires those using federal funds for infrastructure projects to use American-made steel and other construction materials.
    – well … well .. welll – so Isee we may actually see movement on this file – way to go Harper … next stop Congress

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