|Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (R) and US President Joe Biden at the Canadian Lower House in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, on March 24, 2023. (Photo: Blair Gable/Reuters)
This is President Biden's first official visit to Canada since he took office in 2021. A visit to Canada has always been a priority for US Presidents. But the COVID-19 pandemic has twice prevented Biden from making the trip. Observers say it’s time for the two countries to discuss major bilateral and global issues.
Strengthening US-Canada relationship
The US and Canada share a land border of nearly 9,000 km. Cooperation to stem the flow of immigrants is a special issue as they are under pressure to tackle the growing number of illegal immigrants.
The number of asylum seekers going from the US into Canada has spiked, reaching nearly 40,000 last year, and the number of people illegally crossing the border from Canada into the United States has doubled.
A migration agreement was signed that allows the shutting down of Roxham Road, an unofficial border crossing point, but Canada will open its doors to 15,000 migrants from the Western Hemisphere through official channels over the next year. The two agreed to discourage unlawful border crossings.
Defense was another topic discussed. The two pledged to jointly improve the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). Canada will spend over 5 billion USD on modernizing the surveillance system and 5.29 billion USD on aircraft and technical infrastructure for F-35 fighter jets. The upgraded system will extend NORAD's surveillance capabilities further north to detect threats in the Arctic.
The two sides discussed new spending on alternative fuels, minerals, and semiconductor projects, and pledged to establish a zero-carbon energy network by 2035. The US is ready to support Canada's participation in the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework.
|US President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attend a joint-press conference in Ottawa, Canada, on March 24, 2023. (Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP)
Guaranteeing the region’s future
Biden’s trip sent positive signals on the region’s future. The US is Canada's largest trading partner. In the last 2 years goods and services traded between Canada and the US totaled 770 billion USD. US-Canada trade reduces dependence on imports from other parts of the world, particularly semiconductor components from Asian countries.
In the context of increasing global uncertainties, the US and Canada are taking every opportunity to improve their relationship and protect shared values for the benefit of both sides. The two reaffirmed their commitment to the US-Canada partnership, one of the closest and most comprehensive in the world.