OTTAWA: US president Joe Biden and Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau pledged to stand together against authoritarian regimes on Friday during Biden’s visit to Canada, in part by reducing their dependence on other countries for critical minerals and semiconductors.
Canada has an abundance of the critical minerals used to produce batteries and electric vehicles (EVs), but China currently dominates the global market.
“I believe we have an incredible opportunity to work together so Canada and the United States can source and supply here in North America everything we need for reliable and resilient supply chains,” Biden said in a speech to the Canadian parliament in Ottawa.
“Our shared prosperity is deeply connected to our shared security,” Biden added. Biden said as NATO members, the two countries would “defend every inch of NATO territory”.
Trudeau said the two countries would stand together with Ukraine.
“Our way of living is facing multiple threats at the same time,” Trudeau said. “Security policy is climate policy is economic policy,” Trudeau repeated three times his speech.
Trudeau is preparing a budget to be published on Tuesday aimed at scaling up critical mineral and clean tech production,
Biden visited Ottawa less than a week after Chinese president Xi Jinping visited Moscow.
“With growing competition, including from an increasingly assertive China, there’s no doubt why it matters that we turn to each other now to build up a North American market on everything from semiconductors to solar panel batteries,” Trudeau said.
Biden announced US$50 million to incentivize more US and Canadian companies to invest in packaging semiconductors, and said Canada would provide up to C$250 million (US$182 million) for semiconductor projects in the near term, according to a joint statement.
“Both countries will advance a cross-border packaging corridor, beginning with Canada and IBM providing a significant investment to develop new and expanded packaging and testing capabilities at its Bromont facility,” a joint statement said.
The two countries also agreed to set up an energy transformation task force focusing on clean power and they vowed to work together to create a “North American critical minerals supply chain,” the statement said.
“Critical mineral supply chains that are vital to our economic and national security,” it said.
Two Canadian men that China had detained for more than 1,000 days until 2021 and who were at the centre of a dispute between Washington and Beijing attended the speeches.
Both leaders addressed Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig.
“They’re not diplomatic leverage. They’re human beings with lives and families that must be respected,” Biden said, though he never mentioned China by name, except by mistake once when he said China and corrected himself to say Canada.
Ahead of their meetings, the two leaders had already struck a deal aimed at stopping asylum seekers from traversing the shared US-Canada land border via unofficial crossings.
“The United States and Canada will work together to discourage unlawful border crossings and fully implement the updated Safe Third Country Agreement,” Biden said of the deal. Canada agreed to take in 1,500 migrants from countries in the “Western Hemisphere” as part of the deal.
The statement said little about Haiti. The US wanted Canada to take the lead on a security mission there. Canada pledged C$100 million in aide to police, but there was no mention of a mission.