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Trudeau & Trump to meet twice this month with trade and military spending on the agenda

Various news reports suggest that this month will see significant developments with respect to the U.S. Congress discussing the Trump administration’s objectives for the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), further movement on the TPP 11 (the Trans Pacific Partnership minus the United States) at an APEC meeting, a likely announcement about a major increase in Canadian military spending, and two meetings between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump.

U.S. Congress consultation on NAFTA

CTV reports, “Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says she hopes to meet with newly confirmed U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer ‘very soon’ and she expects him to trigger the NAFTA pre-negotiation process just as quickly. …U.S. President Donald Trump pledged during the election to renegotiate or pull out of NAFTA, something that’s been delayed while the Americans awaited Lighthizer’s confirmation as their trade representative. U.S. legislation requires the country to hold a 90-day consultation period before beginning NAFTA talks, Freeland said. With his confirmation, ‘they will be in a position to trigger [consultations] sometime quite soon’, Freeland said.”

TPP 11 at APEC ministers summit

The Canadian Press adds, “International Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said he’ll likely get his first opportunity to meet face-to-face with Robert Lighthizer when the two attend an APEC minister’s summit this week.” In late-March, The Globe and Mail noted, “Trade officials from ex-TPP countries are now set to come up with a menu of options for ministers before they meet in May at an APEC gathering in Vietnam.”

NATO & G7 summits

Agence France-Presse notes, “Freeland and Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan [will] meet with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary James Mattis and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross [today and tomorrow]. …The visit comes ahead of a summit of NATO member nations in late May, followed by the summit of G7 developed nations in Italy.”

CBC reports, “Canada’s long-awaited defence policy review will not be made public before Trudeau faces allies at the NATO Summit in Brussels later this month, CBC News has learned. It’s a significant decision that could make the gathering of alliance leaders uncomfortable for the prime minister, especially in light of the demands and expectations of Trump, who has insisted allies boost spending on their militaries.”

Defence policy review and increased military spending

That CBC article adds, “A senior government official tells CBC News the plan had been to release the policy before the meeting, but officials believe it is important that Canada’s defence policy align with a broader set of foreign policy goals. [A 2014 NATO summit decision] would require Canada to double the size of its defence appropriation to just over $40 billion from the current $18.7 billion. …The Americans were given a sneak peek at [Canada’s defence policy review] and were pleased, said a pair of defence sources, who were not authorized to speak to the media.”

Earlier this month, Transport Minister Marc Garneau said “significant expenditures” will result from the review. In the United States, Trump has proposed a budget that would cut billions of dollars to social spending while at the same time increasing that country’s current $600 billion military budget by $54 billion.

So, in terms of the dates noted above:

May 15-16 — Freeland and Sajjan meet with Tillerson and Mattis in Washington, DC

May 15  — possible timing of Trump administration’s triggering of 90-day consultation period on NAFTA with the U.S. Congress

May 20-21 — Champagne meets with Lighthizer at the APEC ministers summit in Hanoi, Vietnam

May 25 — Trudeau and Trump meet at the NATO summit in Brussels, Belgium

May 26-27 — Trudeau and Trump meet at the G7 summit in Sicily, Italy

May 28 — possible timing of Trudeau government announcement of increased military spending

August 15 — possible start of the renegotiation of NAFTA