Trump and Trudeau talk trade and arrange next step: Spicer
Published Saturday, January 21, 2017 3:37PM EST Last Updated Saturday, January 21, 2017 7:24PM EST
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke with U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday to congratulate him on his inauguration, and the president’s press secretary confirmed that the two leaders plan to set up meetings in “the days to come.”
Trudeau and Trump discussed the importance of Canada-U.S. relations as well as “various areas of mutual interest,” according to a release from the Prime Minister’s Office.
Trump spokesperson Sean Spicer said “the president had a constructive conversation with Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada about strengthening the relationship between our two nations,” in a press conference Saturday evening.
Trudeau is said to have stressed the significance of the two nation’s close trade ties, noting that Canada is the number one export destination for 35 U.S. states.
The exchange marks the first time the two men spoke since Trump took the oath of office Friday. It is not immediately clear how long the phone conversation lasted.
Spicer confirmed Trump and Trudeau “discussed setting up additional meetings in the days to come, which we will follow up on.” The Prime Minister’s Office said the two men “looked forward to meeting soon.”
Spicer also announced that Trump has spoken with President Enrique Peña Nieto about a visit to Mexico to discuss trade and immigration.
Trump’s inaugural speech on Friday promised “America first” policy on trade and global affairs. The message stands in stark contrast to the outgoing Obama administration’s preference for strong international ties, both politically and economically.
Trudeau, who did not attend the inauguration in Washington, D.C., offered a statement of congratulations shortly after Trump’s remarks on Friday. He highlighted common ground, including their shared desire to foster middle class prosperity.
“Canada and the United States have built one of the closest relationships between any two countries in the world. This enduring partnership is essential to our shared prosperity and security,” Trudeau said in the statement.
Trump’s protectionist stance on trade has caused no shortage of anxiety among global trade partners. Throughout his campaign, Trump threatened to dismantle the long-standing North America Free Trade Agreement and renegotiate any pacts that put American workers at a disadvantage.
An announcement on the updated White House website also promises to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact signed last year by 14 countries, including Canada.
Trudeau shot a cordial two-minute YouTube video with Canada’s U.S. ambassador David MacNaughton in early January extolling the virtues of Canada’s fruitful relationship with its neighbour to the south. The video was tweeted by Canada’s U.S. Embassy account on Jan. 3.
“Our great countries have been friends for a long time. We grew up together, and have overcome many shared challenges over the course of our history,” said Trudeau in the video. “We encourage all of our American friends to come visit Canada in 2017 and celebrate our 150th birthday together.”