Harper, Obama to hold bilateral talks Sunday
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama will hold bilateral talks on Sunday after the APEC summit winds down.
CTV's Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife, who is in Hawaii for the APEC summit, tweeted early afternoon local time Saturday that Harper and Obama will hold one-on-one talks.
Harper had been pressing Obama for a meeting after their summit with Mexican President Felipe Calderon was cancelled after the death of Mexican Interior Minister Francisco Blake Mora in a helicopter crash on Friday.
Fife reported earlier Saturday that Harper had been pushing Obama for a bilateral meeting to discuss two key issues: the possible cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline; and the long-awaited border security deal.
The U.S. president also has meetings scheduled with the prime minister of Japan and the presidents of China and Russia.
A meeting with Obama will give Harper a boost in the face of what might have otherwise been a lacklustre few days in Hawaii.
While Canada and the other 20 members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum are expected to outline a series of steps to move forward with a trade agenda, Harper can only watch as negotiations continue for the formation of a new economic bloc.
Obama announced Saturday that nine Pacific Rim nations have agreed to form the Trans Pacific Partnership, which is designed to fast-track trade between member countries.
"The (Trans Pacific Partnership) will boost our economies, lowering barriers to trade and investment, increasing exports, and creating more jobs for our people," Obama told reporters Saturday, ahead of the formal beginning of the APEC summit.
Doors to the Trans Pacific Partnership remain closed to Canada, which objects to some of the membership requirements, including being willing to abandon supply management policies.
"There has been some resistance and suggestions that we should be pre-negotiating our entry to the Trans Pacific partnership," International Trade Minister Ed Fast said Saturday.
"We have made it very clear that Canada will not pre-negotiate, we believe all of those issues should be discussed at the negotiating table."
Membership in the TPP is coveted because the deal is being led by the U.S., and because it links together hotly sought-after markets in the Asia Pacific region.
Japan has announced no timetable for joining the group, only its intention to join, a senior Japanese government official said Friday.
But the inclusion of the world's third-largest economy would vastly expand the reach of the trade pact, which now includes the smaller economies of Chile, New Zealand, Brunei and Singapore. The U.S., Australia, Malaysia, Vietnam and Peru are negotiating to join.
Publicly, the Canadian government has expressed uncertainty about being part of the deal.
While Obama was to lead TPP negotiations Saturday morning, Harper, Fast and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird were to hold their own series of bilateral meetings with Asia Pacific leaders to keep the ball rolling on current deals.
"Harper and Obama will be pushing the Chinese in particular for more trade, which could mean millions of jobs in the U.S. and Canada," Fife reported.
"The global economy is slowing down so the way to kickstart our economy is to get them to buy more from us," he added.
With files from The Canadian Press