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Biden’s scrapping of Keystone pipeline allows Canada’s Trudeau to move on



OTTAWA (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden’s move to scrap the Keystone XL oil pipeline, while a blow to Canada’s energy sector, is a blessing in disguise for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is eager to embrace the new administration, two sources familiar with the matter said.

Biden formally revoked the permit to build the pipeline on Wednesday, killing the $8 billion project to pump oil sands crude from Alberta to Nebraska.

“At first glance this is bad news… but at least now the matter is settled and won’t be souring bilateral relations for months to come,” a diplomatic source from a major allied country said.

“Canada hasn’t had to expend any serious political capital with the Biden administration on the pipeline and can now focus on the many other areas where Trudeau feels the two nations should cooperate,” the source said.

Trudeau was the first world leader to congratulate Biden after the November election, and hopes to be the first to meet with him in a bid to turn the page on the Donald Trump era, when relations between the two countries were often turbulent.

A Biden spokeswoman said the president’s first call to a foreign leader would be to Trudeau on Friday.

In a statement late on Wednesday, Trudeau said “we are disappointed but acknowledge the President’s decision” while welcoming his move to rejoin the Paris agreement on climate change.

“I look forward to working with President Biden to reduce pollution,” he said. Trudeau, first elected in 2015, has consistently said cutting the greenhouse gases widely blamed for global warming is a big priority.

Trudeau is also weighing a possible snap election this year, and he has much riding on his ties with Biden.

“The relationship is much bigger than one project,” said a Canadian source familiar with the matter.

Keystone XL was meant to carry 830,000 barrels per day to the United States, but ran into fierce domestic opposition.

During his election campaign, Biden promised quash the pipeline, which Trudeau has supported since before he became prime minister.

The permit revocation “is not the best way to start off” with a new president, said Roland Paris, a former foreign policy adviser to Trudeau and University of Ottawa international affairs professor.

“This issue should not be seen as a litmus test to the relationship because there are many other areas where Canada will be able to cooperate with the new Biden administration,” Paris said.

Trudeau told Reuters last week he was looking to Biden to re-engage with allies around the world, and that he wanted to discuss climate change.

Biden’s ambitious climate change plan includes $2 trillion in investment for clean-energy infrastructure over four years and “opens up opportunities for collaboration” with Canada, said Sara Hastings-Simon, a researcher at the Colorado School of Mines.


(Reporting by Steve Scherer, additional reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Sonya Hepinstall)

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Canadian first quarter industry capacity use rises to 81.7%



Canadian industries ran at 81.7% of capacity in the first quarter of 2021, up from a upwardly revised 79.7% in the fourth quarter of 2020, Statistic Canada said on Friday.

The increase in the first quarter was driven by gains in construction and in mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction.

Following are the rates in percent:

Q1 2021 Q4 2020 (rev) Q4 2020 (prev)

Cap. utilization 81.7 79.7 79.2

Manufacturing 76.5 76.7 76.2

NOTE: Economists surveyed by Reuters had forecast a first quarter rate of 80.6% capacity utilization.

(Reporting by Steve Scherer, editing by Dale Smith (

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UK, Canada agreed to redouble efforts for trade deal



British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau agreed on Friday to redouble their efforts to secure a trade agreement as soon as possible to unlock such a deal’s “huge opportunities”.

“The leaders agreed a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement between the UK and Canada would unlock huge opportunities for both of our countries. They agreed to redouble their efforts to secure an FTA (free trade agreement) as soon as possible,” Downing Street spokesperson said in a statement.

“They discussed a number of foreign policy issues including China and Iran.”


(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge, writing by Elizabeth Piper)

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Greater pricing power to help Canadian exporters withstand loonie surge



A stronger Canadian dollar is usually seen hurting exporters, but the nature of the global economic recovery could help firms pass on their higher costs from the currency to customers, leaving exporters in less pain than in previous cycles.

Exports account for nearly one-third of Canada‘s gross domestic product, compared with about 12% for the United States, making Canada‘s economy more sensitive to a stronger currency, with the loonie trading near a six-year high versus the U.S. dollar.

But exporters could remain more competitive than usual after the COVID-19 pandemic led to a surge in the amount of money available for consumer spending, bolstered by government support measures. A global shortage of goods, due to supply chain disruptions, could also help.

“The appreciation that we are seeing in the currency now is less of an issue than in most other appreciations that we have seen,” said Peter Hall, chief economist at Export Development Canada.

“There are not enough goods and services available to satisfy the demands of the marketplace at the moment. And in that case there is probably pricing power,” Hall added.

The prices that Canadian manufacturers charge for their products increased at a record pace in May, while activity climbed for the 11th straight month, data from IHS Markit Canada showed last week.

Canada‘s major exports include autos, oil and other commodities. With commodity prices soaring, the Canadian dollar has been the top performing Group of 10 currency this year, advancing 5% against the U.S. dollar.

It hit a six-year high near 1.20 per greenback, or 83.33 cents U.S., last week. The Bank of Canada has said that further appreciation could weigh on the economy.

The loonie traded close to parity for much of the 2007 to 2013 period, contributing to a slow recovery for Canada‘s exports from the global financial crisis.

“What (business) was left behind after that period of an overvalued currency was relatively strong,” said Doug Porter, chief economist at BMO Capital Markets.

That reduces the risk of a “hollowing out” of the sector during the current episode of currency strength, Porter said.

At Magna International Inc, a major Canadian producer of auto parts, global diversification of its operations helps protect against currency strength.

“Movements in the Canadian dollar have become relatively less impactful to our overall business,” a company spokesperson said in an email to Reuters. “Increased global economic activity, and in particular global light vehicle production is a more important factor to our outlook.”

For now, the greater concern for manufacturers could be the reduced and more costly supply of inputs, such as semiconductor microchips, as well as the lengthy closure of the U.S. border.

“The challenge we have faced as an industry is the movement of personnel,” said Brian Kingston, chief executive of the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association (CVMA). “If a piece of equipment on the line goes down, you may need to bring in someone from Michigan.”

For some industries, those logistical issues and the stronger Canadian dollar could be trivial compared to the jump in commodity prices.

“Under normal circumstances, a rising Canadian dollar would hinder the competitiveness of Canadian exports, but the way ag (agriculture) markets have risen overall, it’s a moot point,” said Lorne Boundy, merchandiser for Winnipeg-based crop handler Paterson Grain.


(Reporting by Fergal Smith; additional reporting by Allison Lampert in Montreal, Rod Nickel in Winnipeg and Shreyasee Raj in Bengaluru; Editing by Denny Thomas and Jonathan Oatis and Kirsten Donovan)

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