One issue that would be raised in this context, Ms. Blais said, is that of the critical minerals that power electric vehicle batteries, like lithium, nickel, graphite and cobalt. China dominates the global processing of these important materials, and U.S. officials have begun holding talks with allies about new sourcing arrangements.
Canada has large reserves of critical minerals that could be developed with U.S. investment and assistance, Ms. Blaise said. But the Canadian government will want to make clear to the United States that it is not interested in “just a raw export of those minerals.” Instead, it would argue for developing integrated, continental supply chains for electric vehicles that will reinforce the Canadian manufacturing sector.
“This is what I’d love to see coming out of this meeting, a reaffirmation on the part of the president and the prime minister that we’re going to be developing our industrial policy together and in a comprehensive, integrated way,” Ms. Blaise said.
Some U.S. provisions to offer incentives for the production of high-tech equipment have rankled allies in the European Union, South Korea, Britain and elsewhere who say they unfairly penalize foreign companies.
As a result of an aggressive lobbying push last year, Canadian companies qualify for some of these benefits, such as tax incentives for electric vehicles that source critical minerals from Canada or Mexico. But Canadian officials remain concerned about the potential for large U.S. subsidies and other requirements for using American-made materials to tilt the playing field and draw more manufacturing south.
Instead, some analysts say more focus should be on constructing an integrated North American economy, which could better compete with new threats from China and Russia.
“If we’re not working together in this new world that we face, I think both of our securities and frankly economic well-being is at risk,” Eric Farnsworth, the vice president of the Council of the Americas and the Americas Society, said during the panel discussion Wednesday. “I think both leaders certainly get that, the governments get it, but sometimes interest group politics intervene.”
Ana Swanson contributed reporting.