Canada-U.S. Relations
February 10, 2021
The United States and Canada typically enjoy close relations. The two countries are bound
together by a common 5,525-mile border—“the longest undefended border in the world”—as
Peter J. Meyer
well as by shared history and values. They have extensive trade and investment ties and long-
Specialist in Latin
standing mutual security commitments under NATO and North American Aerospace Defense
American and Canadian
Command (NORAD). Canada and the United States also cooperate closely on intelligence and
law enforcement matters, placing a particular focus on border security and cybersecurity

initiatives in recent years.
Ian F. Fergusson
Specialist in International
Although Canada’s foreign and defense policies usually are aligned with those of the United
Trade and Finance
States, disagreements arise from time to time. Canada’s Liberal Party government, led by Prime

Minister Justin Trudeau, has prioritized multilateral efforts to renew and strengthen the rules -
based international order since coming to power in November 2015. It expressed disappointment

with former President Donald Trump’s decisions to withdraw from international organizations
and accords, and it questioned whether the United States was abandoning its global leadership role. Cooperation on
international issues may improve under President Joe Biden, who spoke with Prime Minister Trudeau in his first call to a
foreign leader and expressed interest in working with Canada to address climate change and other global challenges.
The United States and Canada have a deep economic partnership, with approximately $1.4 billion of goods crossing the
border each day in 2020. Bilateral trade relations have been somewhat strained in recent years, however, due to the countries’
differing trade policy objectives. Canadian officials expressed particular frustration with the Trump Administration’s
insistence on renegotiating the 1994 North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which resulted in the United States-
Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), and its imposition of tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum. The Biden
Administration may take a less confrontational approach to trade relations with Canada. Nevertheless, some long-standing
issues, such as cross-border oil pipelines, softwood lumber, and Buy American policies , likely will remain contentious.
Because Canada and the United States are similar in many ways, lawmakers in both countries often study policies and
solutions proposed across the border. U.S. and Canadian domestic policies diverged on various matters over the past four
years, as the Trudeau government implemented a carbon pricing system to address climate change, legalized the recreational
cannabis market, increased refugee resettlement, and expanded Canada’s social safety net. The U.S. and Canadian
governments also diverged in their responses to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic with respect to the role
of the federal government and fiscal policies to mitigate the economic impact on individuals and businesses.
The 116th Congress enacted several measures related to U.S.-Canada relations. Perhaps most significantly, the United States-
Mexico-Canada Agreement Implementation Act (P.L. 116-113) was signed into law in January 2020, paving the way for the
agreement’s entry into force. Congress also continued to support Great Lakes restoration efforts, appropriating $320 million
for such purposes in FY2020 (P.L. 116-94) and $330 million in FY2021 (P.L. 116-260). In 2019, both houses adopted
resolutions (S.Res. 96 and H.Res. 521) commending Canada for upholding the rule of law and its international legal
commitments following the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, an executive at the Chinese technology company Huawei, to comply
with an extradition request from the United States. U.S.-Canada cooperation on trade, environmental protection, foreign
affairs, and various other issues may remain of interest to the 117th Congress.
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Introduction ................................................................................................................... 1
Politics and Governance ................................................................................................... 2
Liberal Majority Government: 2015-2019 ..................................................................... 3
2019 Election............................................................................................................ 3
Minority Government and Pandemic Response .............................................................. 4
Foreign and Defense Policy .............................................................................................. 7
NATO Commitments ................................................................................................. 9
Relations with China ................................................................................................ 10
U.S.-Canada Security Cooperation ............................................................................. 12
North American Aerospace Defense Command ....................................................... 12
Border Security .................................................................................................. 13
Cybersecurity .................................................................................................... 15
Economic and Trade Policy ............................................................................................ 17
Budget Policy ......................................................................................................... 18
Monetary Policy ...................................................................................................... 20
Investment.............................................................................................................. 22
U.S.-Canada Trade Relations ..................................................................................... 23
United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement .............................................................. 25
Canada’s Network of Free Trade Agreements ......................................................... 27
Disputes............................................................................................................ 28
Softwood Lumber ......................................................................................... 28
Dairy .......................................................................................................... 30
Intel ectual Property Rights ............................................................................ 31
Government Procurement............................................................................... 32
Steel and Aluminum Tariffs ............................................................................ 34
Energy......................................................................................................................... 35
Keystone XL Pipeline .............................................................................................. 35
Trans-Mountain Pipeline........................................................................................... 36
Environmental and Transboundary Issues ......................................................................... 37
Climate Change....................................................................................................... 37
Paris Agreement Commitments ............................................................................ 38
Climate Strategy ................................................................................................ 39
COVID-19 Climate Mitigation Activities.......................................................... 40
Healthy Environment and Healthy Economy Plan .............................................. 41
U.S.-Canada Cooperation to Reduce Greenhouse-Gas Emissions............................... 41
The Arctic .............................................................................................................. 42
Great Lakes ............................................................................................................ 44
Outlook ....................................................................................................................... 46

Figure 1. Map of Canada’s 2019 Federal Election Results ..................................................... 4
Figure 2. Confirmed Cases of COVID-19 in Canada............................................................. 5
Figure 3. Recorded and Projected Real GDP, United States and Canada: 2017-2022 ................ 18
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Figure 4. Recorded and Projected Budget Deficits, United States and Canada: 2017-2025 ........ 19
Figure 5. Recorded and Projected Policy Interest Rates, United States and Canada: 2004-
2025......................................................................................................................... 21
Figure 6. Exchange Rates: 2005-2020 .............................................................................. 22

Table 1. United States and Canada: Selected Comparative Economic Statistics, 2019 .............. 17
Table 2. Composition of Trade with Canada 2020: Top 15 Commodities................................ 24
Table 3. U.S. Crude Oil Imports from Canada: 2016-2020 ................................................... 35
Table 4. Selected Greenhouse-Gas (GHG) Emissions Indicators in Canada and the United
States ....................................................................................................................... 37

Author Information ....................................................................................................... 46

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Canada-U.S. Relations

History, proximity, commerce, and shared values underpin the relationship between the United
States and Canada. Americans and Canadians fought side by side in both World Wars, Korea, and
Afghanistan, and the United States and Canada continue to collaborate on various international
political and security matters. The countries also share mutual security commitments under
NATO; cooperate on continental defense through the binational North American Aerospace
Defense Command (NORAD); maintain a close intel igence partnership as members of the “Five
Eyes” group of nations; and coordinate frequently on law enforcement efforts, with a particular
focus on securing their shared 5,525-mile border.1
Bilateral economic ties, which were already considerable, have deepened markedly over the past
three decades. Trade and investment relations during this period were governed first by the 1989
U.S.-Canada Free Trade Agreement and subsequently by the 1994 North American Free Trade
Agreement (NAFTA); the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) has guided
the economic partnership since its entry into force on July 1, 2020.2 Canada is the third-largest
goods trading partner of the United States, with total two-way cross-border goods trade
amounting to more than $525 bil ion in 2020.3 The United States is also the largest investor in
Canada, and Canada is an important source of foreign direct investment in the United States. The
countries have a highly integrated energy market, and Canada is the largest supplier of U.S.
energy imports.
Unlike many countries whose bilateral relations are conducted solely through foreign ministries,
the governments of the United States and Canada have deep relationships, often extending far
down the bureaucracy, to address matters of common interest. For more than 60 years, the U.S.
Congress has engaged directly with the Canadian Parliament through the Canada-United States
Inter-Parliamentary Group (see textbox below). Initiatives between the states and provinces also
are common, such as California and Quebec’s linked greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions trading
market under the Western Climate Initiative and various other initiatives to manage
transboundary environmental and water issues.
Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group
Since 1959, the U.S. Congress and the Canadian Parliament have maintained an Inter-Parliamentary Group (IPG)
to foster mutual understanding and discuss bilateral and multilateral matters of concern to both countries. The
IPG includes bipartisan representatives of the U.S. House and Senate and multiparty representatives of the
Canadian House of Commons and Senate. Members historical y have met annual y, with the location alternating
between the United States and Canada; however, more than 2½ years have passed since the last annual meeting
(the 56th), held in Ottawa in June 2018.
Notes: For more on the IPG, see P.L. 86-42, at; H. Rept 86-
215; and Parliament of Canada, “Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group,” at
Nevertheless, with a population and economy one-tenth the size of the United States, Canada has
sought to protect its autonomy and chart its own course in the world while maintaining its
historical and political ties to the British Commonwealth. Some in Canada question whether U.S.
investment, regulatory cooperation, border harmonization, or other public policy issues cede too

1 In addition to the United States and Canada, the “Five Eyes” intelligence alliance includes Australia, New Zealand,
and the United Kingdom.
2 Often referred to as the Canada-U.S.-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) in Canada.
3 U.S. Census Bureau, “U.S. International T rade in Goods and Services – December 2020,” February 5, 2020.
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much sovereignty to the United States, whereas others embrace a more North American approach
to Canada’s neighborly relationship.
Policy differences, such as Canada’s decision not to participate in the Iraq war in 2003 and the
Obama Administration’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline in 2015, have strained bilateral
relations from time to time. The Canadian government welcomed President Trump’s revival of
Keystone XL, but several other areas of contention emerged during his Administration. Canadian
officials expressed particular frustration with the Trump Administration’s trade policies, including
its approach to USMCA negotiations and its decision to impose tariffs on Canadian steel and
aluminum on national security grounds. Canadian officials also expressed concerns about the
Trump Administration’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on climate change and its broader
questioning of the multilateral institutions and rules that have helped to govern international
relations since the end of World War II. The Trump Administration’s policies appear to have
contributed to a significant shift in Canadian public opinion, as the percentage of Canadians
holding favorable views of the United States declined by 30 percentage points between 2016 and
President Joe Biden spoke with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during his first cal with a foreign
leader, highlighting the strategic importance of the U.S.-Canada relationship.5 Although both
leaders cal ed for reinvigorating bilateral cooperation, they are likely to contend with policy
differences on a range of issues. For example, Prime Minister Trudeau and other Canadian
officials already have expressed disappointment with President Biden’s decision to revoke a
presidential permit for the Keystone XL pipeline.6 The Biden Administration also may face
lingering doubts among Canadians regarding the United States’ reliability as a long-term partner.
This report presents an overview of Canada’s political situation, foreign and defense policies, and
economic and trade policies, focusing particularly on issues that may be relevant to U.S.
policymakers. It also examines several environmental and transboundary issues that may be of
interest to Members of the 117th Congress.
Politics and Governance
Canada is a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary democracy. Queen Elizabeth II is the
head of state; she is represented in Canadian affairs by a governor-general, who is appointed on
the advice of the prime minister and carries out certain constitutional, ceremonial, and
representational duties. Canada’s bicameral Westminster-style Parliament includes an elected,
338-seat House of Commons and an appointed, 105-seat Senate. Members of Parliament are
elected from individual districts (ridings) under a first-past-the-post system, which requires a
plurality of the vote to win a seat. The governor-general typical y cal s upon the party winning the
most seats to form a government. A government lasts as long as it can command a parliamentary
majority for its policies, for a maximum of four years. Under Canada’s federal system, the
national government shares power and authority with 10 provinces and three territories, each of
which is governed by a unicameral assembly.

4 Richard Wike, Janell Fetterolf, and Mara Mordecai, “U.S. Image Plummets Internationally as Most Say Country Has
Handled Coronavirus Badly,” Pew Research Center, September 15, 2020.
5 White House, “Readout of President Joe Biden Call with Prime Minister Justin T rudeau of Canada, ” January 22,
6 Justin T rudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, “Prime Minister Justin T rudeau Speaks with the President of the United
States of America Joe Biden,” January 22, 2021.
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Liberal Majority Government: 2015-2019
Justin Trudeau has served as Canada’s prime minister since November 2015. His Liberal Party
won a majority in the House of Commons in October 2015 parliamentary elections, defeating
Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party, which had held power for nearly a decade.
The Liberals’ dominant position enabled them to implement much of their campaign platform.
During its first four years in office, the Liberal government enacted a tax cut for middle-income
families, created a new child benefit to help with the cost of raising children, and increased
pension and parental leave benefits. The Liberal government also legalized cannabis consumption
and worked with Canada’s provinces and territories to develop a national climate change plan that
imposed a price on carbon emissions.
Although Prime Minister Trudeau and the Liberals initial y enjoyed high levels of public support,
their approval ratings gradual y declined as they abandoned some campaign pledges, such as
electoral reform, and sought to balance competing policy priorities. For example, the Liberals
enacted a carbon tax to reduce GHG emissions but also supported several pipeline projects to
transport Canadian oil sands to overseas markets (see “Climate Change” and “Energy,” below);
those efforts to reconcile Canada’s Paris Agreement commitments with its role as a major fossil
fuel producer drew criticism from energy producers and environmentalists.
A series of ethics scandals further eroded public support for the Liberal government. In December
2017, Canada’s conflict of interest and ethics commissioner ruled that Prime Minister Trudeau
had contravened the country’s Conflict of Interest Act by accepting two paid family vacations
from a wealthy philanthropist whose foundation had received funding from the Canadian
government.7 Prime Minister Trudeau was found to have contravened the act again in August
2019 for attempting to influence a decision of the attorney general of Canada regarding a
potential criminal prosecution of the Montreal-based engineering company SNC-Lavalin.8
2019 Election
The Liberals entered the 2019 election campaign facing increased public scrutiny and polling
neck and neck with the opposition Conservatives. With unemployment near a 40-year low, the
Liberal Party highlighted its legislative accomplishments and argued the election was about
whether or not Canada would “keep moving forward.”9 Many Canadians remained concerned
about cost-of-living issues, however, and Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer pledged to
help Canadians “get ahead.”10 He argued the Liberal government’s carbon tax had made
necessities more expensive and claimed four years of deficit spending had failed to improve
Canadians’ lives. The Liberal Party also faced pressure from its left, with the New Democratic
Party (NDP) and the Green Party seeking to win over progressive voters disenchanted with Prime
Minister Trudeau’s ethics violations and the Liberal Party’s lack of follow-through on some of its
more far-reaching 2015 campaign pledges.
In the end, the Liberals won 157 ridings, leaving the party 13 seats shy of a majority. The Liberal
Party’s vote share declined in every province and territory compared with 2015. It lost 29 seats

7 Mary Dawson, Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, Trudeau Report, December 2017.
8 Mario Dion, Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, Trudeau II Report, August 2019.
9 Jason Kirby, “Election 2019 Primer: Jobs, the Economy and the Deficit,” Macleans, September 12, 2019; and Liberal
Party of Canada, Forward: A Real Plan for the Middle Class, September 2019.
10 Bruce Anderson and David Coletto, “Election 2019 Is a Battle to Define the Agenda,” Abacus Data, July 15, 2019;
and Conservative Party of Canada, “Andrew Scheer Launches Campaign to Help You Get Ahead,” September 11,
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across the country, including the party’s only footholds in the oil-producing provinces of Alberta
and Saskatchewan. The Conservative Party won a plurality of al votes cast nationwide but failed
to make significant gains in Quebec and Ontario, which hold nearly 60% of the seats in the House
of Commons (see Figure 1). As a result, the Conservatives remain the Official Opposition, with
121 seats. The Bloc Québécois, which promotes Quebec sovereignty, surged to a third-place
finish by winning 32 seats in the province. The Bloc’s gains came largely at the expense of the
NDP, which won 24 seats. The Green Party won three seats, and Prime Minister Trudeau’s former
attorney general, who resigned after accusing the prime minister of inappropriate intervention in
the SNC-Lavalin case, won reelection to parliament as an independent.
Figure 1. Map of Canada’s 2019 Federal Election Results

Source: CRS. Data from Elections Canada, “Official Voting Results: Forty-Third General Election,” 2019.
Minority Government and Pandemic Response
Prime Minister Trudeau has presided over a minority government since the start of the 43rd
Parliament in December 2019. As the new term began, it appeared the government’s primary
chal enge would be to develop policies that would further reduce Canada’s GHG emissions while
maintaining economic growth and addressing an increasing sense of political alienation in the
country’s western oil-producing provinces.11 The Liberals’ other stated policy priorities included
a new tax cut for middle-income families, more stringent gun controls, an expansion of Canada’s

11 Grant Wyeth, “How Climate Change Could T ear Canada Apart,” World Politics Review, February 13, 2020.
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universal health care system to cover prescription drugs, and reconciliation with indigenous
Many of those issues were set aside, however, with the onset of the Coronavirus Disease 2019
(COVID-19) pandemic. The Canadian government confirmed the first documented infection in
the country on January 27, 2020, and recorded the first death from the disease on March 9, 2020.
By late March 2020, the Trudeau government had closed Canada’s borders to most nonresidents
and imposed a mandatory 14-day quarantine for individuals returning to the country. The federal
government also coordinated with provincial and territorial governments—which have
jurisdiction over health care—to secure personal protective equipment and other medical supplies
and to scale up the country’s testing and contact-tracing capabilities. The provinces and territories
have imposed (and lifted) containment measures in accordance with local conditions and the
federal government’s broad public health guidelines.
Figure 2. Confirmed Cases of COVID-19 in Canada
(new cases by date reported [March 15, 2020-February 9, 2021])

Source: CRS, Data from Public Health Agency of Canada, “Public Health Infobase - Data on COVID-19 in
Canada,” February 10, 2021.
Analysts credited those coordinated efforts for initial y slowing the spread of the virus (see
Figure 2). Although provincial health services reportedly experienced some supply shortages,
they had sufficient capacity to handle the first wave of infections.13 As conditions improved,
provincial and territorial governments implemented phased reopening plans that al owed children

12 Government of Canada, “Moving Forward T ogether: Speech from the T hrone to Open the First Session of the 43 rd
Parliament of Canada,” September 5, 2019.
13 Marieke Walsh and Nathan Vanderklippe, “Provinces Compete for Critical Medical Supplies,” Globe and Mail,
April 7, 2020; and Allen S. Detsky and Isaac I. Bogoch, “COVID-19 in Canada: Experience and Response,” Journal of
the Am erican Medical Association (JAMA)
, vol. 324, no. 8 (August 25, 2020), pp. 743 -744.
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to return to school and loosened restrictions on many business and recreational activities. A
second, larger wave of infections swept through Canada in late 2020, however, leading provinces
to reimpose restrictions. As of February 9, 2021, Canada had registered nearly 811,000 cases and
21,000 deaths from COVID-19.14 The country’s COVID-19 daily case rate (9.4 new cases per
100,000 residents) was less than one-third of that of the United States (33 new cases per 100,000
The Trudeau government has worked with Parliament to mitigate the economic impact of the
pandemic and public health measures. Among other programs, the government created the
Canada Emergency Response Benefit, which provided C$2,000 (approximately $1,538) every
four weeks to workers who lost their incomes due to COVID-19, and the Canada Emergency
Wage Subsidy, which covered 75% of employees’ wages, up to C$847 (approximately $652) per
week, for businesses that have lost a certain amount of revenue.16 The emergency response
benefit original y was to provide up to 16 weeks of assistance, but the Canadian government
extended the program to 28 weeks. In September 2020, beneficiaries began transitioning into a
newly expanded employment insurance system; self-employed and gig workers who do not
qualify for employment insurance are eligible for a new C$500 (approximately $385) per week
Canada Recovery Benefit until September 2021. The Canadian government also extended the
wage subsidy program, original y scheduled to expire in June 2020, through June 2021.17
Prime Minister Trudeau laid out a revised vision for his second term in September 2020, which
was fleshed out in the government’s Fall Economic Statement 2020. The Liberal government’s
top priorities are combatting the pandemic and helping Canadians through the crisis. Among other
measures, Prime Minister Trudeau pledged to help provinces increase testing, ensure Canadians
have access to vaccines and therapeutics, and provide continued financial support to individuals
and businesses affected by the pandemic and government containment measures. The Canadian
government has signed agreements with seven vaccine suppliers for enough doses to vaccinate
the Canadian population nearly six times over. Production delays have slowed distribution,
however, and only 2.7% of the Canadian population had received at least one vaccine dose as of
early February (compared with 10.2% of the U.S. population).18
Following the immediate crisis, the Liberals argue Canada should take advantage of low interest
rates to finance economic stimulus measures and address longer-term concerns, such as climate
change and gaps in Canada’s social assistance systems.19 The prime minister wil need to secure
the support of opposition parties to enact his agenda. Although Erin O’Toole, the newly elected
leader of the Conservative Party, has dismissed many of Prime Minister Trudeau’s proposals,

14 Government of Canada, Public Health Infobase, “Interactive Data Visualizations of COVID-19,” February 10, 2021.
Data are updated regularly at
15 “COVID World Map: T racking the Global Outbreak,” New York Times, February 10, 2021. Data are updated
regularly at
16 Currency conversions throughout this report are based on the average exchange rate from September 14, 2020, to
January 15, 2021, of C$1.3/U.S.$1. Data from the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, “ Foreign Exchange
Rates,” January 19, 2021.
17 Department of Finance Canada, “Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan,” September 28, 2020; and Canada
Revenue Agency, “Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS),” November 23, 2020.
18 Government of Canada, “Procuring Vacines for COVID-19,” February 9, 2021; and “Canada Politics: Quick View –
Vaccine Shortages Slow Rollout,” Economist Intelligence Unit, February 4, 2021.
19 Government of Canada, “A Stronger and More Resilient Canada: Speech from the T hrone to Open the Second
Session of the 43rd Parliament of Canada,” September 23, 2020; and Department of Finance Canada, Supporting
Canadians and Fighting COVID-19: Fall Econom ic Statem ent 2020
, November 30, 2020.
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NDP leader Jagmeet Singh has indicated his party is prepared to provide political support to the
Liberal government as long as the government supports NDP priorities, such as paid sick leave.20
The Liberals wil need to maintain the NDP’s support or offset it with support from the Bloc
Québécois or the Conservative Party to avoid a snap election; recent minority governments have
lasted just over two years, on average.21 Popular support for the Liberal Party initial y increased
during the pandemic but declined somewhat after Canada’s conflict of interest and ethics
commissioner launched an investigation in July 2020 into the government’s decision to award a
contract to a charity with ties to the prime minister’s family.22 As of February 8, 2021, polls
suggested 35% of Canadians would support the Liberals in a new election, 30% would support
the Conservatives, 18% would support the NDP, nearly 7% would support the Bloc Québécois,
and 6% would support the Green Party.23
Foreign and Defense Policy
Canada views the rules-based international order that it helped establish with the United States
and other al ies in the aftermath of World War II as essential to its physical security and economic
prosperity. According to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland, who
served as minister of foreign affairs from 2017 to 2019, “As a middle power living next to the
world’s only super power, Canada has a huge interest in an international order based on rules.
One in which might is not always right. One in which more powerful countries are constrained in
their treatment of smal er ones by standards that are international y respected, enforced and
Historical y, Canada has sought to increase its influence over the shape of the international order
through multilateral diplomacy and contributions to collective security al iances. Although the
Harper government broke with its predecessors to a certain extent, expressing more skepticism
toward the United Nations and other international organizations, Prime Minister Trudeau has
restored Canada’s traditional approach to foreign affairs.25
Over the past four years, much of Prime Minister Trudeau’s time and attention has focused on
managing relations with the United States. Maintaining smooth bilateral relations is typical y a
top priority for Canadian governments, since Canada depends on access to the U.S. market and
benefits from U.S. investments in continental defense (see “U.S.-Canada Security Cooperation”).
That task grew more difficult during the Trump Administration, however, which chal enged many
long-standing pil ars of the U.S.-Canada relationship. In addition to renegotiating NAFTA,
President Trump raised doubts about the U.S. commitment to NATO and withdrew from
multilateral institutions and agreements that both countries previously supported. Prime Minister
Trudeau general y sought to avoid direct confrontations with the Trump Administration, but
tensions boiled over on a few occasions. In June 2018, for example, President Trump and

20 Althia Raj, “Jagmeet Singh: NDP Could Prop Up Liberal Government for Another 3 Years,” HuffPost Canada,
September 26, 2020.
21 Geoff Norquay, “Is Canada Headed T oward Another Minority Government?,” Policy Options, September 19, 2019.
22 “T he WE Charity Controversy Explained,” CBC News, July 28, 2020.
23 T hese vote projections are from a model that averages all publicly available opinion polls, weighted by age, sample
size, and past performance of the polling firm. Éric Grenier, “ Poll T racker,” CBC News, February 8, 2021.
24 Global Affairs Canada, “Address by Minister Freeland on Canada’s Foreign Policy Priorities,” June 6, 2017.
25 John Ibbitson, The Big Break: The Conservative Transformation of Canada’s Foreign Policy, Centre for
International Governance Innovation, CIGI Papers No. 29, April 2014.
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Administration officials made disparaging remarks about Trudeau after the prime minister
announced his intention to impose retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods in response to the Trump
Administration’s decision to impose national security tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum (see
“Steel and Aluminum Tariffs,” below).26
U.S.-Canada relations have improved since the conclusion of USMCA negotiations, but many
Canadians question whether the United States remains a reliable partner.27 The Trudeau
government has sought to reduce Canada’s dependence on the U.S. market by concluding free
trade agreements (FTAs) with the European Union and 10 countries in the Asia-Pacific region
(see “Canada’s Network of Free Trade Agreements,” below). Although the Trudeau government
also explored a potential FTA with China, talks were suspended due to a sharp deterioration in
relations (see “Relations with China,” below).
Amid perceptions that the United States seeks to “shrug off the burden of global leadership,” the
Trudeau government has sought to work with like-minded countries to uphold the rules-based
international order.28 In 2019, for example, Canada joined a coalition of countries led by France
and Germany to launch the Al iance for Multilateralism—an informal network that seeks to
protect and preserve international norms, agreements, and institutions; address new chal enges
that require collective action; and reform multilateral institutions and agreements to ensure they
deliver tangible results to citizens. Canada also is leading a smal coalition of World Trade
Organization (WTO) members, known as the Ottawa Group, to reform the multilateral trading
As part of its broader efforts to uphold the rules-based order, the Trudeau government has
reaffirmed Canada’s commitment to collective security efforts. It unveiled a new defense policy
in 2017, which asserts that defending Canada and Canadian interests “not only demands robust
domestic defense but also requires active engagement abroad.”29 Among other deployments,
Canada is contributing to the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq and to NATO’s deterrence operations in
Eastern Europe (see “NATO Commitments”). Although Prime Minister Trudeau pledged to
increase Canada’s support for U.N. peacekeeping missions, his government’s contributions have
been fairly limited, with the exception of a 13-month deployment of a 250-member air task force
to Mali.30 Some analysts have linked Canada’s failed bid for a temporary seat on the U.N.
Security Council for the 2021-2022 term, in part, to the country’s comparatively smal
contributions to global peacekeeping and development efforts.31

26 Michael D. Shear and Catherine Porter, “Trump Refuses to Sign G-7 Statement and Calls T rudeau ‘Weak,’” New
York Tim es
, June 9, 2018; and Patrick T emple-West, “ White House Ratchets Up T rade War with ‘Special Place in
Hell’ Slug at T rudeau,” Politico, June 10, 2018.
27 Jamie Gillies and Shaun Narine, “T he T rudeau Government and the Case for Multilateralism in an Uncertain
World,” Canadian Foreign Policy Journal, vol. 26, no. 3 (2020), pp. 257-275; Richard Nimijean and David Carment,
“Rethinking the Canada-U.S. Relationship After the Pandemic,” Policy Options, May 7, 2020; and Steven Chase,
“More Canadians Hold an Unfavourable View of the U.S. T han at Any Point Since Sentiment Was First T racked, Poll
Indicates,” Globe and Mail, October 15, 2020.
28 Global Affairs Canada, “Address by Minister Freeland on Canada’s Foreign Policy Priorities,” June 6, 2017.
29 Department of National Defence, Strong, Secure, Engaged: Canada’s Defence Policy, June 2017, p. 14.
30 Department of National Defence, “Canadian Armed Forces Conclude Peacekeeping Mission in Mali,” press release,
August 31, 2019; and Mike Blanchfield, “Canada’s Peacekeeping Contribution at Lowest Level in More T han 60
Years,” Globe and Mail, May 23, 2020.
31 Bruno Charbonneau and Christian Leuprecht, “When Will Canada Hear the Message the UN Keeps Sending Us?,”
Globe and Mail, June 19, 2020; and “ Canada Loses Out on UN Security Council Seat Bid,” Econom ist Intelligence
, June 30, 2020.
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NATO Commitments
Canada, like the United States, was a founding member of NATO in 1949. It maintained a
military presence in Western Europe throughout the Cold War in support of the collective defense
pact. Since the 1990s, Canada has supported NATO’s adaptation and has been an active
participant in numerous NATO operations, including the 1992 intervention in Bosnia and
Herzegovina, the 1999 bombing campaign in Serbia, and the 2011 intervention in Libya. Canada
contributed the fifth-largest national contingent to the NATO-led International Security
Assistance Force in Afghanistan, before withdrawing in 2014.
Canada commanded NATO Mission Iraq from its October 2018 inception until November 2020.
The mission aims to strengthen Iraqi security institutions and forces by providing noncombat
advisory, training, and capacity-building support to Iraqi defense officials and military personnel.
Those efforts complemented Canada’s broader contributions to the U.S.-led coalition to defeat the
Islamic State. Although Prime Minister Trudeau withdrew Canada’s fighter aircraft from Iraq
shortly after taking office, he has deployed up to 850 troops to the Middle East to support
coalition air operations; provide intel igence support; and train, advise, and assist Iraqi security
forces.32 Canada and other NATO and coalition partners have repositioned many personnel
outside of Iraq since early 2020 due to a deterioration in the security situation and the COVID-19
pandemic.33 Although some troops may return to the Middle East once conditions improve,
Canada intends to reduce its overal presence in the region.34
Canada has been an advocate for NATO enlargement and has deployed Canadian Armed Forces
personnel to Central and Eastern Europe in support of the newest members of the al iance. In
June 2017, Canada took command of a NATO battle group deployed to Latvia as part of the
al iance’s Enhanced Forward Presence in Eastern Europe. The 1,500-strong battle group includes
540 members of the Canadian Armed Forces, as wel as troops from Albania, the Czech Republic,
Italy, Montenegro, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Spain. The United States, the United
Kingdom, and Germany command similar forces in Poland, Estonia, and Lithuania, respectively,
as part of a broader effort to reassure the al iance’s eastern members and bolster deterrence in the
aftermath of Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Canada also commands a standing NATO maritime
group that operates in Western and Northern European waters.35
Under the Trudeau government’s defense policy, Canada is to increase defense spending by 73%
in nominal terms over 10 years to reach C$32.7 bil ion (approximately $25.2 bil ion) in 2026-
2027. Canada intends to use the additional resources to acquire new aircraft, ships, and other
equipment; expand the Canadian Armed Forces by 3,500 personnel; and invest in new
capabilities.36 If implemented, Canada’s total defense spending as a percentage of gross domestic
product (GDP) would reach 1.4% in 2024-2025, which would fal wel short of NATO’s

32 Department of National Defence, “Operation IMPACT ,” December 15, 2020; and NAT O, “NAT O Mission Iraq,”
October 29, 2020.
33 NAT O and other coalition operations were suspended temporarily in January 2020 following the U.S. killing of
Qasem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, and subsequent Iranian
missile attacks against Iraqi bases hosting U.S. and coalition forces. Following the U.S. strike against Soleimani, Iran
shot down a civilian aircraft, killing all 176 people aboard, including 55 citizens and 30 permanent residents of Canada.
34 Lee Berthiaume, “Canadian Military Shrinks Middle East Footprint as ISIL Fight Enters New Phase,” Canadian
Press, July 29, 2020.
35 Department of National Defence, “Operation REASSURANCE,” January 18, 2021; and NAT O, “NAT O’s Enhanced
Forward Presence,” fact sheet, October 2019.
36 Department of National Defence, Strong, Secure, Engaged: Canada’s Defence Policy, June 2017, p. 13.
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recommended level of at least 2% of GDP. Nevertheless, Canada would exceed NATO’s target of
investing 20% of defense expenditure in major equipment; such investments would reach 32% of
defense spending in 2024-2025.37
In 2020, partial y due to the sharp economic downturn, Canada’s estimated defense expenditures
reached approximately 1.45% of GDP, with 17.4% of expenditures dedicated to equipment.38
Although the pandemic-driven economic downturn could put pressure on Canada’s defense
budget, Defense Minister Harjit Saj an maintains that expenditures are moving forward as
planned.39 Successive U.S. Administrations have pushed Canada to meet the NATO target, but
Canada has long argued that countries’ contributions to the al iance should be measured more by
the capabilities and troops they provide than by their defense expenditures as a percentage of
Relations with China
Prime Minister Trudeau’s government came to office intending to strengthen ties with China. It
argued that deeper commercial ties with China were necessary to increase Canada’s long-term
economic growth and diversify the country’s trade relations. The United States is the destination
of about 73% of Canada’s global merchandise exports,40 and the Trump Administration’s trade
policies reinforced long-standing concerns that Canada is overly dependent on the U.S. market.
During Prime Minister Trudeau’s first years in office, Canada joined the China-backed Asian
Infrastructure Investment Bank and al owed Chinese companies to acquire some Canadian
businesses in sensitive sectors.41 Canada also increased its diplomatic engagement with China and
engaged in exploratory discussions regarding an extradition treaty and an FTA.42
Chinese-Canadian relations have deteriorated significantly since December 2018, when Canada
arrested Meng Wanzhou, an executive at the Chinese technology company Huawei, to comply
with an extradition request from the United States. A trial to determine whether Meng is to be
extradited to the United States has been underway since January 2020. The U.S. Department of
Justice indicted Meng and Huawei for financial fraud involving violations of U.S. sanctions on
Iran.43 In apparent retaliation for Meng’s arrest, China detained two Canadians, Michael Kovrig, a
former diplomat, and Michael Spavor, in December 2018. China has held the men in state
custody for over two years, charging them with espionage in June 2020.44 China also restricted
imports of certain Canadian agricultural products. Although Chinese officials maintain that
Canada must ensure Meng’s safe return to China to avoid further damage to bilateral relations,

37 Department of National Defence, Strong, Secure, Engaged: Canada’s Defence Policy, June 2017. p. 46.
38 NAT O, “Defence Expenditure of NAT O Countries (2013 -2020),” Communique PR/CP(2020)104, October 21, 2020.
39 Lee Berthiaume, “Hundreds of Billions of Planned Military Spending ‘Secure’ Despite COVID-19: Sajjan,”
Canadian Press, September 15, 2020.
40 Statistics Canada data, as presented by Trade Data Monitor, accessed February 2021.
41 For more on the bank, see CRS In Focus IF10154, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, by Martin A. Weiss.
42 Preston Lim, “Sino-Canadian Relations in the Age of Justin T rudeau,” Canadian Foreign Policy Journal, vol. 26, no.
1 (2020).
43 U.S. Department of Justice, “Chinese T elecommunications Conglomerate Huawei and Huawei CFO Wanzhou Meng
Charged with Financial Fraud,” press release, January 28, 2019.
44 Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, “Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian’s
Regular Press Conference,” June 19, 2020; and Global Affairs Canada, “ T wo Years Since Canadians Michael Kovrig
and Michael Spavor Arbitrarily Detained in China,” December 9, 2020.
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Prime Minister Trudeau has criticized China’s “coercive diplomacy” and demanded the release of
the incarcerated Canadians.45
The Trump Administration praised Canada for honoring the extradition treaty and upholding the
rule of law and cal ed on China to end its “arbitrary detention of Canadian citizens.”46 The Senate
and the House passed resolutions (S.Res. 96 and H.Res. 521, respectively, 116th Congress)
expressing similar sentiments in 2019. Canadian officials expressed some frustrations, however,
that the Trump Administration did not push more forcefully for the Canadians’ release.47
Tensions have escalated as Canada has pressed China on human rights issues. In May 2020,
Canada joined with the United States, the United Kingdom (UK), and Australia to express “deep
concern” about China’s decision to impose a new national security law on Hong Kong.48 Since
then, Canada has suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong, placed restrictions on
sensitive exports to Hong Kong, granted asylum to some Hong Kong democracy activists, and
created a new class of work permit for Hong Kong residents.
Canadian officials also have expressed concerns about China’s treatment of Uyghurs and other
ethnic minorities in northwest China’s Xinjiang region. In October 2020, the House of Commons
Subcommittee on International Human Rights asserted that the situation amounts to genocide and
cal ed on the Canadian government to impose sanctions on the Chinese officials responsible.49
The Trudeau government has opted not to impose sanctions thus far, but it announced a series of
measures in January 2021 intended to prevent goods produced through forced labor in Xinjiang
from entering Canadian supply chains.50 The Chinese government has pushed back, urging
Canada to “stop interfering in China’s internal affairs.”51 Human rights groups and Canadian
officials maintain that Chinese government agents also have been directly and indirectly involved
in harassment and intimidation against pro-democracy and human rights activists in Canada.52
The deterioration in relations could influence the Trudeau government’s decision regarding
whether to al ow Huawei to participate in Canada’s fifth-generation (5G) telecommunications
network. The Trump Administration argued that using Huawei equipment would leave Canada’s
network vulnerable to espionage and sabotage, since the company ultimately answers to the
Chinese government—a charge Huawei denies. Several of Canada’s top telecommunications
companies use Huawei equipment in their existing networks and are concerned that excluding the

45 Nathan Vanderklippe, “China Shifts T one, T hreatens ‘Damage’ to Relations with Canada,” Globe and Mail, May 27,
2020; and Robert Fife and Steven Chase, “ PM Vows to Fight China’s ‘Coercive Diplomacy,’” Globe and Mail,
October 14, 2020.
46 Robert Palladino, Deputy Spokesperson, “Canada’s Legitimate Arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou,” U.S.
Department of State, December 21, 2018; and Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State, “United States Stands with
Canada Against China’s Arbitrary Detention of Canadian Citizens,” U.S. Department of State, June 22, 2020.
47 “Fed Up Canada T ells U.S. to Help with China Crisis or Forget About Favors,” Reuters, May 6, 2019.
48 U.S. Department of State, Office of the Spokesperson, “Joint Statement on Hong Kong,” May 28, 2020.
49 House of Commons, Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs
and International Development, “Statement by the Subcommittee on International Human Rights Concerning the
Human Rights Situation of Uyghurs and Other T urkic Muslims in Xinjiang, China,” press release, October 21, 2020.
50 Global Affairs Canada, “Canada Announces New Measures to Address Human Rights Abuses in Xinjiang, China,”
January 12, 2021.
51 Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, “Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian’s
Regular Press Conference on October 22, 2020,” October 22, 2020.
52 Canadian Coalition on Human Rights in China and Amnesty International, Harassment & Intimidation of Individuals
in Canada Working on China-Related Hum an Rights Concerns
, March 2020; and Robert Fife and Steven Chase,
“Beijing T argeting Canada’s Chinese Community, CSIS Says,” Globe and Mail, November 10, 2020.
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company would raise costs and delay the rollout of 5G technology.53 The Trudeau government
has been conducting a national security review of the issue since September 2018 and has not
issued a timeline for arriving at a decision. Canada is the only member of the Five Eyes al iance
that has yet to block the use of Huawei equipment, and U.S. officials have warned their Canadian
counterparts that the decision could affect intel igence and defense cooperation.54 According to a
poll conducted in September 2020, 79% of Canadians view China as a moderate or serious threat
to Canada.55
A provision of the FY2021 Intel igence Authorization Act (P.L. 116-260, Division W, §601)
requires the directors of the Central Intel igence Agency, National Security Agency, and Defense
Intel igence Agency to submit a joint report on attempts by China and other foreign adversaries to
provide telecommunications and cybersecurity equipment and services to Five Eyes countries.
The report is to assess U.S. intel igence and defense relationships with such countries and to
consider the potential for mitigating risks posed by those relationships.
U.S.-Canada Security Cooperation
According to the U.S. State Department, “U.S. defense arrangements with Canada are more
extensive than with any other country.”56 In addition to their mutual defense commitments under
NATO and close intel igence partnership as members of the Five Eyes al iance, the United States
and Canada cooperate on continental defense through NORAD and coordinate extensively on law
enforcement matters, including border security and cybersecurity.
North American Aerospace Defense Command
NORAD is a cornerstone of U.S.-Canada defense relations. Established in 1958, NORAD
original y was intended to monitor and defend North America against Soviet long-range bombers.
The NORAD agreement has been reviewed and revised several times, however, to respond to
changes in the international security environment. Today, NORAD’s mission consists of the
Aerospace Warning. Processing, assessing, and disseminating intel igence
related to the aerospace domain and detecting, validating, and warning of attacks
against North America, whether by aircraft, missiles, or space vehicles.
Aerospace Control. Providing surveil ance and exercising operational control
over U.S. and Canadian airspace.
Maritime Warning. Processing, assessing, and disseminating intel igence
related to the maritime areas and internal waterways of the United States and
Canada, and warning of maritime threats to North America to enable response by
national commands.
NORAD is the only binational command in the world. The U.S. commander and the Canadian
deputy commander of NORAD are appointed by, and responsible to, both the U.S. President and
the Canadian prime minister. Likewise, NORAD headquarters at Peterson Air Force Base in

53 Alexandra Posadzki, Robert Fife, and Steven Chase, “Huawei’s 5G Role in Doubt as Bell, T elus Use European
Suppliers,” Globe and Mail, June 3, 2020.
54 T he United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia have banned Huawei from their 5G networks. New Zealand
has not issued a blanket ban, but it blocked an attempt by a telecomm unications company to use Huawei equipment.
55 Macdonald-Laurier Institute and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, “Canada’s Role in the World – Part One,” November
56 U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, U.S. Relations with Canada, July 16, 2020.
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Colorado is composed of integrated staff from both countries. This binational structure al ows the
United States and Canada to pool resources, avoiding duplication of some efforts and increasing
North America’s overal defense capabilities. Nevertheless, because the U.S. and Canadian
governments want to maintain their abilities to take unilateral action, some NORAD
responsibilities and authorities overlap with those of U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM)
and Canadian Joint Operations Command (CJOC).
In 2017, President Trump and Prime Minister Trudeau agreed to modernize and broaden the
NORAD partnership in the air, maritime, cyber, and space domains.57 NORAD officials maintain
that the command must update its aging systems and develop new capabilities to deter, detect, and
defeat emerging threats, such as stealthy air- and sea-launched cruise missiles and hypersonic
glide vehicles.58 The U.S. and Canadian governments have yet to formalize agreements regarding
specific expenditures or changes to the command’s approach to continental defense.
The Trudeau government’s defense policy states that Canada wil make the investments necessary
to fulfil the country’s NORAD obligations and wil work with the United States to ensure the
command is able to meet existing and future chal enges. Among other initiatives, the policy cal s
for Canada to purchase 88 fighter aircraft to replace its aging fleet of CF-18s and to collaborate
with the United States to replace the North Warning System—a chain of unmanned radar stations
in the Arctic that provides aerospace surveil ance along the northern approaches to the United
States and Canada.59 Canada’s procurement process for advanced fighters has been delayed for
more than a decade, and a final contract is not expected to be concluded until 2022.60 The
repeated delays have led some analysts to question whether Canada wil be able to meet its
NORAD commitments.61 Analysts also have questioned Canada’s decision not to participate in
bal istic missile defense, which reportedly has complicated command and control by dividing the
mission between NORAD, which is involved in missile detection and warning, and
NORTHCOM, which is responsible for the U.S. bal istic missile defense system.62
Border Security
The United States and Canada coordinate extensively on efforts to secure their shared 5,525-mile
border. The 2011 “Beyond the Border” declaration and action plan provide the framework for
ongoing bilateral cooperation, including efforts to address potential threats, facilitate legal
commercial and passenger traffic, enhance cross-border law enforcement cooperation, and
strengthen and protect critical infrastructure.63 The declaration and action plan have resulted in
several initiatives, including

57 White House, Office of the Press Secretary, “Joint Statement from President Donald J. T rump and Prime Minister
Justin T rudeau,” February 13, 2017.
58 T errence J. O’Shaughnessy and Peter M. Fesler, “Hardening the Shield: A Credible Deterrent & Capable Defense for
North America,” Wilson Center, Canada Institute, September 2020.
59 Department of National Defence, Strong, Secure, Engaged: Canada’s Defence Policy, June 2017.
60 Canada has participated in the U.S.-led F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program since 1997, contributing $541 million to
the consortium, but has yet to make a final decision on whether to purchase F-35s or alternative aircraft.
61 Laura Dawson, The Interim Fighter Capability Project and Its Importance to Canada ’s NORAD Mission, Wilson
Center, Canada Institute, December 11, 2017; and Al Stephenson, Anatom y of a Buy: The Four Dim ensions of
Procuring a Future Fighter for Canada
, Canadian Global Affairs Institute, May 2019.
62 Michael Dawson, NORAD: Remaining Relevant, University of Calgary, School of Public Policy, November 2019;
and NORAD Deputy Commander Lieutenant -General Pierre St -Amand, remarks before the House of Commons,
Standing Committee on National Defense, April 19, 2016.
63 T he “Beyond the Border” declaration and action plan are available at
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 a 2012 Visa and Immigration Information Sharing Agreement that al ows for the
automated sharing of biographic and biometric information;
 a 2013 entry/exit program that al ows data on entry to one country to serve as a
record of exit from the other;
 a 2015 Agreement on Land, Rail, Marine, and Air Transport Preclearance that
al ows customs and immigration officials to clear travelers and cargo in their
countries of origin; and
 a 2016 accord that al ows for the exchange of information on individuals who
present a clear threat, including the countries’ respective “no-fly” lists.64
Canadian concerns about privacy and sovereignty delayed implementation of some of these
initiatives.65 Consequently, the United States and Canada did not begin exchanging information
on al U.S. and Canadian citizens under the entry/exit program until July 2019 and the Agreement
on Land, Rail, Marine, and Air Transport Preclearance did not enter into force until August 2019.
In 2016, Congress enacted the Northern Border Security Review Act (P.L. 114-267), which
directed the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to conduct an analysis of threats along
the U.S.-Canada border. The public summary of the threat analysis, released in July 2017,
asserted that “the large volume of legitimate travel across the northern border and the long
stretches of difficult terrain between ports of entry provide potential opportunities for individuals
who may pose a national security risk to enter the United States undetected.”66 The analysis also
noted, however, that encounters with individuals associated with transnational crime or terrorism
were infrequent, and total apprehensions of individuals entering the United States from Canada
between points of entry had remained below 800 per year for the previous five years. DHS
developed a new Northern Border Strategy in 2018 intended to address the security chal enges
identified in the threat analysis while facilitating lawful trade and travel.67
Although the number of individuals crossing il egal y into the United States from Canada
remained relatively low during the Trump Administration, the number of individuals crossing
from the United States into Canada between official ports of entry grew significantly. More than
56,500 individuals requested asylum in Canada after crossing the border irregularly from 2017 to
2019, more than double the number who did so from 2014 to 2016.68 This northern flow of
asylum-seekers appears to have been spurred, in part, by the Trump Administration’s immigration
policies, such as the termination of Temporary Protected Status for more than 55,000 Haitians,69
as wel as by Canada’s image as a sanctuary for refugees after the Trudeau government resettled
more than 25,000 Syrians in its first 100 days in office. At times, the influx of asylum-seekers

64 DHS, “Beyond the Border Fact Sheet,” January 2017.
65 Evan Dyer, “Ottawa Gets an Earful on Proposed Expansion of U.S. Border Pre-clearance Powers,” CBC News,
August 6, 2017; and John Paul T asker, “Ottawa’s Push to Share More Border-Crossing Data with U.S. Raising Red
Flags over Privacy,” CBC News, June 28, 2018.
66 DHS, Northern Border Threat Analysis Report: Public Summary, July 2017, at
67 DHS, Northern Border Strategy, June 12, 2018, at
68 Immigration Review Board of Canada, “Irregular Border Crosser Statistics,” September 9, 2020; and Immigration,
Refugees, and Citizenship Canada, “Asylum Claims By Year – 2011-2016,” January 14, 2021.
69 For more on T emporary Protected Status, see CRS Report RS20844, Temporary Protected Status: Overview and
Current Issues
, by Jill H. Wilson.
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overwhelmed Canada’s refugee processing system and strained the resources of aid agencies and
local and provincial governments.70
Under a 2002 Safe Third-Country Agreement, which requires individuals to claim protection in
the first safe country in which they arrive, Canada may immediately return to the United States
most asylum-seekers who enter through an official border crossing. Those who enter between
ports of entry, however, general y may remain in Canada while their claims are processed.71 In
response to the recent influx, the Canadian government has sought to expand the Safe Third
Country Agreement to cover the entire border. Canadian refugee advocates reject that approach
and argue the agreement should be suspended to al ow asylum-seekers to enter Canada in a safer,
more orderly fashion.72 In July 2020, the Federal Court of Canada ruled that Canada’s laws and
regulations implementing the Safe Third Country Agreement violate the country’s Charter of
Rights and Freedoms based on evidence the United States detains asylum-seekers returned from
Canada as a penalty for making protection claims.73 Nevertheless, the agreement is to remain in
place pending the results of the Trudeau government’s appeal.
The U.S.-Canada border has been closed to al nonessential travel since March 2020, due to the
COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to prohibiting cross-border travel for recreation or tourism, the
United States and Canada have agreed to turn back al asylum-seekers—effectively applying the
Safe Third Country Agreement along the length of the border for the duration of the health crisis.
Some Members of Congress have cal ed for the U.S. and Canadian governments to loosen travel
restrictions, which have disproportionately impacted residents of border communities. The
Trudeau government has made some changes to al ow international students and individuals
reuniting with family to cross the border but has stated that most restrictions wil remain in place
until health conditions improve substantial y.74
Both the United States and Canada rely on information technology as a strategic national asset
that reaps many economic and societal benefits. This increasing reliance on internet-based
systems has created new sets of vulnerabilities. Attacks on critical infrastructure, online influence
campaigns, and the theft of digital y stored information, either for military or economic
competitive advantage, are growing areas of concern for both countries. In 2014, for example, the
Canadian government accused China of carrying out a cyberattack on the National Research
Council, Canada’s largest federal research and development organization. It reportedly took more
than 16 months and C$100 mil ion (approximately $77 mil ion) for the Canadian government to
mitigate the damage and rebuild the council’s networks.75 In the past two years, Russia-associated
actors reportedly have probed the networks of U.S. and Canadian electric utilities and carried out

70 Craig Damian Smith, “ Changing U.S. Policy and Safe T hird-Country “Loophole” Drive Irregular Migration to
Canada,” Migration Policy Institute, October 16, 2019; and Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer, Costing
Irregular Migration Across Canada’s Southern Border
, November 29, 2018.
71 Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada, “Claiming Asylum in Canada—What Happens?,” March 3, 2017;
Sela Cowger, “ Uptick in Northern Border Crossings Places Canada-U.S. Safe T hird Country Agreement Under
Pressure,” Migration Policy Institute, April 26, 2017.
72 Brennan MacDonald and Vassy Kapelos, “Hussen Floats Possible Solution to Safe T hird Country Agreement
Loophole,” CBC News, May 31, 2018.
73 Canadian Council for Refugees v. Canada (Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship), FC 770 (2020), at
74 “Canada to Keep U.S. Border Curbs Until Pandemic Is Much Less Serious,” Reuters, October 2, 2020.
75 Alex Boutilier, “National Research Council Bought $8m in New Laptops After Hack,” Toronto Star, April 10, 2017.
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malicious cyber activities against U.S. and Canadian research entities involved in the
development of a COVID-19 vaccine.76
Recognizing the scope of the threat, the Trudeau government’s 2018 and 2019 budgets included
nearly C$1 bil ion (approximately $769 mil ion) over five years to implement a new National
Cyber Security Strategy.77 Those funds al owed Canada to consolidate operational cyber expertise
from across the federal government in a new Canadian Center for Cyber Security, housed within
the country’s signals intel igence agency, the Communications Security Establishment (CSE).
The funds also supported the establishment of a new National Cybercrime Coordination Unit
within the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to serve as a hub for cybercrime investigations.
Although the new cybersecurity strategy focuses largely on protecting Canadians and critical
government and private sector systems, the Trudeau government’s defense policy argues that “a
purely defensive cyber posture is no longer sufficient.”78 The Canadian Armed Forces intend to
develop “active cyber capabilities” to be employed against potential adversaries in support of
government-authorized military missions.79 The CSE also may conduct “active” cyber operations;
provisions enacted as part of a 2019 overhaul of Canada’s foreign intel igence and cybersecurity
laws (Bil C-59) authorize the CSE “to degrade, disrupt, respond to or interfere with the
capabilities, intentions or activities of a foreign individual, state, organization or terrorist group as
they relate to international affairs, defence or security.”80 Some analysts argue that Canada’s shift
toward offensive cyber operations carries new risks and that Canada needs to clarify how it
intends to use the new capabilities.81
U.S.-Canada cooperation on cybersecurity is long-standing, both bilateral y and as members of
the Five Eyes al iance. In 2012, DHS and Public Safety Canada approved a Cybersecurity Action
Plan focused on strengthening cyber infrastructure on both sides of the border. The plan outlined
a series of joint commitments intended to enhance collaboration on cyber incident management,
increase engagement and information sharing with the private sector, and coordinate public
awareness efforts.82 Both countries also committed to strengthening their cybersecurity
capabilities and collaboration in the digital trade chapter of USMCA. Other bilateral efforts are
focused on preventing, responding to, and recovering from critical infrastructure disruptions,
including those caused by cyberattacks.83 Although Canada has yet to adopt a comprehensive
approach toward the international aspects of cybersecurity, its positions typical y have aligned
with those of the United States. In September 2019, for example, Canada joined the United States

76 Communications Security Establishment, Canadian Centre for Cyber Security, National Cyber Threat Assessment
, November 2020.
77 Public Safety Canada, National Cyber Security Action Plan: 2019-2024, 2019, p.1. The National Cyber Security
Strategy is available at
78 Department of National Defence, Strong, Secure, Engaged: Canada’s Defence Policy, June 2017, p. 72.
79 Department of National Defence, Strong, Secure, Engaged: Canada’s Defence Policy, June 2017, p. 73.
80 Bill C-59, Part 3, Section 19, at
81 Ken Barker, Cyberattack: What Goes Around, Comes Around, Canadian Global Affairs Institute and University of
Calgary, School of Public Policy, June 2019; and Josh Gold, Christopher Parsons, and Irene Poetranto, “Canada’s
Scattered and Uncoordinated Cyber Foreign Policy: A Call for Clarity,” Just Security, August 4, 2020.
82 DHS and Public Safety Canada, Cyber Security Action Plan, 2012, at
pblctns/cybrscrt -ctn-plan/cybrscrt -ctn-plan-eng.pdf.
83 DHS and Public Safety Canada, Canada-United States Action Plan for Critical Infrastructure, 2010, at; and Governments of the United States and Canada,
Joint United States-Canada Electric Grid Security and Resilience Strategy, December 2016, at
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and 26 other countries in affirming the applicability of international law in cyberspace and
pledging to hold states accountable for “bad behavior,” such as targeting critical infrastructure,
undermining democracies, and undercutting fair economic competition.84
Economic and Trade Policy
As an open economy dependent on world trade, Canada is significantly affected by the global
economy and by its largest trading partner, the United States. (See Table 1 for comparative
economic statistics). Like other economies around the world, Canada has experienced a steep
contraction due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although Canada recorded an anemic 1.7% growth
rate in 2019, its average growth in the 10 years since the end of the 2008-2009 global financial
crisis was a modest 2.2%. Canada’s GDP declined by 0.9% in the first quarter of 2020, 13.0% in
the second quarter, and a further 5.2% in the third quarter (see Figure 3). Forecasters predict a
yearly 2020 average decline of 5.7% (IHS Markit Intel igence [IHS]) to 5.8% (Economist
Intel igence Unit [EIU]), but they expect a rebound of 4.0% (EIU) to 4.6% (IHS) in 2021.
Canadian unemployment rose from a generational low of 5.6% in 2019 to 13.7% in May 2020. It
has fal en gradual y since, and both forecasters expect a 2020 yearly average of 9.5%.85
Table 1. United States and Canada: Selected Comparative Economic Statistics, 2019
(estimated 2020 figures in parentheses)
United States

Nominal PPP (bil ion U.S.$)
21,433 (20,559)
1,929 (1,825)
Per Capita GDP

Nominal PPP (U.S.$)
65,133 (63,600)
51,586 (49,850)
Real GDP Growth
2.2% (-4.6%)
1.7% (-5.8%)
Recorded Unemployment Rate
3.7% (8.4%)
5.7% (9.5%)
Exports G&S (% GDP)
11.7% (10.3%)
31.9% (29.9%)
Imports G&S (% GDP)
14.6% (12.7%)
33.5% (31.1%)
Sectoral Components of GDP (%)

18.2% (17.2%)
27.1% (26.8%)
81.0% (81.9%)
70.0% (70.9%)
0.8% (0.9%)
2.9% (2.4%)
Budget Balance (% GDP)
-4.6% (-14.9%)
-0.4% (-13.5%)
Public Debt/GDP
79.2% (98.0%)
31.1% (49.1%)
Average MFN Tariff
Sources: Economist Intel igence Unit (EIU); U.S. Census Bureau; Bureau of Economic Analysis; Statistics Canada;
World Bank; World Trade Organization (WTO) Tariff Profiles. 2020 estimates from the EIU.
Notes: GDP = gross domestic product; G&S = goods and services; MFN = most-favored-nation (WTO) tariff;
PPP = purchasing power parity.

84 U.S. Department of State, “Joint Statement on Advancing Responsible State Behavior in Cyberspace,” September 23,
85 Statistics from Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and IHS Markit Intelligence data sets.
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Figure 3. Recorded and Projected Real GDP, United States and Canada: 2017-2022

Source: CRS presentation of data from the Economist Intel igence Unit, Country Data Tool, January 2021.
Note: Data for 2017 Q1-2020 Q3 are final, data for 2020 Q4 are estimates, and data for 2021-2022 are
Budget Policy
The Canadian government’s response to the COVID-19 crisis, discussed above (see “Minority
Government and Pandemic Response”
), has swollen the current budget deficit and forecasts for
future deficits (see Figure 4). On November 30, 2020, Department of Finance Canada released its
Fall Economic Statement 2020, which forecast the deficit to hit C$381.6 bil ion (approximately
$294 bil ion) in the 2020-2021 fiscal year, a tenfold increase from 2019 and amounting to nearly
a fifth of Canada’s forecast GDP for 2020.86 According to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of
Finance Chrystia Freeland, as of November 30, 2020, the Canadian government had spent C$322
bil ion (approximately $248 bil ion) on direct measures to fight COVID-19 and provide support
to individuals, along with C$85 bil ion (approximately $65 bil ion) in tax and duty deferrals.87
The expanding budget deficit does not appear to have constrained the government’s recovery
plans. In the Fall Economic Statement 2020, the government announced a COVID-19 recovery
stimulus plan costing C$70-C$100 bil ion (approximately $54-$77 bil ion) to “build Canada out
of this recession towards an economy that is cleaner, more inclusive, more innovative, and more
competitive.”88 The government maintains that “fiscal guardrails”—described as the

86 Department of Finance Canada, Supporting Canadians and Fighting COVID-19: Fall Economic Statement 2020,
November 30, 2020, p. 104.
87 Chrystia Freeland, “Supporting Canadians and Fighting COVID-19,” November 30, 2020.
88 Chrystia Freeland, “Supporting Canadians and Fighting COVID-19,” November 30, 2020.
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unemployment rate and other labor-related metrics—wil determine the length of the stimulus.89
The next budget, due in March 2021, likely wil detail the various programs and expenditures.
Figure 4. Recorded and Projected Budget Deficits, United States and Canada:

Source: CRS presentation of data from the Economist Intel igence Unit, Country Data Tool, January 2021.
Note: Data for 2017-2019 are final, data for 2020 are estimates, and data for 2021-2025 are projections.
Government debt has been a sensitive political issue in Canada for generations (see text box,
below). The Canadian government maintains that historical y low borrowing costs and the lowest
federal government debt-to-GDP ratio among the Group of Seven (G-7) facilitate its fiscal
plans.90 Others take a different view; Fitch, the credit rating agency, downgraded Canada’s
sovereign debt from AAA to AA+ in June 2020.91 It noted that Canada’s general government debt
(federal and provincial) is expected to rise to 115.1% of GDP in 2020 from 88.3% of GDP in
2019. International Monetary Fund projections indicate Canada suffered the worst deterioration in
government finances among advanced countries, with the deficit representing 19.6% of the
economy in 2020.92 Some commentators fear the additional debt burden wil have a negative
impact on the eventual economic recovery when added to existing structural impediments, such
as low productivity in the economy and continued weakness in the oil and gas sector.93

89 Department of Finance Canada, Supporting Canadians and Fighting COVID-19: Fall Economic Statement 2020,
November 30, 2020, p. 72.
90 T he G-7 includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United States, and the United Kingdom.
91 Fitch Ratings, “Fitch Downgrades Canada’s Ratings to ‘AA+’; Outlook Stable,” June 24, 2020.
92 International Monetary Fund, “T able 1.1 General Government Fiscal Balance, 2012–25: Overall Balance,” in Fiscal
October 2020.
93 Don Drummond, “Canada’s Foggy Economic and Fiscal Future,” C. D. Howe E-Brief, October 20, 2020.
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Debt and Deficits: The Canadian Experience
In 1993, after 27 straight years of deficit spending by both Liberal and Conservative governments prior to an
“austerity” budget in 1995, Canada’s public debt reached a peak of 101.6% of gross domestic product (GDP) and
government sector spending reached 53.6% of GDP. Realizing this course was unsustainable, the Liberal
government of Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and his finance minister, Paul Martin, embarked on a financial
austerity plan in 1995, using such political y risky measures as cutting federal funding for health and education
transfers, applying a means test to those eligible for Seniors Benefits, and cutting defense spending. Modest tax
increases also were employed, mostly through closing loopholes. Under this budget discipline, the government
submitted a balanced budget in 1998 and a political consensus emerged not to resort to deficit spending.
However, in the face of the global financial crisis in 2009, the Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen
Harper introduced a budget package of stimulus spending and tax cuts, producing a fiscal deficit for the first time
in a decade.
From 2009 to 2015, the Conservative government ran deficits; the deficit reached 5% of GDP in 2010 but,
through austerity and improved economic conditions, was steadily whittled down to 1.9% of GDP by 2015. The
Harper government sought to return Canada to fiscal balance by the 2015 election, resorting to certain one-off
savings, such as sel ing embassies and liquidating (literal y) gold coins found in the Bank of Canada vaults.
Ultimately, a sluggish economy thwarted those plans and the last Harper budget in 2015 left a C$3 bil ion
(approximately $2.3 bil ion) deficit.
During the 2015 election, Justin Trudeau upended Canadian political orthodoxy by campaigning on a targeted
budget deficit—C$10 bil ion (about $7.7 bil ion) per year for three years—for infrastructure projects to stimulate
a sluggish economy reeling from the commodity and energy price col apse at mid-decade. This electoral gambit
paid off at the pol s, and the Trudeau government has consistently resorted to deficits to fund its programs.
Sources: Bil Curry, “Government Defends Foreign Property ‘Fire Sale,’” Globe and Mail, December 4, 2014;
Bil Curry, “Bank of Canada’s Gold Coins to be Liquidated in Federal Push to Balance Books,” Globe and Mail,
December 30, 2013; and Les Whittington and Tonda MacCharles, “No Surplus After Al , Due to Sputtering
Economy and Harper Spending, Liberals Say,” Toronto Star, November 20, 2015.
Monetary Policy
Since the 2008-2009 global financial crisis, the United States and Canada have maintained
accommodative monetary policies. The Bank of Canada (BOC) kept its interest rate at 1% from
September 2010 until 2015; the BOC lowered its rate twice that year, in January and July,
ultimately to 0.5%. Subsequently, the BOC gradual y raised its benchmark rate to a high of 1.75%
in October 2018. In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the BOC lowered its key rate three times in
March 2020 to 0.25%, where it has remained since (see Figure 5). In addition, the BOC is
engaged in quantitative easing by buying up to $4 bil ion in Canadian government bonds per
week. The key rate is not expected to rise until at least 2022.94

94 Don Pittis, “Little Fear of Rate Hike Despite Expected Economic Surge: Bank of Canada,” CBC News, January 21,
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Figure 5. Recorded and Projected Policy Interest Rates, United States and Canada:

Source: CRS presentation of data from IHS Markit Intel igence, January 2021.
Note: Data for 2017-2020 are final; data for 2021-2025 are projections.
The value of the Canadian dollar (or loonie, its nickname) has varied in terms of the U.S. dollar in
recent years, often as a result of the demand for commodities (see Figure 6). Prior to the global
financial crisis of 2008-2009, the Canadian dollar was nearly at parity, trading at slightly less than
the U.S. dollar. During the financial crisis, the Canadian dollar dropped to a monthly average of
C$1.26/U.S.$1. As the economy stabilized and demand for commodities and energy resumed, the
Canadian dollar appreciated again to parity, reaching C$0.96/U.S.$1 in July 2011. As oil prices
dropped and the commodity boom ended, the Canadian dollar began to depreciate; its decline
accelerated with the BOC’s reduction of interest rates from 1.0% to 0.5% in 2015. The Canadian
dollar hit a low of C$1.42/U.S.$1 in January 2016. The currency has since rebounded with higher
interest rates but has not appreciated above C$1.20/U.S.$1.
The strength of the Canadian dollar from roughly 2002 to 2008 and roughly 2010 to 2013 had a
detrimental effect on Canadian manufacturing, as export-dependent goods became relatively
uncompetitive in world markets. The Canadian auto industry was especial y hard hit, as the center
of gravity of U.S. production has moved south and new North American investment has bypassed
Canada for the United States and, especial y, Mexico.95 Since the end of the commodities boom,
the loonie has depreciated from its generational highs and manufacturing has picked up, but, as
with the United States, manufacturing represents a declining share of GDP.

95 “T he New Rustbelt,” Economist, August 29, 2015; “Auto Manufacturing in Canada in Long-T erm Decline, Report
Warns,” Toronto Star, April 19, 2013.
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Figure 6. Exchange Rates: 2005-2020

Source: CRS presentation of data from the Economist Intel igence Unit, Country Data Tool, January 2021.
The U.S.-Canada economic relationship is characterized by substantial ownership interests in
each nation by investors of the other. The United States is the largest single investor in Canada,
with a stock of $402.3 bil ion in 2019, a figure representing 6.8% of total U.S. foreign direct
investment (FDI) abroad. U.S. investors accounted for 46.7% of FDI in Canada in 2019, with
manufacturing, finance/insurance, and mining/energy comprising the three largest categories of
U.S. FDI. Canada had the third-largest FDI position in the United States in 2019 at $495.7 bil ion,
11.1% of the total FDI stock in the United States in that year, trailing only the United Kingdom
and Japan. The United States is the most prominent destination for Canadian FDI, with a stock of
45.4% of total Canadian FDI abroad in 2019.96
Foreign investment has played a large part in the development of the Canadian economy. British
and American capital was instrumental in building Canada’s railways in the 19th century and in
exploiting its resources in the 20th century. Although Canada general y is open to foreign
investment, certain restrictions exist. Investment is monitored, and some types of FDI are
reviewed; for example, “significant investments in Canada by non-Canadians” are reviewed
under the Investment Canada Act to ensure “net benefit” to Canada. Al transactions involving
uranium production, financial services, transportation services, or cultural industries must be
reviewed.97 Net benefit is assessed on such factors as

96 U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), Survey of Current Business, July 2020; Statistics Canada, “Foreign Direct
Investment, 2019,” July 17, 2020.
97 Cultural business refers to the publication of books, magazines, periodicals or newspapers; production, distribution,
or sale or exhibition of film, video recordings, audio or video musical recordings; publication or dissemination of print
music; or radio, television, cable, or satellite broadcasting.
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 effect on the level of economic activity in Canada, including employment;
 degree or significance of participation by Canadians;
 effect on productivity and technological development;
 effect on competition;
 effect on Canadian competitiveness in world markets; and
 compatibility with national, industrial, or cultural policies.
Acquisitions by foreign state-owned enterprises are subject to additional scrutiny to assess
whether they meet the net-benefit test. The additional criteria include whether the state-owned
enterprise adheres to Canadian standards of corporate governance and whether the Canadian
business acquired wil continue to have the ability to operate on a commercial basis. A transaction
also may be reviewed if it raises national security concerns. The 2021 net benefit review
threshold for parties to the WTO is C$1.043 bil ion (approximately $802 mil ion). The threshold
for FTA partners, including the United States, is C$1.565 bil ion (approximately $1.2 bil ion), and
the threshold for state-owned enterprises is C$415 mil ion (approximately $319 mil ion).98
U.S.-Canada Trade Relations
The United States and Canada enjoy one of the largest bilateral commercial relationships in the
world. Over the past 30 years, U.S.-Canada trade relations have been governed first by the 1989
U.S.-Canada Free Trade Agreement, then by NAFTA, and since July 1, 2020, by USMCA. The
two countries were leaders in the creation of the open, rules-based multilateral trading system
characterized by mutual concessions on market access for goods and services, disciplines on trade
restrictions, and binding dispute-settlement mechanisms. Both countries were founding members
of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the genesis of the postwar multilateral trading
system, and were among the founding members of the WTO.
However, some have cal ed this trading system into question due to developments under the
Trump Administration, including the Administration’s imposition of unilateral tariff measures,
withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) regional trade agreement, and skepticism of
multilateralism. President Biden has pledged to reinvigorate bilateral cooperation and strengthen
economic ties, as wel as multilateral institutions.99 Nonetheless, his early decision to cancel the
Keystone XL pipeline project and his commitment to Buy American policies have caused concern
in Canada.
The volume of economic activity across the border underscores the extent of economic
integration between the United States and Canada. The two nations have one of the largest trading
relationships in the world, with $1.4 bil ion of goods crossing the border daily in 2020. Canada
remained the largest purchaser of U.S. goods in 2020, accounting for 12.0% of total U.S.
merchandise exports. Canada also was the third-largest supplier of U.S. imports in 2020,
accounting for 11.6% of total U.S. merchandise imports. The United States is Canada’s largest
goods export destination and import supplier. In 2020, the United States supplied 48.9% of
Canadian goods imports and was the destination of 73.8% of Canadian goods exports. Total two-
way trade (goods and services) between Canada and the United States represented nearly 37.6%

98 Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Canada, “Investment Canada Act,” at
99 White House, “Readout of President Joe Biden Call with Prime Minister Justin T rudeau of Canada,” January 22,
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of Canadian GDP in 2019 (2020 services trade data are not yet available). The United States ran a
goods trade deficit of nearly $15 bil ion with Canada in 2020. In 2019, the U.S. goods deficit was
$26.8 bil ion but was offset by a $29.1 bil ion services trade surplus for an overal surplus of $2.3
bil ion.100 Table 2 describes the composition of imports and exports between the United States
and Canada.
Table 2. Composition of Trade with Canada 2020: Top 15 Commodities
(bil ions of U.S.$)
U.S. Exports to Canada
U.S. Imports from Canada
Vehicle parts and
Crude petroleum
Passenger vehicles
Passenger vehicles
Motor vehicles for goods
Articles returned or
Low-value export
Vehicle parts and
Refined petroleum
Refined Petroleum
Crude petroleum
Civilian aircraft, engines
Petroleum gases
and parts
Data processing machines
Unwrought aluminum
Line telephony and
Internal combustion
Waste and scrap of
precious metal
Polymers of ethylene (raw
Centrifuges and parts
Baked goods and baked
Taps, cocks, and valves,
Aircraft engines and parts
and parts thereof
Medical instruments
Al others
Al others
Source: CRS, from U.S. International Trade Commission data.
Notes: Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS-4) entries, general imports, total exports.
Trade between the United States and Canada dropped substantial y in 2020 from pre-COVID-19
levels. Overal , total trade in 2020 dropped 14.1% from 2019. Exports to Canada fel 12.8%, and
imports from Canada dropped 15.3%. Trade in individual commodities reflected these drops.
However, U.S. exports of low-value shipments, which includes shop-at-home, mail-order, and
goods purchased through e-commerce, increased 36.1% in 2020, likely due to COVID-19

100 T rade figures are from U.S. International T rade Commission and Bureau of Economic Analysis.
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restrictions. Conversely, imports of softwood lumber increased by 41.2% due to the ongoing
housing boom in the United States.
The United States also conducts substantial services trade with Canada. In 2019, Canada was both
the second-largest consumer of U.S. services and the second-largest supplier of services to the
United States. That year, the United States exported $67.7 bil ion worth of services to Canada and
imported $38.6 bil ion, for a surplus of $29.1 bil ion. Services exports to Canada accounted for
7.7% of U.S. service exports overal ; imports represented about 6.6% of total U.S. service
imports. Leading services exports to Canada included travel, professional and management
services, intel ectual property (computer software, audio visual), and education services.101 In
2019, U.S. service exports represented 54.2% of Canadian service imports and Canadian service
exports to the United States represented 56.3% of total Canadian service exports.102 U.S. travelers
accounted for 33.1% of Canada’s travel and tourism receipts in 2019; Canadians spent 54.3% of
their tourist dollars in the United States that year.
United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement
In May 2017, the Trump Administration sent notification to Congress of its intent to begin talks
with Canada and Mexico to renegotiate NAFTA. Following the 90-day consultation period with
Congress mandated under Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), negotiations began in August 2017.
Initial y, much of the discussion revolved around revising and modernizing the nearly 25-year-old
accord. Al three parties al uded to incorporating new or expanded language from the TPP
negotiations on e-commerce, intel ectual property rights (IPR), investment, labor, environment,
sanitary and phytosanitary standards, state-owned enterprises, data flows, and data localization—
requirements to maintain data in country. At times during the negotiations, President Trump
threatened to withdraw from NAFTA. The overal gist of U.S. proposals appeared to be aimed at
reducing bilateral trade deficits with Canada and Mexico and returning manufacturing jobs to the
United States. To that end, the Administration tabled some proposals that Canada and Mexico
considered unacceptable or unworkable and subsequently dropped those proposals in the
negotiations. On most issues, the negotiating dynamic general y pitted the United States against
Canada and Mexico, which were more interested in modernizing the agreement and opposed
proposals that would restrict trade.
Initial deadlines to conclude the talks were not met, but the United States and Mexico concluded
an agreement on August 30, 2018, al owing the President to provide a 90-day notice to sign an
agreement under TPA on November 30, 2018. The United States and Canada subsequently
reached agreement in September 2018, and a draft text was released. On November 30, 2018,
President Trump, President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico, and Prime Minister Trudeau signed
With the change in control in the House of Representatives in the 116th Congress, Members of the
House Ways and Means Committee and the Trump Administration negotiated changes to several
aspects of the agreement. On December 10, 2019, the United States, Canada, and Mexico agreed
to a protocol of amendment to the original USMCA text. The revisions include modifications to
key elements of the original text regarding dispute settlement, labor and environmental
provisions, IPR protection, and steel and aluminum requirements in the motor vehicle industry’s

101 International T rade Administration, Canada – Country Commercial Guide, at
product/canada-market -overview.
102 BEA, Survey of Current Business, October 2020; Statistics Canada, “International T ransactions in Services, T able
36-10-0007-01,” January 25, 2021.
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rules of origin. The revised agreement provides for a facility-specific rapid response labor
mechanism to address worker rights provisions.
Implementing legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives (H.R. 5430, 116th
Congress) and in the Senate (S. 3052, 116th Congress) in December 2019. The legislation was
approved by the House in December 2019, by a vote of 385-41 and by the Senate in January
2020, by a vote of 89-10. President Trump signed the legislation (P.L. 116-113) on January 29,
2020. The agreement entered into force on July 1, 2020.
USMCA maintains most of the existing, largely tariff-free trade created by NAFTA. It provides
additional incremental market access in agriculture products with Canada, changes the
automotive rules of origin, updates some provisions of NAFTA, and adds new chapters
concerning digital trade and state-owned enterprises. The following are some key outcomes of
relevance to Canada.103 The agreement
Tightens automotive rules of origin (ROO). To receive preferential treatment,
autos and auto parts must contain 75% USMCA content, up from 62.5% for autos
and 60% for auto parts in NAFTA. In addition, 70% of the steel and aluminum in
autos and auto parts must be of USMCA origin and 40%-45% of auto content
must be made by workers making at least $16 per hour. This last provision was
supported by Canada, which has a similar wage structure to the United States,
although the overal impact of the ROO changes is uncertain.
Provides limited tariff-rate quota increases for U.S. exports of dairy, poultry,
and egg products to Canada. Canada also removed its “Class 7” pricing for ultra-
high filtration milk.104 In return, the United States expanded access to Canadian
dairy, sugar, peanuts, and cotton.105
Eliminates the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism between
the United States and Canada to enforce al eged violations of investor protection
in the investment chapter of the agreement. Canada supported this U.S. proposal.
The agreement maintains a more limited U.S.-Mexico ISDS mechanism.
Retains the NAFTA binational review mechanism for antidumping and
countervailing duty national administrative decisions. The United States sought
the elimination of this review mechanism, whereas Canada supported its
retention as a priority issue.
Restricts the government procurement chapter to procurement between the
United States and Mexico. U.S.-Canada procurement continues to be governed
by the existing WTO Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) to which both
countries are party. However, the agreement does not specifical y reference the
Expands IPR provisions to include the following:
 Extension of copyright term to 70 years after the death of an author or
creator (Canada previously provided 50 years)

103 For more information on USMCA, see CRS Report R44981, The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement
, by M. Angeles Villarreal and Ian F. Fergusson; and CRS In Focus IF10997, U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA)
Trade Agreem ent
, by M. Angeles Villarreal and Ian F. Fergusson.
104 Class 7 is a Canadian milk price classification comprised of skim milk components, primarily milk protein
concentrates and skim milk powder used to process dairy products.
105 For more information on USMCA dairy provisions, see CRS In Focus IF11149, Dairy Provisions in USMCA, by
Joel L. Greene.
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 Expansion of patent and regulatory protections for pharmaceuticals
(however, extension of exclusivity periods for biologic drugs was
dropped from the original y negotiated agreement)
 Prohibitions on circumvention of technological protection measures
 Criminal and civil penalties protections for trade-secret theft, including
by state-owned enterprises and cybertheft
 Copyright safe-harbor provisions on internet service provider liability
 Continued exclusion of Canadian cultural industries from national
treatment and most-favored-nation treatment
New provisions in USMCA include the following:
 A digital trade chapter to al ow for cross-border data flows and to restrict data
 Binding obligations on currency manipulation
 A sunset clause requiring a joint review and agreement on renewal of USMCA
after 6 years, or the agreement would expire in year 16
 Enforceable disciplines on state-owned enterprises
 Possibility for a party to withdraw from the agreement if another party enters into
an FTA with a country it deems to be a nonmarket economy (e.g., China)106
Canada also was broadly supportive of the additional labor and environmental protections
negotiated between the Trump Administration and Congress.
Canada’s Netw ork of Free Trade Agreements
In addition to USMCA, Canada has FTAs with several other countries. It signed the TPP FTA
and, following the Trump Administration’s withdrawal from the accord, negotiated a successor
agreement, known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP),
with 10 other TPP members. CPTPP, which came into effect on December 20, 2018, provides
Canada preferential market access for agriculture and livestock to several luc rative Asian
markets, including Japan. However, this advantage was somewhat diminished after Japan signed
a bilateral trade agreement with the United States in October 2019 affording the United States
similar access to Japan’s agricultural markets.107
Canada’s Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with the EU provisional y
came into force on September 21, 2017. This agreement provides preferential market access for
goods and certain services (including agriculture), among other provisions, such as provisions on
geographical indications—geographical names that protect the quality and reputation of a
distinctive product originating in a certain region. For instance, Canada agreed to recognize
geographical indications on certain cheeses general y viewed as common food names in the
United States, leading to concerns in the U.S. dairy industry about U.S. market access in Canada.
In a change from most U.S. FTAs—and previous European FTAs—CETA established an

106 T his provision was widely seen as an attempt to preempt the negotiation of a free trade agreement between Canada
and China. However, the deterioration of relations between Canada and China have made the possibility of such an
agreement increasingly unlikely (see “ Relations with China”).
107 For more information, see CRS In Focus IF11120, U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement Negotiations, by Cathleen D.
Cimino-Isaacs and Brock R. Williams.
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investment court system with an appel ate mechanism to resolve disputes arising from CETA’s
investment chapter instead of relying on ISDS. USMCA’s digital trade chapter has more
expansive commitments than CETA, such as prohibitions on data localization and restrictions on
impediments to cross-border data flows. Those prohibitions, in turn, may affect Canada’s ability
to maintain its adequacy determination in the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation.108
To replicate CETA with the UK following its departure from the EU, Canada and the UK
negotiated a Trade Continuity Agreement (TCA). Signed on December 9, 2020, the TCA rolls
over the provisions of CETA and may serve as a bridge for a comprehensive bilateral FTA, which
the two sides hope to negotiate within three years.109 In addition, Canada has FTAs in force with
South Korea and with several countries in Central and South America.
U.S.-Canada trade relations took on a different tone during the Trump Administration than during
previous U.S. Administrations. Whether it was the reemergence of old irritants, such as trade in
softwood lumber and dairy restrictions; the emergence of new disputes, such as Section 232
tariffs on steel or aluminum; or the presence of contentious USMCA negotiations, the commercial
relationship between the two nations faced new chal enges. Perhaps characteristic of his
sentiments, President Trump commented on the various trade disputes in a June 2018 tweet,
writing “Canada has treated our Agricultural business and Farmers very poorly for a very long
period of time. Highly restrictive on Trade! They must open their markets and take down their
trade barriers! They report a real high surplus on trade with us. Do Timber & Lumber in U.S.?”
The Biden Administration may take a less confrontational approach to trade relations with
Canada. However, some long-standing issues, such as softwood lumber, Canadian dairy access,
and IPR protections, may see further activity in 2021 and remain of congressional interest.
Softwood Lumber
Trade in softwood lumber, now in its fifth iteration of litigation, traditional y has been one of the
most controversial topics in the U.S.-Canada trading relationship. The dispute revolves around
different pricing policies and forest management structures in the two countries. In Canada, most
forests are owned by the Canadian provinces as Crown lands; in the United States, most forests
are privately held. The Canadian provinces al ocate timber to producers under long-term tenure
agreements and charge a stumpage fee, which U.S. producers maintain is not determined by
market forces but rather acts as a subsidy to promote the Canadian industry, sectoral employment,
or regional development. Canada denies that its timber management practices constitute a subsidy
and maintains that it has a comparative advantage in timber and a more efficient industry than the
United States.
Until October 2015, trade in softwood lumber was governed by a seven-year agreement—reached
in 2006 and subsequently extended for two years, to 2015—restricting Canadian exports to the
United States. As part of a complicated formula, the United States al owed unlimited imports of
Canadian timber when market prices remained above a specified level; when prices fel below

108 Max Jarvie, “Canada: Cross-Border T ransfers and Data Localisation After the USMCA,” Data Guidance, June
2020. For information, see also CRS In Focus IF10896, EU Data Protection Rules and U.S. Im plications, by Rachel F.
Fefer and Kristin Archick.
109 Janyce McGregor, “ Canada-U.K. T rade Deal Signed—But Implementing Bill Unlikely to Meet Deadline,” CBC
, December 9, 2020.
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that level, Canada imposed export taxes and/or quotas. In addition, the United States returned to
Canada a large majority of the duties it had collected from previous trade remedy cases.
The current dispute (Lumber V) started when the 2006 agreement expired. After a year-long grace
period, a coalition of U.S. lumber producers filed trade remedy petitions on November 25, 2016,
which claimed that Canadian firms dump lumber in the U.S. market and Canadian provincial
forestry policies subsidize Canadian lumber production. These petitions subsequently were
accepted by the two U.S. agencies that administer the trade remedy process: the International
Trade Commission (ITC) and the Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration
On December 7, 2017, the ITC determined imports of softwood lumber, which ITA had
previously determined to be dumped and subsidized, caused material injury to U.S. producers.
This finding meant ITA’s final duties in the antidumping and countervailing duty proceedings,
announced on November 2, 2017, could be imposed on affected Canadian lumber. ITA found
subsidization of the Canadian industry and determined a subsidy margin of 3.34%-18.19% on
Canadian lumber, depending on the firm. ITA found dumping margins of 3.20%-8.89%, also firm
dependent. The antidumping and countervailing duties were imposed on January 3, 2018.
Canada chal enged these trade remedy decisions at the WTO and at NAFTA/USMCA
antidumping and countervailing duty binational review panels. Canada chal enged the
consistency of the antidumping and countervailing duties with applicable WTO agreements, and
panels were established in April 2018.110 In the antidumping case, a WTO panel ruled in an April
2019 split decision that ITA calculated dumping margins in a manner inconsistent with the WTO
Anti-Dumping Agreement but ruled that the methodology used by ITA was consistent with the
WTO agreement.111 Canada appealed the ruling to the Appel ate Body in June 2019. Another
panel issued a report in the countervailing duty case in August 2020.112 The panel decided the
United States violated the WTO Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures by
improperly rejecting Canadian use of benchmark prices for softwood lumber in various
provinces. The United States appealed this decision in September 2020. Both appeals currently
are in limbo in the void of the nonfunctioning appel ate body.
Canada also is chal enging the duties under the USMCA Chapter 10 bilateral review mechanism.
The purpose of this review is to determine whether the administrative review bodies (ITA and
ITC) adhere to U.S. law and regulation in making those determinations. On December 14, 2020,
Canada filed its first request for panel review under the USMCA mechanism to chal enge the
countervailing duties on Canadian lumber.113 Canada also chal enged the duties under the
previous NAFTA binational panel. Canada filed chal enges to the final affirmative countervailing
duty determination in November 2017, and to the final affirmative antidumping determination in
December 2017. In September 2019, the panel found the ITC erred in the methodology and data it

110 For background on trade remedies, see CRS In Focus IF10018, Trade Remedies: Antidumping and Countervailing
, by Vivian C. Jones and Christopher A. Casey.
111 World T rade Organization (WT O), “DS 534: United States—Antidumping Measures Applying Differential Pricing
Methodology to Softwood Lumber from Canada,” at
112 WT O, “DS533: United States—Countervailing Measures on Softwood Lumber from Canada,” at
113 Statement of Mary Ng, International T rade Minister, December 14, 2020.
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used to determine the U.S. domestic industry was injured by Canadian imports and ordered the
ITC to reevaluate its data.114
On December 9, 2020, the office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) sought its first
consultation under USMCA’s Chapter 31 state-state dispute mechanism on dairy access under the
agreement. Although USMCA did not end Canada’s supply management system for dairy,
poultry, and eggs (see text box, below), it provided limited tariff-rate quota (TRQ) increases for
U.S. exports. In distributing the additional quotas, USTR al eged Canada retained a portion of the
quota for domestic processors and further processors, which USTR maintained violates USMCA.
According to USTR, “this restriction undermines the value of Canada’s TRQs for U.S. producers
and exporters by limiting their access to in-quota quantities negotiated under the USMCA.”115
Under the dispute mechanism, parties initial y enter into consultations to resolve the dispute. If
these consultations are not successful, a party may request the establishment of a panel no earlier
than 75 days after the initial request for consultation.
Supply Management for Dairy, Poultry, and Eggs
Canada uses supply management to support its dairy, poultry, and egg sectors. Although the United States-
Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) provided greater access to these markets, it did not dismantle the system.
Supply management’s main features (1) provide price support to producers based on their production costs and
return on equity and management, (2) limit production to meet domestic demand at the cost -determined price,
and (3) restrict imports to protect against foreign competition. The Canadian government has supported
producers’ decisions to use this approach for more than 40 years, and it succeeded in limiting imports of these
products in negotiating the U.S.-Canada Free Trade Agreement; NAFTA; USMCA; its multilateral commitments in
the Uruguay Round’s Agreement on Agriculture; and, for the most part, its bilateral free trade agreements.
National bodies and provincial commodity marketing boards, granted statutory powers by the federal and
provincial governments, control the supply management systems for these commodities. At the national level, the
amount of each commodity that producers can market is control ed by a quota system. Imports of each
commodity are limited by tariff-rate quotas. These quotas al ow a specified amount to enter annual y under
Canada’s trade commitments at little or zero duty but apply a very high tariff (over 200% in many cases) on
imports above the specified level or quota amount. Both tools work together to control the supply of each
commodity, but the objective is to ensure producers receive a price that guarantees them a return that covers
their production costs. The quota is set to balance supply with demand at that price and is frequently adjusted to
ensure this balance is achieved. Producers of these commodities must participate in their respective supply
management systems, with farm-level production subject to individual quota limits that can be sold only into
permitted marketing channels.
Producers of these commodities point out the benefits of the supply management approach , which they say has
significantly reduced price volatility. The stability of prices over time, combined with the guarantee that covers
production costs, has provided income support. Others note that these features have resulted in the lack of
market orientation for these commodities, as the value of supply management has become capitalized, or
incorporated, into the value of the quota. In other words, those who hold quota (i.e., renting it out) benefit more
than the producers themselves. Conversely, consumers end up paying more for these products, and some
Canadians near the border cross over to the United States for their milk and egg runs.

114 “NAFT A Panel: IT C Acted Improperly in U.S.-Canada Softwood Lumber Case,” Inside U.S. Trade, September 6,
115 UST R, “ United States T akes Action for American Dairy Farmers by Filing First -Ever USMCA Enforcement
Action,” press release, December 9, 2020.
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Intellectual Property Rights
Canada has been placed on USTR’s Special 301 “watch list,” or priority watch list, for IPR
protections every year since 2013.116 In 2018, Canada enacted its Copyright Modernization Act,
which implemented the World Intel ectual Property Organization Copyright Treaty and
Performance and Phonograms Treaty.117 The act is analogous to the U.S. Digital Mil ennium
Copyright Act (P.L. 105-304). The Canadian act al owed for some format shifting (right to
copy/back up for private purposes) and fair-dealing (fair-use) exceptions for legitimate purposes
(e.g., news, teaching, and research) but prohibited the circumvention of digital protection
measures. It also clarified the rights and responsibilities of internet service providers regarding
infringement of their subscribers and provided for a “notice-and-notice system” to warn potential
In 2020, Canada remained on USTR’s watch list, its mildest category of rebuke.118 Many
concerns in previous Special 301 reports were ameliorated by the implementation of USMCA.
IPR provisions in USMCA affecting Canada include the following:
 Lengthening copyright terms to 70 years from 50 years in force in Canada
 Authority for ex officio seizure of counterfeit and pirated goods at the border or
in transit; Canada has legislated the former, but not the latter
 “Meaningful” penalties for technological circumvention measures
 New transparency requirements for geographical indications
 Patent term restoration and patent linkage provisions
As a result of the CETA, Canada revamped its regulations on patent term restoration and patent
linkage. Canada is to provide two years of patent term restoration if marketing authorization takes
longer than five years from the filing of a basic patent. The additional patent protection applies
only to the pharmaceutical product covered by the marketing authorization, not by subsequent
modifications of uses, methods, or processes. In the 2018 Special 301 Report, USTR cal ed the
changes “disappointingly limited in duration, eligibility, and scope of protection.”119
Canada also changed its patent linkage system to comply with CETA, which was a long-standing
goal of the United States. Under Canada’s previous system, the Patent Medicines (Notice of
Compliance) regulations, a generic drug maker could seek marketing approval by chal enging the
validity of the patent and claiming noninfringement. The system al owed a patent owner to apply
to federal court to keep a generic company’s potential y infringing medicine off the market.
However, the burden of proof was on the patent holder, and if the appeal was unsuccessful, a
notice of compliance was issued, rendering moot any further chal enge to the authorization. A
patent holder could start again by launching a patent infringement lawsuit, with the resultant
duplication of effort. As of September 21, 2017, Canada replaced that system with a single-track

116 In the 2018 Special 301 report, Canada was downgraded to “priority watch list” status due to what UST R contends
is “a failure to resolve longstanding deficiencies in protection and enforcement of IP.” For more information on Special
301, see CRS Report RL34292, Intellectual Property Rights and International Trade, by Shayerah I. Akhtar, Ian F.
Fergusson, and Liana Wong.
117 T he World Intellectual Property Organization Copyright Treaty updates existing copyright protections for internet
and other electronic media.
118 UST R, 2020 Special 301 Report, April 2020, at
119 UST R, 2018 Special 301 Report, April 2018, p. 60.
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process resulting in final determinations of patent infringement and validity, providing both sides
with equivalent rights of appeal.120
The 2020 Special 301 Report drew attention to Canada’s Patent Medicine Prices Review Board
(PMPRB), especial y to updates to the board’s guidelines scheduled to enter into force on July 1,
2021. The PMPRB is an independent quasi-judicial body established by Parliament under the
Patent Act in 1987. Its stated mandate is “to protect and inform Canadians by ensuring that the
prices of patented medicines sold in Canada are not excessive and by reporting on pharmaceutical
trends.”121 The board does not set prices on its own, but it can refer what it considers excessive
prices a patentee charges for strengths and forms of a patented medicine to an arbitral panel. Such
a panel can order the price be reduced if it finds a particular patented medicine to be priced at an
excessive level. The board’s determinations are used to provide stakeholders with price, cost, and
utilization information to help them to make pricing, purchasing, and reimbursement decisions.122
The proposed changes to its guidelines include the following:
 Pricing benchmarked against countries that PMPRB has deemed to be similar to
Canada in terms of economic development and from the standpoint of consumer
price protection.
 Maximum price consideration to factor the overal value of a medicine using
factors such as pharmacoeconomic analysis, market size, and affordability for
both payers and patients based on national and per capita GDP.123
A third factor that would have based regulatory review on actual prices paid in Canada, taking
into account confidential discounts and rebates provided to payers, was blocked by a Canadian
federal court decision holding that PMPRB cannot mandate the reporting of third-party rebates.124
The international comparison uses 11 countries (Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy,
Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom).125
USTR maintains these changes “would dramatical y reshape how the Patented Medicine Prices
Review Board evaluates patented pharmaceuticals and sets their ceiling prices.” It maintains that
the changes “would significantly undermine the marketplace for innovative pharmaceutical
products, delay or prevent the introduction of new medicines in Canada, and reduce investments
in Canada’s life sciences sector.”126
Government Procurement
The Biden Administration’s commitment to domestic sourcing for U.S. government procurement
may renew a periodic irritant in the U.S.-Canada bilateral economic relationship. On January 25,
2021, President Biden issued an executive order that aims to increase the procurement of
domestic goods and services. It would centralize the process by which waivers for government

120 “Publication of Final Regulations on Patent Linkage and T erm Restoration,” Smart and Biggar, September 8, 2017.
121 Patent Medicine Prices Review Board (PMPRB), 2018 Annual Report, February 28, 2020.
122 PMPRB, 2018 Annual Report, February 28, 2020.
123 Pharmacoeconomic analysis is used to identify, measure and conduct cost -benefit analysis of programs, services, or
therapies to determine the best health outcome for the resources invested. PMPRB, “ PMRB Framework
Modernization,” presentation at Telus Health Annual Conference, March and April 2019.
124 T eresa Reguly and Eileen McMahon, “T he Wait Is Over: Canada’s PMPRB Releases Final Guidelines,” T orys
LLC, November 2, 2020.
125 T he last revision of the list in 2019 dropped the United States and Switzerland.
126 UST R, 2020 Special 301 Report, April 2020, p.15.
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purchases of foreign-made products are granted and subject waiver requests to additional
scrutiny. It also would seek to make changes to implementing regulations for domestic sourcing
laws, such as the Buy American Act of 1933 (41 U.S.C. 8301 et seq.), by raising domestic content
requirements and price preferences, and it would develop recommendations to expand domestic
procurement policies to information technologies, among other provisions.127 Canada reportedly
wil seek to negotiate exemptions to the proposed regulations.128
In general, the Buy American Act and various Buy American government procurement provisions
in U.S. legislation restrict procurement contracts to the use of U.S.-made end products and
construction materials. U.S. regulation defines domestic end products and construction materials
as unmanufactured end products or construction materials produced in the United States or end
products or construction materials in which the cost of the components mined, produced, or
manufactured in the United States exceeds 55% of the cost of al components (and more than
95% for iron and steel products).129 Buy American provisions, which include transportation
infrastructure funding, impose domestic content restrictions on federal y funded grant projects
contracted at the state or local level (so-cal ed pass-through projects). Although federal y funded,
these projects are not considered federal procurements.
The Trade Agreements Act of 1979 (19 U.S.C. 2501 et seq.) permits some of these provisions to
be waived for eligible or covered products and services from countries that
 are parties to the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA);
 have signed an FTA with the United States that provides reciprocal competitive
government procurement opportunities to U.S. products, services, and suppliers;
 benefit from U.S. unilateral trade preferences (e.g., Caribbean Basin
As a signatory to the GPA, Canada receives nondiscriminatory treatment for covered procurement
in the United States on its products and services. The GPA is a plurilateral agreement that binds
only those WTO members that agree to undertake obligations under it. Furthermore, the GPA
applies only to the sectors and procurement that the national government and subnational (e.g.,
states or provinces) government agencies agree to include in their schedule of national
commitments, as wel as above a certain monetary threshold. Canadian firms and suppliers are
eligible to bid on procurements under the above provisions. However, Buy American projects
(described above) are not covered procurements under the agreement.
NAFTA also contained a government procurement chapter. In USMCA negotiations, Canada
sought to expand reciprocal procurement opportunities in the U.S. market, whereas the Trump
Administration sought to restrict those opportunities or eliminate the chapter entirely. The final
agreement retains a more limited government procurement chapter than NAFTA with respect to
Mexico but excludes U.S.-Canada procurement. In seeking to maintain government procurement

127 Executive Order 14005, “Ensuring the Future Is Made in All of America by All of America’s Workers,” January
25, 2021, 86 Federal Register 7475, January 28, 2021.
128 Adrian Morrow and Stephen Chase, “Ottawa to Press Biden on Exemption from ‘Buy American’ Rules,” Globe
and Mail
, January 25, 2021.
129 For more information, see CRS In Focus IF11580, U.S. Government Procurement and International Trade, by
Andres B. Schwarzenberg.
130 For more information, see CRS In Focus IF11651, WTO Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA), by Andres
B. Schwarzenberg.
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opportunities in the United States, Canada has pointed to tightly integrated supply chains with
Canadian finished products containing U.S. components and vice versa.131 In the USMCA debate,
some U.S. firms expressed concerns that procurement opportunities under the GPA are not as
extensive as those available to Canada’s other FTA partners in Europe and Asia, giving those
countries an advantage in Canadian procurement opportunities over U.S. firms.132
Steel and Aluminum Tariffs
On March 8, 2018, President Trump signed proclamations imposing tariffs on steel (25%) and
aluminum (10%) on several nations under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, as
amended, after the Commerce Department determined that current imports threaten national
security. Canada and Mexico initial y were excluded from the tariffs as an “incentive” to a
favorable conclusion of the NAFTA renegotiations. Both Canada and Mexico rejected the
linkage, and tariffs were imposed on both countries on June 1, 2018.133 Canada maintained that,
as a part of the U.S. defense industrial base and a NATO al y, it should be excluded on national
security grounds. Prime Minister Trudeau cal ed the tariffs “an affront to the longstanding
security partnership between Canada and the United States, and, in particular, to the thousands of
Canadians who have fought and died alongside American comrades in arms.”134
On May 31, 2018, Canada announced retaliatory tariffs of $12.8 bil ion to begin on July 1, 2018.
U.S. steel and steel products faced tariffs of 25%; U.S. aluminum and a host of other U.S.
consumer products faced 10% tariffs.135 The Canadian tariffs were targeted to extract maximum
political cost. Canada brought a case chal enging the duties under WTO dispute settlement, and it
sought recourse under NAFTA’s state-to-state dispute settlement mechanism.136 Canada
subsequently dropped these cases.
The signing of USMCA led to the withdrawal of al Section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs and
related retaliatory tariffs in May 2019. At the same time, the USMCA partners announced a new
monitoring mechanism to prevent surges in imports of steel and aluminum. USMCA also
contained a side letter, which would exempt 2.6 mil ion vehicles and $108 bil ion of auto parts
annual y from the possible imposition of any Section 232 tariffs on motor vehicles. The Trump
Administration reimposed a 10% ad valorem aluminum tariff by proclamation in August 2020,
after President Trump accused Canada of breaking a commitment to maintain stable levels of
aluminum exports.137 Following the release of the Canadian retaliation list targeting $2.7 bil ion
in U.S. aluminum and aluminum products, USTR rescinded the aluminum tariffs maintaining that
imports from Canada were “likely to normalize” in the remainder of 2020.138

131 Kate Bolongaro, “ Canada Worries About Biden’s ‘Buy American’ After Keystone Blow,” Bloomberg Government,
January 24, 2021.
132 USMCA Agreement: Addendum to the Earlier (September 28, 2018) Report of the Industry Trade Advisory
Com m ittee on Autom otive Equipm ent and Capital Goods
, October 24, 2018.
133 “Canada, Mexico Reject Linkage of Steel, Aluminum T ariffs to NAFT A T alks,” Inside U.S. Trade, March 16, 2018.
134 Justin T rudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, “Remarks by the Prime Minister of Canada on Steel and Aluminum
T ariffs Imposed by the United States,” May 31, 2018.
135 Department of Finance Canada, “Notice of Intent to Impose Countermeasures Action against the United States in
Response to T ariffs on Canadian Steel and Aluminum Products,” press release, May 31, 2018.
136 Global Affairs Canada, “Canada Files World T rade Organization and North American Free T rade Agreement
Litigation in Response to Illegal U.S. T ariffs,” press release, June 1, 2018.
137 “T rump Confirms He Will Re-impose T ariffs on Canadian Aluminum,” Inside U.S. Trade, August 6, 2020.
138 UST R, “UST R Statement on Canadian Aluminum,” press release, September 15, 2020.
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Canada is the United States’ largest supplier of imported energy, including oil, uranium, natural
gas, and electricity. In 2019, Canada was the world’s fifth-largest petroleum producer; the
country’s reserves—largely in the form of bitumen oil reserves—are believed to be the third
largest in the world, after those of Venezuela and Saudi Arabia.139 In 2020, the value of U.S.
petroleum and natural gas imports from Canada was $55.2 bil ion, fal ing from a peak of $112.4
bil ion in 2014.140 This figure largely represents the fal ing value of crude oil and natural gas, in
part due to growing production in the United States from shale. Although the value of crude oil
imports dropped, the volume of trade had continued to increase until 2020 (see Table 3). In 2020,
Canada provided 61.1% of U.S. crude oil imports (up from 19.96% in 2010)—about 1.3 bil ion
barrels/day—and supplied 87.6 % of U.S. natural gas imports.141 Canada is the largest supplier to
the United States of processed uranium. Canada also is a net exporter of electricity to the United
States through a heavily connected North American electricity grid. Canadian electricity is
primarily renewable (60% hydro, 7% solar and wind) and, along with nuclear (15%), non-GHG-
emitting generation makes up 82% of supply.142 Many analysts consider Canada to be a
particularly valuable energy partner for the United States, because Canada provides a reliable
supply (it is not a member of OPEC) and reduces U.S. dependence on the rest of the world.
Table 3. U.S. Crude Oil Imports from Canada: 2016-2020

Value (bn$)
Volume (mil ion
% of total
Source: Trade Data Monitor, General Imports.
Keystone XL Pipeline143
Upon inauguration, President Biden revoked the required presidential permit for the cross-border
construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, complicating the controversial pipeline’s future.144 The
permit al owed for the construction of a 1.4-mile stretch over the border, which has been
completed, but also for its operation, which has yet to commence. The President’s action is the
latest roadblock for the pipeline. Original y, the Obama Administration denied a presidential
permit in 2015. The Trump Administration revived the pipeline, issuing new permits in 2017 and
2019. Opponents of the pipeline, including environmental, agricultural, and landowner interests,

139 Energy Information Administration, “Canada Analysis Executive Summary,” October 7, 2019.
140 Data based on Harmonized T ariff Schedule codes 2709, 2710, and 2711.
141 U.S. Census Bureau data, as presented by Trade Data Monitor, accessed February 2021.
142 Natural Resources Canada, “Electricity Facts,” October 6, 2020.
143 For more information, see CRS Insight IN11445, Keystone XL Pipeline: The End of the Road?, by Paul W.
144 Executive Order 13990, “Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to T ackle the
Climate Crisis,” 86 Federal Register 7037-7043, January 25, 2021.
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chal enged those permits in U.S. courts, further delaying construction. If completed, Keystone XL
would be the main new pipeline to bring Canadian oil to the United States.
The Trudeau government has maintained a delicate balance on Keystone XL, continuing to
support pipeline construction while pursuing other aspects of the government’s climate strategy
(see “Climate Change,” below). Prime Minister Trudeau expressed muted criticism of the
cancel ation, stating, “While we welcome the President’s commitment to fight climate change, we
are disappointed but acknowledge the President’s decision to fulfil his election campaign promise
on Keystone XL.”145 Leaders of the oil producing provinces criticized the move, with Alberta
Premier Jason Kenney describing the action as a “gut punch” to U.S.-Canada trade relations and
cal ing on the Canadian federal government to impose trade sanctions on the United States if the
decision is not reconsidered.146 The Alberta government was a stakeholder in the project,
investing C$1.5 bil ion (approximately $1.2 bil ion) in the pipeline’s provincial construction.147
TC Energy, the owner of the pipeline, announced it is suspending the project and laying off 1,000
workers on both sides of the border, while assessing its future options.148 The company could seek
compensation under NAFTA’s legacy ISDS provisions, seek redress in U.S. courts, or encourage
the Canadian government to bring a case under USMCA’s state-state dispute settlement chapter.
Trans-Mountain Pipeline
The controversy over Keystone XL arguably has heightened the importance of the interprovincial
Trans-Mountain Pipeline for the Canadian petroleum industry. However, the fate of that
pipeline’s expansion is unclear. In November 2016, Prime Minister Trudeau announced the
approval of a project to expand the Trans-Mountain Pipeline through British Columbia to
Vancouver, which may result in increased exports to China and other Asian markets. The project
has been beset with delays and controversy from its inception. It has pitted the pipeline owners
and oil sands producers seeking additional ways to export bitumen against environmentalists,
climate activists, and some, but not al , First Nation bands (tribes). It also has produced acrimony
between the provincial governments of Alberta, which wants the project to proceed, and British
Columbia, which does not.
On May 29, 2018, Canada’s federal government announced it would buy the existing pipeline and
the expansion project for C$4.5 bil ion (about $3.5 bil ion) from U.S. pipeline firm Kinder
Morgan to complete the project as a Crown corporation. Later that year, the Federal Court of
Appeal overturned the government’s first approval of the pipeline, citing insufficient consultation
with certain First Nations bands and an improper assessment of its effect on marine life. A
subsequent approval also was chal enged by First Nations bands, but the Supreme Court of
Canada declined to review a Federal Court of Appeals ruling upholding the government’s second
approval in July 2020.149

145 Justin T rudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, “Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada on the United States’
Decision on the Keystone XL Project,” January 20, 2021.
146 Ashley Joannou and Lisa Johnson, “ Kenney Calls on Federal Government to Impose T rade Sanct ions If Biden Does
Not Review Keystone XL Decision,” Edm onton Journal, January 21, 2021.
147 Government of Alberta, “Investing in Keystone XL Pipeline,” 2021.
148 T C Energy, “T C Energy Disappointed with Expected Executive Action Revoking Keystone XL Presidenti al
Permit,” press release, January 21, 2021; and “T C Energy to Cut 1,000 Keystone XL Jobs,” Toronto Star, January 22,
149 “Supreme Court Dismisses First Nations’ Challenge Against T rans Mountain Pipeline,” CBC News, July 2, 2020.
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Environmental and Transboundary Issues
The United States and Canada have concluded a wide array of environmental and natural
resources agreements at the federal, state/provincial, and local levels to manage transboundary
issues. In recent years, some Members of Congress have examined the work of the International
Joint Commission (IJC), a binational organization created by the 1909 Boundary Waters Treaty to
investigate and recommend solutions to transboundary water concerns, including those facing the
Great Lakes (see “Great Lakes”). Others have tracked negotiations over potential modifications to
the Columbia River Treaty, which provides for the cooperative development and operation of the
water resources of the Columbia River Basin in the northwestern United States and southwestern
Canada (see CRS Report R43287, Columbia River Treaty Review). President Biden and Prime
Minister Trudeau have pledged to work together to combat climate change, which could include
increased cooperation in the Arctic (see “Climate Change” and “The Arctic”).
Climate Change
Canada and the United States have experienced similar debates over whether and how to address
GHG-induced climate change. Both populations emit among the highest levels of GHG per
person worldwide due to a number of factors, including high income and consumption levels,
dependence on personal vehicles and trucking, long travel distances, and cold winters (see Table
. Further, national infrastructures were constructed in the context of inexpensive and general y
abundant fossil fuels, which are responsible for the majority of GHG emissions. Both countries
also have regions strongly dependent on producing and processing fossil fuels. Regulation of
energy is primarily a provincial or state authority in both Canada and the United States.
Environmental protection authorities are shared by the federal and sub-federal governments in
both countries. Canada typical y has sought policies compatible with those of the United States
with the understanding that there could be significant economic benefits in harmonizing aspects
of GHG and other pollution control strategies to facilitate trade and make compliance easier for
transnational businesses.
Table 4. Selected Greenhouse-Gas (GHG) Emissions Indicators in Canada and the
United States

United States
Total GHG Emissions in 2017
0.7 Gt CO2e
5.7 Gt CO2e
GHG Emissions per Capita in 2017
18.9 t CO2e
17.7 t CO2e
GHG Emissions per GDP in 2017
419 t CO2e
295 t CO2e
Share of Global CO2 Emissions
Related to Energy in 2018
Share of Global GDP in 2019
Sources: For 2017 data, World Resources Institute, Climate Watch, “Country Profiles,” using al GHG and land
use, land use change, and forestry emissions and removals, at For
2018 data, International Energy Agency, Key World Energy Statistics 2020, pp. 60-69. For 2019 data, World Bank,
“DataBank” using GDP (PPP in constant 2017 $).
Notes: CO2 = carbon dioxide; CO2e = carbon dioxide-equivalent; GDP = gross domestic product.
Both nations also perceive certain vulnerabilities to climate change, including increasing forest
and habitat losses and fires, public health effects of heat episodes and expanding disease vectors,
increasing costs of cooling, and risks to coastal communities due to more intense storms and sea-
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level rise. Shrinking sea-ice extent in the Arctic brings opportunities and concerns for both
countries, due to the effects on indigenous populations and increased commercial activity,
shipping, tourism, and risks of associated accidents, as wel as dramatical y changing ecosystems
(see “The Arctic,” below).
Paris Agreement Commitments
The Paris Agreement (PA) is a subsidiary agreement to the 1992 United Nations Framework
Convention on Climate Change. Both the United States and Canada became Parties to the Paris
Agreement when it entered into force on November 4, 2016. The U.S. withdrawal from the PA
became effective November 4, 2020, after President Trump, citing a campaign promise,
announced his intention to withdraw from the PA in June 2017. In 2017, Prime Minister Trudeau
cal ed President Trump’s decision “disheartening,” stating that “Canada stands united with al the
other parties.” He also pledged that “Canada wil continue to work with the United States at the
state level, and with other U.S. stakeholders, to address climate change and promote clean
growth.”150 President Biden accepted the Paris Agreement upon his inauguration, making the
United States again a Party as of February 19, 2021. Prime Minister Trudeau welcomed the
The negotiators intended the PA to be legal y binding on its Parties, though not al provisions in it
are mandatory. The PA requires Parties to communicate Nationally Determined Contributions
(NDCs) identifying how each Party intends to abate its GHG emissions, with a target and current
time horizon of 2030. Each government decides its own pledge. Al PA emissions targets are
voluntary and nonbinding, although the PA contains provisions to encourage their achievement.
Parties also should set goals to adapt to climate change and should cooperate toward the PA
objectives, including mobilization of financial and other support. The financial commitments and
others are hortatory or collective commitments to which it would be difficult to hold an individual
party accountable.
The Canadian government submitted an updated NDC to the Paris Agreement in May 2017.152
Under it, Canada committed to reduce GHG emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030.
Canada’s commitment is economy-wide in scope, covering 100% of Canada’s GHG inventory; it
includes carbon dioxide (CO₂), methane (CH₄), nitrous oxide (N₂O), sulfur hexafluoride (SF₆),
perfluorocarbons (PFCs), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), and nitrogen trifluoride (NF₃) emissions
from al sectors covered by the international y accepted guidelines of the Intergovernmental Panel
on Climate Change. In June 2019, the House of Commons passed a motion declaring a climate
emergency and reiterating its support for achieving climate goals.153
Canada has taken several steps to achieve these GHG-emission reductions. Since 2006, the
Canadian government has established more stringent emissions standards for heavy-duty
vehicles, passenger automobiles, and light trucks and instituted renewable fuels regulations that

150 Justin T rudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, “Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada in Response to the United
States’ Decision to Withdraw from the Paris Agreement,” June 1, 2017.
151 Justin T rudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, “Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada on the United States’
Decision on the Keystone XL Project, January 20, 2021.
152 Government of Canada, “Canada’s 2017 Nationally Determined Contribution Submission to the United Nations
Framework Convention on Climate Change,” May 11, 2017. T he Paris Agreement enco uraged Parties to update their
Nationally Determined Contributions in 2020. Few large countries have done so as of January 2021, with likely
negotiations among them in the lead-up to the next Conference of the Parties in November 2021.
153 House of Commons, Government Business No. 29 (National Climate Emergency), June 17, 2019.
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require gasoline to contain an average of 5% renewable fuel content. It also has implemented
electricity-sector regulations that ban the construction of traditional coal-fired generating units
and wil phase out existing coal-fired units that are unable to capture and store carbon.154
Climate Strategy
The Canadian government’s climate strategy has evolved since 2016. In December 2016, the
government announced the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change
(PCF), a comprehensive strategy that addresses climate change and long-term economic
growth.155 The PCF provides guidance on issues such as carbon pricing, climate resilience, and
green technology innovation.
Under the plan, each province would design its own mechanism to price carbon emissions by
2018, either through a fee on carbon dioxide-equivalent (CO2e) emissions,156 an emissions cap-
and-trade system, or a hybrid of the two approaches. The carbon price was to start at a minimum
of C$10 (about $7.70) per metric ton in 2018 and rise to C$50 (about $38) per ton in 2022.157 On
December 11, 2020, the government announced the carbon price would rise C$15 per year (about
$12) from 2023 to a total price of C$170 (about $131) in 2030 to meet its PA commitments.158
Initial y, al provinces and territories except Saskatchewan agreed to devise their own carbon
pricing systems, although Manitoba and New Brunswick did not follow through with their own
plans. In addition, the Liberal government in Ontario and the NDP government in Alberta—which
had implemented carbon cap-and-trade plans—were voted out of office, and their Conservative
party successors abandoned the plans.
Meanwhile, the Provinces of Ontario and Saskatchewan chal enged the constitutionality of the
PCF. Courts of Appeal in Ontario and Saskatchewan have upheld the PCF’s constitutionality,
maintaining the federal legislation was under Parliament’s authority to address issues of “national
concern.”159 However, the Court of Appeal in Alberta declared the law unconstitutional. The
Supreme Court of Canada heard appeals of these cases on September 22-23, 2020, but has yet to
render a judgement.160
For the provinces that did not adopt their own mechanisms, the federal government is imposing a
backstop carbon price under the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act (GGPPA), which received
royal assent on June 21, 2018. The GGPPA consists of two parts, a consumer fuel charge and an

154 Government of Canada, Canada’s INDC Submission to the UNFCCC, May 15, 2015 (UNFCCC = 1992 United
Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change).
155 Government of Canada, “T he Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change,” October 24, 2017.
156 Carbon dioxide-equivalent (CO2e) is a metric that allows all GHG emissions to be stated, and summed, in their
equivalence to the effect on global temperature increase, typically over a 100 -year period, of a metric ton of carbon
dioxide emissions. For example, whereas a ton of CO2 would equal 1, a ton of methane would be indexed to CO2e by
multiplying it by a value of 28.
157 Justin T rudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, “Prime Minister T rudeau Delivers a Speech on Pricing Carbon
Pollution,” October 3, 2016.
158 Environment and Climate Change Canada, “A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy: Backgrounder,”
December 11, 2020.
159 Jason Kroft, Victor MacDiarmid, and Larissa Lees, “Climate Change and Constitutional Challenges—Matters of
National Concern Before the Supreme Court of Canada,” Stikeman Elliott, November 26, 2020.
160 Olivia Stefanovich, “Supreme Court Ends Its Hearing on Carbon T ax Without a Decision,” CBC News, September
23, 2020.
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output-based pricing system (OBPS) for industrial facilities.161 The fuel charge applies to 21
different types of fuel and combustible waste. The fuel charge affects not only consumer activities
such as driving and home heating but also entities involved in the distribution, wholesale, or trade
of those fuels. The fuel charge is applied to the provinces of Alberta, Manitoba, New Brunswick,
Ontario, and Saskatchewan, as wel as to the territories of Nunavut and the Yukon. The revenue
generated by carbon levy largely is returned to the provinces.
The second prong of the GGPPA is the OBPS. In general, it is designed to maintain the incentives
derived from carbon pricing but also to reduce the cost to firms in order to maintain
competitiveness and avoid carbon leakage.162 The system applies to industries for which a
standard emission intensity (i.e., emissions per unit of output) has been developed; these
industries include “emission-intensive trade-exposed” industries such as steel, smelting, pulp and
paper, and cement, among others. OBPS applies to industrial facilities that emit 50 kilotonnes of
CO2e, with the option for voluntary participation for smal er firms. Under the plan, industries wil
pay the consumer fuel charge (C$40 in 2021) for emissions over a certain level but then may
receive credits for 80% of the benchmark industry average GHG intensity. Thus, the policy is
designed to maintain the price incentive for both low and high emitters to achieve greater
emissions efficiency.
COVID-19 Climate Mitigation Activities
In its response to the COVID-19 emergency, Canada has incorporated climate change mitigation
efforts in its economic recovery plans. In its initial response to the crisis, the Trudeau government
al ocated C$750 mil ion (about $577 mil ion) to create an Emission Reduction Fund. The fund
provides loans and grants to eligible firms in the oil and gas sector to reduce their GHG emissions
and to comply with the government’s new methane regulations.163 In addition, the government is
requiring borrowers accessing its emergency COVID-19 lending facility—the Large Employer
Emergency Financing Facility—to adhere to certain affirmative covenants, including “publishing
an annual climate-related financial disclosure report, highlighting how corporate governance,
strategies, policies and practices wil help manage climate-related risks and opportunities; and
contribute to achieving Canada’s commitments under the Paris Agreement and goal of net zero by
This requirement may be a precursor to requiring al companies to report on climate risks in their
regulatory documents. In the United States, the Securities and Exchange Commission requires
companies to disclose climate risk, which the Biden Administration may revise and may lead to
discussions between the United States and Canada to harmonize such requirements.165

161 Zvi Halpern-Shavim, “T he Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act: A Primer,” Canadian Bar Association, June 25,
162 Chris Ragan, “Understanding the Recent Changes to the Federal Carbon Price,” Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission,
August 3, 2018.
163 Department of Finance Canada, “Backgrounder: Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan: New Support to
Protect Canadian Jobs,” April 17, 2020.
164 Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Canada, “Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility
Factsheet,” October 6, 2020.
165 For more information, see CRS Report R42544, SEC Climate Change Disclosure Guidance: An Overview and
Congressional Concerns
, by Gary Shorter.
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Healthy Environment and Healthy Economy Plan
On December 11, 2020, Canada’s federal government released its Healthy Environment and
Healthy Economy Plan (HEHEP) to accelerate the country’s response to climate change.166 The
plan’s goal is to meet and exceed Canada’s Paris Agreement commitments—now aiming for a
32%-40% reduction from 2005 levels by 2030—and to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by
2050. To achieve its goals, the government plans to spend C$15 bil ion (about $11.5 bil ion) on
64 discrete proposals, some of which were announced in the Fall Economic Statement 2020. The
three major components of the plan are carbon pricing measures, infrastructure investments, and
clean transportation initiatives.
Carbon Pricing. The government wil implement a C$15 (about $12)/ton yearly
rise in the carbon price from the currently envisioned C$50 ($38)/ton in the PCF
in 2022 to C$170 (about $131)/ton in 2030. In conjunction with the
announcement of HEHEP, the government published proposed regulations to
implement a clean fuel standard (CFS). The CFS would require fossil fuel
producers to lower the carbon intensity of their products throughout their life-
cycle, from dril ing, transport, and refining to the composition of the fuel itself.
The program dropped an early proposal to include gaseous fuels in the CFS.
Infrastructure Investment. The government proposes to fund the construction
of new green buildings, retrofit existing homes, and finance the retrofit of
commercial and industrial buildings. It plans to establish a Net-Zero Accelerator
Fund to scale up green technology in industry and reduce emissions from energy-
intensive industries. It also proposes to al ocate funds for renewable electricity
and grid modernization projects.
Clean Transportation. The plan seeks to promote zero-emission vehicles
(ZEVs) and low-emissions transit by extending incentives for ZEV purchases,
building charging and refueling infrastructure nationwide, providing a 100% tax
write-off for commercial ZEVs, committing to match the most stringent
emissions standards in North America by 2025, and electrifying public
transportation systems.
U.S.-Canada Cooperation to Reduce Greenhouse-Gas Emissions
Although climate change cooperation at the federal level decreased under the Trump
Administration, subnational cooperation among provinces, states, and localities continued. In
2017, the states and provinces of the Conference of New England Governors and Eastern
Canadian Premiers adopted a Regional Climate Action Plan,167 an update of the 2001 Climate
Change Action Plan—the world’s first international, multi-government effort to tackle climate
change. The 2001 plan largely was achieved by 2010. The new plan aims to decrease GHG
emissions by 35%-45% below 1990 levels by 2030. The new regional target is meant to orient the

166 Environment and Climate Change Canada, “A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy: Backgrounder,”
December 11, 2020.
167 Conference of the New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers, 2017 Update of the Regional Climate
Change Action Plan: Building on Solid Foundations
, August 28, 2017, at
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provinces and states in their long-term goal to reach a 75%-85% reduction of 2001 emission
levels by 2050.168
California and Quebec linked their GHG cap-and-trade programs under the 2013 Western Climate
Initiative, to which Ontario also belonged until it withdrew in July 2018. Nova Scotia joined the
initiative in 2018, although it maintains a separate cap-and-trade program from the other
jurisdictions. In October 2019, the U.S. Justice Department sued California, seeking to nullify the
arrangement, claiming the agreement is an unconstitutional intrusion into the federal
government’s powers over foreign affairs.169 A federal judge ultimately dismissed the case in July
2020.170 Meanwhile, California and the Canadian federal government signed a memorandum of
understanding on combating GHG emissions and air pollution through cooperation over cleaner
vehicles, engines, and fuels, emissions standards, and the transition to clean transportation.171
President Biden and Prime Minister Trudeau have reiterated the importance of addressing climate
change. They reportedly intend to work together to achieve net-zero GHG emissions, including
through cross-border clean electricity transmission and advancements in the automotive sector.172
The Arctic
As two of the eight countries with territory north of the Arctic Circle, Canada and the United
States have substantial interests in the changing region.173 Temperatures in the Arctic have
warmed significantly since the 1970s, including an increase of 0.75ºC over the past decade
compared with the 1951-1980 mean.174 The resulting decline in sea ice is gradual y opening the
region to increased shipping, tourism, and resource extraction, among other activities. Although
these changes may provide commercial opportunities for Arctic countries and communities, they
also present new chal enges, ranging from environmental degradation to increased geopolitical
Canada and the United States have sought to work together to address shared chal enges in the
Arctic region. In 2012, the countries signed a Tri-Command Framework for Arctic Cooperation
intended to improve safety, security, and defense coordination among the three commands with
Arctic responsibilities (CJOC, NORTHCOM, and NORAD). As part of ongoing efforts to
modernize NORAD, Canada and the United States are considering options for replacing the aging
North Warning System, which provides aerospace surveil ance along the northern approaches to
North America.

168 “Climate Change Essentials: Navigating Carbon Pricing Mechanisms and Guide to Canadian Federal and Provincial
Regulatory Frameworks,” McCarthy T etrault LLP, January 2018.
169 “T rump DOJ Sues California, Seeks to End State’s Cap-and-T rade Agreement with Quebec,” National Law Review,
October 25, 2019.
170 Alex Guillén, “T rump Loses Legal Attack on California Cap -and-T rade Linkage,” Politico Pro, July 17, 2020.
171 “Memorandum of Understanding Between the California Air Resources Board and Environment and Climate
Change Canada,” June 26, 2019, at
172 White House, “Readout of President Joe Biden Call with Prime Minister Justin T rudeau of Canada,” January 22,
2021; and Justin T rudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, “Prime Minister Justin T rudeau Speaks with the President of the
United States of America Joe Biden,” January 22, 2021.
173 T he other Arctic states are Denmark (due to Greenland), Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia.
174 Eric Post et al., “T he Polar Regions in a 2º C Warmer World,” Science Advances, vol. 5, no. 12 (December 2019).
175 For additional information, see CRS Report R41153, Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress,
coordinated by Ronald O'Rourke.
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In addition to those defense efforts, the countries have coordinated on economic development and
environmental conservation initiatives in the region. In 2016, for example, they jointly pledged to
establish low-impact shipping corridors, manage Arctic fisheries sustainably, and limit offshore
oil and gas leasing.176 The Trump Administration sought to reopen portions of the Arctic Ocean to
oil and gas development but continued to engage with Canada on issues such as joint contingency
planning for transboundary oil spil s.177
Canada and the United States also have participated in multilateral efforts to address Arctic
concerns. Both countries were founding members of the Arctic Council, which brings together the
eight Arctic states, six organizations representing indigenous peoples, and various observers to
promote cooperation on sustainable development and environmental protection. Under the
auspices of the council, the Arctic states have negotiated three binding instruments: a 2011
Agreement on Cooperation on Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue in the Arctic , a
2013 Agreement on Cooperation on Marine Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response in the
Arctic, and a 2017 Agreement on Enhancing International Arctic Scientific Cooperation.178
Canada and the United States also were leading participants in multilateral negotiations that
resulted in a 2018 Agreement to Prevent Unregulated High Seas Fisheries in the Central Arctic
Nevertheless, some Arctic issues remain contentious. In addition to an unresolved boundary
dispute in the Beaufort Sea north of the Yukon and Alaska, Canada and the United States have a
long-standing disagreement regarding the sea routes commonly known as the Northwest Passage.
Canada argues the various channels that pass through Canada’s 36,000-island Arctic archipelago
are internal waters subject to Canadian control. The United States, the European Union, and
others maintain the Northwest Passage is an international strait through which foreign vessels
have a right to transit. The dispute has been mostly dormant since 1988, when the United States
pledged that al navigation by U.S. icebreakers through the passage would be undertaken with the
consent of the Canadian government and Canada agreed to facilitate such navigation.180 In light
of increasing Russian and Chinese activity in the Arctic, some analysts argue it would be in the
United States’ national security interests to recognize Canada’s sovereignty claim and help it
exercise control over the Arctic approaches to North America.181 Others are concerned, however,
that doing so would create a precedent that could affect U.S. navigation through other strategic
waterways, such as the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf.
More recently, Canada and the United States have been at odds over oil and gas development in
the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. Congress established an oil and gas program in the
refuge as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (P.L. 115-97), which President Trump signed into law

176 White House, “U.S.-Canada Joint Statement on Climate, Energy, and Arctic Leadership,” March 10, 2016; and
White House, “United States-Canada Joint Arctic Leaders’ Statement,” December 20, 2016.
177 Executive Order 13795, “Implementing an America-First Offshore Energy Strategy,” 82 Federal Register 20815-
20818, May 3, 2017; “U.S. Judge Scraps T rump Order Opening Arctic, Atlantic Areas to Oil Leasing, ” Reuters, March
30, 2019; and U.S. Department of State, Report to Congress on Im plem entation of the Diplom atic Strategy for
Continued U.S. Leadership in the Arctic
, 2020.
178 All three agreements are available at
179 T he agreement is available at
180 “Agreement Between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States of America on Arctic
Cooperation,” 1988, at
181 See, for example, Robert Hage, “Rights of Passage: It’s T ime the U.S. Recognizes Canada’s Arctic Claim,”
Canadian Global Affairs Institute, September 2018; and Mattthew Kosnik, “Canada and the U.S. Need to Make a Deal
on the Northwest Passage,” National Interest, October 28, 2020.
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in December 2017. The act directs the Bureau of Land Management to conduct an initial lease
sale within 4 years of enactment and a second lease sale within 10 years of enactment.182 The
House passed a bil (H.R. 1146, 116th Congress) in September 2019 that would have repealed the
oil and gas program; the Senate did not act on it. The Trump Administration conducted an initial
lease sale of 11 tracts on some 550,000 acres on January 6, 2021.183 President Biden is opposed to
development in the refuge, and placed a temporary moratorium on al federal government
activities related to the implementation of the oil and gas program following his inauguration.184
The Canadian government, the territorial governments of the Yukon and Northwest Territories,
and several indigenous peoples are opposed to the U.S. oil and gas program. They argue that such
development in the refuge could negatively affect transboundary wildlife, such as the Porcupine
caribou herd, as wel as the culture and subsistence of indigenous peoples who depend on it.185
Under a 1987 bilateral agreement, the United States and Canada have committed to conserve the
Porcupine caribou herd and its habitat and to consult with one another regarding any activities
that could have a “significant long-term adverse impact” on the herd.186
Great Lakes
The Great Lakes contain 85% of North America’s fresh water. They serve as the primary source
of drinking water for more than 40 mil ion people and support a wide range of economic
activities, including farming, fishing, manufacturing, and tourism.187 Decades of heavy
manufacturing and other human activity have altered the lakes, however, leading to degraded
water quality and diminished habitat for native species.
Federal, state, provincial, local, and tribal governments in the United States and Canada have
sought to work together to address those environmental chal enges and restore the Great Lakes
ecosystem. In 2012, the United States and Canada amended the Great Lakes Water Quality
Agreement (GLWQA), a commitment original y signed in 1972 that provides a framework for
identifying binational priorities and implementing actions that improve water quality. The revised
agreement is intended to help the United States and Canada better anticipate and prevent
ecological harm. It includes new provisions to address aquatic invasive species; habitat
degradation and the effects of climate change; and continued threats to people’s health and the
environment, such as harmful algae, toxic chemicals, and discharges from vessels.188

182 For additional information, see CRS In Focus IF10782, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) Provisions in P.L.
115-97, Tax Cuts and Jobs Act
, by Laura B. Comay.
183 Juliet Eilperin and Steven Mufson, “T rump Auctions Drilling Rights to Arctic National Wildlife Refuge on
Wednesday,” Washington Post, January 6, 2021.
184 Executive Order 13990, “Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to T ackle the
Climate Crisis,” 86 Federal Register 7037-7043, January 25, 2021.
185 Bob Weber, “Canada, First Nations Express Concern over U.S. Arctic Drilling Plans,” Canadian Press, January 13,
2019; and Environment and Climate Change Canada, “ Minister Wilkinson Supports Indigenous and T erritorial Partners
in Protecting Porcupine Caribou in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge,” September 3, 2020.
186 “Agreement Between the Government of Canada and the Government of t he United States of America on the
Conservation of the Porcupine Caribou Herd,” 1987, at
187 Matthew A. McKenna, “Great Lakes Restoration Efforts Continue to Help Grow Region’s Economy,” Great Lakes
, July 10, 2017.
188 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “United States and Canada Sign Amended Great Lakes Water Quality
Agreement/Agreement Will Protect the Health of the Largest Freshwater System in the World,” press release,
September 7, 2012. T he text of the amended agreement is available at
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The United States and Canada both have provided funding to advance the goals of the GLWQA.
In 2016, Congress authorized appropriations of $300 mil ion annual y from FY2017 to FY2021
for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative under Title IV of the Water Infrastructure Improvements
for the Nation Act (P.L. 114-322).189 Although the Trump Administration sought to eliminate the
initiative in FY2018 and proposed deep cuts in FY2019 and FY2020, Congress continued to
support restoration efforts. Annual appropriations amounted to $300 mil ion in FY2018, $300
mil ion in FY2019, and $320 mil ion in FY2020. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021
(P.L. 116-260), increased funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to $330 mil ion,
which is $15 mil ion more than the Trump Administration requested. In 2017, the Canadian
government al ocated C$44.8 mil ion (approximately $34 mil ion) over five years for its Great
Lakes Protection Initiative, placing a particular focus on efforts to reduce toxic and nuisance
algae and strengthen the resilience of Great Lakes coastal wetlands.190 The government of
Ontario, which borders four of the Great Lakes, committed an additional C$7.5 mil ion
(approximately $5.8 mil ion) to protection and restoration efforts in 2020.191
The IJC issued the First Triennial Assessment of Progress on Great Lakes Water Quality in 2017.
The report found the United States and Canada had made progress toward meeting many of the
GLWQA’s objectives, including accelerated restoration of contaminated areas of concern; the
development of binational habitat conservation strategies; the absence of newly introduced
aquatic invasive species, such as Asian carp; and comprehensive reporting on groundwater
science. It also identified significant chal enges, such as an increase in harmful algal blooms, the
slow pace in addressing chemicals of mutual concern, the spread of previously introduced
invasive species, and insufficient investments in infrastructure to prevent the discharge of
untreated or insufficiently treated waste into the Great Lakes.192 A follow-up report, issued in
December 2020, reiterated the 2017 findings and recommended the countries cooperate with the
IJC to develop an improved assessment framework, collaborate to eliminate harmful algal blooms
in Lake Superior, and engage in broader and more meaningful public engagement.193
In June 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Environment and Climate Change
Canada released a joint report on the status of the Great Lakes ecosystem that echoed many of the
IJC’s findings. Taking into account nine overarching indicators of ecosystem health and 45
science-based sub-indicators, the report assessed the Great Lakes to be in “fair” condition, with
trends neither improving nor deteriorating. Ecosystem health differed by lake, however, with
Lake Superior assessed to be in “good” condition and Lake Erie assessed to be in “poor”
condition; Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, and Lake Ontario each were assessed to be in “fair”
Some Members of Congress expressed concerns about a proposed deep geologic repository for
nuclear waste by the Bruce nuclear power facility in Kincardine, Ontario. The proposed site,
located about 1 kilometer inland from Lake Huron, would hold low - to mid-level waste materials

189 For more information on the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, see CRS In Focus IF10128, Great Lakes
Restoration Initiative (GLRI)
, by Pervaze A. Sheikh.
190 Environment and Climate Change Canada, “T he Government of Canada Invests in Great Lakes Protection
Initiative,” press release, December 1, 2017.
191 Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation, and Parks, “Ontario T aking Action to Protect and Restore the
Great Lakes,” press release, September 4, 2020.
192 International Joint Commission (IJC), First Triennial Assessment of Progress on Great Lakes Water Quality,
November 28, 2017.
193 IJC, Second Triennial Assessment of Progress on Great Lakes Water Quality, December 10, 2020.
194 EPA and Environment and Climate Change Canada, State of the Great Lakes 2019: Highlights Report, June 3, 2020.
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currently being stored aboveground in warehouses. In January 2020, however, the Saugeen
Ojibway Nation voted against the repository’s construction, effectively scuttling the project.
U.S.-Canada relations were somewhat strained from 2017 to 2020, as the Trump Administration
cal ed into question many long-standing pil ars of the bilateral relationship. Nevertheless, the
United States and Canada continued to cooperate on a wide array of issues, reflecting the
countries’ extensive ties and close working relationships between U.S. and Canadian institutions
at al levels of government. President Biden and Prime Minister Trudeau have committed to
reinvigorating bilateral cooperation to bolster economic and defense ties and to address shared
chal enges, such as climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.195 Some issues, such as defense
spending, cross-border oil pipelines, and certain trade policies are likely to remain contentious,
however, and efforts to forge closer ties may have to overcome lingering Canadian doubts
regarding the long-term reliability of the United States.

Author Information

Peter J. Meyer
Ian F. Fergusson
Specialist in Latin American and Canadian Affairs
Specialist in International Trade and Finance

This report was originally written and coordinated by former longtime CRS Specialist in International
Relations Carl Ek.

This document was prepared by the Congressional Research Service (CRS). CRS serves as nonpartisan
shared staff to congressional committees and Members of Congress. It operates solely at the behest of and
under the direction of Congress. Information in a CRS Report should n ot be relied upon for purposes other
than public understanding of information that has been provided by CRS to Members of Congress in
connection with CRS’s institutional role. CRS Reports, as a work of the United States Government, are not
subject to copyright protection in the United States. Any CRS Report may be reproduced and distributed in
its entirety without permission from CRS. However, as a CRS Report may include copyrighted images or
material from a third party, you may need to obtain the permission of the copyright holder if you wish to
copy or otherwise use copyrighted material.

195 White House, “Readout of President Joe Biden Call with Prime Minister Justin T rudeau of Canada,” January 22,
2021; and Justin T rudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, “Prime Minister Justin T rudeau Speaks with the President of the
United States of America Joe Biden,” January 22, 2021.
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