Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Analysis | Historic rapprochement with Germany

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Maria Gill
Maria Gill
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(Ottawa) – Last week’s three-day visit by German Chancellor Olaf Schulz marked a turning point in relations between Canada and Germany.

Posted at 6:00 AM

Joel Dennis Belavance

Joel Dennis Belavance

It made it possible to lay the foundations for a solid rapprochement between the two countries on three fronts: political, economic and energy.

Germany is the largest economy in Europe. Besides France, it has a great influence on the positions adopted by the European Union. Mais dans les cercles du pouvoir à Ottawa, la priorité a toujours été accordée, dans l’ordre, aux États-Unis, qui demorent, et de loin, le partenaire commercial le plus important du Canada, à la Grande-Bretagne et France. Germany seemed very far off the radar, even if, since 2007, Deutschland has been the fourth economic power on the planet after the United States, China and Japan.

As evidence of this, when Minister François-Philippe Champagne asked officials from his ministry in March to prepare an information book and a list of phone numbers for leaders of large German companies in anticipation of a business tour he wanted to take in May, it was true. Chaos. After a few days, we were struggling to find the information he was asking for. At one point, he was suggested, among other things, to contact 1,800 Volkswagen in order to succeed in obtaining the required information about the members of the management of this car giant, as is said behind the scenes.

“Germany was not really on the ministry’s radar,” said a government source, who preferred to speak on condition of anonymity.

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Minister Champagne organized a week-long visit to Germany, and told the Ministry: You’re welcome if you want to follow me! “Through his contacts in Europe he was able to develop all of this,” this source added, stressing that Mr. Champagne had spent nearly 20 years in Europe.

trade mission

In one week, Minister Champagne and his entourage traveled to five cities to plead Canada’s case before German businessmen. He went especially to Berlin, to Wolfsburg, where the head office of Volkswagen is located, to Stuttgart to meet the leaders of Mercedes-Benz and to Munich (BMW).

Why did he decide to undertake such a business task? His close collaborators sent him a text message from the journal New York times In March it was made clear that Germany’s major industries intend to accelerate in order to maintain their supply chain.

“When I went to Germany, I had a message: I understand your decarbonization issue. […] Canada is part of the solution. We have the third largest pass, Windsor Detroit, after China and Germany. We have talent. We have more than 500,000 people working in the automotive sector. The minister pointed out to his interlocutors: “We have natural resources and renewable energy, and I have access to 1.5 billion consumers without tariffs thanks to free trade agreements.”

This message did not fall on deaf ears. Subsequent meetings were held with automakers’ executives in June at the Davos summit. Texting increased. calls too. Four months later, these efforts have reaped the rewards.


Last Tuesday, the Canadian government signed separate agreements with Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz that will allow the two German carmakers access to Canadian raw materials (cobalt, graphite, nickel and lithium) for electric car batteries. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and German Chancellor Olaf Schulz attended the signing ceremony in Toronto.

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The next day, Mr. Trudeau and his German counterpart signed another agreement in Stephenville, Newfoundland, this time around producing green hydrogen and creating a transatlantic supply chain starting in 2025. Germany depends on this clean energy to decarbonize its economy and free itself from its dependence on Russia and its gas natural.

Germans now see Canada as a preferred partner, a serious partner, and a strategic partner. “It’s now up to us to make that happen,” Secretary Champagne explained in an interview. Journalism.

Dubbed the “energy rabbit” by many among liberals, the agreement sends a powerful message to foreign investors.

“When you have big manufacturers like this coming to Canada, it sends a message to the rest of the world: Canada is a major player in the green car supply chain of the future,” he said.

“We imagined the electric car battery ecosystem. We built it. We did it with Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon in Quebec and we did it in Ontario as well. Now, we’re in the process of improving it.”

In July, Mr. Champagne traveled to Japan to deliver the same message to business people. We’ll know in less than three weeks, when he welcomes a Japanese delegation to Ottawa, whether he has struck a “deal” again, to use Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s expression when talking about the persuasive power of his minister. When Moderna decided to open a factory in Quebec.

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