An unofficial guide to Olaf Scholz’s “unusual” trip to Canada

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will host Scholz for a three-day tour across three provinces. The visit was announced in June after the two leaders met on the sidelines of the G-7 summit in Elmau, Germany.

A senior Canadian government official confirmed to POLITICO that clean hydrogen and critical minerals will be the main areas of energy focus for the official visit.

Beginning in Montreal, the duo and their delegations will pass by artificial intelligence and quantum computing companies before heading to Toronto for a dinner mingling with business leaders and pension fund moguls.

Members of the German delegation will include executives representing some of the world’s largest automakers: Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz.

Due to the EU’s desire to pre-empt the Russian threat of winter gas cuts, energy security will be a recurring topic throughout the trip. It will end with the signing of an agreement in Stephenville, a farming village on Newfoundland’s windy west coast that was home to a US air base during World War II.

The agreement will be a symbolic gesture to foster greater commercial and governmental cooperation between the two countries in the development of hydrogen fuel production.

“It’s an amazing place,” German Ambassador to Canada Sabine Sparwasser said of Atlantic Canada. There is good infrastructure, including airport access and deep water ports, she said. “It also has absolutely perfect non-stop wind.”

It was in this city that Canadian billionaire John Risley proposed to build a new low-carbon wind facility that could one day export fuel to Germany. If he goes ahead, he is poised to be a new model of prosperity for an oil-producing province in financial crisis.

Canada is the world’s fifth largest producer of natural gas. But it is not at the top of the list of German suppliers of liquefied natural gas in the short and medium term, because Canada does not have export facilities to send immediate shipments of fuel to Europe without going through the States. -United.

As Berlin buys ready-to-ship fuels from around the world, its focus on Canada is to meet tomorrow’s demand for low-carbon hydrogen – and lock in new supply chains for critical minerals. a G-7 country, thereby reducing dependence on Russia or China.

The hydrogen industry is ripe for development in Canada given the proximity of the east coast to Europe. Moreover, with Germany aiming to reach net zero by 2045, officials suggest that investing in Canadian low-carbon hydrogen projects is more attractive business than building. fossil fuel infrastructure to bring gas from Western Canada to Europe.

“We want imports that are as climate-neutral as possible,” Sparwasser told POLITICO.

Boehm, who served as Canada’s ambassador to Germany between 2008 and 2012, said the arrival of Scholz and Habeck demonstrates Germany’s desire to quickly double its future “safe” economic and political investments.

Trade between the two countries is increasing thanks to the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement. Germany is Canada’s sixth largest trading partner, according to government data.

The deal took three years of negotiations starting in 2013. It was during the final year of negotiations that Chrystia Freeland, as a former Minister of International Trade, was able to work closely with Scholz, so Mayor of Hamburg.

Freeland, now deputy prime minister, referenced her friendship with Scholz at a Global Forum event in Toronto last year, calling him a key figure behind CETA. During that November armchair chat, she called Scholz someone she admires in the world.

“He described to me the enormity of the green transition in a way that I think is really true, which is that it is the biggest transformation of industrial economies since the industrial revolution,” she told the time. “I think that’s right – so that’s a lot we need to do.”

Germany, however, has yet to ratify the free trade agreement.

“It happens, I was told,” Boehm said. “You just have to be patient.”

But patience is a rare virtue for two progressive leaders feeling the heat of juggling ambitious and costly green programs in an era of high inflation.

Both leaders also govern without the added security of having a majority of seats in their respective parliaments.

Scholz leads an ampelkoalition, a traffic-light coalition government between the Social Democratic Party, the Liberal Democratic Party and the Greens.

As the stability of Trudeau’s minority Liberal government teeters on a confidence deal with opposition New Democrats that could crumble if Ottawa does not move forward on a national dental plan by the end of the ‘year.

For Scholz, the timing of the trip will give him temporary respite from a tax evasion controversy over a decision made when he was mayor of Hamburg to waive a 47 million euro bill from Walburg, the largest private bank in the country.

Scholz faces an official investigation after returning from the windy shores of Atlantic Canada.

When Parliament convenes at the end of September, Trudeau, now in his third term as prime minister, will face a spirited new Conservative leader – one who is almost certain to scrap the tax on the Liberals’ carbon if he wins the next election, a move that comes with the risk of sending flip-flop policy signals to international investors.

The tenuous political circumstances in the United States and the possibility of Donald Trump returning to the world stage are also prompting world leaders to preemptively develop bilateral and multilateral contingency plans — and more travel to Canada.

Scholz and Habeck’s visit is the latest sign of a desire to see closer bilateral relations with Canada, recently bolstered by the controversial return of Gazprom Nord Stream gas pipeline turbines to Germany.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock met Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly in Montreal earlier this month, a diplomatic prelude to the chancellor’s visit next week. After Scholz, other dignitaries are on their way.

Following Scholz’s visit, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is expected to visit Canada in September.

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