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Canadian PM Trudeau calls Kamala Harris, raises issues of access to COVID-19 vaccines, protectionism

News Agencies | Updated on: 2 February 2021, 8:55 IST

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during his first phone call with US Vice President Kamala Harris raised the issues of access to COVID-19 vaccines and protectionism, the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement.

"The Prime Minister looked forward to working with the US administration on shared priorities, including fighting the COVID-19 pandemic through close collaboration on borders and access to vaccines, and to building back better," the statement said on Monday.

Canada is experiencing a vaccine shortage that worsened after producer Pfizer halted delivered to the country last week following an announcement that another producer, Moderna, will deliver 50,000 less vaccine doses this week. The Trudeau government has received the brunt of the criticism for the lacklustre vaccine rollout that the opposition has condemned as a failure.

Canada continues to receive its vaccine supplies from European production facilities after former US President Donald Trump signed an executive order to prioritize domestic distribution of vaccines over their shipments to foreign countries.

The two officials also discussed bilateral trade, including "avoiding the unintended consequences of Buy America policies," the statement read.

Current US President Joe Biden signed an executive order last Monday to support domestic businesses and require federal government agencies to buy products made in the United States. The plan has been met with concern in Ottawa, with Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland raising the issue in a phone call with US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Friday.

Trudeau also thanked the Vice President for the United States' continued support in seeking the release of two Canadians detained in China on charges of espionage, allegedly in retaliation for Ottawa's continued detention of Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou. The White House said in a statement that United States will work to secure the release of former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor.


First published: 2 February 2021, 8:48 IST