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Vietnam's Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh meets with Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Istana in Singapore February 9, 2023.


Friendshoring and the curious case of Vietnam

Post-Davos, another of the big trends we will be watching this year is the expansion of the “friendshoring” phenomenon that has seen a significant rise in the political proximity of trade (and a shift away from geopolitical rivals).

Trade between the US and China is still rising in absolute terms, but Beijing’s share of exports to the US has fallen 7.2% since 2017. Other countries like Mexico and Canada are hoping to pick up some scraps, based on trade agreements and being nestled next to the US border. Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland was in Davos making a pitch for new investment, based on Canada’s critical mineral resources and clean energy supply (not to mention, $88 billion in investment subsidies to compete with the US Inflation Reduction Act).

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PM Justin Trudeau visits Canadian troops in Latvia.

REUTERS/Ints Kalnins

What We’re Watching: Trudeau’s 2% trouble, media giants and their final tweets, friendshoring promise vs. reality

Trudeau’s defense spending

Canadian PM Justin Trudeau has privately told NATO officials that Canada will never meet the alliance’s target of 2% of GDP on military spending, the Washington Post reported Wednesday. The revelation is based on a US intelligence document leaked on the Discord gaming app, allegedly by a 21-year-old intelligence staffer.

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U.S. President Joe Biden speaks with Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as they meet during the Ninth Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, California, U.S., June 9, 2022.

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

US green subsidies pushback to dominate Biden's Canada trip

As Ottawa prepares for a two-day visit by President Joe Biden starting Thursday, Canadians have been speculating about whether he will do something to stop the northward flow of border crossings by undocumented migrants at Roxham Road, Quebec.

That problem is grabbing headlines, but it is nothing next to the border challenges the Americans face, and the Canadians likely have more important requests for Biden. Behind the scenes, the government is focused on getting Americans to help mitigate the impact of the Inflation Reduction Act, the largest climate spending package in US history, which could lead to the loss of capital and jobs from Canada.

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Can you get by with a little help from your friends?

The pandemic inflicted a huge shock on supply chains, but there is another force at work remapping global trade flows too: the deepening ideological divide between the US and China, framed in Washington as a broader competition between democracies and autocracies.

The so-called “de-coupling” between the world’s two largest economies began during the presidency of Donald Trump, who slapped tariffs on China in a largely unsuccessful attempt to address the real harms that offshoring has done to some US workers.

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