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The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada

Regardless of the final Keystone XL decision, diversifying energy exports is a long-term strategic goal for Canada, Prime Minister Stephen Harper told a Wilson Center audience Monday. “Not to diversify to Asia when Asia is growing doesn’t make sense,” he said. A major pipeline connecting western Canada oil wells to ports and refineries in Texas, the Keystone XL project is undergoing a federal review and has not yet been fully approved by the administration. That it could fail review underscores Canada’s need to open new markets for oil and other energy products and relieve its historical overdependence on US export markets, Harper noted.

Apart from energy issues, Harper discussed the depth of the US-Canada trading relationship, which he called the “largest economic relationship in history” with more than US$750 billion in goods and services crossing the border annually. He stressed Canada’s absorption of massive US exports, noting that the northern neighbor imports more yearly than the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), Germany, and Great Britain—combined.

Harper was in Washington for the annual Trilateral Leaders Summit with President Barack Obama and President Felipe Calderon of Mexico. His talk was the latest in the Center’s Director’s Forum series and was moderated by Wilson Center Director Jane Harman.

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