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UPDATE: Donald Trump's agricultural secretary to visit P.E.I. June 15

Mexican Secretary of Agriculture Jose Calzada, left, takes a selfie with Canadian Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Foods Lawrence MacAulay and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue during a June 2017 meeting in Savannah, Georgia. -Preston Keres/
USDA
Mexican Secretary of Agriculture Jose Calzada, left, takes a selfie with Canadian Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Foods Lawrence MacAulay and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue during a June 2017 meeting in Savannah, Georgia. Photo: Preston Keres/ USDA

In the wake of the war of words between President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at last weekend’s G7 summit, Cardigan member of Parliament Lawrence MacAulay will play host to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue on Friday.

MacAulay, Canada’s Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Foods, said the meeting would allow him to both showcase Island hospitality and agricultural. The two men will discuss agricultural cooperation between the two countries.

“He's going to have an opportunity to look at our situation, to have a look at the potato industry and the lobsters and just see how integrated, in fact, U.S.-Canadian industries are," MacAulay said on Monday.

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Perdue’s visit on Friday will include a brief outing on a Lobster boat in Cardigan, a tour of a potato farm in Rollo Bay and a visit to the home and farm of MacAulay.

Although the meetings between MacAulay and Perdue were planned in advance, they appear to convey that officials within both countries are quietly working to continue normal relations despite an increasingly damaging dispute over trade barriers.

According to the Globe and Mail, U.S. Trade representative Robert Lighthizer and Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland held a phone call Sunday evening to talk about the NAFTA negotiations. The two are expected to meet again on Wednesday.

MacAulay said the subject of NAFTA and other bilateral issues would be discussed at the meeting, but that hospitality would also be a significant focus.

"We have negotiators at the table and Perdue does too. They'll handle the issues at the table. What we'll do is handle the rapport. What I'm doing is making sure he fully understands how we operate in Canada and in particular on Prince Edward Island," MacAulay said.

MacAulay also said the meeting would be a similar show of hospitality to a June 2017 meeting he and Mexican Secretary of Agriculture Jose Calzada attended in Perdue’s home state of Georgia.

The subject of agricultural tariffs loomed large in the twitter-storm that ended the weekend’s G7 summit. Trump referred to Trudeau as “dishonest and weak” in a tweet on Saturday evening after the summit had closed. The tweet was apparently in response to remarks made by Trudeau at a press conference at the end of the summit, in which he reiterated that Canada would impose its own retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods.

The U.S. imposed tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum at the end of May. In his tweet following the summit, Trump said these tariffs were in response to longstanding Canadian import duties on U.S. milk.

The tariffs, a key part of Canada’s supply management system, are designed to prop up domestic dairy producers.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue,from left, Mexican Secretary of Agriculture Jose Calzada and Canadian Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Foods Lawrence MacAulay enjoy a laugh.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, Mexican Secretary of Agriculture Jose Calzada and Canadian Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Foods Lawrence MacAulay enjoy a laugh at a June 2017 meeting in Savannah, Georgia. Photo: Government of Canada

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