Trudeau talks trade and jobs with California leaders in San Francisco

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau picked up promises of investments and jobs during his first official visit to San Francisco, where he promoted Canada as a destination for California technology firms frustrated by uncertain U.S. immigration laws.

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff announced the online business software company will invest another $2 billion in its Canadian operations. In addition, San Francisco-based AppDirect, a cloud subscription service whose co-CEO met Trudeau in a college political science class, said it would add another 300 jobs in Canada in the next five years.

Trudeau said: “I’m enthused about the interest that these global companies are taking in Canada. It is a benefit for those companies that invest in Canada, because they get such a high calibre of talent”.

On Friday, Trudeau met separately with Gov. Jerry Brown and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, both Democrats. The meetings were closed to the media. However, Newsom said later, on Twitter, that the two talked about trade, the environment and universal health care.

Uncertainty over Trump’s immigration policies has provided momentum for Trudeau’s economic pitch to Silicon Valley, where many companies that rely on foreign workers have become uneasy over increasing scrutiny on the H1-B work visa program.

Trudeau promoted his country’s fast-track employment permit for certain workers, dubbed the “global skills strategy visa.” Trudeau demurred when asked whether Trump’s immigration efforts are making the sales pitch easier, pointing to the power of globalism. “We know that bringing in great talent from around the world is an enormous benefit, not just to the companies that want to do that, but to Canadian jobs and to our country as a whole, so we’re going to continue to do that,” he said.

Trudeau also met Thursday with Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos as Bezos considers possible locations for a second headquarters. Toronto, which has created a government-sponsored innovation hub for tech companies, was the only Canadian city that made the shortlist.

While much of the attention on the North American Free Trade Agreement has focused on physical commodities such as vehicle manufacturing, dairy and timber, skilled workers have also become increasingly mobile between the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Google built its latest DeepMind artificial intelligence facility at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, after several of its graduates came to work on the project.

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