Canada, Mexico stick to NAFTA guns despite Trump threats

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto at the presidential palace in Mexico City on October 12 for their high-level talks on the North American Free Trade Agreement. (AFP)
Updated 13 October 2017
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Canada, Mexico stick to NAFTA guns despite Trump threats

MEXICO CITY: The leaders of Canada and Mexico stuck to their upbeat view on the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement on Thursday, despite US President Donald Trump’s threats to axe it.
Visiting Mexico on the heels of a tense trip to Washington, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau downplayed Trump’s attacks on NAFTA as part and parcel of the negotiations on updating the 23-year-old accord.
“We will not be walking away from the table based on proposals put forward,” he said when asked about the Trump administration’s push to include a “sunset clause” requiring the three member countries to unanimously renew the deal every five years.
“We will discuss those proposals, we will counter those proposals and we will take seriously these negotiations,” he told a press conference at the presidential palace after being welcomed with military honors.
Speaking alongside him, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto insisted the deal remained vital to the region’s economies, despite Trump’s repeated NAFTA bashing.
But he said Mexico would not be pushed around.
“Mexico is betting on achieving a good agreement. But it will have to be a positive agreement, and good for all three sides, not just one. We won’t be hostage to a single point of view,” he said.
The comments came as negotiators from the three countries meet in the United States for their latest round of what Trump vowed would be tough talks on a new version of NAFTA.
Trump has put both Mexico and Canada on the defensive over trade, accusing the former of taking American jobs and the latter of unfair subsidies, and wants to either overhaul or “terminate” NAFTA.
His administration has land-mined the renegotiation he triggered with controversial proposals, including tightening the “rules of origin” to demand certain amounts of American-made content in products, scrapping NAFTA’s dispute resolution mechanism and the “sunset clause.”
Trade was a touchy subject during Trudeau’s visit to Washington, after the US slapped a 220 percent retaliatory duty on Canadian planemaker Bombardier’s CS100 and CS300 aircraft over dumping allegations.
Trudeau in turn threatened to cancel a purchase of 18 fighter jets from American aerospace giant Boeing, saying he had told Trump he “disagreed vehemently” with the US decision.
Making his first official visit to Mexico, the prime minister appeared to be looking for a friendly ear in Pena Nieto, himself no stranger to hostility from the Trump administration.
Despite their common ground, however, Canada and Mexico are also at odds on some key issues.
Canada, which shares Washington’s concern over competition from cheap Mexican labor, is notably pushing for Mexico to improve workers’ wages under the new NAFTA — something the Pena Nieto administration says should be determined by the market, not dictated by a trade deal.
Pena Nieto sought to send a message that Mexico and Canada are better off working together as they forge ahead in the delicate negotiations with the giant and sometimes grumpy neighbor they both share.
“Canada and Mexico are going through one of the best moments of our relationship,” he wrote in an op-ed published in Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail.
“The government of Mexico will keep working constructively with Canada to further strengthen our relations, achieve mutual benefits and contribute to reaching our shared goal: to make North America the most prosperous and competitive region in the world.”


Ryanair agrees to buy 25 more Boeing 737 MAX planes

Updated 9 min 35 sec ago
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Ryanair agrees to buy 25 more Boeing 737 MAX planes

DUBLIN: Ryanair has agreed to buy a further 25 Boeing 737 MAX planes, worth $3 billion at list prices, lifting its order of the US planemaker’s flagship short-haul plane model to 135, the two companies said on Tuesday.
The Irish low-cost carrier, which is the largest operator of Boeing planes in Europe, purchased 100 737 MAX planes in 2014 and took out options on 100 more.
Ryanair said the order leaves it with 75 more options.
It purchased 10 additional MAX planes in June last year, which were on top of the 2014 order.
Chief Executive Michael O’Leary in March said he expected to exercise “pretty much all” of its options.
Ryanair has dubbed the MAX a “game changer” for its business, due to a fuel consumption improvement it says could be up to 16 percent and a greater number of seats.
The configuration Ryanair has ordered has 197 seats compared to 189 in its current fleet of 737s.
Ryanair rivals easyJet and Wizz have ordered Airbus A321 planes, which seat up to 239 passengers.
Ryanair has held talks with Boeing about its new larger version of the 737 airliner, the MAX 10, which can carry up to 230 passengers, but has made clear it would only be interested if the price is lowered.
The first of Ryanair’s 737 MAX planes are due for delivery in the first half of 2019 and will use CFM Leap-1B engines.
Ryanair, which currently operates around 430 Boeing 737 planes, says the MAX order will allow it reach its target of carrying 200 million passengers per year by 2024.