EU readies Brexit transition deal, Ireland seeks border assurance

British Brexit Secretary David Davis, left, and EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier pose ahead of a meeting in Brussels on Monday, March 19. (Reuters)
Updated 19 March 2018
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EU readies Brexit transition deal, Ireland seeks border assurance

BRUSSELS: The European Union is close to offering Britain a deal on a post-Brexit status quo transition, EU diplomats and officials said on Monday, as Ireland sought assurances any agreement would not let London water down pledges on its Northern Irish border.
Asked about a deal, EU negotiator Michel Barnier told reporters “We are determined” as he welcomed British Brexit Secretary David Davis to the European Commission. The two are expected to speak at a news conference scheduled at short notice to take place at 1145GMT.
Brussels diplomats dealing with Brexit for the other 27 EU member states were also summoned urgently for a briefing shortly before Davis arrived and several of them told Reuters that they believed that a weekend of intensive talks had broken deadlock to allow EU leaders to offer a transition deal on Friday.
Before his own meeting with Barnier, and ahead of Davis’ arrival, Ireland’s main Brexit point man, Foreign Minister Simon Coveney, warned that Dublin wanted assurances from the EU that there would be “no backsliding” from London on an agreement in December that there would be no disruptive “hard border” on the island, if necessary by aligning Northern Ireland with the EU.
Dublin is concerned at British Prime Minister Theresa May’s rejection of a “backstop” arrangement set out in the EU’s draft of the withdrawal treaty — under which Northern Ireland would effectively submit to EU economic rules and so become potentially isolated from the British mainland. The EU says May agreed to that potential outcome in December.

Britain argues that it has two other preferred outcomes for the Irish border, both dependent on agreement on future EU-UK trade rules. Negotiations on that will not start until next month, once Friday’s EU summit gives Barnier the go-ahead. As a result, Britain is reluctant to give even a conditional nod to a draft treaty on Ireland that May says she could never accept.
EU diplomats said that it was likely that the draft wording on Ireland would not be agreed before May meets the other 27 leaders in Brussels on Thursday or before the 27 meeting to agree a transition deal on Friday. However, London would need to assure its good faith on the border issue in order to get a transition.
Brussels is keen to give May a positive outcome this week, locking in an interim political accord that Britain would remain in most EU structures without a vote after it leaves next March until at least the end of 2020. That will not be legally binding until the full treaty is ratified early next year, however.
Other parts of the treaty are still being negotiated, including the controversial protocol on Ireland. It is not vital to conclude that before offering the transition, but Dublin and 4its EU allies are anxious not to give up a vital element of leverage on London before the border issue is settled.
Sterling jumped as optimism for a transition deal grew on Monday. The pound traded 0.54 percent higher versus the euro, its biggest daily gain since late January. The pound also broke through the $1.40 mark against the dollar and was up more than half a percent on the day.


China suspends Canadian meat imports amid Huawei dispute

Updated 26 June 2019
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China suspends Canadian meat imports amid Huawei dispute

  • The latest action against Canada comes as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau heads to Japan for the G-20 summit
  • Before acting against Canadian meat, China previously stopped importing certain Canadian products like canola

TORONTO: China is suspending all meat imports from Canada amid their dispute over the Canadian detention of a top executive at the Chinese tech company Huawei.
The Chinese Embassy in Ottawa said in a statement on its website Tuesday that the move follows Chinese customs inspectors’ detection of residue from a restricted feed additive, called ractopamine, in a batch of Canadian pork products. It is permitted in Canada but banned in China.
“China has taken urgent preventive measures and requested the Canadian government to suspend the issuance of certificates for meat exported to China,” the statement said.
Meng Wanzhou, the Huawei CFO and daughter of the company’s founder, was arrested Dec. 1 in Canada at the request of US authorities, who want to try her on fraud charges.
China then detained two Canadians and sentenced another to death in an apparent attempt to pressure for her release.
The latest action against Canada comes as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau heads to Japan for the G-20 summit. US President Donald Trump is expected to meet with his Chinese counterpart amid trade talks.
Meng’s arrest set off a diplomatic furor among the three countries, complicating high-stakes US-China trade talks and severely damaging Beijing’s relations with Ottawa. Canada wants Trump to speak on behalf of Canada to Chinese President Xi Jinping. The Chinese have refused to talk to senior Canadian government officials, including Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland. Trudeau had hoped to meet with Xi at the G-20 but that appears unlikely.
Before acting against Canadian meat, China previously stopped importing certain Canadian products like canola.
Justine Lesage, a spokeswoman for Canada’s agriculture minister, said in a statement that the Canadian Food and Inspection Agency identified an issue involving inauthentic export certificates that could affect the export of pork and beef products to China.
She said the agency has “taken measures to address this issue and is continuing to work closely with industry partners and Chinese officials.”
“The Canadian food system is one of the best in the world and we are confident in the safety of Canadian products and Canadian exports,” she said.