Canada ‘positive’ on NAFTA, Mexico says deal possible by end-May

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. (AFP)
Updated 17 May 2018
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Canada ‘positive’ on NAFTA, Mexico says deal possible by end-May

  • There is a good deal on the table: Trudeau

NEW YORK/MEXICO: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday said he felt “positive” about talks to rework the NAFTA trade pact, while a top Mexican official held out hope a deal could be hammered out by the end of May.
US officials say the negotiations need to wrap up very soon to give the current Congress time to vote on a final text for a revamped North American Free Trade Agreement.
“To be honest, we are down to a point where there is a good deal on the table,” Trudeau told the Economic Club of New York, saying top Canadian officials were in Washington for talks on how to advance the negotiations.
“It’s right down to the last conversations ... I’m feeling positive about this, but it won’t be done until it’s done.”
Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland was due to travel to the US capital later on Thursday for internal meetings and talks with key stakeholders, said a spokesman.
A Mexican technical negotiating team is in Washington but there is no date set for the next NAFTA ministerial meeting with the United States and Canada.
Mexico’s Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said a deal could be reached by the end of May, but added that if no agreement is reached the talks could extend beyond the July 1 Mexican presidential election.
For that to happen, though, the United States and Mexico would have to end what officials say is deadlock over US demands to raise wages in the auto sector and boost the North American content of cars made in the three NAFTA nations.
Critics complain the move is a clear swipe at Mexico, which US President Donald Trump says added low-wage manufacturing jobs at American expense after NAFTA was signed in 1994.
“Any renegotiated NAFTA that implies losses of existing Mexican jobs is unacceptable,” Guajardo said in a tweet.
Under the Trade Promotion Authority statute that would allow a simple yes or no vote on NAFTA, Trump must notify Congress 90 days before he can sign the agreement. The US International Trade Commission then has up to 105 days after the signing to produce a study on the effects of the agreement.
US House Speaker Paul Ryan had said that the Republican-controlled Congress would need to be notified of a new deal by Thursday to give lawmakers a chance to approve it before a newly elected Congress takes over in January.
Ryan, asked on Thursday whether there was any wiggle room in the NAFTA approval timeline for Congress, said “the wiggle room would be at the ITC.”
He added: “My guess is there is probably some wiggle room at the ITC for what it takes for their part of the process but not an indefinite amount and that means time is really of the essence.”


Saudi Arabia and UAE launch a new joint cryptocurrency

Updated 20 January 2019
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Saudi Arabia and UAE launch a new joint cryptocurrency

  • The cryptocurrency will be limited to banks during its first stages
  • The program will also help the two countries evaluate the monetary policies of a centralized currency

Saudi Arabia and the UAE have launched a joint cryptocurrency during the first meeting of the Saudi-Emirati Coordination council Saturday in Abu Dhabi, UAE’s national press agency WAM said.

The cryptocurrency will be limited to banks during its first stages, until the governments have a better understanding of how Blockchain technology operates cross-borders.

The currency operates on the use of a “distributed database between the central banks and the participating banks from both sides,” aiming to protect customer interests, set technology standards and assess cybersecurity risks. The new program will also help evaluate the impacts of a central currency on monetary policies.

During the meeting, representatives of Saudi Arabia and the UAE also signed the Joint Supply Chained Security Cooperation program, which tests the two countries abilities to provide vital supplies during times of crisis and national emergencies, as well as share expertise and knowledge in the field.

All 16 members of the executive committee of the council followed up on the execution of the initiatives mentioned in the Strategy of Resolve.

Representatives also set five other initiatives to enhance the cooperation between the two countries, such as facilitating the traffic between ports, improving airports to make it easier for people with disabilities to travel, creating a financial awareness program for children aged 7-18, starting a joint platform to support local SMEs, and the integration of civil aviation markets,

The committee was headed by Mohammad bin Abdullah Al-Gergawi, minister of cabinet of affairs and the future of UAE, and Mohammed bin Mazyad Al-Twaijri, minister of economy and planning in Saudi. The committee will also monitor the implementation of the initiatives.