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Canada and E.U. Sign Trade Deal, Bucking Resistance to Globalization

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Canada and E.U. Sign Trade Deal, Bucking Resistance to Globalization
  • Canada and E.U. Sign Trade Deal, Bucking Resistance to Globalization

The European Union and Canada signed a far-reaching trade agreement on Sunday that commits them to opening their markets to greater competition, after overcoming a last-minute political obstacle that reflected the growing skepticism toward globalization in much of the developed world.

Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, had been forced to call off an earlier trip to sign the deal after Wallonia, the French-speaking region of Belgium, used its veto to withhold Belgium’s approval of the deal. The pact required the support of all 28 European Union countries.

On Friday, Wallonia, which has been hit hard by deindustrialization and feared greater agricultural competition, withdrew its veto after concessions were made by the Belgian government, including promises to protect farmers. Hours later, the European Union announced that the deal was back on track.

Mr. Trudeau signed the pact on Sunday, joined by Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, which represents the leaders of the member states; Prime Minister Robert Fico of Slovakia, which holds the rotating presidency of the body that runs the bloc’s ministerial meetings; and Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm.

The deal will help to demonstrate that “trade is good for the middle class and those working hard to join it,” Mr. Trudeau said at a news conference in Brussels. Mr. Trudeau said he wanted to “make sure that everyone gets that this is a good thing for our economies but it’s also a good example to the world.”

But the Walloon intransigence has underlined the extent to which trade has become politically radioactive as citizens increasingly blame globalization for growing disparities in wealth and living standards. Across Europe and the United States, opposition to trade has become a rallying point for populist movements on the left and the right, threatening to upend the established political order.

A compromise among the regions of Belgium, which persuaded Wallonia to drop its veto, called for language to clarify the handling of trade complaints brought by Canadian or European companies.

Belgium pledged to refer the arbitration system to the Court of Justice of the European Union, where judges can assess its legality.

Nonetheless, several dozen anti-trade activists held a rowdy protest on Sunday outside the building where Mr. Trudeau signed the pact, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement. The protesters splashed red paint on the forecourt of the building and condemned a planned Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between Europe and the United States.

That much larger deal, known as T.T.I.P., has already stalled amid opposition from large numbers of Europeans, including many Germans and Austrians. The protesters see the Canadian deal as a warm-up for a much larger battle.

The spectacle of tiny Wallonia, with just 3.6 million people, holding up a deal that affects more than 500 million Europeans and 35 million Canadians and prompting European Union leaders to delay a summit meeting has rattled Western leaders.

“In the end, people who favor free trade survived to fight another day,” said Jacob Funk Kirkegaard, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington.

“Now that we see the Canadian deal has made it over the finish line, the Atlantic trade deal still has a fighting chance,” he said. “But it won’t be easy. T.T.I.P. could similarly threaten traditional farming interests and arouse knee-jerk European suspicions about common trans-Atlantic health and environmental standards.”

As a legal matter, the member states’ legislatures still need to ratify the Canadian agreement. That could mean more hiccups before it goes into effect.

Mr. Tusk, of the European Council, said he was cautiously optimistic that the deal would survive the ratification process and could send a positive message about globalization.

“Today’s decisions demonstrate that the disintegration of the Western community does not need to become a lasting trend,” Mr. Tusk said. “Free trade and globalization have protected hundreds of millions of people from poverty and hunger. The problem is that few people believe this.”

“The European Union is not yet in the group of hard protectionist and state-controlled economies like China or Russia,” said Hosuk Lee-Makiyama, the director of the European Center for International Political Economy, a research organization in Brussels. “Instead, the E.U. is carving out a new middle ground between those two countries and the United States.”

Europe, Mr. Lee-Makiyama said, is pivoting to a position as “neither an ally of East nor West.”

Once ratified, the Canadian deal would cut many tariffs on industrial goods and on farm and food items, according to the European Commission. The deal also would open up the services sector in areas like cargo shipping, maritime services and finance to European firms, the commission said.

The Canadian deal is also regarded by trade advocates as a template for advanced, industrial economies by making it easier for their regulators to recognize one another’s rules, and by updating the rules on how companies can make sure governments protect their investments.

If the Obama administration has its way, the next major regional trade accord to make it over the finish line will be the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which includes the United States, Canada, Japan and Vietnam.

The Pacific deal — largely because it involves a number of emerging economies — is a more traditional trade accord aimed mainly at cutting tariffs and knocking down impediments to trade.

But like the Europeans, many Americans do not want to make concessions that would lower wages or threaten jobs at home. The Asia-Pacific deal has become a hot issue in the United States presidential election; both major-party nominees, Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump, oppose it.

Mr. Funk Kirkegaard, the senior fellow at the Peterson Institute, said he gave the Pacific deal about a 30 percent chance of being concluded while President Obama is still in office. “Beyond January,” he said, “it’s all dependent on the results of the election and who’s the next president.”

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Government

COVID-19 Vaccine: African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) to Purchase 270 Million Doses for Nigeria, Other African Nations

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African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) Approves $2 Billion for the Purchase of 270 million Doses for African Nations

African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) said it has approved $2 billion for the purchase of 270 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for African nations, including Nigeria.

Prof. Benedict Oramah, the President of the Bank, disclosed this at a virtual Africa Soft Power Series held on Tuesday.

He, however, stated that the lender is looking to raise more funds for the COVID-19 vaccines’ acquisition.

He said: “The African Union knows that unless you put the virus away, your economy can’t come back. If Africa didn’t do anything, it would become a COVID-19 continent when other parts of the world have already moved on.
“Recall that it took seven years during the heat of HIV for them to come to Africa after 12 million people had died.

“With the assistance of the AU, we were able to get 270 million vaccines and financing need of about $2 billion. Afreximbank then went ahead to secure the $2 billion. But that money for the 270 million doses could only add 15 per cent to the 20 per cent that Covax was bringing.

He added that this is not the time to wait for handouts or free vaccines as other countries will naturally sort themselves out before African nations.

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China Calls for Better China-U.S. Relations

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China Calls for China-U.S. Relations

Senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi said on Monday the United States and China could work together on issues like climate change and the coronavirus pandemic if they repaired their damaged bilateral relationship.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang urged Washington to respect China’s core interests, stop “smearing” the ruling Communist Party, stop interfering in Beijing’s internal affairs and stop “conniving” with separatist forces for Taiwan’s independence.

“Over the past few years, the United States basically cut off bilateral dialogue at all levels,” Wang said in prepared remarks translated into English.

“We stand ready to have candid communication with the U.S. side, and engage in dialogues aimed at solving problems.”

Wang pointed to a recent call between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden as a positive step.

Washington and Beijing have clashed on multiple fronts including trade, accusations of human rights crimes against the Uighur Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region and Beijing’s territorial claims in the resources-rich South China Sea.

The Biden administration has, however, signalled it will maintain pressure on Beijing. Biden has voiced concern about Beijing’s “coercive and unfair” trade practices and endorsed of a Trump administration determination that China has committed genocide in Xinjiang.

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U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns

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President Trump Signs Executive Order In Oval Office Of The White House

U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday paved the way for a New York City prosecutor to obtain former President Donald Trump’s tax returns and other financial records as part of a criminal investigation, a blow to his quest to conceal details of his finances.

The justices without comment rebuffed Trump’s request to put on hold an Oct. 7 lower court ruling directing the former Republican president’s longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, to comply with a subpoena to turn over the materials to a grand jury convened by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, a Democrat.

“The work continues,” Vance said in a statement issued after the court’s action.

Vance had previously said in a letter to Trump’s lawyers that his office would be free to immediately enforce the subpoena if the justices rejected Trump’s request.

A lawyer for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Supreme Court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority included three Trump appointees, had already ruled once in the dispute, last July rejecting Trump’s broad argument that he was immune from criminal probes as a sitting president.

Unlike all other recent U.S. presidents, Trump refused during his four years in office to make his tax returns public. The data could provide details on his wealth and the activities of his family real-estate company, the Trump Organization.

Trump, who left office on Jan. 20 after being defeated in his Nov. 3 re-election bid by Democrat Joe Biden, continues to face an array of legal issues concerning his personal and business conduct.

Vance issued a subpoena to Mazars in August 2019 seeking Trump’s corporate and personal tax returns from 2011 to 2018. Trump’s lawyers sued to block the subpoena, arguing that as a sitting president, Trump had absolute immunity from state criminal investigations.

The Supreme Court in its July ruling rejected those arguments but said Trump could raise other objections to the subpoena. Trump’s lawyers then argued before lower courts that the subpoena was overly broad and amounted to political harassment, but U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero in August and the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in October rejected those claims.

Vance’s investigation, which began more than two years ago, had focused on hush money payments that the president’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen made before the 2016 election to two women – adult-film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal – who said they had sexual encounters with Trump.

In recent court filings, Vance has suggested that the probe is now broader and could focus on potential bank, tax and insurance fraud, as well as falsification of business records.

In separate litigation, the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives was seeking to subpoena similar records. The Supreme Court in July sent that matter back to lower courts for further review.

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