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Canada, U.S. reach NAFTA deal, Canadian officials say

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WASHINGTON—Canada and the U.S. have agreed on a new North American Free Trade Agreement, concluding an acrimonious 13-month negotiation that had hindered the Canadian economy and damaged relations between the two countries.

They did not immediately release the full details on which the deal will ultimately be judged. The news that they have struck any kind of deal, though, means Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has achieved a long-sought goal: convincing U.S. President Donald Trump to preserve a trade accord Trump has repeatedly threatened to terminate.

“It’s a good day for Canada,” Trudeau said as he left a late-night cabinet meeting in Ottawa, declining to take questions.

Trump, meanwhile, began touting the deal as a fulfilment of his campaign promise to secure a better arrangement for American workers.

“It’s a great win for the president and a validation of his strategy in the area of international trade,” said a senior Trump administration official, saying it includes a “host of provisions that will rebalance our trade relationship with Mexico and Canada.”

The deal makes substantial changes to the rules governing the North American auto industry. And it will affect dozens of other industries and the consumers who buy their products, from milk to medicine.

Canadian sources said the deal would include partial protection for Canada against the auto tariffs Trump has repeatedly threatened to impose. A certain number of Canadian car exports to the U.S., significantly higher than the current number, would be guaranteed tariff-free access. Trump could hypothetically impose tariffs on amounts above that.

The Trump administration official said there would be no substantial changes to the “Chapter 19” dispute-resolution system or the cultural exemption Trudeau had made his “red lines” in the last two months of negotiations.

The Trump official said Trudeau had made a concession on dairy, giving U.S. farmers more access to the protected Canadian market than the 3.25 per cent Canada granted its partners in the earlier Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.

“We’ve had a great result for our dairy farmers,” the Trump official said.

The Trump official said there had not been a resolution on the issue of the steel and aluminum tariffs Trump imposed on Canada or the retaliatory tariffs Trudeau imposed on various U.S. products.

The Trump official said there had not been substantial changes on the issue of the “TN” visas for professional workers. And the official said the deal includes a “review and termination provision” on the agreement, but did not make clear what it includes; the U.S. had previously pushed for some kind of auto-termination “sunset clause” Trudeau had not wanted.

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Word of the agreement came after 9:30 p.m. Sunday night, just before the deadline the Trump administration had set for publicly publishing the text of its preliminary agreement with Mexico. That would have started a 60-day countdown to the possibility of Trump and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto signing a deal that did not include Canada.

The current NAFTA will stay in effect until the end of the process of finalizing the merged three-country agreement, which is still far from over. Most critically, the legislatures of Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, which previously struck its own preliminary agreement with the U.S., must now vote in favour of the final three-country deal.

While that will not be a problem in Canada or Mexico, the U.S. Congress, which has sometimes taken years to approve trade deals struck by presidents, may prove more difficult. If Congress delays, Trump could renew his threats to terminate the current NAFTA to try to pressure Congress into accepting the new one.

Nonetheless, the agreement between Trump and Trudeau appears to put to rest, at least for now, a primary source of bilateral tension. Trump had grown increasingly critical toward Trudeau and Canada as the difficult negotiations dragged on, and he had warned that he could “ruin” the Canadian economy with car tariffs if there was no deal.

The Trump official said the deal puts “our trade relationships and hopefully our overall relationships on a better and stronger footing.”

The Sunday deal followed a weekend scramble in Ottawa and Washington. Trudeau’s top officials huddled in his office into the night on Saturday and Sunday. Trudeau arrived on Sunday night and later convened a meeting of his cabinet around 10 p.m.

Read more:

In 12 steps, how troubled NAFTA 2.0 talks unfolded

Opinion | Trudeau will benefit on NAFTA regardless of outcome

In a joint statement issued by Trump’s trade chief, Robert Lighthizer and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland Sunday night, the ministers said the agreement to be called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, is a “new, modernized trade agreement for the 21st Century.”

NAFTA governs more than $1 trillion in annual trade between the three countries. It guarantees tariff-free trade of most products, facilitates the movement of investment capital and professional workers across the two borders, sets rules governing hundreds of kinds of businesses and provides a system for resolving continental trade disputes.

Economists had predicted serious though not catastrophic damage to the Canadian economy if the 24-year-old NAFTA had vanished, with the losses concentrated in Ontario.

The final stage of the negotiations had focused on a small number of issues on which both sides had dug in their heels.

Canada insisted on preserving the “Chapter 19” system that allows Canada to challenge U.S. trade duties at an independent tribunal rather than in U.S. courts. The U.S. had wanted to eliminate it. Trump budged in the end.

The U.S. insisted on substantially more access to Canada’s tightly protected dairy market. Trudeau vowed to preserve the supply management system, which aids domestic farmers, but had signalled for weeks he was open to the incremental concessions opposed by Canada’s dairy lobby. He made those concessions in the end.

Canada had insisted on complete protection from the auto tariffs. Flavio Volpe, president of the Canadian Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association, declined to comment on the details of the apparent compromise, but he said Canadian negotiators had to practical when dealing with Trump.

« The principle of agreeing to a cap based on a the threat of illegal tariff is never good, but the reality of negotiating with an administration that has proven that it will harm itself in order to harm its trading partners means that we’ve got to use some realpolitik, to live to fight another day,” Volpe said.

Jerry Dias, president of Unifor, the largest union representing Canadian autoworkers, said late Sunday that he was optimistic about the deal.

« It is incredibly important that we get a deal that stabilizes the auto industry in Canada for the long term and I’m confident that we are heading in that direction, » said Dias.

Rona Ambrose, former interim Conservative leader and a member of Trudeau’s NAFTA advisory council, tweeted her praise. “A NAFTA deal in principle will help ease investor anxiety, stabilize trade exposed sectors and reassure the world that North America remains committed to free trade. Congrats to Team Canada.”

Canadians, initially divided on NAFTA, have come to be overwhelmingly supportive. But Trump had called NAFTA the worst trade deal in world history, blaming it for the loss of U.S. manufacturing jobs. He vowed during his 2016 campaign to tear up the accord unless he could secure a better deal for American workers, and he launched renegotiation talks in August 2017.

The new agreement includes substantially altered rules on automotive manufacturing. The U.S. pushed for a series of changes the Trump administration believes will wrest some jobs back to the U.S. from Mexico and overseas.

According to U.S. and Mexican government reports, a car will qualify for tariff-free treatment only if 75 per cent of its contents are made in North America, up from 62.5 per cent in the current NAFTA. And at least 40 per cent of the contents must be produced by workers earning at least $16 (U.S.) per hour, more than three times the wage of the average Mexican autoworker.

The negotiations involved two basic categories: modernization and renegotiation. The modernization track, in which the three countries worked to update an outdated agreement that was finalized before the advent of the internet economy, proceeded smoothly. The renegotiation track was far more difficult. Canada and the U.S. clashed over several U.S. proposals.

Among other things, the Trump administration had initially wanted to eliminate Canada’s supply management system for dairy and poultry, introduce a “sunset” clause that would automatically terminate NAFTA unless all three countries decided again to keep it, sharply reduce Canadian access to U.S. government contracts and eliminate the independent dispute resolution system.

Mexico was Trump’s chief NAFTA target during his election campaign. But it was Canada that drew most of his administration’s public ire in 2017 and 2018.

The Canadian government tried to work around Trump while also seeking to avoid his anger. Trudeau launched an unconventional diplomatic blitz in support of the agreement, dispatching ministers around the U.S. to attempt to build alliances with trade-friendly lawmakers at all levels of government.

Canada was joined in its pro-NAFTA pressure by the main American business lobby groups, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and by much of the Republican congressional caucus, whose leaders warned Trump that dumping NAFTA would hurt the hot economy. Farm-state legislators told Trump how NAFTA had caused a boom in agricultural exports. Texas legislators told Trump that their state relied on free trade with Mexico.

With files from Bruce Campion-Smith

Daniel Dale is the Star’s Washington bureau chief. He covers U.S. politics and current affairs. Follow him on Twitter: @ddale8

Tonda MacCharles is an Ottawa-based reporter covering federal politics. Follow her on Twitter: @tondamacc



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These US entities partnered with the Wuhan Institute of Virology — time for a criminal investigation?

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(Natural News) The Wuhan Institute of Virology from which the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) is believed to have “escaped” has a number of questionable partnerships that are worth looking into in light of the pandemic.

Most of them are universities, including the University of Alabama, the University of North Texas, and Harvard University. There is also the EcoHealth Alliance, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the National Wildlife Federation.

While the relationships between these entities and the Wuhan Institute of Virology may be completely innocent, there is no way to really say for sure without a proper investigation. And this is exactly what Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is calling for, as is the nation of Australia.

Pompeo and the folks down under, along with millions of Americans, would really like to know the true origins of the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19). An increasing number of people simply are not buying the narrative that the novel virus originated in bat soup at a Chinese wet market, and this even includes mainstream media outlets like Fox News.

The only way to really determine what was going on at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and who else might have been involved. is to open the place up for an international investigation. But communist China is against this, of course, accusing Australia of “petty tricks” and collusion with the United States.

“Overnight, I saw comments from the Chinese Foreign Ministry talking about a course of activity with respect to Australia who had the temerity to ask for investigation,” Pompeo is quoted as saying in response to China’s aggression against a proposed investigation.

“Who in the world wouldn’t want an investigation of how this happened to the world?” he added.

As the U.S. aims to get back on track economically speaking, Pompeo believes that now is the time to hold communist China, the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and whoever else may have been involved accountable for unleashing this pandemic on the world.

“Not only American wealth, but the global economy’s devastation as a result of this virus,” Pompeo further stated. “There will be a time for this. We will get that timing right.”

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New U.S. analysis finds that lab in Wuhan, China was “most likely” origin of coronavirus release

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(Natural News) While American Leftists and most of the Democrat Party continue to serve as apologists for the Chinese Communist regime over its role in creating and then perpetuating the coronavirus pandemic, a new U.S. government analysis concludes that COVID-19 “most likely” escaped from a lab near Wuhan city.

The Washington Times reports that the analysis cataloged evidence linking the outbreak to the Wuhan lab and has found that other explanations for the origins of the virus are not as credible.

The paper reported:

The document, compiled from open sources and not a finished product, says there is no smoking gun to blame the virus on either the Wuhan Institute of Virology or the Wuhan branch of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, both located in the city where the first outbreaks were reported.

However, “there is circumstantial evidence to suggest such may be the case,” the paper says.

“All other possible places of the virus’ origin have been proven to be highly unlikely,” said the report, a copy of which was obtained by the Times.

ChiCom officials have claimed that the virus’ origin is unknown. However, Beijing initially stated that coronavirus came from animals at a “wet market” in Wuhan where exotic meats are butchered and sold in disgusting conditions.

Chinese officials claim that COVID-19 went from bats to animals sold in the market last year, then infected humans.

U.S. intelligence officials have increasingly dismissed that explanation, however, as attention has begun to focus on evidence suggesting that Chinese medical researchers were working with coronavirus in the country’s only Level 4 facility, which is in Wuhan.

U.S. Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said that intelligence agencies are investigating whether the virus escaped from a lab or was the result of a naturally occurring outbreak, but that analysts have ruled out reports that COVID-19 was manmade.

‘The most logical place to investigate the virus origin has been completely sealed off’

“At this point, it’s inconclusive, although the weight of evidence seems to indicate natural,” the general said on April 14, “but we don’t know for certain.”

The analysis said that the wet market explanation does not ring true because the first human diagnosis of coronavirus was made in someone who had no connection to the wet market in question. And according to Chinese reports, no bats were sold at that particular market.

At the same time, several questionable actions and a growing paper trail provide clues that the virus actually escaped from a lab, even as China begins to clamp down on those information streams.

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The biggest media lies about the coronavirus: Origins, treatments and vaccines

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(Natural News) If there is one thing that most everyone can agree on concerning the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it is the fact that there is no shortage of conflicting information out there about the nature of it. And the mainstream media is certainly doing its part to steer the narrative as part of a larger agenda, using plenty of misinformation along the way.

The following are among the most commonly parroted lies about the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) that aim to distort the facts and deceive you into believing falsehoods about this pandemic:

Media LIE: The virus is not man-made

From the very beginning of this thing, the official narrative was that the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) came from a Chinese wet market where bats and other “exotic” animals are sold as meat. But the world later learned that it actually more than likely “escaped” from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

The mainstream media and social media platforms went nuts trying to censor this information and even called it  “fake news.” But eventually it became undeniable that bat soup was not responsible for spreading the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) around Wuhan and eventually to the rest of the world – hence why we continue to call it the Wuhan coronavirus rather than just COVID-19.

We have even seen attempts by the media machine at making the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) a racial issue because there are supposedly more “people of color” coming down with it than people with fair skin, which further detracts attention away from the source of this virus.

Media LIE: Hydroxychloroquine is extremely dangerous and doesn’t work

The minute that President Donald Trump announced that hydroxychloroquine may be an effective, and very inexpensive, remedy for the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19), the mainstream media immediately began decrying this claim as fake news, even though Anthony Fauci himself praised hydroxychloroquine back in 2013 under Barack Obama as being some type of “miracle cure” for SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome).

There have even been studies conducted that were designed to intentionally smear the drug as both ineffective and dangerous, though one in particular purposely left out zinc, which appears to be a critical co-factor in supporting the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine – in other words, politics as usual.

Media LIE: Only a vaccine can save us from coronavirus

Many politicians and public health officials are parroting the lie that the only way America can come out of lockdown and go back to “normal” is to get vaccinated with some future vaccine for the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) that does not even yet exist. A vaccine, we are repeatedly told, is the only thing, or perhaps some new “blockbuster” antiviral drug, that can cure the world of this scourge and make everything happy and wonderful once again.

Meanwhile, not a peep is being made about things like intravenous (IV) high-dose vitamin C, which is being successfully used in other countries to stem the tide of infections without the need for new drugs and vaccines.

By omission, nutrition is pointless

Speaking of natural approaches to overcoming the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) that are being systematically ignored by the mainstream media and most in politics, have you heard anyone mention the importance of nutrition in all of this? We did not think so, and this is intentional.

Regular readers of this site over the years should know by now that the single-most important thing you need to do to stay healthy besides exercising regularly is to feed your body the nutrition it needs to naturally ward off illnesses, including those associated with the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19).

Research compiled by the Lewin Group reveals that nutritional remedies such as calcium, vitamin D, folate, omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, zeaxanthin, and more all play a critical role in fortifying the immune system, which, if properly nourished, should have little problem fending off disease.

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