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Monday, July 17, 2017

Canada confident ahead of NAFTA proposed changes by the U.S.

   Canada column for Sunday, July 16/17

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Canada’s leaders feel confident that President Donald Trump won’t be “ripping up” the three-country North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
   Prime Minister Justin Trudeau received the assurance from Vice President Mike Pense while attending a meeting of state governors in Rhode Island on Friday.
   “We will modernize NAFTA for the 21st century so that it is a win-win-win for all of our trading partners in North America,” Pence said to applause from Trudeau.
   His remarks came days before the U.S. government plans to issue its thoughts about NAFTA negotiations that are to begin next month.
   In a speech to Pense and the governors, Trudeau urged more trade, not less, saying “we must get this right.”
   “We’re grateful for the prime minister’s leadership and his early outreach to this administration,” Pense said.
   He said the U.S. is “looking forward to bringing NAFTA into the future in a way that will equally benefit both our countries.”


   Canada’s central bank raised its key interest rate to 0.75 per cent, the first increase in seven years.
   Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz said the lower rates had their impact on aiding the economy and it was time to finally start to make an upward move.
   The country’s major banks boosted their prime-lending rate used to set interest rates for mortgages and other loans a similar 0.25 percent to 2.95 percent.
   Poloz said will gauge “carefully the effects of higher interest rates on the economy.”
   The bank’s move pushed the Canadian dollar to 79 cents U.S., the highest in almost a year.


   News in brief:
   - Former astronaut Julie Payette, 53, of Montreal has been named Canada’s next Governor General, the official representative of Queen Elizabeth II in the country. She succeeds former university president and author David Johnston, 76, who served in the largely ceremonial post for seven years. In making the announcement, Prime Minister Trudeau said Payette’s life has been “one dedicated to discovery, to dreaming big and to always staying focused on the things that matter most.”
   - Sears Canada, in bankruptcy protection from creditors and wanting to cut off benefits for its laid off and retired employees, is paying $9.2 million in retention bonuses to selected executives. The company, which is seeking a buyer and is restructuring, now says retired employees will continue to receive some benefit payments until Sept. 30 as it cuts 2,900 jobs and closes 59 of its 225 stores.


   Facts and figures:
   Canada’s dollar has jumped to 79.06 cents U.S. as the U.S. dollar is worth $1.264 in Canadian funds before exchange fees.
   The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate has moved up 0.25 percent to 0.75 percent while the prime-lending rate at commercial banks advanced to 2.95 percent.
   Stock markets are higher, with the Toronto exchange index at 15,174 points while the TSX Venture index is 757 points.
   The average price for gas in Canada is lower at $1.053 a liter or $4 (Canadian) for a U.S. gallon.
   Lotto 6/49: (July 12) 12, 13, 30, 41, 45 and 49; bonus 16. (July 8) 20, 25, 26, 32, 34 and 36; bonus 9. Lotto Max: (July 7) 4, 8, 13, 16, 26, 33 and 38; bonus 10.


   Regional briefs:
   - Firefighters are preparing for deteriorating conditions where 170 wildfires are burning across British Columbia’s Central and Southern Interior. Around Williams Lake, 11,000 people were told to be prepared to leave their homes as sustained winds could push the fires closer. Already the fires have forced more than 10,000 from their communities.
   - The day he was released from a Winnipeg hospital after being treated for dehydration, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, 92, was back at a Habitat for Humanity work site Friday. Wearing work clothes, Carter joined hundreds of Habitat for Humanity volunteers and his wife, Rosalynn, building 25 homes. Habitat is building 150 homes this year for people in need in Canada to celebrate the country’s 150th anniversary.


Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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