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Monday, October 23, 2017

Canada's political leaders to push a NAFTA deal across the U.S.

   Canada column for Sunday, Oct. 22/17

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Canadian politicians are crossing the United States trying to save the North American Free Trade Agreement.
   Key demands by the U.S. that both Canadian and Mexican leaders say are not possible hampered the fourth round of talks in Washington.
   As negotiations faltered and were postponed until next year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it is important for his cabinet members to promote the merits of reaching the trilateral trade pact.
   They are reminding U.S. lawmakers that 35 states list Canada their top customer and nine-million Americans depend on trade with Canada for their jobs.
   Startling demands at the latest talks concerned automobiles, dairy and other issues.
   The U.S. wants cars and trucks to have 50 percent U.S. content to avoid tariffs within a year.
   President Donald Trump said Canadian dairy policies are hurting mid-western farmers.
   Trade negotiators are demanding that Canada’s supply management system for dairy, chicken, eggs and turkey be scrapped within 10 years.


   As Sears Canada winds up its business with liquidation sales – blaming online shopping for part of its demise – a survey shows Canadians prefer shopping in stores.
   BMO Capital Markets surveyed 1,200 people, asking if they would consider buying products in five categories from Canadian Tire, Walmart or Dollarama.
   It asked if shoppers would prefer to buy the products online from the retailer’s website, the retailer’s store or at Amazon.ca, assuming they were the same price.
   It found those surveyed overwhelmingly preferred to buy at a physical retail location, as opposed to online in every category.


   News in brief:
   - The Canadian government is reworking its proposed tax-reform proposals aimed at business owners and the wealthy. It will simplify limiting private corporation owners who lower taxes through “sprinkling” earnings with family members. It will scale back passive investment income so only three percent of the most-wealthy private corporations will pay higher taxes and eliminate a change to ease the passing down of a family business.
   - Gord Downie, lead singer of the Tragically Hip that featured “Canadiana-laced lyrics,” has died at age 53. He had an aggressive form of brain cancer and went on a cross-Canada farewell tour with the group last year.
   - Canada’s retail sales have started slowing after a red-hot year as the annual inflation rate moved up to 1.6 percent last month from 1.4 percent in September. Excluding higher gas prices, the rate was 1.1 percent while retails sales dropped 0.3 percent. The inflation rates are within the Bank of Canada’s ideal target of two percent as the central bank plans to announce its plans for interest rates on Wednesday.


   Facts and figures:
   Canada’s dollar has dropped to 79.19 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.262 in Canadian funds before exchange fees.
   The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate is steady at 1 percent while the prime-lending rate is 3.2 percent.
   Stock markets are mixed, with the Toronto exchange index up at 15,857 points while the TSX Venture index was down to 789 points.
   The average price for gas in Canada is higher at $1.108 a liter or $4.21 (Canadian) for a U.S. gallon.
   Lotto 6/49: (Oct. 18) 11, 25, 33, 35, 40 and 42; bonus 15. (Oct. 14) 16, 22, 28, 29, 32 and 34; bonus 43. Lotto Max (Oct. 13) 8, 14, 16, 17, 18, 34 and 41; bonus 43.


   Regional briefs:
   - Three men were killed while trying to repair an ammonia leak at an arena in Fernie, British Columbia. Two were city employees while the third worked for CIMCO Refrigeration of Calgary. Also in B.C., former provincial cabinet minister and long-time Vancouver radio broadcaster Rafe Mair has died at age 85.
   - It’s expected that New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant will be calling an early election in the province. He plans to meet Monday with Lieutenant-Governor Jocelyne Roy, saying his Liberal government has “accomplished” its mandate over the past three years. That’s a usual sign of an early election call instead of waiting until next September.


Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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