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Cheese not on the table in Canada-U.K. trade talks as Britain seeks market access

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OTTAWA — The British foreign secretary has often been mocked for her preoccupation with cheese. It started eight years ago when Liz Truss expressed outrage in a speech to her party’s annual conference.

“We import two thirds of our cheese,” she raged. “That is a disgrace.”

Now Truss is facing another battle over cheese, this time with Canada.

Britain wants greater access to Canadian markets for more than 700 varieties of cheese including Stilton, Cheshire, and Wensleydale, a crumbly variety originating from Yorkshire.

But Ottawa has made it clear it does not want to see more British cheddar, let alone artisan varieties such as stinking bishop, renegade monk and Hereford hop, on Canadian fridge shelves.

During the first round of negotiations of the U.K.-Canada trade deal, Canada told Britain that a larger quota for British cheese is not on the negotiating table.

When it was a European Union member, Britain was part of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with Canada, giving it some access to Canada’s cheese market.

After the U.K. left the EU, a “continuity agreement” with Canada was swiftly put in place to maintain the CETA arrangement until a bilateral trade deal could be struck.

Ralph Goodale, Canada’s high commissioner to the U.K., said if Britain wants more access to Canadian markets for its cheese as part of a bilateral free-trade agreement, it will have to knock on Brussels’ door and get its part of the dairy quota back.

“The point is we have already provided that volume in the EU deal and the British left it there without taking it with them,” he said in an interview. “That’s an issue they need to resolve with the Europeans because the Europeans have their quota.”

Goodale said the U.K.’s request for extra access for British cheese — on top of the access given to the EU — is “what the Canadian negotiators consider to be pretty much a dead end.”

“You are talking about a double concession — one we have already made to the EU and the request is being made by the U.K. for yet another one on top of that,” he said.

The high commissioner said Canada values its trading relationship with the U.K., adding that he is confident that a mutually-beneficial trade deal will be reached.

But if Canada allows the British to export more of their cheese it would involve “a major commitment of compensation to dairy producers” in Canada to make up for lost incomes.

In 2018, after the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement gave the U.S. fresh access to the Canadian dairy market, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he would compensate Canadian dairy farmers.

Canada’s dairy industry was worth over $7 billion in 2020, according to the Canadian Dairy Commission’s annual report.

There are over 10,000 dairy farms in Canada — most of them in Quebec and Ontario — with an average of 92 cows per farm, it said.

Until at least the end of next year, Britain will be able to keep exporting its cheese to Canada under the trade continuity agreement, the U.K.’s trade department said.

This allows U.K. cheese exporters to access the Canadian market tariff-free under the EU portion of Canada’s World Trade Organization cheese tariff rate quota.

As part of the 1995 WTO agreement on agriculture, Canada established tariff rate quotas for cheese and other dairy products. The quotas set out quantities of dairy that could enter Canada with little or no duty.

For Britain, a fully fledged free trade deal with Canada is crucial after Brexit left it looking for fresh tariff-free markets.

“We want to negotiate an ambitious and comprehensive new agreement with Canada that will strengthen our close and historic bilateral trade relationship,” said a U.K. government trade spokesman in a statement, adding the relationship was worth about $34.5 billion in 2021.

In March, U.K. Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan flew to Canada to announce with Canada’s Trade Minister Mary Ng that bilateral negotiations had officially begun.

In a speech in the House of Lords in London earlier this month, Goodale reported on progress in the talks, saying that “both sides are optimistic that, as good as CETA and the continuity agreement were, we can do better still when Canada and the U.K. negotiate a deal face-to-face, directly with each other.”

Like Goodale, Ng said Canada is confident a free-trade deal with Britain will be reached, enhancing co-operation in a number of areas, including on renewables, sustainability and the digital economy.

“Canada values the relationship with the United Kingdom. They are … an important trading partner and a trade agreement with the U.K. will be very good for Canadian businesses,” she said in a phone interview from Thailand last weekend.

But she was also firm about the need to protect Canada’s dairy producers, and that means keeping more British cheese out.

“I have been very clear, our government has been very clear, that we will not provide access to our supply-managed sector,” she said. “We have been clear about that from the get-go.”

The Canadian dairy sector now produces 1,450 varieties of cheese, including ewe, goat and buffalo varieties, as well as the cheese curds used in the Québécois dish poutine.

At least half of Canada’s cheese is made in Quebec, which is home to a number of artisan varieties including bleu l’ermite, or blue hermit, and Oka, a popular semi-soft rind cheese.

Pierre Lampron, president of the Dairy Farmers of Canada, has made it clear he will fiercely protect Canadian cheese from British interlopers.

Lampron said he had “validated that the issue of access to the Canadian dairy market was not on the agenda of these trade talks.”

Canada’s protectionist stance toward its dairy industry may have pleased farmers. But it has caused some tension with close allies.

Earlier this month, New Zealand launched a formal trade dispute against Canada, accusing the federal government of breaking promises to give access for dairy imports under the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.

The Biden administration also recently said it was asking for a second dispute settlement panel under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement to review a trade dispute with Canada over dairy import quotas.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 26, 2022.

 

Marie Woolf, The Canadian Press

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Tesla to shut down production at Gigafactory Berlin to upgrade the factory and add a shift – Electrek.co

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Tesla is reportedly going to shut down production at Gigafactory Berlin in order to upgrade the factory and add a shift to achieve higher production capacity.

The top priority at Tesla is to ramp up production to catch up with customer demand.

The automaker is doing that at all its factories, but the ramps are more significant at Gigafactory Berlin and Gigafactory Texas, which only recently started production.

Giga Berlin appeared to be doing relatively well thanks to utilizing the 2170 cells, which enables a battery infrastructure that Tesla is used to, and it achieved a production rate of 1,000 Model vehicles per week in June.

Giga Texas appeared to be falling behind since it had difficulties ramping up production of the 4680 battery cell and structural battery pack, but we reported that last week that the factory ramped up production significantly with Tesla starting to build Model Y Long Range with 2170 cells at the plant.

Now Tesla is looking for Gigafactory Berlin to catch up, and it will reportedly shut down the factory for about two weeks in order to upgrade it.

Germany’s Bild reported the news today:

According to BILD information, Tesla therefore wants to interrupt operations for two weeks starting next Monday. It is unclear how many of the 4,500 employees will be sent on vacation and how many technicians will remain to convert production.

The publication also says that the automaker will add a third shift and start producing electric motors at the factory instead of importing them from Gigafactory Shanghai:

According to employees, after the break in production, work should be carried out in three instead of two shifts. In addition, Tesla could then start manufacturing the drive in a neighboring hall.

While the upgrade could help, Gigafactory Berlin’s biggest bottleneck is reportedly its workforce.

Over the last few months, there have been many reports of Tesla having issues hiring and retaining employees. Some of them suggested that salaries have been a particular issue and the local union, IG Metall, was starting to get involved. But Tesla did increase salaries by 6% for many employees in order to address the concern.

It will require a significant hiring effort for Tesla to add a third shift at the plant after the factory restart later this month.


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Travel delays: Canadian airlines, airports top global list – CTV News

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MONTREAL –

Canadian airlines and airports claimed top spots in flight delays over the July long weekend, notching more than nearly any other around the world.

Air Canada ranked No. 1 in delays on Saturday and Sunday that affected 700-plus trips in total, or about two-thirds of its flights, according to tracking service FlightAware. It was more than 14 percentage points above the three carriers tied for second place.

Jazz Aviation – a Halifax-based company that provides regional service for Air Canada – and the lower-cost Air Canada Rouge both saw 53 per cent of flights delayed, putting them in the No. 2 spot alongside Greek regional airline Olympic Air.

On Saturday, WestJet and budget subsidiary Swoop placed third and fourth at 55 per cent.

On the airport front, Toronto’s Pearson claimed the No. 2 spot Sunday after 53 per cent of departures were held up, below only Guangzhou’s main airport in China. Pearson beat out Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris and Frankfurt Airport in Germany.

Montreal’s airport placed sixth Sunday at 43 per cent of takeoffs delayed, on par with London’s Heathrow, according to FlightAware figures.

Air Canada said last week it will cut more than 15 per cent of its summer schedule, nearly 10,000 flights in July and August, as the country’s aviation network sags under an overwhelming travel resurgence.

Bookended by statutory holidays in Canada and the U.S., the weekend saw scenes of long lines and luggage labyrinths flood social media as airports across the globe grappled with the start of peak travel season following two years of pent-up demand.

Passenger flow at Canadian airports is already at 2019 levels during peak times, though closer to 80 per cent of pre-pandemic volumes overall, experts say.

“This is going to be with us all summer,” said Helane Becker, an airline analyst for investment firm Cowen.

“Almost every airline encouraged people to retire early or take leaves. And those people that retired early maybe don’t want to come back to work,” she saidof airline employees.

“It’s hard to rebuild off those lows.”

Some pilots have not yet had their licences renewed, while positions with groundcrews and baggage handling remain unfilled – or quickly vacated – due to low wages and stressful work conditions, unions say.

Government agencies have been on a hiring spree for airport security and customs, with 900-plus new security screeners in place since April – though not all have clearance to work the scanners – according to the federal Transport Department.

“The airlines also used the pandemic to eliminate aircraft types from their fleet, and to ground and retire their oldest aircraft. It’s hard to bring these aircraft back once you park them without doing a lot of maintenance,” Becker added.

“As demand continues to surge, we’re basically looking at an inability for the airlines to easily accommodate it. And I think that’s true worldwide.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 4, 2022

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High inflation likely to stick around, consumers and businesses tell Bank of Canada in 2 surveys – CBC News

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Canadian businesses and consumers think the current era of high inflation will persist for longer than they’d previously hoped, according to two surveys from the Bank of Canada released Monday.

The two reports — known as the Business Outlook Survey and the Canadian Survey of Consumer Expectations — are the result of the central bank’s quarterly polling of Canadian businesses and consumers for their outlook on what’s happening on the ground in Canada’s economy.

  • Have a question or something to say? Email: ask@cbc.ca or join us live in the comments now.

While the findings differed in a few ways, the dominant theme of both was inflation and the impact it is having on buying and selling, hiring and firing.

The main takeaway from the business survey was that most businesses are seeing higher sales than they were seeing earlier in the pandemic, as economic activity is returning to some sort of normal. But demand continues to outstrip supply across almost all types of businesses, which is both a factor of and a contributor to the high inflation currently plaguing the economy.

Nearly two-thirds of businesses told the central bank they are seeing labour shortages. Nearly half — 43 per cent — say they are experiencing bottlenecks in their supply chains, and they’re taking longer to resolve than previously anticipated.

Businesses expect Canada’s inflation rate to still be more than five per cent a year from now, and still more than four per cent two years out. But five years from now, the survey suggests they expect the inflation rate to come back to within the range the central bank targets, between one and three per cent.

It was a similar story on the consumer side. Long-term inflation expectations increased from 3.2 per cent to four per cent, while short-term expectations increased to 6.8 per cent, up from 5.1 per cent last quarter.

“Consumers clearly took notice of the recent [consumer price index] releases and the high prices for food and gasoline,” CIBC economists Andrew Grantham and Karyne Charbonneau said of the data. “Uncertainty around the evolution of inflation has increased.”

Wages set to increase

On the employment front, on average, business owners expect their labour costs to increase by 5.8 per cent this year. 

That’s significantly higher than the two per cent wage increases that consumers told the bank they were expecting.

“Workers do not anticipate their wage gains will keep up with inflation,” the bank said, adding that those in the private sector think their wages will increase this year by more than those in the public sector will.

Economist Leslie Preston with TD Bank said the survey shows just how big a concern inflation is in the minds of ordinary consumers.

“This survey suggests consumer spending in real terms is likely to slow in the coming months as wages can’t keep up with inflation, and households are already being forced to economize,” she said, adding that expectations of high inflation to come “is a source of concern for low-income consumers in particular, who are adjusting to high inflation by cutting spending, postponing major purchases, looking for discounts more often, and buying more affordable items.”

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