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Press to join U.S.-led Indo-Pacific economic framework, business leaders urge Ottawa



WASHINGTON — There’s a four-letter F-word American leaders don’t much use these days when they talk about international trade: “free.”

Instead, President Joe Biden’s newest economic relationships in the Americas and the Indo-Pacific are described as “partnerships” and “frameworks” — an illustration of how politically toxic free trade has become in the U.S.

The latest is the Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity, which Biden announced last week as he kicked off the Summit of the Americas, where leaders from 21 countries across the Western Hemisphere gathered, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

It was seen by some as a consolation prize of sorts following Biden’s unveiling in May of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity, with some heavy hitters among its 13 founding partners, including India, Japan and Australia — together totalling some 40 per cent of global GDP.

Its architects have gone to some lengths to point out that it’s not a free trade deal, but rather a potential foundation for future agreements.

“The fact that this is not a traditional free trade agreement is a feature of IPEF, not a bug,” National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said when the framework was unveiled last month.

“The new landscape and the new challenges we face need a new approach, and we will shape the substance of this effort together with our partners.”

Though the administration won’t say so, that new approach includes framing agreements as non-trade related, to avoid the politically difficult hurdle of requiring congressional approval.

The IPEF is the U.S. answer to the 11-country Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, or CPTPP, which includes Canada and which former president Donald Trump abandoned back in 2017.

Business advocates in Canada say the federal government should be aggressively trying to secure membership in the Indo-Pacific framework, which represents the U.S. economic strategy in the Asia-Pacific.

Its members also include Brunei, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam — and now Fiji, which was added shortly after the original announcement.

“When Fiji can complain and be added in 24 hours, there’s no reason” the federal government couldn’t do the same, said Goldy Hyder, president and CEO of the Business Council of Canada. 

“These are not either-or; it’s not like, ‘You’re part of TPP and you’re not part of this.’ This is something coming together, and these frameworks are America’s response to wanting to stay away from trade agreements, clearly. So it’s best to be in the room than on the outside looking in.”

As the Summit of the Americas wrapped up last week, Trudeau — whose own liberal use of free trade rhetoric reflects a different political reality in Canada — would not expressly say whether those efforts are underway.

“Canada is the only G7 country that has free trade deals with every other G7 country; we have extensive free trade deals with Central and South America, (and) we have extensive deals with Asia through the CPTPP,” he said.

Having chosen to exit that latter agreement, the U.S. clearly has to negotiate new partnerships with countries in the Asia-Pacific, he said, adding that Canada is in “full discussions” with the U.S. about the Americas partnership.

“But those conversations about how we work together — how we strengthen institutions, how we deepen trade ties, how we support each other through greater resilience in our communities, in our countries — that has been at the heart of the hard work done through the summit, and will continue to be.”

Mark Agnew, vice-president of policy for the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, sounded skeptical Tuesday about the prospects of the Americas partnership bearing much in the way of fruit.

“I really get the sense that the Indo-Pacific framework just has more meat on the bones, frankly, in terms of what’s in there … things that have a bit of crunchiness to them,” Agnew said.

The White House vision for IPEF includes “high-standard rules of the road” for the digital economy, including on the flow of data across borders, e-commerce standards and concerns about online privacy, he noted — all issues that are top of mind for Canadian businesses.

“Canada has to be looking at both regions,” Agnew said. “But when I look at which one holds more potential for Canada and Canadian interests, the Indo-Pacific one is where I think there’s more there for Canada to focus on.”

Both frameworks reflect a concerted effort on the Biden administration’s part to inject progressive, labour-friendly values into the international trade landscape, and to counter the grassroots, working-class disdain for globalization.

Those values — and the growing political urgency for Democrats, who face challenging midterms in November — were on clear display Tuesday when Biden spoke to more than 2,000 labour leaders and union members at the AFL-CIO convention in Philadelphia.

“We need an economy built from the middle out and the bottom up, not the top down,” said Biden, who was introduced as “the most pro-union president in the history of the United States.”

“When the middle class does well, everybody does — the wealthy do very well, they’re never hurt. But I also know too often we’ve had an economy where the wealthy do better and better while the middle class gets left behind.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 15, 2022.


James McCarten, The Canadian Press


‘McGregor-Mayweather rematch in the making’



Los Angeles, United States of America (USA)- has reported that Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather are in discussions over holding a second bout.

Mayweather beat McGregor in their huge clash back in June 2017 but McGregor has hinted at a possible rematch in a post on his Instagram account.

The UFC superstar posted a cryptic post hinting at a second bout by sharing a picture of their 2017 clash and writing, “I accept.”

However, it’s uncertain as to whether a rematch between the pair would be another exhibition bout, or whether Mayweather would make it one more professional fight.

Meanwhile, YouTuber, Jake Paul, has repeatedly claimed that Mayweather still hasn’t paid him following last year’s exhibition bout. Their eight-round exhibition bout went to a draw as Mayweather was unable to knockout Paul, “Floyd Mayweather is broke. I have been saying it all the time. I think he probably spent it on the girls he pays to be around him. He’s hard to hit, but even harder to collect money from. Who should I fight next?”

However, Mayweather has since dismissed the accusations claiming that Paul has suggested that the pair should have a second exhibition bout.

“This is the guy who said he didn’t get paid, which we know is truly false, which is why I don’t entertain the bull*** a lot of the time. We know he got paid and if he didn’t get paid he wouldn’t be trying to get another payday. It is so crazy that Logan Paul wants to do an exhibition again but it is the same guy that said he didn’t get paid. It is what it is,” said Mayweather.

Mayweather was expected to earn US$64 million from the fight, with Logan receiving US$18.5 million of the purse.

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G7: Canada to elevate small Commonwealth nations' concerns – CTV News



KIGALI, Rwanda –

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau headed to the G7 summit in Germany on Saturday without a consensus from the Commonwealth to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but with a chorus of countries calling for help to overcome the fallout of the war.

Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly arrived in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, on Wednesday for the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, which has been dominated by the concerns of nations that are suffering from food scarcity. Trudeau departed for the G7 talk slater in the day.

In the final communique from the Commonwealth summit, the 54 participating countries said they discussed the conflict in Ukraine, ” underscored the need to respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all states,” and ” emphasized that all countries must seek peaceful resolution to all disputes in accordance with international law.”

The countries stopped short of condemning Russia, as Trudeau and United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson have done throughout the summit.

“I can assure you that the topic of standing up for Ukraine was much discussed,” Trudeau said at a press conference following the conclusion of the summit, referencing “strong language” in the communique.

Most Commonwealth Nations condemned Russia’s actions at a United Nations vote in March, but 10 abstained. Among them was India, whose Prime Minister Narendra Modi opted not to attend the Commonwealth summit and instead spoke virtually with the leaders of Russia, China, Brazil and South Africa.

Trudeau said Russian President Vladimir Putin has run a disinformation campaign and has even been “telling outright lies,” including blaming the food security crisis on Western sanctions against Russia.

He said food shortage stems from Russia’s illegal actions, including blockade at key ports, as well as the deliberate targeting of Ukrainian grain storage facilities through cruise missile strikes.

“I was very clear with our friends and partners around the table, and not just clear on Russia’s responsibility, but on how Canada and the West are stepping up,” Trudeau said.

Canada will be raising the growing threat of famine at the G7 in Schloss Elmau Germany, Joly said.

She said Canada was in “listening mode” at the Commonwealth meetings, where leaders of smaller nations were able to speak without the dominating presence of the United States, Russia and China.

“What is clear to us is that Russia is weaponizing food and putting a toll on many countries around the world, and putting 50 million lives at risk,” Joly told reporters Friday in Rwanda.

Trudeau had attempted to meet with the chair of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, for several days during the Commonwealth summit but the sit-down was repeatedly postponed and eventually cancelled.

Shortly after Trudeau arrived in Rwanda, the government announced Canada would dedicate a new ambassador to the African Union, which has suffered from the food shortages inflicted on the continent as a result of the warin Ukraine.

Both Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Putin have met with representatives of the African Union, with Russia blaming sanctions against its government for stopping the flow of grain.

At the conclusion of the Commonwealth summit, Trudeau announced $94 million in funding for various education initiatives and $120 million to support gender equality and women’s rights in Commonwealth countries.

Some of the other voices the prime minister has promised to centre at his international meetings, including the G7 summit,

belong to youth leaders who spoke at a Saturday-morning event focused on issues facing young people around the world.

Some of the delegates spoke about the devastating effects of climate change, particularly around remote island nations where infrastructure cannot withstand natural disasters and rebuilding efforts take years. The onslaught takes a toll on education and health services, one delegate told the forum.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 25, 2022.

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New federal task force to review Canada’s immigration, passport delays – Global News



The federal government has created a special task force to help tackle the major delays with immigration applications and passport processing that have left Canadians frustrated.

In a statement announcing the new task force, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the federal government knows the delays are unacceptable, and will continue to do everything it can to improve the delivery of the services in an efficient and timely manner.

Read more:

Passport renewal wait times now online as Ottawa looks to address long lineups

Trudeau said the new task force will help guide the government to better meet the changing needs of Canadians, and continue to provide them with the high-quality services they need and deserve.

Ten cabinet members will spearhead the new committee, which will review how services are delivered, and identify gaps and areas for improvement.

Click to play video: 'New passport wait-time estimator shows system backlog'

New passport wait-time estimator shows system backlog

New passport wait-time estimator shows system backlog – Jun 15, 2022

The committee will be expected to make recommendations outlining short- and longer-term solutions that would reduce wait times, clear out backlogs, and improve the overall quality of services provided.

Read more:

Canadian passport delays are frustrating travellers. What’s the fix?

In addition, the task force will monitor external issues, such as labour shortages around the world, which contribute to travel delays at home and abroad.

© 2022 The Canadian Press

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