The European Union called on the United States Thursday to end its trade investigation into the Canadian lobster industry.
The Trump administration launched the election year probe after complaints from Maine as Canadian lobster shippers took advantage of the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).
European Union trade counsellor Tomas Baert suggested the point became moot this summer when the EU yielded to demands from Donald Trump and agreed to eliminate tariffs on U.S. lobster, putting it on par with Canada.
“We therefore believe that the ITC investigation should be terminated, at least by the time the trade package is implemented on both sides,” Baert said via video conference.
There is no doubt American lobster exports to Europe cratered by $100 million after CETA went into effect in 2017.
Annie Tselikis, executive director of the of the Maine Lobster Dealers Association, told the panel the United States handed the European market to Canada when the Trump administration abandoned the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, a free trade negotiation between the United states and European Union.
It meant tariffs remained on U.S. lobster while Canadian shippers enjoyed the immediate elimination of an eight per cent tariff on live lobster and the phase out of even higher tariffs on processed products.
“In 2016, U.S. exports to major European lobster-importing nations were valued at $162.3 million and by 2019, the value had declined to $62.3 million. Ceding the market to the Canadian lobster exporters were receiving preferential treatment,” Tselikis said.
In response to CETA, the Maine industry moved more lobster into Atlantic Canada where the lobster processing sector for both countries is concentrated.
If the hearing revealed anything, it was the close integration between the Canadian and American lobster industries with complementary harvest seasons that ensure a year-round supply and product crossing the border in both directions.
Both are each other’s largest lobster trading partners.
The global trade was worth $2.6 billion in 2019 with 61 per cent of the trade between Canada and the United States.
“We are each other’s suppliers, customers and competitors,” said Tselikis.
The European downturn was followed by an even bigger blow when China slapped retaliatory tariffs on lobster as part of a trade war with Donald Trump.
Those tariffs, adding up to 42 per cent to the cost of U.S. lobster, shut down access to the world’s largest seafood market.
Again, Canada was a beneficiary.
“We have watched Canada move in on our former Chinese customers and we have seen their federal and provincial governments provide financial assistance for everything from increased export capacity at the Halifax Airport to capital improvement in seafood marketing available through the Atlantic Fisheries Fund,” Tselikis said.
China has eased these tariffs, but the market remains depressed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Factors in Canada’s favour
Canadian industry representative Geoff Irvine of the Lobster Council of Canada pushed back when commission chairman Jason Kearns suggested government subsidies were the main reason the processing sector is located north of the border.
“No, the Atlantic Fisheries Fund is not why processing is bigger here. It’s bigger here because of the history, and you having regulatory issues in New England where you weren’t allowed to process,” Irvine said.
“I wouldn’t say that any of those programs have moved the bar in terms of any of that. It’s folks are willing to invest in their businesses up here over decades and decades.”
Tselikis conceded there are other factors in Canada’s favour.
“They have health care that covers their workers that we do not have here in the United States. There are a number of reasons why it is more effective to process lobsters in Canada than here in the United States,” she said.
Industry representatives from both countries said they expect U.S. lobster exports to Europe to recover once the pandemic abates.
Currently, U.S. citizens are still barred from travelling to Europe because of COVID-19.
The U.S. International Trade Commission will report back on its lobster investigation in the new year.
Canada breaks record for coronavirus cases – CTV News
Canada has reported its highest number of COVID-19 cases in a single day, breaking a record set in the spring as two provinces announced their worst one-day tallies.
According to CTVNews.ca’s coronavirus tracker, Canada recorded 2,786 new cases on Thursday, breaking the previous record of 2,698 cases, which was set on Oct. 17.
This is also the first time the country surpassed the May 3 tally of 2,760 cases. This number was only as high as it was because it included 1,317 missing cases in Quebec from earlier in the pandemic. At the time, the province cited a computer error for the discrepancy.
Canada’s grim milestone comes as British Columbia and Alberta both broke new daily case records for the second straight day, adding 274 and 427 cases, respectively.
Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, attributed her province’s spike in cases to social gatherings.
“Much of the recent surge that we have seen in new cases in B.C in the last couple of weeks is directly linked to social events,” she said during a news conference. “These events have caused clusters and outbreaks that have now spilled over into our health-care system.”
Alberta’s top doctor cited Thanksgiving as the source of surging coronavirus cases there.
“The leading source of exposures for active cases right now are close contacts, and many of the cases that we are seeing now are the result of spread over Thanksgiving when families gathered together,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw said in her provincial update.
“People did not mean to spread COVID, but it is a reminder where social gatherings where social distancing and masking are not used consistently are a significant risk for spread.”
Quebec continues to be the epicentre of the pandemic in Canada, adding more than a thousand new cases for the sixth time in seven days. Ontario, the second hardest hit province, registered more than 800 new cases on Thursday.
Manitoba also broke a record, but not for the number of new cases. The province recorded its deadliest day with four deaths related to COVID-19.
Ontario reports 841 more COVID-19 cases, 7-day average on the rise – CBC.ca
Ontario reported another 841 cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, as the seven-day average of new daily cases — a measure that helps limit noise in the data — is starting to climb again after a brief lull.
Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams said at a news conference that today’s number of new cases is the second highest the province has seen since the virus’s second wave hit.
“That’s concerning as we watch how this second wave is working through us in the province of Ontario,” Williams said.
The seven-day average now sits at about 761, still below the most recent peak of 781 that came earlier this month, but consistently on the rise in the last four days.
The province also reported nine more deaths in today’s update, a second-straight day with nine new deaths. Forty people have died from COVID-19 in Ontario in the last week.
Today’s new cases are concentrated in the following public health units:
- Toronto: 335
- Peel: 162
- York: 106
- Ottawa: 72
Other areas that saw double-digit increases include:
- Durham Region: 29
- Halton Region: 29
- Simcoe Muskoka: 24
- Hamilton: 20
- Eastern Ontario: 10
- Middlesex London: 10
Seventy-four of the newly confirmed cases of the illness are school-related, including at least 49 students and five staff. A total of 1,641 cases school-related cases have now been registered provincewide since the academic year began, with 501 schools having reported at least one in students or staff. That figure is equivalent to about 10.38 per cent of all publicly-funded schools in Ontario.
(Note: All of the figures used in this story are found in the Ministry of Health’s daily update, which includes data from up until 4 p.m. the previous day. The number of cases for any particular region on a given day may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit, which often avoid lag times found in the provincial system.)
Williams said cases in schools have been primarily found in students, but there has not been much evidence of in-school transmission.
“That means a lot of good work is being done … in the school settings,” he said.
But the province is, Williams said, seeing clusters of cases linked to social gatherings at weddings, sporting events and at household gatherings.
Ford wishes for ‘crystal ball’
At the province’s daily news conference Thursday, Premier Doug Ford was asked if he had any insight as to if the province will be able to lift its “modified Stage 2” restrictions that have been enacted in the parts of Ontario that have been hardest hit by the virus. When introduced, the province said they were planning for the measures to last for 28 days.
“I wish I had a crystal ball to find out where we’re going,” Ford said. “I pray in a couple of weeks that these numbers are going to change.”
“People have to follow the guidelines.”
Ontario has now seen a total of 67,527 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the first was reported in late January. Of those, about 86 per cent are considered resolved, including 741 more in today’s update.
There are 6,390 confirmed, active infections provincewide, a jump of 91 since Wednesday and a new record-high for Ontario.
After a considerable decrease in Wednesday’s update, the number of people in Ontario hospitals with confirmed cases of the illness increased again, up 10 to 270. Some 74 patients are being treated in intensive care, and 48 are on ventilators — one fewer than Wednesday.
Meanwhile, there are active outbreaks of COVID-19 in at least 80 long-term care facilities.
5 Toronto hospitals with COVID-19 outbreaks
Another Toronto hospital has declared an outbreak of COVID-19.
The Scarborough Health Network said six patients are infected in one unit at its general hospital in the city’s east end.
A spokeswoman for the health network said the unit has been closed to admissions in order to protect patients and staff.
Leigh Duncan added that enhanced infection prevention and control measures are in place in the affected unit.
Scarborough joins a growing list of Toronto hospitals that have declared an official outbreak, defined as two health-care-related cases of COVID-19 within 14 days.
St. Michael’s Hospital, St. Joseph’s Health Centre, Toronto Western Hospital and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health have also declared outbreaks among staff or patients.
Beijing erupts at Canada after parliamentary committee says China's Uighur policy amounts to 'genocide' – CBC.ca
China’s foreign ministry is lashing out at Canada after a House of Commons subcommittee concluded that the state’s mistreatment of Uighurs living in Xinjiang province amounts to a policy of genocide.
The committee’s report, tabled Wednesday, says that China’s persecution of this Muslim minority — through mass detentions in concentration camps, forced labour, state surveillance and population control measures — is a clear violation of human rights and is meant to “eradicate Uighur culture and religion.”
The committee said that it agrees with the experts who say China’s campaign against the Uighurs meets the definition of genocide set out in the 1948 Genocide Convention.
Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry, said today that this “so-called genocide” is “a rumour and a farce fabricated by some anti-Chinese forces to slander China.”
“Its groundless statement is full of lies and disinformation,” he said of the committee’s report, warning parliamentarians to “avoid doing any further damage to China-Canada relations.
“This is blatant interference in China’s internal affairs and reflects those Canadian individuals’ ignorance and prejudice. China firmly deplores and rejects that.”
The subcommittee on international human rights, chaired by Liberal MP Peter Fonseca, heard from witnesses who survived the concentration camps China has built to suppress Muslims living in this oil-rich northwestern province.
Committee witnesses described “deplorable” conditions where they were psychologically, physically and sexually abused and subjected to forced assimilation and indoctrination into the dominant Chinese culture.
Asked about the camps, Zhao insisted they are “vocational training and education centres” where religious “extremists” were educated in the “national common spoken and written language, legal knowledge, vocational skills and de-radicalization.”
“The aim is to eliminate the root cause of terrorism and extremism,” he said.
The Commons committee also concluded that Chinese communist officials have forcibly sterilized Uighur women and girls and pushed abortions and intrauterine contraceptive devices (IUDs) on hundreds of thousands in a systematic attempt “to persecute and possibly eradicate Uighurs.”
Uighurs make up less than one per cent of the population in a country where Mandarin-speaking ethnic Chinese people — the Han — constitute the overwhelming majority.
While the Turkic-speaking Uighurs are just a small ethnic subset, Chinese government documents obtained by the committee show that approximately 80 per cent of all new IUD placements in China took place in Xinjiang.
Birth rates continue to plummet across the region, falling nearly 24 per cent last year alone — compared to a drop of just 4.2 per cent nationwide — according to statistics compiled by the U.S.-based Jamestown Foundation. The population control measures are backed by mass detention, both as a threat and as a punishment for failure to comply.
Witnesses also told committee members about a “poverty reduction” measure implemented by Beijing that forced Uighurs into camps to perform slave labour, making products that were to be sold in Canada and other western nations.
A recent report titled “Uighurs for sale” by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute found that thousands of Muslims have been used as forced labour in factories that supply companies like BMW, Nike and Huawei, among others.
The Chinese government has facilitated the mass transfer of Uighur and other ethnic minority citizens from Xinjiang to factories across the country.
Under constant state surveillance through closed-circuit television cameras and mobile tracking devices, Uighur survivors have said they lived in constant fear.
They told committee members that Uighur expatriates are subjected to harassment and intimidation by the Chinese regime — even in Canada.
“The subcommittee unequivocally condemns the persecution of Uighur and other Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang by the government of China,” the committee’s report reads. “The subcommittee is persuaded that the actions of the Chinese Communist Party constitute genocide.”
The committee said these control tactics are designed to suppress the Uighurs because they “desire more autonomy or independence from China,” and the communists consider them a “threat” to economic development and prosperity.
The committee is recommending the federal government condemn China’s abuse of Uighurs, work with allies to secure unfettered access to Xinjiang for international observers to prevent further abuse, recognize that China’s actions constitute genocide and impose sanctions on implicated officials through Canada’s so-called Magnitsky law.
That law allows the government to impose sanctions and freeze assets owned by foreign nationals and prohibit financial transactions by known human rights abusers.
The law is informally named after Russian tax adviser Sergei Magnitsky, who was tortured and died in a Moscow prison after documenting fraud in Russia.
“Canada needs to take immediate action and live up to the values it espouses at home and abroad,” says the report. “Canada must act now to address China’s aggression against Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims.”
Canada ‘deeply disturbed’ by Uighur abuse
In a statement, Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne said he is “deeply disturbed” by the troubling reports documented by the subcommittee.
He said he raised the issue of Uighur abuse with Michelle Bachelet, the UN commissioner for human rights, during a recent meeting in Switzerland.
Earlier this month, Canada and 37 allies also expressed “grave concerns” about the situation in Xinjiang at the UN, he said.
Champagne said the government would back a push to send impartial advisers into the region to document the plight of the Uighurs.
“Canada takes the allegations of genocide very seriously. We will continue … with our allies to push for these to be investigated through an international independent body,” he said.
Champagne did not address a question about whether Canada would pursue Magnitsky sanctions like those slapped on Russian and Venezuelan officials in recent years.
This parliamentary report is the latest attempt by some MPs and senators to put pressure on the government to take a tougher stand against China.
In June, more than a dozen senators — including several appointed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — urged the federal government to impose sanctions on Chinese officials for “gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms.”
Citing China’s detention of Uighur Muslims, its crackdown on democratic rights in Hong Kong, its decades-long repression of Tibet and its imprisonment of Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, the senators described the regime in Beijing as the “biggest threat to mankind and a danger to international security.”
That letter was followed by a call from 68 MPs and senators for Canada to levy sanctions on top Chinese officials.
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