Canada is to open trade talks next month with the four-nation Mercosur trading bloc in South America as part of an ongoing push to diversify its trade partnerships, a senior official said on Friday.
The move comes as Canada’s main trading relationship with the US — the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) — falters, and after Ottawa announced it would sign on to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
“We intend to open negotiations for a potential agreement with Mercosur in Paraguay the day after the signing of the TPP, which will take place in Chile on March 8,” the official said.
In addition to Paraguay, the bloc includes Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay.
Canada currently trades about Can$8 billion (US$6 billion) annually with the Mercosur bloc, which is the second-largest in the hemisphere after the NAFTA.
This is dwarfed by bilateral Canada-US trade, which topped C$780 billion (US$621 billion) last year, with 70 percent of Canadian exports going to its southern neighbor, according to Canadian government figures.
However, after six rounds of “slow” talks to revamp NAFTA, which Washington has threatened to dump, the future of Canada’s preferential access to the US market is now in doubt, with the parties deadlocked over Washington’s hardening protectionist stance.
Canada already has free-trade deals with several South American nations including Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Chile.
Mercosur membership would give it greater access to eastern South America and its biggest economies, with a total of 260 million consumers.
Ottawa had initially balked at joining the TPP last year, acting as the main holdout in negotiations after US President Donald Trump decided in early last year to go it alone under his “America First” policy.
However, it did an about-face last month as the prospects of a new NAFTA deal appeared to dim.
Among the sticking points in the NAFTA negotiations are Washington’s demands for a “sunset clause” after five years, and for more US auto parts in vehicles sold in North America.
US crude futures on Friday topped US$80 a barrel for the first time since November 2014 as a global energy crisis boosts demand at a time when OPEC+ producers are keeping supplies tight. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for November delivery popped above the key psychological level before pulling back and closing up 1.34 percent at US$79.35 a barrel, gaining 4.57 percent from a week earlier. Brent crude for December delivery increased 0.54 percent a barrel to US$82.39, up 3.92 percent from a week earlier. This week brought many indications that supplies would remain constrained: Saudi Aramco said a global natural gas shortage was
Units of Intel Corp and Samsung Electronics Co are targeting to resume full operations of their Ho Chi Minh City plants by the end of next month, a move that could provide relief to global supply chains. Saigon Hi-Tech Park is helping its tenants, many of which are running at about 70 percent capacity, to operate fully next month, park deputy manager Le Bich Loan said in a phone interview. She did not elaborate on the steps the park is taking, particularly efforts at bringing back workers who fled to home provinces. The Ho Chi Minh City unit of Nidec Sankyo Corp,
CHIP CRUNCH: Apple’s woes show that even the king of the technology world is not immune from global shortages made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic Apple Inc is likely to slash its projected iPhone 13 production targets for this year by as many as 10 million units as prolonged chip shortages hit its flagship product, people with knowledge of the matter said. The company had expected to produce 90 million new iPhone models in the final three months of this year, but it is now telling manufacturing partners that the total would be lower because Broadcom Inc and Texas Instruments Inc are struggling to deliver enough components, the people said. Apple gets display parts from Texas Instruments, while Broadcom is its longtime supplier of wireless components. One Texas
Down a dusty farm track in Chilean wine country, behind a wooden gate wrapped in chains, forestry experts are nursing a plantation of saplings whose bark holds the promise of potent vaccines. Quillay trees, technically known as Quillaja saponaria, are rare evergreens native to Chile that have long been used by the indigenous Mapuche people to make soap and medicine. In the past few years, they have also been used to make a highly successful vaccine against shingles and the world’s first malaria vaccine, as well as foaming agents for products in the food, beverage and mining industries. Now two saponin molecules,