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Chrystia Freeland heads to Mexico in effort to finalize new NAFTA revisions


OTTAWA—Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland is to meet American and Mexican officials in Mexico City on Tuesday amid reports a deal to revise the new North American free-trade agreement is close to completion.

The federal government revealed Freeland’s itinerary late Monday following a day of furious speculation about the state of the United States-Mexico-Canada trade deal — and concerns from Canada’s aluminum sector about what the agreement could mean for the industry and workers.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump talked directly about the deal Monday, Trudeau’s office reported, without details.

The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement was signed by the three countries last year, but U.S. ratification has been stalled for months as congressional Democrats and organized labour have bickered with Mexico over labour rights as well as the agreement’s treatment of steel and aluminum.

There were concerns the agreement, which aims to update the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement, would not be approved before Congress disperses until 2020 and its focus shifts to next fall’s presidential election.

Freeland was cautious Monday amid chatter of an imminent deal.

“In the lives of ordinary Canadians, there is perhaps no issue in our relationship with the United States that matters more than trade,” she said in question period.

“The prime minister raised the ratification of the new NAFTA and other trade issues in his meeting last week with the president and we have been working intensively, including many conversations over the weekend and this morning with our American partners, on getting the deal finalized.”

Trump weighed in Monday, saying: “I’m hearing very good things, including from unions and others that it’s looking good. I hope they put it up to a vote, and if they put it up to a vote, it’s going to pass.

“I’m hearing a lot of strides have been made over the last 24 hours, with unions and others.”

The breakthrough appears to have followed Mexico accepting — with a five-year phase-in period — a U.S. demand to tighten the definition of North American steel in a section of the agreement dealing with where cars and their parts can be said to originate.

Products that officially originate in North America get more favourable treatment than ones that originate abroad but come through one of the countries in the agreement.

However, Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said his country would not accept the same tighter definition for aluminum because the raw materials are not produced in Mexico.

Mexico also rejected U.S. demands for American inspectors to be sent in to ensure Mexican auto workers are being paid $16 per hour on average, though U.S. officials were said to have accepted Mexico’s offer to allow dispute-resolution panels to review labour-law compliance.

Labour unions in the U.S. were to be briefed on the proposed amendments on Monday with the hope they would agree to the changes, which would pave the way for the Democratic leaders to offer their own approval.

The Trump administration, as well as the Canadian and Mexican governments would then be asked to agree formally to the amended deal before introducing legislation to put it into force.

Details of the amendments had yet to be communicated to Canadian industry and labour groups Monday, but those representing the aluminum sector and its workers were upset the deal may not include a tighter definition on what constitutes North American aluminum.

“We’re certainly not happy with this at all because it simply means Mexico wants to keep an open door to foreign metal coming in from China, from the Middle East, from India,” said Aluminum Association of Canada president Jean Simard.

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Noting the industry was battered by U.S. tariffs last year, Simard added: “Canada has taken the case of aluminum as much as steel up to now and we certainly expect Minister Freeland and the Canadian government to hold their position on this like they’ve been doing up to now.”

Ken Neumann, national director in Canada of the United Steelworkers union, which represents employees in both the aluminum and steel industries, was also critical of Mexico’s demand for a five-year phase-in period for tightening the definition of North American steel.

“We strongly would anticipate or hope that our government is going to stand up for our aluminum workers,” he said.

“So we’re going to keep our fingers crossed. We’re going to consult with the government of Canada to make sure they’re going to stand up for what’s right for the steel industry and for our aluminum workers.”

Neumann and other members of the United Steelworkers’ leadership team in Canada were scheduled to fly to the U.S. to be briefed Tuesday on details of the proposed amendments.

“At this stage of the game, all eyes are on where organized labour is on Mexico’s newest proposals,” said Dan Ujczo, an Ohio-based trade lawyer with law firm Dickinson Wright and an expert in Canada-U.S. trade. “If they agree, it’s likely House (of Representatives) Democrats will sign off on this.”

Yet while there is a chance that legislation could be introduced this week and passed by Congress before Dec. 20 to bring the deal into force, Ujczo warned there still could be unexpected hurdles.

“Nobody has seen the implementing bill soup-to-nuts,” he said. “So we’re closing Phase 1 of the deal process, then we’re on to Phase 2, which will be we’ll all have to take a look at the implementing bill.”

The new trade pact would replace NAFTA, which came into force in 1994 and eliminated most tariffs and other trade barriers involving the United States, Mexico and Canada.

Critics, including Trump, labour unions and many Democratic lawmakers, branded NAFTA a job-killer for America because it encouraged factories to move south of the border, capitalize on low-wage Mexican workers and ship products back to the U.S. duty-free.

Mexico ratified the new North American deal in June while the Canadian government has said it is waiting to ratify the agreement at the same time as the United States.

—With files from The Associated Press





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Winter weather blamed for seven deaths heads for the Northeast


The ugly winter weather already blamed for at least seven deaths as it has marched across the country was expected to make one last stand in the Northeast on Monday, bringing the first snow accumulations of the season to major cities like Philadelphia and Boston.

The National Weather Service forecast heavy snow for the Northeast and freezing rain over the region through Tuesday, especially in the northernmost areas of New England.

Boston and other coastal areas of Massachusetts were expected to get as much as 6 inches of snow, while areas farther inland could get up to 11 inches, with ice accumulations up to a tenth of an inch. The Philadelphia area could get as much as 5 inches, with up to a foot in areas of the southern Poconos and extreme northwest New Jersey.

New York City is expected to miss the worst of the storm, with about 1 to 3 inches of snow forecast through Monday night, mainly to the west of the city. But areas farther north could receive several inches, forecasters said.

While the stubborn system isn’t as big as the typical midwinter storm, the snow and ice will likely be enough to put a big crimp on travel plans as families finish returning home from their Thanksgiving holidays, just as it has done in the past week as it crept west to east across the United States.

With the worst yet to come on Monday and Tuesday, Boston Logan International Airport reported that 124 arrivals and departures were canceled on Sunday, along with 119 at Newark Liberty in New Jersey, 69 at Philadelphia International and 31 at LaGuardia in New York.

At Buffalo-Niagara International Airport in New York, ice caused a Delta-owned Endeavor Air flight from LaGuardia to skid off the taxiway on arrival on Sunday morning, airport officials said.

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No injuries were reported among the 72 passengers and crew, said Bill Major, the airport’s fire chief. Twenty-five other arrivals and departures were canceled on Sunday as rain iced up the runways during a fast drop in temperature, Major said.

“The weather and icing is an issue for the air field,” Major said. “It’s one of the bigger challenges they have, because it’s hard to keep up with.”

Snow and ice both helped and hampered firefighters as they battled a fire at the Mid-Station Lodge at Whiteface Mountain in Wilmington, New York, near Burlington, Vermont, authorities said Saturday night.

No cause had immediately been determined for the fire, in which no one was injured, NBC affiliate WPTZ of Burlington reported.

Assistant Chief Cliff Holzer of the Wilmington Fire Department, told WPTZ that the location of the fire was difficult to reach. But he said crews were able to take advantage of equipment at the site, using the giant guns that help to create artificial snow for skiers to attack the fire.

Scott Christiansen, vice president of the Olympic Regional Development Authority, the state agency that manages the lodge, said the building was destroyed.

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The nasty holiday-week weather slammed the Midwest on Saturday and Sunday, burying Duluth, Minnesota, under 20 inches of snow, and has been blamed for at least seven confirmed deaths across the country.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol said three people were killed in two separate water rescue incidents in heavily flooded Bollinger County, south of St. Louis, on Saturday.

Two boys, ages 5 and 8, drowned near Patton when the vehicle they were riding in was swept off a flooded road, the patrol said, and a Louisiana man was killed when his vehicle was swept into the Whitewater River.

Motorists navigate an intersection in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, in the early hours of a snowstorm that hit the region Sunday.Gillian Jones / AP

In Arizona, two children, both about 5 years old, were found dead on Saturday after they were reported missing when a vehicle was swept up a creek in Tonto Basin, about 50 miles northeast of Phoenix, the sheriff’s office said. Crews were still searching Sunday for a 6-year-old girl.

A 6-year-old boy died after he fell and struck his head when snow-removal equipment being driven by his father lurched in unincorporated Provo Canyon on Friday morning, the Utah County Sheriff’s Office said. The boy’s 9-year-old brother was unhurt in the incident, in which authorities said their father wasn’t at fault.

And in South Dakota, a man was killed early Friday when the pickup truck he was riding in lost control on an ice-covered road near Cavour, in Beadle County, the state highway patrol said. Two other people in the truck weren’t seriously injured.

Near Chamberlain, South Dakota, in Brule County, investigators were also trying to determine to what extent the rough weather played a role in the crash of a single-engine turboprop plane shortly after takeoff on Saturday.

Nine people, including two children, were killed, the Brule County state’s attorney’s office said. The area was under a winter storm warning, with a few inches of snow having accumulated, the National Weather Service said.

While no official cause for the crash had been determined, “definitely we’ll be looking into the weather conditions,” said Peter Knudson, a spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board.

An initial report isn’t expected for about two weeks, Knudson said.



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Aubameyang hits back as match heads into final minutes – latest commentary and updates – The Sun


ARSENAL are facing Norwich in Freddie Ljungberg’s first game in temporary charge.

Unai Emery paid the price for the Gunners worst run since 1992 and was given the boot on Friday, giving Highbury legend Freddie just two days to work some magic.

Norwich have beaten Man City here this season and ended a long winless run last weekend at Everton.

Follow live updates from Carrow Road below…

  • Live score: Norwich 2 Arsenal 2 (Pukki 21′ Cantwell 45′; Aubameyang 29′ 57′)
  • Start time: 2pm
  • Venue: Carrow Road, Norwich
  • TV/Live stream: Sky Sports PL & Main Event/Sky Go and NOW TV
  • Norwich XI: Krul, Aarons, Zimmermann, Godfrey, Byram, Trybull, Amadou, McLean, Cantwell, Hernandez, Pukki.
  • Arsenal XI: Leno, Chambers, Mustafi, David Luiz, Kolasinac, Xhaka, Guendouzi, Willock, Ozil, Aubameyang, Lacazette.





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