USA, Mexico and Canada are stuck in NAFTA renegotiations

USA, Mexico and Canada are stuck in NAFTA renegotiations

Nov 21, 2017

Another round of  NAFTA talks has closed with a deadlocked situation last on Tuesday, as negotiators were getting ready to leave Mexico City with lots of questions and no answers on relevant issues regarding the trade agreement renegotiation, even though there was progress on several technical issues, some less-controversial chapters like digital trade, sanitary measures, customs enforcement and telecommunications are almost done, but there are still unsolved matters. But on real problematic files such as the automotive industry, dairy, dispute resolution, and the idea to make it easier to terminate NAFTA which had been proposed by the USA, there was no significant progress whatsoever, and Mexican sources said that there was a standoff on various problems that Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland had mentioned and stressed in Ottawa. “There are some areas where more extreme (U.S.) proposals have been put forward. These are proposals we simply cannot agree to,” Freeland said outside the House of Commons. “What we’ve done in some of these areas is ask for a better understanding of those proposals. We really feel a fact-based approach is the way to get a good result… (We’re asking): ‘Do you agree with our facts, or do you disagree with our facts?”‘ An American familiar with the talks says the other countries would be better off making counter-proposals, rather than what they did at this round – show up with presentations about how damaging the American proposals would be to the U.S. itself. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer warned on Tuesday that unless Canada and Mexico engage on their major NAFTA demands, the negotiations “will not reach a satisfactory result.” In a statement, Lighthizer said he was “concerned about the lack of headway,” in the talks. “Thus far, we have seen no evidence that Canada or Mexico are willing to seriously engage on provisions that will lead to a rebalanced agreement,” Lighthizer said, adding that he hoped the two U.S. neighbors “come to the table in a serious way so we can see meaningful progress before the end of the year.” A front-page headline in Mexico’s Excelsior newspaper described the dynamic this way: “‘Mexico and Canada form a common front against the U.S.” Mexicans...

Mexican heroin is flooding the US (Business Insider)

Mexican heroin is flooding the US (Business Insider)

Nov 20, 2017

According to Business Insider, heroin availability in the US — and overdose deaths related to drug — has skyrocketed over the past several years. Eleven of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s 21 field divisions in the US rated it has the number-one drug threat in 2016. And while the DEA says heroin from Mexico, South America, Southwest Asia, and Southeast Asia is all available in the US, the agency’s testing and research indicate that the US’s southern neighbor is the dominant source. “Mexico and, to a lesser extent, Colombia dominate the US heroin market because of their proximity, established transportation and distribution infrastructure, and ability to satisfy heroin demand in the United States,” the DEA notes in its 2017 National Drug Threat Assessment. Mexican cartels’ shift to producing heroin — as well as synthetic drugslike fentanyl — has been driven in part by loosening marijuana laws in the US, and the Sinaloa cartel appears to be the main player in a lucrative market. National Drug Threat Survey respondents reporting high heroin availability from 2010 to 2011 and 2013 to 2017. 2017 DEA NDTA The cartel’s former leader, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, was rearrested in Mexico in January 2016 and extradited to the US in January this year. During his incarceration and in the wake of his extradition, the cartel was wracked by infighting between members competing for control and faced growing competition from the Jalisco New Generation cartel, its only real rival in terms of power. But one of Guzman’s peers, Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, appears to have stabilized the cartel, quelling internal conflict and forging a kind of peace with the CJNG, according to Mike Vigil, former chief of international operations for the DEA. A Mexican government report earlier this year said Zambada had maintained the cartel’s “cohesion” and avoided a war between its principal factions. Now the cartel “is more powerful than ever,” members told Sinaloa state-based newspaper Rio Doce in October.   Click here for full article on Business Insider...

US-grown corn threatens Mexican crop heritage

US-grown corn threatens Mexican crop heritage

Nov 20, 2017

US President Donald Trump has vowed to make the North American Free Trade Agreement better serve US interests, but Mexicans are concerned that cheap US imports are destroying Mexico’s cultural relationship with its traditional maize varieties. Negotiators from the US, Mexico and Canada are in Mexico City to discuss the North American Free Trade Agreement, known as NAFTA. In this fifth round of talks, one of the big issues on the table is corn. It is Mexico’s top agricultural import from the US. But some say cheap American varieties are damaging Mexico’s rich and various maize heritage. Source: Al...

San Luis I Land Port of Entry to construct new pedestrian facility. 

San Luis I Land Port of Entry to construct new pedestrian facility. 

Nov 19, 2017

State and local officials attended a groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of a new pedestrian annex building at the San Luis I Land Port of Entry on November 7.   The U.S. General Services Administration and U.S. Customs and Border Protection co-hosted the groundbreaking ceremony for new pedestrian facilities. CBP officials said the current pedestrian traffic at the port far exceeds its screening capacity.  The new building will increase the number of pedestrian inspection booths from seven to 10 lanes. The San Luis I Land Port of Entry is the second busiest non-commercial port in Arizona, processing over 3 million vehicles and 2.5 million pedestrians each year. Arizona governor Doug Ducey said expanding the facility will help boost economic activity on both sides of the border. Mexico is Arizona’s number one trade partner. “There has been addition to the budget that is front of congress right now for projects like this,” Ducey said. “The state of Arizona will continue to invest and develop its economy and making sure that we are partnering not only at the local level and the county level but at the federal level so we can continue to get the good guys…the trucks, the tourism, the transit across the border more quickly.” The 6 million dollar project includes an 8,000 square foot expansion that is expected to be completed October 2018. Officials said the proposed design aims to lower operating and life-cycle costs despite its location in a desert climate by using solar panels, high levels of insulation and natural lighting....

Anti-gay married Republican resigns after being caught having sex with a man

Anti-gay married Republican resigns after being caught having sex with a man

Nov 17, 2017

Ohio state legislator Wes Goodman (R) has resigned after admitting he was busted having sex with a man in his office. The married conservative Ohio state lawmaker was known for his anti-LGBTQ stances. House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (R) said he spoke to Goodman after learning of the allegations and the now-former representative admitted to having consensual sex with the man in his Riffe Center office. “I was alerted to details yesterday afternoon regarding his involvement in inappropriate behavior related to his state office,” Rosenberger said in a statement to the Columbus Dispatch. “I met with him later in the day where he acknowledged and confirmed the allegations. It became clear that his resignation was the most appropriate course of action for him, his family, the constituents of the 87th House District and this institution.” ‘Family values’ legislator Wes Goodman quits after being caught having sex with a man in his office (Photo: Ohio House of Representatives) Goodman resigned after the meeting citing “inappropriate conduct.” No charges of sexual harassment will be brought since the sex was consensual and the man was not a staffer or legislator. “We all bring our own struggles and our own trials into public life. That has been true for me, and I sincerely regret that my actions and choices have kept me from serving my constituents and our state in a way that reflects the best ideals of public service,” he said in a statement. “For those whom I have let down, I’m sorry. As I move onto the next chapter of my life, I sincerely ask for privacy for myself, my family, and my friends.” On Twitter, Goodman described himself as “Christian. American. Conservative. Republican.” Several GOP insiders have intimated that there is video of the encounter filmed inside Goodman’s office, but the speaker’s spokesperson denied that allegation....

Trilateral Statement on the 5th Round of NAFTA Negotiations in Mexico City

Trilateral Statement on the 5th Round of NAFTA Negotiations in Mexico City

Nov 15, 2017

Mexico City, Mexico – NAFTA Chief Negotiators confirmed today that although the 5th Round of NAFTA negotiations will formally begin on November 17th, some negotiating groups will begin meeting on November 15th. Nearly 30 negotiating groups will be meeting during the 5th Round, which will conclude on November 21st. The three NAFTA Ministers agreed at the end of Round 4 to allow more space between rounds, in order to provide negotiators with enough time to analyze the proposals that all three countries have tabled so far and to conduct internal consultations. In addition, NAFTA ministers met separately at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders Meetings in Da Nang, Vietnam, and instructed NAFTA Chief Negotiators to focus on advancing discussions on tabled proposals as much as possible. Given the substantive discussions held between Ministers at APEC, Ministers agreed not to attend the 5th Round so negotiators can continue to make important progress on key chapters advanced in Round 4. Chief Negotiators from Mexico, United States and Canada will be in constant communication with their respective Ministers and will report on the progress reached in this round.       Oficina de Prensa Embajada de los Estados...