Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) benefits

The Trans- Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a trade pact in the Pacific rim that accounts for roughly 40% of global GDP, and one-third of world trade. Ramifications of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) have resulted in  skepticism of the TPP impact in North America.

Issues

Tariff and quotas: Common in trade pact, tariff and quotas are the two main concern in negotiations. Member countries are engage in complex negotiations to protect their domestic markets and jobs. The pact is an attempt to create a free-trade zone, making protective policies difficult to negotiate.

Environmental, labour and intellectual property standard: The US is seeking to impose rigorous labour and environmental standards on trading partners, aiming to create a level playing ground to match US standards.

Data flow: The US would like member countries to refrain from blocking cross-border data over  the internet, and require that servers  do not  have be in a country to conduct business.

Some countries are resisting that suggestion because it could breach  their country’s privacy law.

Trans-pacific

Trans-Pacific Leaders

 

Service industries.

The US is focused on creating opportunities for its service industries, which account for most of the private jobs in the US economy. Services are not subjected to tariff, but nationality requirements and restrictions on investing can be used to protect local businesses.

Canadian service industries

Over the past decade, services have  accounted for three of Canada’s fastest growing export. The services are insurance service, management service, and IT service.

In 2000, services accounted for 12% of Canada’s exports. By 2013, it had reached 15% of Canada’s export.

The strengthening of trade ties with the pacific rim countries can provide benefits Canadian service industries. The creation of more jobs will come along with benefits for the Canadian economy.

Do you see the  TPP as an avenue to provide  Canadian service industries with opportunities for continued growth?

 

Picture: Courtesy of Wikipedia

 

 

NAFTA Impact on Canadian Dairy Production

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and its impact on dairy production in the US and Canada have been controversial since its passage. Both countries have been protecting their domestic dairy industry by tariff quotas as stipulated under the 1999 GATT/WTO accord.

Tariff rate quotas allow access to the protected market at a reduced rate up to the quota limits.

Tariff Levels

Canada implemented a very high level (240% – 350%) to prohibit imports beyond quota limits. The US implemented a level of tariff roughly half of Canada’s tariff limit.

Dispute

An US – Canada dairy trade dispute surfaced, with the US adopting a position that Canada’s over quota tariffs are excessive and in violation of the NAFTA which stipulates that tariffs on US products be phrased down to zero by 2003.

Canada’s position is that GATT provisions( which allow for a slower rate of reduction on tariffs and provide increased access to all nations not just the US) supersede NAFTA.

The NAFTA Dispute Settlement Panel sided with Canada on the issue.

Quebec farm

Quebec Dairy Farm

 

Complaint

During a visit to the American state of Wisconsin in April, 2017 US President Donald Trump cited Canadian tariffs regulations as a possible cause for the state’s troubled dairy industry. Concern about Canadian dairy tariff was expressed despite the US enjoying a $400 million dairy trade surplus with Canada.

Excessive production

Opinion within the Wisconsin Dairy Industry believe that Canada is unfairly blamed for problems facing the Wisconsin Dairy industry. Excessive production in the US, with a 21.8% increase in Michigan, 10.7% in New York and 7.6% in Wisconsin is seen as the likely cause.

Complex

The dairy trade dispute between the neighbours is complex and requires careful evaluation by a panel of experts to provide briefings for NAFTA re-negotiation talks. Both countries cannot afford such an important industry to be plagued by misconceptions.

Do you believe that an agreement that is fair to both parties can be reached under NAFTA rules? Or the GATT/WTO accord would be more acceptable?

 

Picture: Courtesy of Wikipedia

 

 

 

NAFTA Protection for Autoworker

Threats to NAFTA

Threats by Donald Trump during  his election campaign to break up the North American Free Trade Agreement(NAFTA) got applause from some laid off autoworkers. The show of support for Donald Trump’s views is an indication that there is anger amongst automobile job losers towards NAFTA.

Relocation

The relocation of production plants from the United States to Mexico allowed companies to take advantage of lower labour costs and other benefits . The NAFTA agreement provided options for possible relocation of companies within the trading bloc.

Loss of jobs

Jobs were lost in sections of the automobile industry resulting from cross-border relocation. However, it created new jobs and economic benefits in the industry to offset the negatives it had created. Spare parts and services have to be exported to support the production lines.

Bently auto plant

Cheap labour

The emergence of China with auto assembly lines using cheaper labour is an existing threat to North American autoworkers. This threat exists because manufacturers are more likely to move production to China where they can gain competitiveness by benefiting from cheaper labour.

Counter

The NAFTA agreement provided the trading bloc with a counter to the Chinese cheap labour advantage – Mexico. Cheaper labour costs in Mexico allow manufacturers in North America to cut costs by allowing Mexicans to perform basic tasks, and skilled workers from other jurisdiction to perform more technical tasks.

Some of the saving will be passed on to consumers, benefiting everyone within the trading bloc. The automobile companies will be more competitive globally.

Had those production been shifted to China instead, jobs would have been lost anyway, and the services benefiting from the Mexican operations would have been less beneficial.

As a consumer, do you believe  that consumers and the economy are better served by ensuring the auto industry stays in North America?

 

Production line: Courtesy of Bently auto production line

 

 

 

NAFTA protects Canadian Agricultural Industry

Since the North American Free Trade Agreement(NAFTA) became effective in 1993, it has been beneficial to the Canadian Agricultural Industry. The agreement gave Canadian food producers access to US and Mexican markets. Canadian food exports to its partners increased by 95 % since the agreement became effective.

farmers inspired

North American farming

 

 

The Canadian agricultural industry has benefited  from a rule-based system incorporated in the agreement which stability and clarity to conduct business within the trading bloc.

Agricultural trade

Agriculture investment requires low to moderate capital investment. The production and export of agricultural goods can make life easier for people through increased employment. Market access barrier and subsides are areas that can create problems for agricultural trade.

The NAFTA Treaty has provided the bloc members a formal agreement that will benefit agricultural production and trade.

Technical issues

Public interest in technical trade issues has increased over the years. Consumers are becoming more concerned about the impact of agricultural production on the environment, food safety, and quality issues.

The production and export of agricultural goods can make easier for people through increased employment. Market barriers and subsidies can have a negative impact on agricultural trade.

 

Consumers’ opinion on technical trade issues can help to shape government’s policy and regulatory objectives relating to the agricultural sector.

Consumers’ views

Consumers should share their views in public about concern about agricultural  industry and its relationship with trade agreement. Those views can have an impact on government’s policy and regulatory objectives relating to the agricultural sector.

All consumers should be aware that without trade agreement, governments would be forced to impose tariffs to protect their agricultural products. Do anyone believe that protectionist policies are good for the agricultural industries?

Airing your views on this important issues can contribute to a reasonable trade environment that will have mutual benefits for consumers in all jurisdiction.

 

Picture courtesy of: farmers inspired

Politics and NAFTA agreement

Illegal immigration

When negotiations for NAFTA started in 1991, Mexico had a developing economy while the United States and Canada had developed economies. The goal was to integrate the Mexican economy with those of the United States and Canada. The integration was expected to bring growth and jobs to Mexico, hopefully discouraging illegal migration.

Competitiveness

The United States and Canada hoped for an opening of new markets for their goods in Mexico. The lower cost of investment in Mexico was seen as an opportunity to improve competitiveness in the United States and Canadian companies.

The US auto industry remain competitive with Chinese competitors thanks to the reduced tariff reductions and protections of intellectual property rights in NAFTA’s agreement. This agreement allowed US auto makers to develop cross-border supply chains, contributing to increased productivity.

Lost of jobs

The NAFTA agreement had some negative impact on the job market, which is expected from any free trade agreement. Direct competition is likely to force some underperforming industries into liquidation. Jobs will be lost as a result.

Politicians seeking elected office have been using the expected job displacement to create anxiety about the agreement. They are omitting the overriding benefits for the economy and consumers due to the agreement.

Productivity

Free trade forces less efficient industries to become more efficient. It also allows more efficient industries to grow, resulting in an increase in average industry productivity.

Import competition curbs monopoly power, resulting in consumers’ benefit. The NAFTA agreement gave consumers access to cheaper goods.

Investment and trade

The US and Mexican investments in Canada have tripled. The US investments rose from $70 billion to $368 billion between 1993 and 2013.

The pact opened the Canadian economy to US markets. Canadian export to the US grew from $110 billion to 346 billion. Canada imported from the US grew about the same.

Conclusion

All trade agreements have positive and negative consequences for signatories. To focus on single aspect of an agreement without examining the overall benefits is unwise. The NAFTA agreement has a big impact on the price of consumer’s goods and survival of businesses within the trading bloc. Business leaders and consumers must make a contributions to this important debate.

Do consumers believe that the job losses amplified by politicians should jeopardize this important pact?

 

 

 

Free Trade Agreements

Objectives

Free Trade Agreements are intended to liberalize trade among member countries. The North American Free Trade Agreement(NAFTA)  was signed in1992 to liberalize trade between Canada, Mexico and the United States.

Pro for NAFTA

Between 1993 and 2015, trade between the member countries from $297 billion to $1.4 trillion, which was credited to NAFTA. All three countries benefited through economic growth, profits, jobs and lowered prices for consumers.

Consumers benefited from lowered food prices resulted from the NAFTA.

Con for  NAFTA

There were many manufacturing  job losses in the US due to companies moving to Mexico to take advantage on lower wages. Between 1994 and 2010, the US had a trade deficit with Mexico of $97.2 billion dollars.

The Mexicans had their own problem with NAFTA. Serious environmental issues surfaced as a result of agribusiness using fertilizers and chemicals, resulting in costing $36 billion per year in pollution.

Both the US and Mexico have restrictions on trucks entering their jurisdiction, thus making the movement of goods more difficult.

Differences

The differences that are threatening the existence of NAFTA are the disputes between the US and Mexico. The third partner, Canada, is virtually silent with regards the negatives of the agreement.

The agreement has benefited the citizens of all the countries. It is the interest of all parties to find a solution that can make it acceptable to all parties.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Water consumption

Tap water

Some people are using bottled water over tap water because they think it is healthier. Others for the sake of taste or convenience.

Canadians should have no fear about the safety of their tap water. Unless you live in community without treatment facilities, water coming out from your tap is perfectly safe to drink.

Water quality

Tap water quality is regulated by Health Canada, the provinces and territories.The Guideline for Canadian Drinking Water Qualities spell out the maximum levels of potentially harmful substances that are allowed in drinking water. Municipalities tests are mandated to constantly check the water sources to make sure limits are met.

Hamilton City Council, for example, results are maintaining a ‘Aa’ grade consistently during testing. This means that the water treatment (A) and distribution (a) have maintained highest grades since the system started in the 1960’s, with an extremely low risk of contamination.

Bottled water

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) does conduct inspections on bottled water plants, but independent observers found that checks are conducted once every three years.

Bottled water producers do carry out their own tests,but the results are not made public.

Environmental impact

Although many companies are making efforts to cut down on the amount of disposable plastic bottles they use by increasing the proportion of recycled material, significant amount of bottles still reach the landfills. Water bottles make up a major part of landfills, creating problems for waste management authorities. Some bottles end up in lakes, oceans and pollute nearby environment.

Filters

Consumers can help to protect the environment by consuming less bottled water. It has been determined that ozonation, reverse osmosis and carbon filtration have the capacity to eliminate some organic compounds like the pharmaceuticals detected in drinking water. Bottled water are not generally tested for such compounds.

There are household carbon filters available to consumers for the same purpose that can work for tap water.

The use of tap water through carbon filter over bottled water is a simple way to help reduce plastic from our environment.

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Water bottles

water bottles
Health

Bottled water has become a large industry because people think that it is safer to drink than tap water. But it is not always the case. Between April 2008 and March 2009, only 6% of bottled water factories were tested in the Toronto area. Concentration of contaminants such as arsenic, bromide, bacteria and lead have been found in water samples.

Waste

It is estimated that Toronto consumes about 100 million bottles a year, of which 35% are not recycled. Some of the plastic bottles end up in landfills, but others litter the forest, lakes and oceans. It is estimated that millions of plastic bottles created each year reach the ocean.

Plastic bottles take 700 years to composting. (http://www.yorku.ca/susweb/resources/documents/Bottled_water_facts_002.pdf

Waste Management

The enormous growth of landfills has become a problem for waste management. Water bottles take up large amount of space in these landfills.

The amount of water bottles reaching landfills if consumers take more care to ensure that empty water bottles are placed in recycle bins and not in garbage bins. This  effort will minimize  recyclable bottles reaching landfill.

 

Related story:

Forest degradation

kaieteur-fall

Kaieteur Falls-Guyana

Protected areas

Greenhouse emission is a global concern. When greenhouse gases enter the atmosphere, the resulting damage is not localized, it becomes a global concern. It is heartwarming that some developed countries have recognized that reducing greenhouse emissions must be undertaken collectively.

Underdeveloped countries are being encouraged to protect their rainforest through financial aid from developed countries. Let us take the Guyana Protected Areas Systems (GPAS) as an example. The German government has been investing in that country’s richest biodiversity sites. That investment also covers all areas relating to climate change and renewable energy.

This cooperation is an ongoing exercise that started since 1996, and covers different phrases in an ongoing process.

Norway is another country that is investing money to protect Guyana’s rainforest. The two countries in 2009 signed a REDD+ partnership which Norway will pay Guyana for limiting greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. REDD+ is a global initiative that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.

Strict Monitor

The Norwegian initiative is strictly monitored by the Norwegian Agency for International Cooperation (NORAD) to ensure sustainability of the project. This initiative is a global exercise against climate change and deforestation

Ecotourism

Deforestation in Guyana, like most countries, is linked to economic activities. Logging, mining and agriculture are known contributors. The clearing of forests for those economic activities can have global repercussion in terms of climate change. Hence, there is need to help those countries create alternative economic activities to limit the degrading of forest for economic purpose.

One alternative to deforestation for economic reason is ecotourism. Tourists from developed countries who have interest in ecotourism can be useful partners in the fight against deforestation and climate change.

Guyana ecotourism attractions are in abundance, but it faces strong competition from more established ecotourism destinations. Its marketing initiative is yet to reach a global audience because the industry was only recently taken seriously since the launching of the deforestation drive.

However,  Guyana’s eco tourism offering is as good as any of its competitors. It is the home of the highest single drop waterfalls in the world- Kaieteur- among it many attractions.

Interesting tourists can access the Guyana tourism authority on www.guyana-tourism.com

Support

Supporting ecotourism industries automatically places anyone in partnership with governments to save the forests and fight climate change.

 

Plastics

plastic-large

Manufacturing

The development of plastics into a durable synthetic material for industrial purpose has been phenomenon. It has made our lives easier through its versatility in the manufacturing of a wide range of products. The electronic and food package industries are areas where plastics roles are crucial. Plastic materials are inexpensive , lightweight and long-lived, making it an preferred option in manufacturing.

Plastic materials also feature prominently in the production of disposable items which  eventually end up in garbage dumpsites.

Harmful

Plastics making life easier for society come with a cost to human health and the environment. The production and disposal of plastics are contributing to health and environmental issues including:

• Plastic debris, laced with chemicals and often ingested by marine animals, can injure or poison wildlife.
• Floating plastic waste, which can survive for thousands of years in water, serves as mini transportation devices for invasive species, disrupting habitats.
• Plastic buried deep in landfills can leach harmful chemicals that spread into groundwater.
• Around 4 percent of world oil production is used as a feedstock to make plastics, and a similar amount is consumed as energy in the process.

People are exposed to chemicals from plastic multiple times per day through the air, dust, water, food and use of consumer products.

Control

The extensive use of plastics in manufacturing makes it difficult to even consider curbing its production to ease the negative impact. To ease the negative impact on human health and the environment, we must be prepared to use the product more sensibly.

We can reduce the amount of plastics reaching the landfills by recycling the recyclable plastics as much as they can be recycled.  

We can control the amount of disposable shopping bags we use by selecting reusable  bags instead.

We can favour products with recyclable package over similar products with disposable package.

By minimizing the use of disposable plastics, consumers can play a vital role in protecting the environment from the ill effects of plastics.