US to Proceed With Mexico Trade Pact, Keep Talking to Canada

U.S. President Donald Trump notified Congress on Friday of his intent to sign a trade agreement with Mexico after talks with Canada broke up earlier in the day with no immediate deal to revamp the tri-nation North American Free Trade Agreement. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said U.S. officials would resume talks with their Canadian counterparts next Wednesday with the aim of getting a deal all three nations could sign. All three countries have stressed the importance of NAFTA, which governs billions of dollars in regional trade, and a bilateral deal announced by the United States and Mexico on Monday paved the way for Canada to rejoin the talks this week. But by Friday the mood had soured, partly on Trump’s off-the-record remarks made to Bloomberg News that any trade deal with Canada would be “totally on our terms.” He later confirmed the comments, which the Toronto Star first reported. “At least Canada knows where I stand,” he later said on Twitter. Ottawa has stood firm against signing “just any deal.”  ​’Making progress’ But at a news conference Friday afternoon, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland expressed confidence that Canada could reach agreement with the United States on a renegotiated NAFTA trade pact if there was “goodwill and flexibility on all sides.” “We continue to work very hard and we are making progress. We’re not there yet,” Freeland told reporters. “We know that a win-win-win agreement is within reach,” she added. “With goodwill and flexibility on all sides, I know we can get there.” The Canadian dollar weakened to C$1.3081 to the U.S. dollar after The Wall Street Journal first reported that the talks …

Fake, Low Quality Drugs Come at High Cost

About one in eight essential medicines in low- and middle-income countries may be fake or contain dangerous mixes of ingredients that put patients’ lives at risk, a research review suggests. Researchers examined data from more 350 previous studies that tested more 400,000 drug samples in low- and middle-income countries. Overall, roughly 14 percent of medicines were counterfeit, expired or otherwise low quality and unlikely to be as safe or effective as patients might expect. “Low-quality medicines can have no or little active pharmaceutical ingredient [and] can prolong illness, lead to treatment failure and contribute to drug resistance,” said lead study author Sachiko Ozawa of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “Or it may have too much active ingredient and cause a drug overdose,” Ozawa said by email. “If it is contaminated or has other active ingredients, then the medication could cause poisoning, adverse drug interactions or avertable deaths.” Much of the research to date on counterfeit or otherwise unsafe medicines has focused on Africa, and about half of the studies in the current analysis were done there. Almost one in five medications tested in Africa were fake or otherwise potentially unsafe, researchers report in JAMA Network Open. Another third of the studies were done in Asia, where about 14 percent of medicines tested were found to be counterfeit or otherwise unsafe. Antibiotics and antimalarials were the most tested drugs in the analysis. Overall, about 19 percent of antimalarials and 12 percent of antibiotics were falsified or otherwise unsafe. …

Coca-Cola Hopes for Caffeine Hit as It Buys Costa Coffee Chain

Coca-Cola is hoping for a caffeine-fueled boost with the acquisition of British coffee chain Costa. Costa is Britain’s biggest coffee company, with over 2,400 coffee shops in the U.K. and another 1,400 in more than 30 countries, including around 460 in China, its second-biggest market. Coca-Cola said Friday it will buy the Costa brand from Whitbread for 3.9 billion pounds ($5.1 billion) in cash. The deal, expected to close in the first half of 2019, comes on the heels of Coca-Cola’s announcement earlier in August that it was buying a minority ownership stake in sports drink maker BodyArmor for an undisclosed amount. Coca-Cola’s other investments in recent years have included milk that is strained to have more protein and a push into sparkling water. The move is Coca-Cola’s latest diversification as health-conscious consumers, at least in America, move away from traditional soda. Rival PepsiCo, meanwhile, recently bought carbonated drink maker SodaStream, which produces machines that allow people to make fizzy drinks in their own homes. Coca-Cola already owns the Georgia and Gold Peak coffee brands, which make bottled and canned drinks, but the purchase of Costa could allow it to compete with brands like Starbucks. Coffee is growing by 6 percent a year, making it one of the fastest-growing beverage categories in the world, said James Quincey, Coca-Cola president & CEO. “Hot beverages is one of the few remaining segments of the total beverage landscape where Coca-Cola does not have a global brand,” he said. Coca-Cola has over 500 brands …

US Ports Fear Tariffs Could Reduce Ship Traffic, Jobs

Ports and ground terminals in nearly every state handle goods that are now or will likely soon be covered by import tariffs. Port executives worry that this could mean a slowdown in shipping that would have ripple effects on truckers and others whose jobs depend on trade. The Associated Press analyzed government data and found that from the West Coast to the Great Lakes and the Gulf of Mexico, at least 10 percent of imports at many ports could face new tariffs if President Donald Trump’s proposals take full effect. Since March, the U.S. has applied new tariffs of up to 25 percent on nearly $85 billion worth of steel and aluminum and various Chinese products, mostly goods used in manufacturing. Trump said in a recent tweet, “Tariffs are working big time.” He has argued that the tariffs will help protect American workers and force U.S. trading partners to change rules that the president insists are unfair to the United States. In New Orleans, port officials say a tariff-related drop in shipments is real, not merely a forecast. Steel imports there have declined more than 25 percent from a year ago, according to the port’s chief commercial officer, Robert Landry. The port is scouting for other commodities it can import. But expectations appear to be low. “In our business, steel is the ideal commodity,” Landry said. “It’s big, it’s heavy, we charge by the ton so it pays well. You never find anything that pays as well as steel does.” …

«Укрзалізниця» знижує вартість проїзду в пасажирських поїздах із 1 вересня

«Укрзалізниця» оголосила, що з 1 вересня знижує вартість проїзду в пасажирських поїздах далекого сполучення, що курсують територією України. Перевізник пояснює це тим, що в перший день осені вступає в дію нижчий коефіцієнт індексації до тарифів на перевезення пасажирів у внутрішньому сполученні. «Наприклад, вартість проїзду 31 серпня за маршрутом Київ – Львів у вагоні купе поїзда № 141 коштує 347,92 гривні, а на наступну п’ятницю аналогічний квиток коштуватиме 333,92 гривні, у вагоні купе поїзда № 29 Київ – Ужгород коштує 728,19 гривні, а коштуватиме 696,39 гривні», – інформує «Укрзалізниця» і анонсує, що з жовтня діятиме ще нижчий коефіцієнт. У період з 1 червня по 31 серпня діяв календарний період з коефіцієнтом 1,07, з 1 вересня він становитиме 1,02, з 1 жовтня – 0,93. Міністерство інфраструктури України від 20 квітня 2018 року визначило 13 різних календарних періодів, які впливають на вартість проїзду. Також на ціну квитка впливає і день тижня, у який пасажир розпочинає подорож. …

Canada, US Push Toward NAFTA Deal by Friday

Top NAFTA negotiators from Canada and the United States increased the pace of their negotiations Thursday to resolve final differences to meet a Friday deadline, with their Mexican counterpart on standby to rejoin the talks soon. Despite some contentious issues still on the table, the increasingly positive tone contrasted with U.S. President Donald Trump’s harsh criticism of Canada in recent weeks, raising hopes that the year-long talks on the North American Free Trade Agreement will conclude soon with a trilateral deal. “Canada’s going to make a deal at some point. It may be by Friday or it may be within a period of time,” U.S. President Donald Trump told Bloomberg Television. “I think we’re close to a deal.” Trilateral talks were already underway at the technical level and Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo was expected to soon rejoin talks with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, possibly later on Thursday, people familiar with the process said. Trump said in a Bloomberg interview: “Canada’s going to make a deal at some point. It may be by Friday or it may be within a period of time,” Trump said. “I think we’re close to a deal.” Negotiations entered a crucial phase this week after the United States and Mexico announced a bilateral deal on Monday, paving the way for Canada to rejoin talks to modernize the 24-year-old accord that underpins over $1 trillion in annual trade. The NAFTA deal that is taking shape would likely strengthen North …

Microsoft to Contractors: Give New Parents Paid Leave

Microsoft will begin requiring its contractors to offer their U.S. employees paid leave to care for a new child. It’s common for tech firms to offer generous family leave benefits for their own software engineers and other full-time staff, but paid leave advocates say it’s still rare to require similar benefits for contracted workers such as janitors, landscapers, cafeteria crews and software consultants. “Given its size and its reach, this is a unique and hopefully trailblazing offering,” said Vicki Shabo, vice president at the National Partnership for Women and Families. The details The new policy affects businesses with at least 50 U.S.-based employees that do substantial work with Microsoft that involves access to its buildings or its computing network. It doesn’t affect suppliers of goods. Contractors would have to offer at least 12 weeks of leave to those working with the Redmond, Washington-based software giant; the policy wouldn’t affect the contractors’ arrangements with other companies. Leave-takers would get 66 percent of regular pay, up to $1,000 weekly. The policy announced Thursday rolls out over the next year as the company amends its contracts with those vendors. That may mean some of Microsoft’s costs will rise to cover the new benefits, said Dev Stahlkopf, the company’s corporate vice president and general counsel. “That’s just fine and we think it’s well worth the price,” she said. Microsoft doesn’t disclose how many contracted workers it uses, but it’s in the thousands. The new policy expands on Microsoft’s 2015 policy requiring contractors to offer …

Argentina Boosts Interest Rate to 60%; Peso Sinks

Argentina’s Central Bank on Thursday increased its benchmark interest rate to 60 percent — the world’s highest — in an effort to halt a sharp slide in the value of the peso, which plunged to a record low. The peso fell more than 13 percent against the dollar, closing at an all-time low of 39.2 per greenback, after slipping about 7 percent the day before. The Central Bank said in a statement that it was hiking its benchmark interest rate by 15 percentage points to 60 percent in response to the currency problems and the risk of greater impact on local inflation, which is already running at about 30 percent a year. The tumult in the exchange market came a day after President Mauricio Macri said he was asking for an early release of some International Monetary Fund money under an $50 billion backup financing arrangement approved earlier. Some experts said the announcement, combined with the interest rate hike, had the unintended effect of fueling the crisis of confidence. “I think today’s interest hike announcement will do nothing but leave investors even more jittery,” said Monica de Bolle, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. “I’m finding it difficult to understand why, after yesterday’s announcement about front-loading more of the IMF funding, the government thought the hike was warranted,” she said. “Hyperactivity starts to look like desperation.” Macri has struggled to calm markets and bring confidence to Argentines who continue to lose purchasing power. Many are frustrated with layoffs, …

Trump Cancels Pay Raise Federal Workers Were Due in January

President Donald Trump informed Congress on Thursday that he was canceling pay raises due in January for most civilian federal employees, citing budget constraints. But the workers still could see a slightly smaller boost in their pay under a proposal lawmakers are considering. Trump said he was axing a 2.1 percent across-the-board raise for most workers as well as locality pay increases averaging 25.7 percent and costing $25 billion. “We must maintain efforts to put our nation on a fiscally sustainable course,” said Trump, who last year signed a package of tax cuts that is forecast to expand the deficit by about $1.5 trillion over 10 years. Trump cited the “significant” cost of employing federal workers as justification for denying the pay increases, and called for federal worker pay to be based on performance and structured toward recruiting, retaining and rewarding “high-performing” workers and “those with critical skill sets.” His announcement came as the country heads into the Labor Day holiday weekend. Democrats sound off The Democratic Party immediately criticized the announcement, citing the tax cuts Trump signed into law last December. The law provided steep tax cuts for corporations and the wealthiest Americans, and more modest reductions for middle- and low-income individuals and families. “Trump has delivered yet another slap in the face to American workers,” said Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez. Under the law, the 2.1 percent raise takes effect automatically unless the president and Congress act to change it. Congress is currently debating a proposal for a …

Trump Threatens to Withdraw U.S. from WTO

U.S. President Donald Trump threatened in an interview with Bloomberg News on Thursday to withdraw from the World Trade Organization if “they don’t shape up,” in his latest criticism of the institution. Such a move could undermine one of the foundations of the modern global trading system, which the United States was instrumental in creating. “If they don’t shape up, I would withdraw from the WTO,”Trump said. Trump has complained the United States is treated unfairly in global trade and has blamed the WTO for allowing that to happen. He has also warned he could take action against the global body, although he has not specified what form that could take. …