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Canada urges calm in response to Trumps NAFTA threats as talks continue

VANCOUVER — Canada’s international trade minister is urging calm in response to renewed threats from Donald Trump to tear up the North American Free Trade Agreement, which the U.S. president described Sunday as the “worst trade deal ever made.”Francois-Philippe Champagne defended the 23-year-old pact between the United States, Canada and Mexico as one of the most fruitful trading relationships in the history of mankind.“We just have to make sure we don’t react to every news, comment, remarks,” Champagne told members of the Vancouver business community at a B.C. Chamber of Commerce luncheon.“Because at the end, every time I sit down with them and my counterpart (U.S. Trade Representative) Robert Lighthizer, I look at numbers. I don’t look at the comments. I look at the numbers. And the numbers speak for themselves.”Negotiations around NAFTA began earlier this month, and a second round of talks is scheduled to begin at the end of the week.Trump took aim at Canada over the weekend in a tweet that said both Mexico and Canada were “being very difficult.”Champagne said there is nothing worrisome about the push to modernize NAFTA, which has happened 12 times since the deal came into effect in the 1990s.“We want a chapter on the environment. We want a chapter on labour. We want a chapter on gender equality,” he said.“It’s 2017, so it’s about time we used these trade agreements to promote the best standards around the world and make sure trade is fair and balanced.”The American and Canadian economies are highly integrated, he said, with about $2 billion in goods and services crossing the border every day, along with 400,000 people.During his speech, Champagne also lauded the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the European Union, which he said would slash more than 98 per cent of transatlantic tariffs when the deal comes into effect on Sept. 22.“Canada will become the only country that is not located physically in Europe to have the greatest market access in Europe ever,” Champagne said.The deal will give Canadian business access to 510 million consumers in Europe, as well as $3.3 trillion in public procurement.— Follow @gwomand on Twitter read more

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European Investment Bank delegation to visit Sri Lanka

Vice President McDowell will also inspect ongoing construction work to upgrade wastewater infrastructure in Colombo financed by the European Investment Bank in conjunction with the Asian Development Bank. In January the European Investment Bank agreed to provide EUR 50 million to support improvement and expansion of sewage networks across the Sri Lankan capital Colombo. The loan will help Colombo Municipal Council to achieve its goal of providing full sanitation coverage to benefit people living and working in the greater Colombo area and represented the EIB’s fifth sovereign loan in the country. “The visit by the European Investment Bank is an opportunity for the Sri Lankan Government to showcase their plans for the sustainable development of the country. I am confident that strengthened engagement by the European Investment Bank will lead to new investment across the key sectors that are vital for the modernisation of the country’s infrastructure. These investments have the potential to deliver benefits for all Sri Lankans,” highlighted HE Tung-LaïMargue, European Union Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives.On Tuesday the European Investment Bank Delegation will visit a number of sites around Colombo to see how new investment is improving the supply of clean water and treatment of waste water in the capital city. The European Investment Bank is one of the world’s largest financiers of water related investment.“I look forward to seeing at first hand the hard work being done across Colombo to improve water services for the city’s inhabitants and discussions with government ministers and other Sri Lankan partners how the European Investment Bank’s unique global experience can contribute to strengthening new sustainable development and climate related investmentacross the country.” added Vice President McDowell. This week’s visit represents the first visit of a Vice President of the European Investment Bank to Sri Lanka in more than five years.“The European Investment Bank has a strong track record of supporting transformational investment that improves lives and economic opportunities across Asia and around the world. This week’s visit to Sri Lanka builds on the fruitful discussions with Minister Karunanayake following the European Investment Bank’s first ever support for water investment in Sri Lanka and the first loan for public sector investment agreed with this government.”confirmed Andrew McDowell, European Investment Bank Vice President, before his arrival in Colombo. A high-level delegation from the European Investment Bank, the world’s largest international public bank, will make a three day official visit to Sri Lanka at the start of a South Asia regional tour, the EU office in Colombo said.Andrew McDowell, newly appointed Vice President of the European Investment Bank responsible for South Asia, will discuss recent engagement and future investment with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and senior government ministers, business leaders, members of the diplomatic community and local and international financial institutions. The European Investment Bank is Europe’s long-term lending institution and owned directly by the 28 European Union member states. The European Investment Bank has supported investment in Sri Lanka since 2002 including backing climate related investment, private companies and post-tsunami recovery. The new water investment programme will include provision of a new sewage network in currently un-served areas of Kirillopone. Under the initiative a new wastewater treatment facility will also be built to reduce pollution at the Wellawata sea outfall.The Asian Development Bank will also support the water investment project and this new initiative marks the first time that the European Investment Bank has financed a project alongside another International Financial Institution in Sri Lanka.Looking ahead the European Investment Bank expects to provide more than EUR 1 billion each year to support new investment across Asia. Last year the European Investment Bank Group provided EUR 84 billion to finance new investment around the world, including EUR 19.6 billion for climate related investment. (Colombo Gazette) read more

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