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VP Mike Pence accuses China of interfering in U.S. policies, politics

07 October 2018

Vice President Mike Pence charged Thursday that Russia's influence operations in America pale in comparison with the covert and overt activities China is taking to interfere in the US midterm elections and counter President Donald Trump's tough trade policies.

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Trump has "made clear that we'll levy even more tariffs, with the possibility of substantially more than doubling that number, unless a fair and reciprocal deal is made", Pence said.

Pence accused China of using its economic power to bully smaller countries and said it had threatened the stability of the Taiwan Strait by pressuring three Latin American countries to sever ties with Taipei and recognize Beijing. In round after round of talks, USA officials describe what they call "unfair" trade tactics like limiting access to Chinese markets and manipulating their currency to the detriment of American companies and consumers.

The overhauled North American Free Trade Agreement, now named the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, which is expected to be ratified next year, will accomplish some important objectives for US agriculture. Canada also was not able to remove steel and aluminum tariffs.

He said the negotiations, along with Trump's personal attacks, created a sense of hostility and stress among Canadians.

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Mexico started to warm trade ties with Argentina and Brazil during the trade dispute, so the new agreement is seen as good news for producers of American farm commodities that compete with Brazil and Argentina, including US grains and livestock products.

"We didn't ask to reopen NAFTA".

The other two countries in USMCA would then have time to review the full text of whatever agreement is reached to assess what impact it would have on the USMCA, and allow for a country in the deal to trigger the six-month pullout mechanism to withdraw from the USMAC if they don't like the new deal their partner is making.

"We were always on the defensive". We don't know that yet, but there are market gains, so that is promising. "We limited the damage and preserved our access to the American market". Canada's new so-called de minimis level will rise to $150 from $20 for customs duties, and $40 for sales taxes, providing a price break for Canadians who purchase items from USA online retailers.

"We oppose to fabricating the concepts of "market country" and "non-market country" outside the framework of WTO, which in essence is the excuse made by some countries to shirk their obligations and refuse to meet their global commitments". Canada had to make some concessions on its dairy sector in exchange to keep the provision, which allows independent panels to solve disputes involving companies and governments.

"I said at the beginning that there is no Conservative or Liberal way to negotiate a free-trade agreement - there is only a Canadian way".

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But there is a widely shared belief that Canada made concessions and the USA did not.

Burney said he's not convinced the controversial clause has any teeth to prevent Canada from moving forward economically with China "as assertively" as possible.

Will the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement reinforce these feelings of nationalism or assuage them?

"It's so hard to tell", said Belinda Román, adjunct professor of economics at St. Mary's University.

He said that having this new wording in the deal "changes absolutely nothing", and downplayed the concern voiced by some trade experts. "People will accept it with resignation rather than joy".

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VP Mike Pence accuses China of interfering in U.S. policies, politics