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Trump calls red tape impeding NAFTA renegotiation ridiculous

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Washington, April 19, 2017: US President Donald Trump on Tuesday called the complicated legal process standing in the way of renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Mexico ridiculous.

Trump again threatened to scrap the pact unless some big changes are made, Efe news agency reported.

“We have all sorts of rules and regulations that are horrendous,” Trump said during a speech at a tool factory in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

“Like we want to start to negotiate with Mexico immediately, and we have these provisions where you have to wait long periods of time, you have to notify Congress, and after you notify Congress, you have to get certified, and then you can’t speak to them for 100 days. The whole thing is ridiculous,” Trump said.

The president was apparently referring to the process established by the current US law that gives the president special powers to negotiate trade deals.

That process rules that the chief executive must inform Congress 90 days ahead of time of his intention to revise a previous accord, and present his project before the respective committees of both houses of Congress — the House of Representatives and the Senate.

The Commerce Department has not yet stated whether such notification has been sent to Congress, though Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross had said he intended to do so before the legislative recess in April, which has already begun.

“NAFTA has been very, very bad for our country. It’s been very, very bad for our companies and for our workers, and we’re going to make some very big changes or we are going to get rid of NAFTA for once and for all. Cannot continue like this, believe me,” Trump said on Tuesday.

“The fact is, NAFTA has been a disaster for the United States — a complete and total disaster,” he added.

The NAFTA trade treaty, signed in 1994 by the US, Canada and Mexico, includes a clause allowing its members to withdraw, but they must first give a six-month notice.

The wish expressed Tuesday by Trump to begin as soon as possible the process of renegotiating the trade deal with Mexico falls in line with priorities expressed by the Mexican government, which prefers to complete the process this year, because otherwise it could be affected by the campaign leading up to Mexico’s 2018 elections.

“We think there are better conditions for reaching a commercial agreement with the United States or any other nation in 2017,” said Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray during a visit to Washington early this month.

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Maldives Immigration refutes claims of denying work visas to Indians

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Male, June 18 : The Maldives Immigration has refuted reports that it is denying work permits to Indian citizens.

Immigration Controller Mohamed Anwar said that Maldives Immigration officers do not discriminate when carrying out their duties and the authority will continue to grant Indian citizens work permits and visas in accordance with the country’s regulations, the Edition newspaper reported.

The comments came in response to the media reports that the Maldivian Immigration was “denying work permits and refusing to renew the permits for Indian citizens” working in the atoll nation.

“We’ve been issuing business visas, dependent visas and work permits to Indian nationals… and we will continue to do so, within the confines of our regulations,” Anwar said on Sunday.

While Maldivian citizens are required to carry any previous passports when travelling to India, Anwar said “Maldives does not enforce any such protocols on Indian citizens” travelling to their country.

According to the Edition, some premier resorts in the country had reportedly stated that “Indians need not apply” on job advertisements since the Maldivian government was allegedly refusing to issue work permits to them.

It said that foreign recruitment agencies in Maldives also concurred that there had been some problems in acquiring work permits for Indian citizens recently. However, they said that work permits were still being granted to Indian citizens in white-collar jobs in the Maldives.

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Sushma Swaraj meets Italian PM Giuseppe Conte

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Rome, June 18 : External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj met with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte in Rome. She is on a seven-day tour of Italy, France, Luxembourg and Belgium aimed at deepening India’s strategic engagement and trade ties with the four European countries.

Swaraj also met her Italian counterpart Enzo Moavero Milanesi in Rome.The external affairs minister will then travel on June 18 to France where she will spend two days.In Paris, Swaraj will meet her counterpart, Jean-Yves Le Drian and the two sides will review the bilateral relations.

India and France are celebrating the 20th anniversary of their Strategic Partnership.
Swaraj will be in Luxembourg from June 19-20 and it will be the first-ever visit there by an Indian external affairs minister, the MEA said.
During her stay, Swaraj will be calling on Grand Duke of Luxembourg Henri Albert Gabriel Félix Marie Guillaume and Prime Minister Xavier Bettel.

In Brussels, Swaraj will deliberate on removing hurdles for resumption of negotiations on the long-pending EU-India free trade pact.

The visit from June 17-23 will provide an opportunity to hold in-depth discussions with the political leadership on a wide range of global, regional and bilateral issues and advance India’s growing strategic engagement with the European Union, the ministry of external affairs said.

“Swaraj will also have meetings with Jean Asselborn, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs and Pierre Gramegna, the Minister of Finance. In Luxembourg, she will also interact with the Indian community,” the MEA said.
On the last leg of her tour, Sawraj will visit Belgium from June 20-23.In Brussels, she will meet deputy Prime Minister and minister of foreign affairs of Belgium Didier Reynders.

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Macedonia, Greece sign historic deal on name change

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June 18: Greece and Macedonia setting aside the 27-year-old dispute over the latter’s name, signed a historic agreement that changed Macedonia’s name to the Republic of Northern Macedonia on Sunday, thus paving the way for Macedonia’s admission to the European Union and NATO.

The agreement led to violent protests in the Macedonian capital Skopje . Protestors threw flares, rocks and bottles at police outside the national parliament and chanted “Macedonia, Macedonia as they view deal as a national sellout.” Officers dispersed the protesters with tear gas and flash grenades.

The foreign minister of Greece Nikos Kotzias and his Macedonian counterpart Nikola Dimitrov signed an accord to rename the former Yugoslav republic.

The deal was sealed in the presence of European and United Nations officials.

“Our two countries should step out of the past and look to the future,” said Macedonia Prime Minister Zoran Zaev.

This move comes a day after Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras survived a no-confidence vote mounted by Greece’s opposition in parliament over his handling of the dispute.

The agreement requires nod from parliaments of both the countries  and a referendum in Macedonia.But Macedonia’s president has also vowed to block the deal.

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