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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.

IANS

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North Korea suspends nuclear, ballistic missile testing

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North Korean Kim Jong un

Seoul, April 21: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Saturday announced the immediate suspension of nuclear and long-range missile tests.

“From April 21, North Korea will stop nuclear tests and launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles,” Efe quoted Kim as saying.

According to the report, North Korea will also close a nuclear test site in the country’s northern side in a bid to guarantee transparency in suspending nuclear tests.

Having established a nuclear deterrent, North Korea can now turn to overhauling its economy, Kim said.

Pyongyang’s decision comes ahead of Kim’s April 27 summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in the demilitarized zone that divides the two countries.

The last bilateral talks between the leaders of North and South Korea took place 11 years ago.

US President Donald Trump, who accepted Kim’s proposal for a meeting after months that saw the two men trade insults and threats, praised the announcement from Pyongyang.

“North Korea has agreed to suspend all Nuclear Tests and close up a major test site. This is very good news for North Korea and the World — big progress! Look forward to our Summit,” Trump said in a tweet.

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DJ Avicii dead at 28

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Madrid, April 21: World-renowned Swedish DJ and electronic music producer Avicii was found dead in Muscat, Oman, his agent said on Friday. He was 28.

“It is with profound sorrow that we announce the loss of Tim Bergling, also known as Avicii,” Efe quoted Diana Baron as saying.

“The family is devastated and we ask everyone to please respect their need for privacy in this difficult time,” Baron said. “No further statements will be given.”

Bergling had struggled with health problems, some caused by excessive drinking and was hospitalized for 11 days in 2012 for treatment of acute pancreatitis.

In early 2016, he announced his temporary retirement from touring, citing a desire to “explore other interests.”

“To me it was something I had to do for my health,” Bergling told The Hollywood Reporter in 2016, adding that he had taken on board “too much negative energy” from the music scene.

Avicii achieved global fame in 2011 with the release of his smash hit “Levels,” which was followed by other chart sensations, such as “Wake Me Up” and “Hey Brother”.

He was known for his collaborations with other artists, including Coldplay, David Guetta, Lenny Kravitz, Robbie Williams and Rita Ora.

In 2014, he teamed up with Carlos Santana, Wyclef Jean and Alexandre Pires on the official FIFA World Cup anthem, “We Will Find a Way”.

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IMF expects India’s role to expand in Indo-Pacific region

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International Monetary Fund

United Nations, April 21: The International Monetary Fund expects India’s role in the Indo-Pacific region’s development to continue to expand because of its robust growth, but it has to carry out more trade reforms, Ken Kang, the deputy director in IMF’s Asia Pacific Department said on Friday.

“Given our robust growth forecast where we see India’s growth rising from 7.4 per cent in 2017-18 to 7.8 per cent in 2019, we do expect India’s role in the region to continue to expand,” he said at a news conference in Washington.

“That being said, India does have room to expand its export orientation and to reduce further trade and non-trade barriers,” he added.

“The statutory tariff rate in India is relatively high at about 15 per cent, and higher than those in the rest of the region,” he added. “So there is room to do more on trade reform.”

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