Trade Clippings - April 13 to April 19, 2015

  • April 20, 2015

Dear International Trade and Investment Sub-Committee Members, 

Here are the international trade and investment articles and publications of interest for the week of April 13 to April 19. This week’s edition has been curated by Alexandra Logvin. Alexandra is an associate at Fasken Martineau in Ottawa, practising primarily in the areas of international trade law, investment law, commercial litigation, and arbitration.

News

David McLaughlin and Todd Shields, “U.S. Antitrust Lawyers Said Leaning Against Comcast Deal”, Bloomberg (April 17, 2015) 

  • Staff attorneys at the U.S. Justice Department’s antitrust division are nearing a recommendation to block Comcast Corp.’s bid to buy Time Warner Cable Inc. Attorneys who are investigating Comcast’s $45.2 billion proposal to create a nationwide cable giant are leaning against the merger out of concern that consumers would be harmed and could submit their review as soon as next week. The division’s senior officials will then decide whether to file a federal lawsuit seeking to block the tie-up.

“Bell faces $750-million lawsuit over tracking of customer’s cellphone Internet usage”, The Globe and Mail (April 17, 2015)

  • A national class-action lawsuit has been filed against Bell Canada over alleged breaches of privacy arising from its recently discontinued target ads program.
  • The suit against subsidiaries of Bell alleges that the defendants used the program to track, collect and sell the sensitive account and Internet browsing information of their customers to advertisers.
  • It seeks $750 million in damages for breach of privacy, breach of contract and breach of the Telecommunications Act. A similar lawsuit has also been launched in Quebec.

Randall Palmer, “Bank of Canada decision pushed traders to catch up on C$: Poloz”, Reuters (April 18, 2015)

  • The Bank of Canada's decision to hold interest rates steady last month, coming on the heels of rising oil prices, appears to have pushed hesitant foreign exchange traders to bid up the Canadian dollar, central bank Governor Stephen Poloz said.
  • He was referring to the central bank's April 15 rate decision, which came after a surprise rate cut in January and was coupled with a forecast that economic growth would rebound strongly this year from zero growth in the first quarter.

International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), “San Marino Ratifies the ICSID Convention” (April 18, 2015)

  • On April 18, 2015, the Republic of San Marino deposited its Instrument of Ratification of the ICSID Convention with the World Bank. San Marino signed the ICSID Convention on April 11, 2014. Pursuant to its Article 68(2), the ICSID Convention will enter into force for San Marino on May 18, 2015.  

“Ukraine meets with investors in effort to strike debt deal”, Reuters (April 18, 2015)

  • Ukrainian authorities met with investors in Washington on Friday as part of an effort to secure agreement on extending maturities of bonds issued by state-run Ukreximbank.
  • In a news release issued following the meeting, Ukraine's Finance Ministry said it reaffirmed its support for a proposed three-month maturity extension for Ukreximbank debt maturing in April.

“Markets face new threat as US Federal Reserve ponders interest rate rise”, The Guardian (April 18, 2015)

  • The moment US central bank chief Janet Yellen presses the button will be a massive economic event. The prospect that higher interest rates in the world’s largest economy could come this year has already sent the dollar surging against the pound and euro. It has also fuelled fears of a meltdown in countries that have borrowed heavily in the US currency.
  • Borrowing is inherently risky, all the more so when the interest rate can change at short notice. Higher costs for those that have borrowed in dollars could cripple companies in Brazil and Turkey that were enticed by cheap credit to fund a new factory or office building, or just to pay the wages.
  • At the International Monetary Fund’s spring meeting last week, chief economist Olivier Blanchard dismissed these concerns, arguing that companies may have hedged their position, while investors and finance ministers were well prepared. But a succession of market shocks in the last two years has convinced many in the financial community that a bigger crash is coming. There have been violent movements in currencies, bonds and commodity prices, especially crude oil and metals. A rise in US interest rates could add to this already volatile situation and drag stock markets towards another sudden crash.  

“Apple in talks to launch Apple Pay in Canada: WSJ”, Reuters (April 17, 2015) 

  • Apple Inc is planning to launch its electronic payments service in Canada in November, the first international expansion of Apple Pay, the Wall Street Journal reported. The iPhone maker is in talks with Canada's six biggest banks, Royal Bank of Canada RY.TO, Toronto-Dominion Bank TD.TO, Bank of Nova Scotia BNS.TO, Bank of Montreal BMO.TO, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce CM.TO and National Bank of Canada.

Government Press Releases

WTO, “Panel on compliance issues ruling in tuna dispute”, WTO News (April 14, 2015)

  • Summary of Key Findings and History of the Dispute
  • Panel Report
  • On 14 April 2015, the WTO dispute settlement “compliance panel” issued a report in the case “United States — Measures concerning the importation, marketing and sale of tuna and tuna products” (DS 381).
  • This was Mexico’s complaint against the US measures implemented with respect to the certification of tuna sought to be entered into the United States as “dolphin-safe”. The panel found that the US measures were inconsistent with Articles I:1 and III:4 of the GATT 1994 and Article 2.1 of the TBT Agreement.

WTO, “Azev├¬do underlines trade role in leveraging economic growth and development” (April 14, 2015)

  • Director-General Roberto Azev├¬do, in a speech at the WTO press conference on “WTO Trade Statistics for 2014 and Trade Growth Projections for 2015/16” on 14 April, said that “while many policy options have been tested since the crisis, we haven’t yet explored the full potential of trade policy to support growth”. He added: “The WTO’s successful Bali Package—which members are implementing now—was an important step. But of course we can do more to develop a trade-friendly global environment.”

WTO, “Rules Negotiations: Members endorse Chair plan for advancing talks on “rules” role in post-Bali work programme” (April 14, 2015)

  • WTO members agreed on 14 April to a proposal from the Chair of the Negotiating Group on Rules, Ambassador Wayne McCook (Jamaica), that the WTO Secretariat hold an information briefing on the morning of 4 May regarding the rules negotiations. This will be followed by a separate “open-ended” discussion within the Negotiating Group on the role WTO members envision for rules in the post-Bali work programme.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, “Stronger CWB increases competition in grain sector” (April 15, 2015)

  • Today Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz announced Government of Canada approval of a deal reached between CWB and G3 Global Grain Group which ensures CWB becomes a fully private and global competitor in the Canadian grain sector. 
  • The deal will see the investor, a new Canadian company headquartered in Winnipeg, invest $250 million in CWB, with plans to develop a coast to coast grain processing and shipping network across Canada. 
  • Once fully realized, the growth associated with this deal is expected to increase Canada’s grain export capacity and add hundreds of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars of economic growth across the Prairies.

Prime Minister's Office, “PM welcomes commercial announcements by Canadian and Indian companies” (April 16, 2015)

  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, today welcomed 16 commercial agreements and announcements by Canadian and Indian companies and organizations, which will help create jobs in both countries. The commercial agreements and announcements have a combined value of over $1.6 billion.
  • The announcements cover a wide range of sectors, including aerospace and defence, education, energy, mining, infrastructure, sustainable technologies, and information and communications technology.

Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions, “UDI Equipment Inc. (Universal Roll) bolstering exports with support from the Government of Canada” (April 16, 2015)

  • Acting on behalf of the Honourable Denis Lebel, Minister of Infrastructure, Communities and Intergovernmental Affairs and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, Jacques Gourde, Member of Parliament for Lotbini├Ęre–Chutes-de-la-Chaudi├Ęre and Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, for Official Languages and for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, announces that the firm UDI Equipment Inc., known under the name Universal Roll, has been granted financial assistance to implement an international commercialization strategy and pursue its efforts to increase productivity. This support is being awarded in the form of a $120,000 repayable financial contribution through CED’s Quebec Economic Development Program.
  • The financial assistance will enable Universal Roll to implement a commercialization strategy aimed at mining companies in the United States, Peru, Zambia and South Africa, among others. This contribution will also allow the firm to acquire equipment to help improve its productivity.

WTO, “Dispute Settlement: Items proposed for consideration at the next meeting of the Dispute Settlement Body” (April 18, 2015)

  • The WTO Secretariat has circulated a meeting notice and list of items proposed for the next meeting, on 22 April 2015, of the Dispute Settlement Body, which consists of all WTO members and oversees legal disputes among them. The meeting notice is circulated in the form of a document officially called an “airgram”.

Opinions and Editorials

Josh Wingrove and Rajesh Kumar Singh, “India Uranium Deal Said to Be Reached as Modi Visits Canada”, Bloomberg (April 14, 2015)

  • India’s deal to buy uranium from Canadian producer Cameco Corp. will be unveiled Wednesday as Ottawa hosts the first visit of a prime minister from the Asian country in a generation, a person with knowledge of the talks said.
  • The accord is scheduled to be announced in the morning, the person said, asking not to be named because the agreement isn’t public yet. India Prime Minister Narendra Modi reached the Canadian capital as part of a three-day visit.
  • Expectation the deal championed by Modi may be signed has stirred wariness among Canadians. An Internet survey from the Angus Reid Institute published Tuesday showed 60 percent of respondents oppose helping develop India’s nuclear energy industry. 

Phillip Inman, “IMF spring meetings: time to realise world is on borrowed time” The Guardian (April 14, 2015)

  • While the IMF skates over China’s slowdown and the Greek crisis, it should focus on deeper worries in the world economy.
  • There is a smokescreen around the IMF’s thinking on the world economy at its spring meetings in Washington this week. Discussion of the UK’s slowing recovery is largely absent, presumably because of obvious political sensitivities as the country gears up for polling day. Analysis of the situation in Europe is anodyne compared with previous years. The US, still suffering the after-effects of the financial crisis in the form of low business investment and faltering consumer spending, is given a clean bill of health.
  • The words of deep concern have been reserved for the developing world, which is dogged by falling commodity prices, low investment, corruption or all three.