OTTAWA — Canada and Mexico are dealing with lingering hard feelings over last summer’s surprise Mexican trade deal with the United States as their new continental trade pact awaits a final stamp of political approval.Two weeks ago, the head of a visiting delegation of Canadian parliamentarians told the newly installed Mexican foreign minister his country threw Canada “under the bus” last August when it forged a bilateral trade deal with the United States during the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.A top Mexican trade official tells The Canadian Press that while there may have been a misunderstanding, the U.S. side deal was the work of the previous Mexican government, and Canada and Mexico’s new leaders are moving forward constructively.The side deal between the U.S. and Mexico appeared to blindside the Trudeau government, forcing Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland to abort a three-country trip to Europe.Canada and U.S. negotiators reached an 11th-hour agreement that was signed two months later on Nov. 30 by the country’s three leaders — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, President Donald Trump and former Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto, who was on his last official day in office.The deal must now be ratified by the legislatures of all three countries, but with turmoil in Washington, and a slowly-shuttering political window in Ottawa with a fall federal election on the horizon, that is far from certain.Moreover, Canada and Mexico insist the Trump administration will have to lift its punishing tariffs on their steel and aluminum exports, which the mercurial president imposed under a controversial national security clause in U.S. trade law both countries say was illegal.Canadian and Mexican politicians have been holding a series of regular meetings and exchanges, including a two-day session of parliamentarians in Ottawa this week, and a gathering of the ParlAmericas group, a network of legislators from 35 Western Hemisphere countries, earlier this month.The head of Canadian ParlAmericas chapter, Liberal MP Bob Nault, expressed Canada’s dissatisfaction about last August’s Mexican side deal with the country’s new foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard, during the organization’s Mexico City meeting earlier this month.“We did say very clearly in our last meeting in Mexico with the foreign affairs minister that we were frustrated with the feeling that Mexico was sort of moving away from the trilateral agreement,” Nault said in an interview.Nault said he was concerned about “the way it unfolded at the end,” and a perception “that Canada got thrown under the bus by Mexico.” He said that represented a break from “what we originally felt was the approach, that is, Mexico and Canada had to be very close to each other to make sure we got a good deal for our countries and make sure the U.S. didn’t overtake us.”The Canadian Press has previously reported, citing anonymous sources, that Freeland gave Mexican negotiators an upbraiding over their bilateral deal during an August meeting in Washington.“I think it’s getting better,” Nault said this week of the relationship. “Overall, we both have the same position: we want the tariffs removed. We want them removed now. We want to move forward with ratification.”Luz Maria de la Mora, Mexico’s deputy trade minister, acknowledged the past Canadian complaints, but she said the two countries are moving forward constructively.“That was part of the negotiation process … right now, it’s over,” de la Mora said in an interview.“The previous administration in Mexico was responsible for doing that. But at the end of the day, it might have been the case that it actually helped the process.”The Mexico-U.S. side deal marked the start of nearly two months of intense talks between Canadian and American negotiators because the Trump administration imposed a Sept. 30 deadline for Canada to sign on to the U.S.-Mexico pact or potentially be cast adrift.De la Mora succeeded Juan Carlos Baker, one of Mexico’s top negotiators, when the new Mexican government of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was sworn in on Dec. 1.Lopez Obrador won the Mexican presidency in July, branding himself a socialist reformer dedicated to ending decades of corruption and improving the plight of Mexican workers. His term didn’t begin until Dec. 1, which left a window for the Pena Nieto government to finish negotiating a trade deal that Lopez Obrador would have to sell to his country’s lawmakers.During the transition, members of Lopez Obrador’s team joined the Mexican negotiators, but de la Mora said they acted as observers, not participants. She said that extended to the Mexican decision to move forward with a bilateral deal with Canada.“We were not involved in that decision at all,” de la Mora said.“If at some point during the negotiations there were misunderstandings or miscommunications, those moments are over.”She cited the fact that half a dozen of her cabinet colleagues visited Ottawa in November before they were sworn in, in order to forge a good working relationship.“It would be very positive that the three countries have this agreement approved this year, really. It would be something that would send a really good signal to the markets.”Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press
Video Communication Must Improve, Even as It Hits Its Stride Michael Helmbrecht September 12, 2019 Video conferencing at work has boomed. Now we need to fully deliver on its promise. There’s a huge opportunity for video conferencing vendors to work together and offer an experience where every system is compatible, just like a text message. Until then, we’ve developed our own solution, which we call the Highfive Meeting Connector. It’s free to all of our customers. Those with an intelligent Highfive Meeting Room can now easily join other video conference meetings—all with a single tap, from a single device, and without ever leaving their meeting room. Visit Highfive.com to learn more.Tags:News & Viewsvideo conferencingSIP interoperabilityHighfiveHighfive Meeting ConnectorVideo Collaboration & A/VConferencingMeetingsSIP/SIP TrunkingVCaaSWebRTC Articles You Might Like What we want is a seamless, “no worries” way to connect, collaborate, and engage with our colleagues. We want the HD-quality video (or better) that’s been in our smartphones for a decade. We want to connect with others without worrying about which meeting service they’re on or what brand of camera they use. We want to start meetings, share screens, and move between meeting rooms without thinking about it. In other words, we want our remote collaboration to just work, so we can just get to work. Log in or register to post comments Don’t Get Ripped Off with Video Conferencing Pricing Chris Heinemann July 30, 2019 Financially, the cost of video conferencing isn’t just high, it’s unpredictable. It’s time for a different approach. In-room conferencing is where businesses are demanding a shift. The massive migration to the cloud, coupled with the simplicity of consumer technology and apps, has made the complexity of the typical in-room conferencing setup seem downright ancient by comparison. The lack of interoperability is yet another point of frustration with these proprietary and vendor-locked in-room systems. It’s maddening that the tens of thousands of dollars you spent on vendor A’s system does nothing to help you connect to a meeting scheduled by a third party on vendor B’s system. See All in Video Collaboration & A/V » The “always on” workstyle is here to stay. We all have hyper-connected, super-powerful smartphones and laptops, so attending a meeting, editing a spreadsheet, or sharing a presentation can happen from anywhere. But while our personal communications are fast, seamless, and one-tap easy, the tools we’re bound to at work are a frequent source of frustration. So what’s holding us back? It stems from the way the video collaboration industry is clinging to legacy technologies and proprietary services. Over the years, it has fueled a culture of complacency among end users who have settled for less because that’s all there was. But now there is a way to rise above it all. 3 Problems Still Facing Voice Services Alexey Aylarov September 04, 2019 Interconnectivity, teleconference audio quality, and robocalling issues are still impacting voice services. Highfive_SP-ConferenceRoom-FULLIMAGE_774.png Consider, if you will, what happens when we send a text to a friend today. When you text someone from an iPhone, you don’t care if they’re using an iPhone or Android device; you just know your message will go through. But if you installed a Cisco Webex Room Kit, for example, you can only connect with other Webex systems. This might be fine if you’ve deployed the same systems across your locations and, critically, only ever need to have meetings between those locations. But that’s not practical. The reality is most businesses use more than three different systems across their organization and often need to connect with organizations outside their own. What’s Up in AV? 4 Trends to Watch Jimmy Vaughan August 02, 2019 A look at some of the problem-solving solutions I saw at the recent InfoComm 2019 event. For most incumbent video conferencing vendors, however, it’s not that easy. They might use a mix of different hardware and maybe connect it all with an in-room NUC or Mac Mini. But if they share their APIs, using WebRTC and some creative software development, they can make their service interoperable from both sides, allowing inbound and outbound connections from the meeting room itself. With this ability to connect to other video conferencing systems from a single device in your meeting room, you can finally say: “I don’t care which conferencing service you use, let’s just get to work.” Here’s another option: Use technology to solve the problem. Specifically, modern video collaboration tools can leverage WebRTC and SIP interoperability to overcome vendor-to-vendor incompatibility. This enables your teams to use the hardware and software you’ve already deployed to connect with parties using other hardware, solutions, and meeting services. Meetings Made Easy: One Video Platform or More Beth Schultz September 09, 2019 Standardizing on a single platform or enabling platform-agnostic collaboration are two ways to go about reducing friction in the meeting room.