Oct 26, 2017

Trump has no interest in NAFTA concessions, says top official

Photo: Evan Vucci/AP

A top Trump administration official made the US pro-trade community despair — again. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross declared that President Trump had no interest in giving a single meaningful concession in the NAFTA talks with Canada and Mexico.

"We're asking two countries to give up some privileges that they have enjoyed for 22 years," Ross told CNBC's Becky Quick on Wednesday. "And we are not in a position to offer anything in return."

Why this may not matter: Ross could be simply bluffing.

Why this may matter a lot: It could be real — that is, Ross could be accurately reflecting Trump's view of the NAFTA talks. So far, the Trump administration has matched its hardline and inflexible public rhetoric with completely inflexible negotiations behind the scenes with the Canadians and Mexicans. Sources who've spoken to Robert Lighthizer say Trump's top trade negotiator is unyielding: Trump wants what Trump wants. And there's no room for compromise.

Bottom line: The NAFTA talks are frozen and the deal's future looks very dicey. Or as one former top trade official on Capitol Hill put it to me after the Ross interview: "No wonder the negotiations aren't going well. They're not actually negotiations."

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Cruise ship evacuations: More Americans test positive for coronavirus

A bus carrying American citizens from the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship arrives at the U.S. government-chartered aircraft that is taking them back to the United States while authorities wear protective suits look on at Haneda airport in Tokyo on Monday. Photo: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

Another 14 passengers tested positive for the novel coronavirus during their evacuation from the Diamond Princess cruise ship before being flown in a "specialist containment" area of the plane to the United States, per a Trump administration statement early Monday.

Details: Over 40 Americans who had been on the ship had previously been confirmed as infected and will remain in Japanese hospitals for treatment, NIAID director Anthony Fauci told "Face the Nation" Sunday. The rest were evacuated, and these latest cases were among them. All evacuees will undergo a 14-day quarantine upon arrival later Monday.

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GM to exit Australia, New Zealand and Thailand

GM's Holden brand is popular among racing fans down under, and it's been a regular fixture at events like the Bathurst 1000 V8 Supercar Race in Australia. Photo: Speed Media/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

General Motors is retiring its Holden brand from sales in Australia and New Zealand and winding down operations in the two countries and Thailand by 2021, the company confirmed in a statement Monday.

Why it matters: The Holden brand has been in Australia and New Zealand for 160 years, per a GM statement issued in Australia. It is beloved by many motor racing fans down under. Holden produced Australia's first wholly locally made car in 1948.

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In photos: Deadly Storm Dennis lashes U.K., Ireland and western France

A family is rescued from a property in Nantgarw, Wales, on Sunday. The storm comes a week after the U.K. was battered by storm Ciara, which killed two people, per the BBC. Photo: Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

Storm Dennis continued to pummel parts of England, Wales and Ireland over Sunday night with heavy rain after battering Northern Ireland and Scotland, per the official British weather agency the Met Office.

Why it matters: It's the second-strongest nontropical storm ever recorded in the North Atlantic Ocean, with its hurricane-force winds and heavy rains that caused widespread flooding across the U.K., the Washington Post notes. Police in Wales confirmed Sunday they found the body of a man who fell into a river as the storm lashed Ystradgynlais.

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