3G and 4G Busniess Launch in Pakistan

Auction of 3G and 4G License
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South Korea trade deal could save you money — someday

CBC News Posted: Mar 12, 2014 5:00 AM ET Last Updated: Mar 12, 2014 6:57 AM ET

The Canada-South Korea free trade agreement, which is expected to remove nearly all tariffs between the two countries, has been well received by various sectors of the Canadian economy — with the exception of the automotive industry, which has raised concerns about the potential for tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs lost.

The government insists the effects of removing Canadian tariffs on South Korean cars would be "negligible," citing a 2012 study conducted for the Department of Foreign Affairs that shows the potential for job losses in the hundreds — not tens of thousands.

Canadian exporters of agricultural products such as beef, pork, canola and grains will be among the winners in the free trade deal with South Korea, but the benefits to Canadian consumers may not be as striking.

However, International Trade Minister Ed Fast told CBC News Network's Power & Politics on Tuesday that the elimination of tariffs would be good for Canadian consumers.

"We're going to see better value for the consumer, there will be greater choice for our consumers. If you ask consumers on the street, 'Would you like to pay a little bit less for your TVs that you buy?' they would say absolutely yes."

Here are some of the products imported from South Korea that Canadian consumers could expect to pay less for:

Vehicles: Canada will drop its 6.1 per cent tariff on imports of South Korean vehicles over a three-year period, with the first cut coming once the agreement is in force. Two years after the agreement is in effect, tariffs will be completely eliminated, which means Canadians can expect prices to come down on South Korean-made makes such as Kia and Hyundai.Appliances: Canada will eliminate tariffs that currently run up to eight per cent on major appliances within three to five years. That means Canadians can expect to pay less for refrigerators, stoves, washers and dryers made by LG and other South Korean brands.Electronics: Duties run up to 14 per cent on consumer electronics imported from South Korea. Under the new free trade agreement, Canada will drop its tariffs over three to five years, and Canadians can expect to see prices come down on digital cameras, video camcorders and TVs made by Samsung and others in South Korea.Apparel and footwear: Canadians can expect to pay less for clothes and shoes made in South Korea once duties that currently run up to 20 per cent are removed over a period of three to 11 years.

While cars and major appliances figure on the list of top 25 products Canada imports from South Korea, consumer electronics, clothes and shoes do not, because Canada does not import them in significant amounts.

When it comes to paying less for imported goods, consumers in South Korea may come out a little further ahead than Canadian consumers. Under the new trade deal, South Korean shoppers could pay less on a greater array of food products.

Here are some of the products exported from Canada that South Korean consumers could expect to pay less for:

Vehicles: As soon as the agreement comes into force, South Korea will drop all existing tariffs on imports of Canadian vehicles. Current duties run up to eight per cent.Fish and seafoodLeather clothingBeef, pork, canola and grainsFrozen french fries Maple sugarRye whiskyIce wineChickpeas and lentils

The prospect of South Korea dropping its tariffs, which run up to 27 per cent, on chickpeas, primarily grown in Saskatchewan, did not go unnoticed by Premier Brad Wall, who thought it important enough to highlight in a post on Twitter.

Consumers will not feel the savings for some time to come, as there will have to be a legal review of the final trade agreement followed by translation into Korean, English, and French before it is tabled in Parliament and then ratified by both governments.

While it is not known how long that could take, the Canadian government hopes to have the agreement come into force "as soon as possible."

Canada - Korea free trade agreement Canada - Korea Free Trade Agreement 2 Back to the future with Brian Mulroney and Jean-François Lisée Mar. 11, 2014 3:50 PM This week on The House, former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney compares the crisis in Ukraine to what he dealt with at the height of the cold war. Then, PQ cabinet minister Jean-François Lisée talks about when another referendum in Quebec might be held. Minister of State for Democratic Reform Pierre Poilievre defends the Fair Elections Act. And In House panellists Terry Milewski and Emmanuelle Latraverse weigh in on the week that was in Canadian politics.


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Stephen Harper touts South Korea deal 'wins' on B.C. visit

Prime Minister Stephen Harper was in B.C. today, where he touted the benefits of the Canada-Korea free trade deal not only for the provinces, but particularly for B.C.

The free trade agreement is expected to eliminate nearly all tariffs between the two countries, giving Canadian businesses increased access to South Korea and a window into other Asia-Pacific markets.

"There is no province that is going to benefit from this deal with Korea more than British Columbia," Harper told a B.C. Chamber of Commerce gathering in Vancouver, where he stopped on his way back from South Korea.

"B.C. business has tremendous gains and obviously B.C. business is more aware of the export opportunities that exist in Korea and through Korea to other Asian markets," Harper said.

Harper was in B.C. taking part in a moderated question and answer session with John Winter, the president and CEO of the B.C. Chamber of Commerce.

The free trade agreement would also see South Korea drop its three per cent tariffs on liquefied natural gas, giving Canadian exporters duty free access for their products.

While Canada does not currently export LNG to South Korea, the agreement would help Premier Christy Clark's push to broaden those markets into the wider Asia-Pacific region.

Winter called the elimination of those tariffs "a good step going forward."

The trade deal has been well received by most sectors of the Canadian economy with the exception of those in the automotive industry, who worry the deal will cost Ontario tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs.

Harper defended the free trade agreement against those claims saying, "We know there is some division of opinion in the auto sector, but there are parts of the auto sector that are very supportive?," the prime minister said pointing to Honda and Toyota.

The Japanese firms, both of which manufacture cars in Canada, have come to welcome the deal in the hope that Canada will eventually sign a similar one with their home country.

While Ford has not been supportive of the agreement, Harper said South Korean cars are already being imported duty-free through the U.S. and its free trade deal with South Korea.

"We're in an era where we are not going to win by trying to protect sectors. We have got to get out there, we've got to compete with the best and we've got to win," Harper said.

On the whole, Harper said that having South Korea drop tariffs, which run up to three times higher than Canada's, represents "some very, very big potential wins in terms of making Canadian goods much more competitive?."

The federal government insists the concerns expressed by Ontario's auto sector are overblown, saying the effects of removing Canadian tariffs on South Korean cars would be "negligible," citing a 2012 study conducted for the Department of Foreign Affairs that shows the potential for job losses in the hundreds — not tens of thousands.

Harper used the public event to join other G7 leaders in calling on Russia to back away from a referendum in Ukraine's Crimea region.

"All of the G7 countries remain collectively strongly committed to the view that we will not accept Russia's illegal occupation of Crimea," Harper said.

When Harper was in Vancouver for a similar event in January, two climate change activists managed to sneak up behind him and onto the stage where he was sitting.

"I'm glad we got through this alone on the stage," Winter said, drawing laughs and applause from the business audience.

"I think B.C.'s reputation has been tattered," the moderator joked as he wrapped up the question-and-answer session.

"I was going to say, it doesn't really feel like B.C.," Harper said laughing along.


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Hiring climate said to be 'modest' in coming quarter

Canadian employers expect to hire cautiously in the next three months, with job seekers more likely to have success in Western Canada than in Ontario and Quebec, according to a new survey of hiring intentions.

The latest quarterly employment outlook survey from Manpower finds that employers are forecasting only a "modest" hiring climate in the April-to-June period, with new business growth at its weakest level in five months.

Manpower's survey of more than 1,900 employers across Canada found that 16 per cent were planning to increase staffing levels, while four per cent were planning to cut them back.  

The healthiest hiring climate is in the Western provinces, with the rosiest opportunities in the construction, transportation and public utilities sectors.

"However, job growth is expected to be slower in Ontario and Quebec, with limited advances in full-time work expected for the coming quarter," said Manpower Canada vice president Byrne Luft in a statement.

Manpower said hiring intentions nationally fell two percentage points from the previous quarter to nine per cent. That represents a three percentage point drop from the outlook's forecast of a year ago. 

The weakest prospects are among manufacturers of non-durable goods.

Employment figures released last week by Statistics Canada showed a net loss of 7,000 jobs in February, with Quebec shedding 25,500 jobs.

Only 95,000 net new jobs have been created in Canada in the last year — a growth rate that is considered weak by historical standards. Job growth in the last six months has been especially weak. 


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Luxembourg kills EU tax haven crackdown

The Associated Press Posted: Mar 12, 2014 1:40 PM ET Last Updated: Mar 12, 2014 1:40 PM ET

European Union finance ministers failed once again Tuesday to agree on a sweeping new policy to fight tax evasion because of resistance from Luxembourg, a tiny country that long has prospered from a secretive banking culture.

EU Taxation Commissioner Algirdas Semeta said their failure was disappointing because, if approved, the legislation proposing an EU-wide automatic exchange of data on bank deposits would allow governments to "identify and chase up tax evaders."

Luxembourg, a duchy of barely 500,000 people, was able to shelve the legislation for the 28-nation bloc and its 500 million citizens because the decision required unanimous approval at Tuesday's meeting in Brussels.

Luxembourg Finance Minister Pierre Gramegna said he could not vote in favour and pushed the decision to a summit of EU government leaders next week.

Luxembourg has insisted for years it would support the proposed law only if non-EU banking hubs within Europe, particularly Switzerland, also sign up.

But as the EU's negotiations with Switzerland, Liechtenstein and three other nations on signing the agreement have made progress, Luxembourg has responded with new reasons for opposition, chiefly the risk that banks outside Europe would draw deposits away if the continent's banking rules are tightened too much.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said he was confident that Luxembourg would drop its opposition at next week's summit.

"We've been working on this for such a long time, whether we agree today or in four weeks, that doesn't kill me either," he said.

EU officials say tax fraud and companies' aggressive cross-border tax avoidance schemes cost the bloc's governments an estimated 1 trillion euros ($1.4 trillion) a year, money needed in an age of sluggish growth and high debt across Europe.

The finance ministers did achieve some progress Tuesday. They drafted compromise proposals designed to break a deadlock between EU governments and the European Parliament on how to set up an agency that could restructure or shut down failing banks, the EU's so-called "single resolution mechanism."

The agency is intended to help stabilize the financial system and reduce the risk that taxpayers would have to fund future bank bailouts. Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said the new proposals sought to address lawmakers' criticisms. He and other finance ministers declined to provide details.

The proposals are to be presented at negotiations with lawmakers Wednesday in Strasbourg, France.

To avoid significant delays in setting up the agency, an agreement between the EU's governments and European Parliament leaders must be reached by the end of March. That would leave time for the legislation to be voted on before the Parliament dissolves for May elections.

Lawmakers have complained that the EU's original proposals gave national governments and regulators too much influence over the rescue authority's decisions, leaving room to play politics and give advantage to their domestic banks.

The new bank-rescue fund would be financed by a levy on banks that would raise 55 billion euros ($75 billion) over 10 years by 2026. However before the fund would be tapped, a failing bank's creditors, including holders of large deposits, would be forced to take losses.

Mar 12, 2014 4:41 PM ET Mar 12, 2014 4:34 PM ET Mar 12, 2014 4:15 PM ET Mar 12, 2014 4:34 PM ET Mar 12, 2014 4:41 PM ET

The data on this site is informational only and may be delayed; it is not intended as trading or investment advice and you should not rely on it as such.


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GM recall of 1.6M cars prompts lawmaker probe

General Motors faced more pressure over its handling of a deadly defect in certain compact cars Tuesday as word leaked of a criminal investigation and two congressional committees opened probes into the matter.

The Justice Department is investigating whether GM broke any laws with its slow response to a problem with ignition switches in compact cars from model years 2003 to 2007, according to a person briefed on the matter. The probe is being handled by the U.S. Attorney's Office in New York, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the investigation has not been made public.

Spokesmen for the Justice Department and GM would not comment. The investigation was first reported by Bloomberg News.

At issue is why GM waited until February to recall 1.6 million older-model compact cars worldwide (including in Canada), even though it admitted knowing about the problem for a decade. The faulty ignition switches have been linked to 31 crashes and 13 deaths. Committees in the House and Senate also want to know why the government's road safety watchdog, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, didn't take action sooner.

GM announced last month it will replace ignition switches that can shut off car motors unexpectedly. When that happens, drivers lose power-assisted steering and brakes and can lose control of the cars. The ignition can slip from the run position to accessory or off, due partly to heavy key chains dangling from the steering column.

Also, if the ignition switch isn't in the run position, air bags may not inflate if a crash occurs.

An Associated Press review of a NHTSA database found that drivers started submitting complaints about the problem in early 2005, shortly after the first Chevrolet Cobalt went on sale. The review of complaints about the Cobalt, GM's top-selling small car in the mid-2000s, found 173 instances of engine stalling or air bags failing to deploy, both symptoms of the ignition problem. Many drivers reported problems with keys sticking in the ignition in addition to the stalling.

Fred Upton of Western Michigan, the chairman of the House committee, said in a statement Monday that a hearing will be held in the coming weeks.

Marketing expert Ken Wong of Queen's University says the damage to GM's reputation is enormous. "[It's] catastrophic, not only because the incident occurred, but because there is substantial evidence that GM was aware of the incident long before it took any corrective action."   

Congress passed legislation in 2000 requiring automakers to report safety problems quickly to NHTSA. The laws came after an investigation into a series of Ford-Firestone tire problems.

Upton said the committee wants to know if GM or the agency missed something that could have flagged the problems sooner.

"If the answer is yes, we must learn how and why this happened, and then determine whether this system of reporting and analyzing complaints that Congress created to save lives is being implemented and working as the law intended," Upton said.

NHTSA has said the rate of problems in the GM cars was not significantly different from similar vehicles.

The prospect of congressional hearings means more bad publicity for GM, which is trying to distance itself from a reputation for building lousy cars. The company has said it's more focused on quality since emerging from bankruptcy protection in 2009.

"It's the old GM haunting the new GM," said Jake Fisher, director of auto testing at Consumer Reports magazine. "They have a lot of the old products still hanging around."

Fisher said GM's new cars and trucks will have to be better than the competition to lure back buyers who swore years ago to never again to buy a GM car.

NHTSA already has demanded information from GM about when it knew of the ignition problem. The agency could fine GM up to $35 million for a delayed response. Automakers must report safety problems to NHTSA within five days of learning about them.

GM said in a statement that it's co-operating with NHTSA and the House committee.

On Feb. 13, GM announced the recall of more than 780,000 Cobalts and Pontiac G5s (model years 2005-2007). Two weeks later it added 842,000 Saturn Ion compacts (2003-2007), and Chevrolet HHR SUVs and Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky sports cars (2006-2007).

GM said Monday that it has hired attorney Anton Valukas to investigate the company's actions before the recall. Valukas, who investigated the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers for a bankruptcy court. GM has promised an "unvarnished" investigation into the recall.


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OSC to accept 'no-contest' settlement agreements

CBC News Posted: Mar 11, 2014 3:57 PM ET Last Updated: Mar 11, 2014 5:25 PM ET

The Ontario Securities Commission has decided to let some individuals and companies settle misconduct disputes with the regulator without formally having to admit to any wrongdoing.

The new policy, often referred to as a no-contest settlement, is aimed at speeding up the whole enforcement process.

Under the old rules, the OSC required some admission of wrongdoing before a settlement could take place. That made for often difficult negotiations as defence lawyers worried that such admissions could leave their clients more vulnerable to other legal action from shareholders. 

The OSC says its staff are continuing to explore the possibility of introducing a whistleblower program that would reward tipsters who provide the OSC "with actionable information about misconduct in the marketplace." 

The OSC said it would be up to the commission to accept or reject any proposal to settle a case with a no-contest agreement.

The commission says serious cases of wrongdoing — including cases of abusive, fraudulent or criminal conduct — will still require formal admissions of misconduct. A no-contest settlement will also not be allowed in cases where the accused "misled or obstructed" staff during the investigation.?

"When heightened accountability from respondents is paramount, we will continue to seek admissions as part of any proposed settlement agreement,"? said Tom Atkinson, the OSC's director of enforcement, in a statement.

An investor protection advocacy group says it has some misgivings about the new policies. 

"We're concerned that they (the policies) may have the overall effect of reducing deterrents and end up being viewed . . . (by) wrongdoers as a licence fee for wrongdoing," said Neil Gross, executive director of the Canadian Foundation for Advancement of Investor Rights (FAIR). 

"You can pay a fine and be on your merry way."

The OSC said it assessed more than $80 million in administrative penalties, disgorgement orders and settlement amounts in 2012-13.

No-contest settlements have been a hallmark of U.S. securities policy for many years. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission often reaches huge settlements with targeted companies or individuals without them having to formally acknowledge wrongdoing.  

That has been controversial. In 2011, for example, a U.S. federal judge rejected a $285-million US settlement that Citigroup reached with the SEC, in part because the financial giant was not required to admit any guilt.

The SEC had accused the bank of betting against a complex mortgage investment in 2007 — making $160 million US in the process — while investors lost millions.

With files from The Canadian Press Mar 12, 2014 4:41 PM ET Mar 12, 2014 4:34 PM ET Mar 12, 2014 4:15 PM ET Mar 12, 2014 4:34 PM ET Mar 12, 2014 4:41 PM ET

The data on this site is informational only and may be delayed; it is not intended as trading or investment advice and you should not rely on it as such.


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