Trade: The White House’s NAFTA wish list
The Trump administration this week “revealed its most detailed list of objectives to date” for overhauling the Nort h American Free Trade Agreement, said Alan Rappeport in The New York Times. In a 17-page document sent to Congress, the White House said it would prioritize reducing the U.S. trade deficit with Canada and Mexico when formal renegotiation talks for the 23-year-old pact begin in August. Officials said that a revamped NAFTA must include “provisions to eliminate unfair subsidies” and more authority to crack down on cheap imports coming into the U.S.
President Trump once blasted NAFTA as “the worst trade deal maybe ever signed anywhere,” said Zeeshan Aleem in Vox.com. But his outlined changes don’t represent “a radical break” from the current rules. The White House document includes a few “Trumpian principles,” such as reduced trade deficits. But many of the proposed changes in areas like labor standards, intellectual property, and state-owned enterprises are similar to those outlined in the Obama administration’s negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Trump scrapped his first week in office. Trump may end up embracing some of his predecessor’s values “instead of repudiating them.”
Airlines: Frontier launches aggressive expansion
“Ultralow-cost carrier Frontier Airlines is doubling in size,” said Jon Ostrower in CNN.com. The Denver-based airline announced this week that it will add 21 new cities and 85 new routes to its network. Frontier says the expansion will allow it to serve 90 percent of the population in the continental U.S. The move puts Frontier into closer competition with established carriers like Southwest and United Airlines, but “largely steers clear of territory dominated by ultralow-cost rival Spirit Airlines, which has a similar no-frills business model.”
Tech: Google Glass returns with business focus
“The original augmented-reality spectacles are back,” said Marco della Cava in USA Today. Alphabet unveiled the newest iteration of Google Glass this week: Glass Enterprise, which reimagines the wearable face computer as a work tool. The company has quietly spent the past few years partnering with dozens of businesses to explore possibilities for the wearable device. DHL package sorters, for instance, “have increased their efficiency by 15 percent by getting information projected into their line of sight.” Google shelved the consumer version of Glass in 2015 after a rocky rollout sparked privacy and safety concerns.
Banks: Wells Fargo slims down
Wells Fargo is selling off businesses as the bank tries to restore its “reputation for simplicity and prudence” in the wake of its fraudulentaccounts scandal, said Alistair Gray in the Financial Times. In recent weeks, the bank has reached deals to sell its share-registration unit to London-based Equiniti for $227 million, and its commercial insurance business to New York–based USI Insurance Services for an undisclosed sum. Executives say that more deals are probably in store for the U.S.’s third-largest bank, which operates about 90 different businesses.
Autos: Mercedes-Benz diesels recalled in Europe
Diesel technology just suffered another blow, said Elisabeth Behrmann in Bloomberg.com. Daimler AG announced this week that it’s voluntarily recalling more than 3 million Mercedes-Benz diesel vehicles in Europe to upgrade their software to reduce emissions. The German automaker, which is under investigation for possible emissions cheating in the U.S. and Europe, is hoping to appease authorities and the public with the update, even as it insists it followed emissions-control regulations. The recall, which covers “nearly every modern Mercedes diesel on the road,” will cost Daimler about $255 million. ■