Business briefs – August 13

Manitoba or Prince Edward Island could be the next province to merge sales taxes, according to Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, who said Wednesday at least one of those provinces was likely to follow in his footsteps.

Provinces eye tax harmonization

TORONTO — Manitoba or Prince Edward Island could be the next province to merge sales taxes, according to Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, who said Wednesday at least one of those provinces was likely to follow in his footsteps.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we had another premier decide to move ahead with this, based on the conversations I had with Gary Doer and Robert Ghiz,” McGuinty said.

“There’s always been an understanding that, politically, this is a challenge, but I think there’s a growing consensus as well based on the conversations I had with other premiers in Regina, that this is the right thing to do.”

McGuinty wouldn’t explain whether he was referring to P.E.I.’s Ghiz or Manitoba’s Doer, saying only it was “hard to say, but we had good chats.”


Exports up, imports down, trade deficit shrank in June

Statistics Canada says the country’s international trade deficit narrowed to $55 million in June from $1.1 billion in May as exports rose and imports fell. The agency says exports rose 2.3 per cent to just under $29.3 billion after three consecutive monthly declines, while imports fell 1.3 per cent to just over $29.3 billion.

The export increase was due to a substantial rise in shipments of energy products. June marked the fourth consecutive decline in imports. Declining imports of machinery and equipment, industrial goods and materials and other consumer goods more than offset increases in energy products, agricultural and fishing products, automotive products and forestry products. Exports to the United States climbed 5.1 per cent because of higher crude oil shipments while imports fell 1.8 per cent, pushing that trade surplus to $3.1 billion from $1.7 billion in May.


China arrests Rio staff

SHANGHAI — China formally arrested four employees of Anglo-American mining giant Rio Tinto Ltd. for infringing trade secrets and bribery, but stopped short of laying politically explosive espionage charges in a case that has strained ties with key trading partner Australia.

Investigations showed the four, including Stern Hu, an Australian citizen who headed Rio Tinto’s iron ore business in China, obtained commercial secrets about China’s steel and iron industries through “improper means” and were involved in bribery, reported Xinhua News Agency.

Rio Tinto and the Australian government appealed to Beijing to allow Hu legal representation and to handle the case in a transparent way.

“Rio Tinto will strongly support its employees in defending these allegations,” Sam Walsh, the company’s iron ore chief executive, said in a written statement.

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