The ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 03/07/2017

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South China Morning Post—S. Jiangtao / Trump calls Xi as tensions escalate over Taiwan, North Korea

  • Tensions between the USA and China have resurfaced over Taiwan, how to handle North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme, and disputes in the South China Sea.
  • The USS Stethem, a guided-missile destroyer, sailed within 12 nautical miles of Triton Island, part of the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea, on Sunday. This was the second freedom-of-navigation operation conducted under Trump.
  • During a phone call with President Trump on Monday morning, President Xi was quoted as saying the following: “We attach great importance to the US government’s reaffirmation of the one-China policy and hope the US side will properly handle the Taiwan problem by adhering to the one-China principle and the three communiqués between the two sides.”
  • “Both leaders reaffirmed their commitment to a denuclearised Korean peninsula. President Trump reiterated his determination to seek more balanced trade relations with America’s trading partners,” the White House said.
  • Richard Bush, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution: “The steps announced [last] week occurred a week after the first diplomatic and security dialogue between China and the US and [days] before Trump’s meeting with Xi in Hamburg. In a way, Washington is ‘laying the table’ for the summit.”

Project Syndicate—J. Stiglitz / Trump and the truth about climate change

  • By announcing the US’ withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, President Trump took another major step toward establishing the US as a rogue state.
  • The Paris accord is very good for America, and it is the US that continues to impose an unfair burden on others, contrary to what Trump suggests.
  • The US has added disproportionately to the rising concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and among large countries it remains the biggest per capita emitter of carbon dioxide by far – more than twice China’s rate and nearly 2.5 times more than Europe in 2013.
  • By imposing a tax for CO2 emissions, firms and households would have an incentive to retrofit for the world of the future. Furthermore, the tax would help to address the problem that many countries’ governments face revenue shortfalls.
  • One of the world’s best-performing economies, Sweden, has already adopted a carbon tax at a rate substantially higher than that discussed in the report published by the global High-Level Commission on Carbon Prices. And the Swedes have simultaneously sustained their strong growth without US-level emissions.

The New York Times—T. Erdbrink / French energy giant to invest $1 billion on Iran gas field

  • The French energy giant Total has agreed to invest $1 billion in Iran to develop a huge offshore gas field. The other partners are the China National Petroleum Corporation and the Iranian company Petropars.
  • The agreement is the largest by a Western energy company in Iran since the 2015 deal to curb Tehran’s nuclear program. In February, the agreement was put on hold as Total waited to see how the Trump administration’s policy toward Iran would proceed.
  • Other European companies are expected to follow in Total’s footsteps. Royal Dutch Shell, another energy giant, has signed several memorandums of understanding for projects in Iran, as have dozens of other companies.
  • The Trump administration is undertaking a 90-day review of its policies toward Iran. At a meeting on Saturday in Paris, the former US ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, said he was certain the Trump administration would make a change in the leadership in Tehran a priority of its Iran policy.

Financial Times—A. Barker / EU presidency highlights think-big confidence of tiny Estonia

  • During its presidency of the Council of the European Union, Estonia is hoping to disrupt Europe’s analogue economy by pushing ideas on e-government and the free flow of data across Europe.
  • However, Estonia will be facing a bigger challenge: the east-west divide across a host of legislation, which either seems stuck (asylum reform), highly divisive (French-led efforts to tighten terms for “posted workers”) or destined to be difficult (the Russian Nordstream 2 gas pipeline across the Baltic Sea to Germany).
  • During its presidency, Estonia must oversee the drafting of a mandate for the European Commission to negotiate with Russia over the Nordstream 2 pipeline. Kersti Kaljulaid, Estonia’s President: “I stand here and say it is a political project which has no economic reasoning.”
  • As Estonia launched its presidency, Moscow was preparing to move approximately 100,000 personnel for military exercises in September close to the border of Baltic countries that were under the Soviet yoke for half a century.

 The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and ESADEgeo. 

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