Project Syndicate – Christopher Hill / From Pivot to Stumble in Asia
- Among the Trump administration’s many foreign-policy blunders, its mismanagement of Sino-American relations will be remembered as the most consequential. At a time when Chinese trade practices and territorial ambitions must be addressed at the international level, the US is botching the job.
- The Trump administration’s “America First” foreign policy has yielded little fruit and left the United States isolated and increasingly discredited on the world stage. The international initiatives of past administrations have been replaced by empty slogans, hollow gestures, and, of course, “alternative facts.” With Trump scheduled to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 summit in Argentina this week, the US may have one last chance to turn things around.
- But China, too, is responsible for the current state of affairs. For starters, while economists are correct to point out that bilateral trade deficits cannot be considered in isolation, the fact remains that China’s surplus with the US – which hit a new record in September – is politically unsustainable. For many American workers, China has become a symbol of job loss and economic insecurity, and has developed a reputation as an economic predator.
- Yes, China absolutely does need to change the path that it is on, particularly with respect to its trade and market-access policies. But as the Trump administration’s renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement and the US-Korea Free Trade Agreement showed, it is likely to emphasize cosmetic issues that yield catchy sound-bites, at the expense of the substantive action that the problems in the Sino-American relationship demand. If fixing the bilateral trade relationship is too hard at this juncture, perhaps Trump should pursue cooperation with China in some other area. After all, we haven’t heard much from the North Koreans in a while.
- South China Morning Post – Wendy Wu / What will China offer the United States to break the trade war deadlock?
- Politico – Jakob Hanke & Hans von der Burchard / Brussels fears Trump-Xi deal at Europe’s expense
Financial Times – Andrew England / Mohammed bin Salman tests his standing with bold G20 trip
- When Mohammed bin Salman attends the G20 meeting in Buenos Aires he will be in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. Making his first appearance on the international stage since the brutal killing of Jamal Khashoggi, Prince Mohammed arrived early in the Argentine capital on Wednesday for the first major test of how toxic his brand has become. For many of the world leaders who will assemble at a riverside conference centre on Friday, the challenge will be to navigate between wanting to be seen as tough in their response to the killing and the pragmatic need to maintain relations with the world’s top oil exporter and their most powerful Arab ally.
- US president Donald Trump, who has flip-flopped between calling the Khashoggi killing the “worst cover-up ever” and denouncing media reports that the CIA had concluded that Prince Mohammed ordered the operation, is not scheduled to hold a formal meeting with the heir-apparent. Theresa May, the UK prime minister, whose office hailed Prince Mohammed’s visit to Britain in March as a “significant boost for UK prosperity” also has no plans for a one-on-one meeting with the Saudi leader.
- His most awkward encounter could be with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has led the charge against the crown prince after Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2. Mr. Erdogan, a strongman often on the opposing side to Saudi Arabia in regional power struggles, has not explicitly accused Prince Mohammed of ordering the veteran journalist’s killing. But Turkish officials privately make clear they hold him responsible.
- Prince Mohammed will, however, have at least one ally who will not be embarrassed to embrace him: Russian president Vladimir Putin. Mr Putin, who considers Prince Mohammed an important ally in the pushback against western sanctions imposed on Russia, plans to meet the Saudi leader in Buenos Aires, the president’s spokesman said.
- Khalid al-Sulaiman, a Saudi columnist, wrote in Okaz daily: “The Turks are mistaken if they think the world’s great powers would sacrifice their interests with Saudi Arabia or that the world would risk destabilising its economy because of this incident.”
The Guardian – Dan Sabbagh and Richard Partington / Economic forecasts strike blow to Theresa May’s Brexit deal
- The Bank of England said on Wednesday that GDP would have been at least 1% higher in five years’ time if the UK had voted to remain, while an official Whitehall analysis concluded that in all Brexit scenarios, including May’s final deal, the UK would be worse off. Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, added that in the worst scenario, an unlikely “disorderly no-deal” Brexit, the economy would contract by 8%, house prices would tumble by 30% and interest rates would rise to combat inflation.
- The official warnings will lead Jo Johnson, a pro-remain Conservative MP who wants a second referendum, to warn that “the Conservative party’s reputation for economic competence would be undermined by implementing a botched Brexit, especially one that the government’s own analysis suggests will cause economic harm”. Jeremy Corbyn said: “Labour will oppose Theresa May’s botched Brexit,” adding that her deal “puts jobs, rights and people’s livelihoods at risk”.
- May and her leading ministers intend to highlight the advantages of her Brexit deal over the next fortnight, selecting a different issue each day. The idea is to try to persuade sceptical MPs and the British public to back May in the vote on 11 December.
- Under the worst-case, no-deal scenario, GDP would be 10.7% lower than if the UK had stayed in the EU in 15 years’ time. Under a Canada-style deal, supported by Boris Johnson and David Davis, the UK would be 6.7% worse off than remaining in the EU, another study concluded.
Euractiv – Aline Robert / CO2 emissions rising again after three years of decline
- It is increasingly unlikely that the global rise in temperature will be limited to 1.5°C. The current trajectory, if maintained, would lead to the planet warming by 3.2°C in 2100, according to a new UN report. The climate disaster is accelerating but could still be reversed if carbon dioxide emissions are taxed. UNEP´s alarming annual report emphasised that greenhouse gas emissions rose again in 2017, after having decreased slightly between 2014 and 2016. Emissions reached 53.5 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent (53.5 Gt CO2e) in 2017, breaking with a level of stability which had led some to predict that emissions would decrease.
- The gap between actual emissions and the level of CO2 cuts required to limit global warming to sustainable levels is growing. Most countries’ emissions continue to climb, and only 49 of them have passed their emission “peak.” However, according to the IPCC report published in September, this peak would have to be reached globally in 2020 for global warming to be kept below 1.5°C. Not only are CO2 emissions deviating from their path, but also almost none of the signatory countries of the Paris Agreement are meeting their commitments. Only a few countries in the G20 are fulfilling their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) made at the COP21 in Paris. These are Brazil (which is reconsidering its participation in the Paris Agreement), China, Japan, India, Russia and Turkey.
- A small consolation in this avalanche of bad news is that the report highlighted a discrepancy between CO2 emissions and the rate of global GDP growth. This showed that burning hydrocarbons and destroying forests is not necessarily integral to creating wealth.
- Among the solutions mentioned in the report, renewable energies, energy efficiency and forest protection are the three key areas which could make it possible to find a way to severely limit CO2 emissions, towards a level of 30-32 gigatonnes of CO2 per year in 2030. Another key solution mentioned is that of taxation. Only 10% of fossil fuels pay a price per tonne of CO2 emitted, said Kurt Van Dender from the OECD. And 0.5% of global GDP still goes into subsidies for the consumption of hydrocarbons, he added.
The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and ESADEgeo. The summaries above may include word-for-word excerpts from their respective pieces.