ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 17/01/2019

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Foreign Policy – Owen Matthews / Theresa May stays, but only in name

  • After her thin victory in yesterday’s vote of no confidence, British Prime Minister Theresa May remains in office—but not necessarily in power. May has announced that she will be reaching out to senior opposition figures to try to broker a compromise over her EU deal. However, that may be unfeasible.
  • The initiative has now passed to Jeremy Corbyn, should he wish to take it, but early signs are that the Labour leader isn’t eager to do so. The more profound reason for Corbyn’s reluctance to back a People’s Vote is “that he’s always been deeply skeptical about the EU,” said one former senior aide to ex-Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair. Corbyn is at risk of having his own hand forced by a backbench rebellion.
  • The Labour leadership have at least reached clarity on two key points. Corbyn has officially committed the party to opposing a no-deal Brexit, and to extending Article 50.
  • Corbyn and his top lieutenants have been hinting that they will continue to bring motions of no confidence in an attempt to chip away at May’s authority. Such a strategy might win them the general election that remains Labour’s chief stated strategic goal. But at the same time it risks allowing May’s government to run down the clock and scare a large enough cross-party section of moderate MPs into backing an amended deal.
  • The Guardian – Jennifer Rankin / What is the EU position on alternative Brexit options?

Financial Times – Kerin Hope / Alexis Tsipras wins confidence vote in Greek parliament

  • Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras narrowly won a parliamentary vote of confidence,
    days after his leftwing Syriza party lost the backing of its rightwing coalition partner over a deal to end the dispute surrounding the name of the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia.
  • Syriza scraped together 151 votes in the 300-member house after five opposition lawmakers broke ranks to cast votes for the government. The result opens the way for Greece to ratify the agreement in another parliamentary vote expected next week.
  • According to an opinion poll published on ProtoThema, a Greek news website, 69.6 per cent of voters oppose the agreement.
  • Greece rejected criticism from Russia this week that the naming deal is part of a western plot to draw Macedonia into NATO. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said in an interview with a Serbian newspaper that the accord had been forced on Macedonia from “outside” and “against the popular will”.

Al-Monitor – Jack Detsch / Pentagon warns Middle East turning to China for drone needs

  • China has gained an advantage in the market for armed drone sales to the Middle East as more stringent export restrictions have held back US sales, a Pentagon intelligence report revealed this week.
  • While Chinese arms are typically “considered to be of lower quality and reliability,” they come with fewer political strings attached, such as end-use agreements that prevent the retransfer of weapons.
  • It’s not clear how worried the Pentagon is about the Chinese exports’ potential impact on the long-reaching US military supply chain to the region. The Chinese drones would be difficult to integrate with US-made command-and-control systems.
  •  “I think you can say, looking forward, there’s an open question whether the US transfers to these countries will increase given the Trump administration’s desire to combat Chinese involvement in these areas,” said Shannon Dick, a research associate at the Washington-based Stimson Center.

Project Syndicate – Dani Rodrik / Trump’s trade game

  • Trump’s trade-policy unilateralism is unprecedented in the post-war period. By the end of last year, he had raised tariffs on 12% of total US imports, causing trade partners to retaliate with levies on 8% of total US exports. On China, the Trump administration’s tough approach is supported by a broad coalition of US groups with distinct grievances.
  • Trump clinched one superficial victory in 2018, by concluding the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. In reality, the changes to the deal are relatively minor, and amount to a mixed bag of pluses and minuses.
  • Though Trump’s unilateralism and mercantilism are bad for the world economy, one should not exaggerate the adverse effects of his administration’s approach. If other countries do not overreact – and, so far, they have not – the consequences for world trade will remain manageable.
  • The deeper cost of Trump’s trade policies is that they will distract us from addressing real flaws in the global trade regime. When Trump was elected, more and more people started to acknowledge that hyper-globalization had left many people behind. The more outrageous Trump’s actions, the greater the risk that mainstream policy elites will rally behind the flawed ancien régime.

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.  

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