ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 08/07/2019

Euractiv / Four things we learned from the Greek election

  • Greece’s conservative New Democracy party returned to power after over four years in opposition, ousting leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. Kyriakos Mitsotakis will become the latest in a long line of Greek prime ministers stepping into a post once held by their father.
  • The country’s political scene seems to be reverting to the two-horse race of old, with the leftist Syriza party of defeated PM Alexis Tsipras replacing the once-mighty socialist Pasok party as the main foil for the conservative New Democracy party of Mitsotakis.
  • Together, New Democracy and Syriza on Sunday combined had over 70% of the vote, numbers not seen since 2009. In the 2012 election, at the height of the financial crisis, the two leading parties combined for less than 36%.
  • In the first midsummer Greek election since 1928, abstention was around 42%, a result consistent with steadily falling voter turnout this past decade.
  • BBC / Greece elections: Centre-right regains power under Kyriakos Mitsotakis
  • Washington Post – Demetris Nellas / Far-right Greek party crashes out of Parliament

The Guardian – Hossein Mousavian / Iran didn’t ask for this crisis, but it won’t stand for Trump’s bullying

  • The reemergence of hostility between Iran and the US is one of the most urgent challenges to peace and security in the Middle East. By sanctioning Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, Trump has effectively killed off any chance of diplomatic rapprochement so long as he is in office.
  • Sanctioning Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, is also a mistake. As Wendy Sherman, the US chief negotiator in the talks that led to the 2015 accord, put it: “I can’t think of anything that makes less sense than sanctioning a key person who might actually be helpful if there is ever a dialogue with the US.”
  • Iran has already begun to reduce its obligations under the nuclear deal. It is crucial to note that this is the first time Iran has contravened the deal. Iran cannot be expected to fully comply with it when others are failing to meet their obligations.
  • Trump has consistently offered to talk to Iranian officials, but his actions have been by far the most belligerent since the 1979 revolution. Iran will never give in to bullying. If Trump wants to resolve this crisis, he needs to make a swift strategic turnaround, one that would allow both countries to save face.
  • The New York Times – David D. Kirkpatrick & David E. Sanger / Iran announces new breach of nuclear deal limits and threatens further violations
  • The Atlantic – Thomas Wright / Trump couldn’t ignore the contradictions of his foreign policy any longer

Financial Times – Martin Sandbu / Europe uses trade deals to push for climate change action

  • The recent trade deals with Vietnam and the Mercosur have allowed the EU to show off as the defender of the multilateral order amid Washington’s protectionist turn and Beijing’s increasing assertiveness. But EU trade policy aims further than mere market opening.
  • The “very rules-heavy” deals allow the EU to “promote its model of international governance” by exporting its regulatory standards, says Iana Dreyer, founder of Borderlex, a news site for EU trade policy. Brussels has been keen on including provisions related to labor rights and the environment.
  • “Trade agreements are enormously beneficial and thus can be used as carrots,” says Bård Harstad, an economics professor. In other words, trade concessions can be used as “the currency” with which environmental commitments are secured.
  • To be sure, the sustainable development provisions are excluded from the enforcement and sanctions that govern breaches of the trade policy. But Dreyer argues that the new-style free trade agreements allow for political pressure, which can shame partners into compliance.

South China Morning Post – Tom Holland / One country is winning the trade war. It’s not the US and it’s not China

  • In the year since Trump opened hostilities against China, the overall US trade deficit has grown considerably faster than the US economy. So it can hardly be said that the US is winning its trade war. On balance it rather appears to be losing.
  • Meanwhile, Chinese companies have been harmed by Washington’s attempts to prevent them acquiring high-end US technologies. Moreover, the threat of a US-driven shutdown in the future will deter some third-party countries from using Chinese kit. In this sense, China, too, is a loser in the trade war.
  • But the US and China are by no means the biggest losers. With Chinese and Asian demand for European capital goods and luxuries hit hard by trade war uncertainties, the euro zone’s growth rate collapsed by more than half over the 12 months to March.
  • Some economies do appear to have come out ahead. Foremost among them is Vietnam, whose exports to the US have skyrocketed. But it isn’t all good news for Vietnam. For instance, the US government has cracked down on transshipments of steel products through Vietnam to the US in order to avoid US tariffs.

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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