EsadeGeo Daily Digest, 05/11/2019

The Washington Post – Brady Dennis / Trump makes it official: U.S. will withdraw from the Paris climate accord

  • The Trump administration notified the international community on Monday that it plans to officially withdraw from the Paris climate accord next fall, a move that will leave the world’s second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases as the only nation to abandon the global effort to combat climate change. President Trump has long criticized the 2015 accord and insisted that the United States would exit it as soon as possible.
  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated that: “In international climate discussions, we will continue to offer a realistic and pragmatic model — backed by a record of real world results — showing innovation and open markets lead to greater prosperity, fewer emissions, and more secure sources of energy.” Monday marked the date that the Trump administration could give that one-year notice, and it wasted no time. The United States can now officially leave the Paris agreement Nov. 4, 2020 — the day after next year’s presidential election.
  • Monday’s move comes as scientists say that the world must take “unprecedented” action to cut its carbon emissions over the next decade, slashing them in half by 2030 to avoid irreversible and potentially catastrophic effects of climate change. The world already has warmed more than about one degree Celsius above preindustrial levels.
  • POLITICO – Zack Colman / U.S. starts climate pact exit — now what?

The Economist / India pulls out of a big proposed regional trade deal

  • If it was measured by their share of world’s population and global economy (one half and more than one third respectively) it would have been the largest regional trade agreement ever finalised. So there was a sense of disappointment in Bangkok on November 4th when the would-be signatories of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) missed the deadline they had set themselves. Moreover, it was a great blow to the East Asia Summit, which is still struggling to establish itself as a relevant gathering in the world’s diplomatic calendar. The Summit is an annual institution that has been set up in 2005, and this year it suffered its third consecutive no-show from America’s president.
  • The RCEP would have brought together the ten members of ASEAN and six of their neighbours: Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea. The ambition, first announced in 2011, was to unite in one deal all those Asian countries with which ASEAN has free-trade agreements. The biggest obstacle has always been that one of them, India, has feared opening its markets to another, China. That was still what scuppered this year’s plans. The other 15 countries have apparently reached agreement on a text, and plan to complete the deal next year—with or without India.
  • Although India and China already have free-trade deals with ASEAN, they do not yet have an agreement with each other. India fears that lowering its tariffs on Chinese goods will worsen its yawning trade deficit with the country. It also fears that its dairy farmers will fail to compete with Australia’s and New Zealand’s highly mechanised industries.

Financial Times – Tony Barber / New EU leadership team must up its game on foreign policy

  • The new EU leadership team taking office in Brussels knows that, if the bloc’s common foreign policy is to command respect, the first place where it must achieve success is within the European neighbourhood. This would need to be well-planned, as united as possible, efficiently executed and imbued with a larger sense of long-term strategy. Two episodes, one concerning the Balkans and the other one Syria, have been little short of a debacle. Both incidents point to the EU’s inability to translate its undoubted weight as a commercial and regulatory bloc into hard power on the world stage.
  • This situation, however, is not just a matter of lack of military muscle, important though that is. The real problem is that, whenever two or more of the EU’s biggest countries are in disagreement, a common European foreign policy is either paralysed or becomes a question of finding the lowest common denominator among all the member states.
  • The Syrian episode centres on Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, German defence minister and possible successor of Angela Merkel. Her proposal for a multinational security zone in northern Syria was startling for its lack of preparation. The EU’s mis-steps in the Balkans are no less painful to watch, but in this case the main culprit is France, not Germany, by blocking Albania and North Macedonia from opening EU membership talks.
  • The Syrian and Balkan embarrassments are symptoms of an EU unsure of its place in the world and suffering from ineffective Franco-German co-operation. But if the EU cannot get things right on its own doorstep, where can it?

South China Morning Post – William Zheng / China’s Xi Jinping meets Hong Kong leader, backs Carrie Lam’s ‘hard work’ amid protests

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping expressed “high trust” in Hong Kong’s embattled leader Carrie Lam in a meeting with her on Monday in Shanghai and defended the chief executive’s response to unrest that has rattled the city since June, according to the official media. The formal sit-down was the first official meeting between the two leaders since anti-government protests began in early June, sparked by the now-withdrawn extradition bill.
  • President Xi stated that: “The central government has high trust in you and fully affirms the work of you and the governance team of Hong Kong.” He added that: “To curb the violence and stop the chaos in accordance with the law is still the most important task faced by Hong Kong.” Moreover, he also defended that “We must do a good job in dialogue with the community and improve people’s livelihood.”
  • Hong Kong was high on the agenda of the fourth plenum of the Chinese Communist Party, a top-level closed door meeting of China’s political elites at end of October. The meeting’s communique said that China will continue to uphold the one county, two systems principle, but also called for actions to “establish a sound legal system and enforcement mechanism for safeguarding national security in the special administrative regions”.

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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