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EsadeGeo Daily Digest, 16/02/2021

EsadeGeo Daily Digest, 16/02/2021

The New York Times – Ana Swanson / W.T.O. officially selects Okonjo-Iweala as its Director General

  • The World Trade Organization on Monday officially selected Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a Nigerian economist and former finance minister, to be its next leader.
  • The first woman and first African to serve as director general, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala will assume the post on March 1 for a renewable term expiring on Aug. 31, 2025.
  • Dr. Okonjo-Iweala said in a statement that she was honored to have been selected and would work with the organization’s member countries to address health issues brought about by the pandemic and “get the global economy going again.”
  • Dr. Okonjo-Iweala takes the helm of the W.T.O. at a particularly difficult time for the global trade body, which was created in 1995 to help settle trade disputes, write new trade rules and encourage the flow of goods and services worldwide.
  • TIME – Justin Worland / Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala believes the WTO can change the world. But first it needs reform

Financial Times – Javier Espinoza and Michael Peel / Brussels to allow data to continue to flow to UK

  • Brussels is set to allow data to continue to flow freely from the EU to the UK after concluding that the British had ensured an adequate level of protection for personal information.
  • It will be welcomed by businesses — particularly in the health, insurance and technology sectors — that regularly transfer customer personal information such as bank details. 
  • The move will also help with aspects of EU-UK law enforcement co-operation, although the UK has lost access to the giant SIS II police database and European Arrest Warrant network.
  • It would be periodically reviewed by the commission and is open to legal challenges at the European Court of Justice, such as the one that led to parts of the EU-US “Privacy Shield” data transfer arrangements being struck down last year.
  • Bloomberg – Therese Raphael / Northern Ireland is the first test of the post-Brexit order

Politico – Giorgio Leali / China topples US as EU’s top trade partner over 2020

  • China was the EU’s main trade partner in 2020, taking the top spot occupied until last year by the United States. During the global trade crisis, the bloc increased its trade surplus (€30.1 billion in 2020 compared with €22.1 billion).
  • During global trade’s annus horribilis, heavily impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, EU-China trade grew while imports and exports to the United States dramatically dropped compared with 2019.
  • This new data come as Brussels is trying to intensify its economic ties with Beijing by concluding an EU-China investment pact, which has raised concerns among European lawmakers and civil society.
  • Eurostat estimates also show that EU trade started recovering during the second half of the year to the point that, in December 2020, exports of EU goods to the rest of the world as well as intra-EU trade were larger compared to the same month of the previous year.
  • Quartz – Annabelle Timsit / China dethroned the US as Europe’s top trade partner in 2020

Euractiv / EU readies reform to Energy Charter Treaty as climate criticisms mount

  • The European Commission is expected to propose reforms to an international energy treaty as early as Monday (22 February), EU officials said, after some governments have said the bloc should consider quitting the agreement because it could threaten climate goals.
  • Signed in 1994 to protect cross-border investment in the energy sector, the Energy Charter Treaty has faced growing criticism from environmental groups and governments that say it impedes countries’ efforts to phase out fossil fuels.
  • The agreement enables foreign investors to seek financial compensation from governments, if changes to energy policy negatively affect their investments. Some countries are growing impatient, after three rounds of negotiations last year failed to yield progress.
  • The treaty’s more than 50 signatories meet next month to negotiate an updated text. The European Commission is expected to produce its negotiating position late on Monday, for EU countries to consider, EU officials said.
  • Project Syndicate – Nicholas Stern and Joseph E. Stiglitz / Getting the social cost of carbon right

Today’s exchange:

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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