Monday, November 6

Monday, November 6

ASIA PACIFIC’S FINEST APEC Leader’s Summit begins in Vietnam Today, the APEC Leader’s Week will kick off in Danang and

ASIA PACIFIC’S FINEST

APEC Leader’s Summit begins in Vietnam

29662192

Photo: Reuters

Today, the APEC Leader’s Week will kick off in Danang and should attract over 10,000 delegates and top business executives from the 21 member economies.

Following the US’ withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, it is hoped that President Donald Trump will clarify Washington’s trade strategy, which prioritises bilateral deals over larger multilateral configurations. Still uncertain about his “America First” policy, Asian countries have been reluctant to indulge Trump, and Vietnam is expected to promote TPP-11.

Following talks in Japan last week, this week’s summit will prompt a new round of negotiations for that pact. While the deal is closer to being concluded, disputes remain over whether to allow for an investor-state dispute settlement, giving foreign companies the right to sue a state. Clauses strengthening labour and environmental protections are also under scrutiny, though Tokyo is keen to keep them intact.

With last week’s talks having brought the parties closer to agreement, it is looking increasingly likely a post-US TPP deal could be signed—perhaps even as early as this week’s summit.

Delve deeper: Asian trade deals: USA bails, the region carries on

CONTESTING COAL

Climate change conference begins amid coal protests

Coal-Mine-Expansion-B-NH-1

Photo: AP/Matthew Brown

Beginning today, world representatives gather for two weeks of discussions at the UN Climate Change Conference. Their aim is to reaffirm the Paris Climate Agreement goals and ensure they are met.

Earlier this week, thousands of protesters took to the streets of Bonn to demand Germany phase out coal as a main source of power. At least 35% of Germany’s electricity production comes from coal.

Though other major European powers like France and Italy have pledged to phase out their use of coal, the German government remains ambivalent. If it continues its current rate of coal consumption, Berlin will certainly miss its 2020 goal of limiting CO2 output.

While many are hoping that the potential Jamaica coalition could lead to the country abandoning coal, CO2 emissions policy has actually been one of the main stumbling blocks to unity for the group. Though the environmentalist Green Party has been pushing to close Germany’s dirtiest coal power stations, the Christian and Free Democratic parties, which hold the most power, have little interest in pursuing such a plan.

 

SWEETENING THE DEAL

EU and Mercosur continue trade agreement talks

BF-AR254_CMDSOF_GR_20170605171655

Photo: Bloomberg/Getty

Today, the next round of trade negotiations between the EU and the Latin American Mercosur bloc will commence in Brasilia. Despite committing to concluding a deal by December, they have been deadlocked over its exact terms.

The EU is eager to access public contracts in Latin America, particularly in the $170 billion Brazilian market. Mercosur, which includes Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay, is eyeing the European agricultural sector in beef, sugar and derivatives like ethanol.

Yet it is that sector which is resisting the deal, with French and Irish farmers concerned by proposals to raise the annual beef import quota to 70,000 tonnes. Meanwhile, Mercosur’s unity has come into question after its one-year suspension of Paraguay in 2012 and Venezuela’s indefinite suspension this year over human rights violations.

The negotiations represent a last-ditch effort to revive the agreement with uncertain prospects. Of the wavering European countries, Ireland is optimistic, but French President Emmanuel Macron says he is in no rush to conclude the deal.

HAPPENING ELSEWHERE…

May’s headaches, France’s PM in hurricane-hit Caribbean island

theresa-may-an103106230epa05433683

UK PM Theresa May is expected to meet with party leaders to discuss whistleblowing policies to address sexual assault accusations. The move comes days after Defence Minister Michael Fallon resigned amid allegations he tried to kiss a journalist in 2003. Additional reports over the weekend that suggest pornography was found on the computer of First Secretary of State Damian Green—Britain’s top minister. Green has branded the claim “completely untrue’. Given Theresa May’s precarious political position, the developments threaten to unseat her government.

Two months after Hurricane Irma devastated the French Caribbean territories of St Martin and St Barthelemy, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe will tour the islands and herald in a new school year. Last week, the EU announced it would provide more than $160 million to aid reconstruction of St Martin, where most buildings were severely damaged and infrastructure has been decimated.