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  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Al Jazeera Center for Studies
  • Abstract: After Turkey’s unsuccessful ultimatum set for the Syrian regime and its Russian ally to commit to the Sochi Agreement, Ankara has targeted the Assad regime and its allies’ locations along the de-escalation zone by launching Operation Spring Shield. Russia has capitalized on Turkey’s anger by offering an agreement establishing new facts on ground during a Turkish-Russian summit on March 5th.
  • Topic: Military Strategy, Armed Forces, Geopolitics, Conflict, Syrian War
  • Political Geography: Russia, Turkey, Middle East, Syria, United States of America, Idlib
  • Author: David Carment
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Canadian Global Affairs Institute (CGAI)
  • Abstract: After three years of limited discussion, the leaders of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine renewed their peace talks to resolve the separatist conflict in Eastern Ukraine (Donbas). Efforts to facilitate a peaceful resolution to the conflict in the Donbas began five years ago with the meeting of the Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine. This framework, developed by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), attempted to facilitate a dialogue between Russia and Ukraine through the mediation of an impartial actor, and it culminated in the Minsk I (September 2014) and then Minsk II (February 2015) agreements. The Minsk II agreements comprised a 13-point peace plan, chief among which is an arrangement specifying support for the restoration of the Ukrainian-Russian border. While the implementation of the military portions of the Minsk II agreements were finalized within three months of signing, the political and security portions remained unresolved. Though President Vladimir Putin has declared his intent to protect the Russian-speaking peoples of the region, he has also stated he has no interest in reclaiming Eastern Ukraine. Not surprisingly, since Russia’s ultimate goal is undeclared, the conflict has proved very difficult to resolve.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Territorial Disputes, Negotiation
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Ukraine, Canada, France, Germany, United States of America
  • Author: Colin Robertson
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Canadian Global Affairs Institute (CGAI)
  • Abstract: An internationalist and a progressive, Justin Trudeau consistently boosts diversity, social justice, environmentalism and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. A gifted retail politician, Trudeau prefers campaigning and contact with voters to the hurly-burly of the House of Commons. He possesses an empathy and emotional intelligence most people found lacking in his famous father, Pierre Trudeau. But are these attributes and causes out of sync with our turbulent times? Mr. Trudeau is learning firsthand what British prime minister Harold MacMillan warned U.S. president John F. Kennedy what was most likely to blow governments off-course: “Events, dear boy, events.” As Trudeau begins a second term as prime minister, the going is tougher. The Teflon is gone. He leads a minority government with new strains on national unity. Parliament, including his experiment in Senate reform, is going to require more of his time. Canada’s premiers will also need attention if he is to achieve progress on his domestic agenda. Does he have the patience and temperament for compromise and the art of the possible? The global operating system is increasingly malign, with both the rules-based international order and freer trade breaking down. Managing relations with Donald Trump and Xi Jinping is difficult. Canadian farmers and business are suffering - collateral damage in the Sino-U.S. disputes. In what was supposed to be a celebration of “Canada is back”, there is doubt that Canada will win a seat on the UN Security Council in June 2020. Losing would be traumatic for his government and their sense of Canada’s place in the world. It would also be a rude shock for Canadians’ self-image of themselves internationally.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Government, Politics, Justin Trudeau
  • Political Geography: Canada, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Cheon-Kee Lee
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP)
  • Abstract: On 14 January 2020 the United States, the European Union, and Japan (hereinafter referred to as “US-EU-Japan”) issued a trilateral joint statement, proposing a set of new rules to strengthen WTO regulation on industrial subsidies. While a total of seven joint announcements have been made so far, this is the first time that three WTO Members have presented specific ideas on how to amend existing subsidy rules. Many of the proposed amendments seem to primarily target China’s trade policy and practices. Among the six amendment items proposed in the Joint Statement, it seems that the United States is paying particular attention to the sixth item, i.e. in making explicit the possibility of using the out-of-country benchmark and on introducing necessary requirements to do so in measuring the benefit conferred and, ultimately, in calculating the amount of the countervailing duties (CVDs). Against this backdrop, in this Brief the author analyzes the relevant WTO provisions and GATT/WTO jurisprudence, and discusses various scenarios on future negotiations on WTO Reform on industrial subsidies.
  • Topic: World Trade Organization, Economy, Negotiation, Trade Policy, Industry
  • Political Geography: Japan, China, United States of America, European Union
  • Author: Jai Chul Heo
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP)
  • Abstract: China is actively building Network Power in economic and traditional security and non-traditional security areas, while in some cases maximizing its own interests by using the Network Power already formed. In particular, China is building Collective Power at a rapid pace in significant areas. China also actively participated in existing networks and established Positional Power by preoccupying important positions. However, China’s Network Power still seems to have a long way to go in terms of Programming Power to build new systems, unlike Collective or Positional Power. What is notable in the process of analyzing China’s Network Power is that competition between the U.S. and China is fierce over Network Power.
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, Economics, Power Politics
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, United States of America
  • Author: Wonho Yeon
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP)
  • Abstract: Recent developments in advanced technology are changing the concept of hegemonic competition. The key feature of technologies in the 4th Industrial Revolution is dual-use. Emerging technologies such as 5G, AI, big data, robotics, aerospace, supercomputers, and quantum computer-related technologies can be used for both civilian and military purposes. The more you invest in the development of advanced technologies, the closer you will be to economic and military hegemony. Therefore, it is no wonder that the U.S. harbors great concerns facing the rise of China in these advanced technologies. To estimate and compare the innovation productivity of the U.S. and that of China, this study constructs a structural estimation model in which each country produces international patents using R&D expenditures and R&D researchers. Empirical results have presented novel findings indicating that China’s innovation productivity has surpassed that of the U.S. since 2015. At the same time we can observe that the U.S. has the world’s largest intellectual property surplus and keeps expanding it, while China’s intellectual property deficit has been growing every year. Given the two contradictory facts - China’s high innovation productivity and low intellectual property balance - we can conclude that China is strong at “innovation” but weak at “invention.” Knowing this, the U.S. eventually began to target this vulnerability. This is the U.S.’ Tech-Decoupling strategy. To achieve U.S.-China tech decoupling, the U.S. has been strengthening trade and investment sanctions against China. In specific, the U.S. has been utilizing the Export Control Reform Act (ECRA), Section 889 of the 2019 National Defense Authority Act, and the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act (FIRRMA). In return, China is responding to the U.S. sanctions with the new “Long March” strategy rather than a tit-for-tat strategy. In other words, China has been setting long-term aims and responding to the U.S. sanctions by improving institutional arrangements, refining industrial policies, and developing its own technologies such as “Dual-circulation strategy” and “New Infrastructure Plan.” Ironically, increasing pressure from the U.S. is expected to further strengthen China’s R&D capabilities in advanced technology and accelerate its competitiveness in emerging industries. With the onset of the 4th Industrial Revolution, China is rapidly closing the quality gap and technology gap in major industries where Korea has a comparative advantage. If Korea does not adequately respond to changes, it may be difficult to maintain a comparative advantage over China. Thus, now that U.S.-China tensions are intensifying, Korea is facing a pivotal moment in determining the future path of its economy.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Sanctions, Investment, Innovation, Trade, Strategic Competition
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, Korea, United States of America
  • Author: Yuka Fukunaga
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: The multilateral trading system under the World Trade Organization (WTO) has been of the utmost importance for Japan's trade policy. In particular, Japan strongly supports the WTO’s rule-based dispute settlement mechanism, and frequently uses it. At the same time, in recent years, the adoption and implementation of regional and mega-regional trade agreements have become critical in Japan’s trade policy, with the stalling of the Doha Round negotiations in the WTO. Although the core of its trade policy remains the same today, Japan has been forced to rethink and modify it in response to the aggressive and unilateral trade policy of the Trump administration.
  • Topic: World Trade Organization, Governance, Internet, Free Trade, Trade Policy
  • Political Geography: Japan, China, Asia, South Korea, North America, United States of America, European Union
  • Author: John Seaman
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: From emerging technological fields such as 5G, artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart cities to traditional sectors including energy, health care, railways and agriculture, China is increasingly proactive in nearly every domain where technical standards remain to be developed and set. Technical standards are the definition of processes or technical specifications designed to improve the quality, security and compatibility of various goods and services, for instance GSM for telecommunications or WiFi for wireless Internet. They can be thought of as basic specifications or technologies on which other technologies or methods will evolve – creating lock-in effects and path-dependency for future products and technological trajectories. Defining standards can provide significant benefits for society at large, but can also carry significant implications for which technologies will dominate future markets and provide substantial advantages to those who master standardized technologies. Chinese policymakers have become keenly aware of the relationship between technical standard-setting and economic power. Indeed, a popular saying in China posits that third-tier companies make products, second-tier companies make technology, first-tier companies make standards. In 2015, the State Council highlighted China’s deficiencies in the field and set out to transform the country’s standardization system, seeking to harness the capacity of standard setting not only to improve the daily lives of its citizens, but to drive innovation, boost China’s economic transformation toward the industries of the future, and turn China into a premier purveyor of international technical standards.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Communications, Multilateralism, Standardization
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Asia, United States of America
  • Author: Rawi Abdelal, Aurélie Bros
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: Sanctions have become the dominant tool of statecraft of the United States and other Western states, especially the European Union, since the end of the Cold War. But the systematic use of this instrument may produce unintended and somewhat paradoxical geopolitical consequences. The sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Russian Federation in the field of energy are particularly illustrative of this phenomenon.
  • Topic: Economics, Energy Policy, Sanctions, Geopolitics, Secondary Sanctions, Transatlantic Relations
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Wendy Cutler
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Asia Society Policy Institute
  • Abstract: Much attention has been focused on China’s unfair intellectual property practices and the imbalance in the U.S.-China trade relationship, but equally troubling are large-scale Chinese industrial subsidies, the behavior of state-owned enterprises (SOEs), and in general, the oversized and opaque role of the Chinese state in the economy. While the U.S-China phase one trade deal tackled some important sources of bilateral tension and aimed to boost Chinese purchases of U.S. goods and services, it was silent on industrial subsidies and related matters, leaving them for the next phase of negotiations, the fate of which is now in question. U.S. concerns on these matters are shared by other trading partners including the European Union (EU) and Japan. Yet despite widespread disapproval of such practices, building new global rules to combat subsidies has proven challenging. This is due to several factors, ranging from gridlock at the WTO, differences of views among like-minded countries on the required level of ambition, and uncertainty as to how best to approach the enormous complexities in China’s subsidies and related policies. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has sought to unpack this complexity, conducting recent studies of Chinese subsidies in two key sectors: aluminum and semiconductors. Both studies illustrate how Chinese subsidies are not simple cash handouts from the state to protected firms so that they can sell at favorable and distorting prices. The OECD finds subsidies can take various forms, including downstream or upstream help that trickles up or down to the firm that’s intended to benefit. They can take the form of favorable equity or debt purchases or bonds provided at below-market rates. And with interconnected global value chains, subsidies can effectively be granted covertly, intended to benefit one firm that might be several links away along the chain. In China, the problem is compounded by an opaque “party-state” structure that obscures not only the recipients of subsidies, but also the source. According to Mark Wu, a Harvard Law School professor who previously served as the Director for Intellectual Property in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, subsidies not only flow directly from government bodies in Beijing, but also indirectly through informal responses to directives — sometimes even left unsaid, but understood — from the Chinese Communist Party. Against this backdrop, the Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI) convened two roundtables in the fall of 2019 and the spring of 2020 to discuss how best to build a new rules-based infrastructure that might combat such subsidies and prevent trade-distorting results such as unfair competition, market access barriers, and, above all, overcapacity in global markets. Experts from the private sector, think tanks, governments, and academia weighed in with possible solutions, which included: Negotiating new rules in the WTO; Using the WTO dispute settlement system, despite its often-discussed flaws; Forming ad hoc rules-based approaches, where possible, like the U.S-EU-Japan trilateral initiative; Plurilateral negotiations conducted on a sector-by-sector basis; Forming coalitions of like-minded trading partners to establish an alternative model, much in the way that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was framed. During the roundtables, most experts agreed that there is no silver bullet that solves the subsidy and related issues on its own. And most agree that, left unaddressed, the problem is likely to deepen. The COVID-19 pandemic might even exacerbate it by leading to more state involvement in economies around the world and making it hard to discipline Beijing’s practices. Recognizing all of these real challenges that the international trade community faces, the roundtables reached the following key conclusions: Transparency on the scope, level, and nature of industrial subsidies is vital; Efforts to publicize the ongoing work in these areas, particularly that being done by the OECD, should accelerate; Turning research into tangible new policies is a key step; and Persuading China to agree to updated rules will be necessary, given that China is a singular contributor to overcapacity.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Treaties and Agreements, Trade, Industry, WTO
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America