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  • Author: Andrzej Dąbrowski
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The development of U.S.-Belarus relations has been hampered by the events following the Belarusian presidential election in August 2020. In response to the Lukashenka regime’s violation of human rights, the U.S. extended a set of sanctions against the country and will most likely reinstate suspended economic restrictions. At the same time, the Biden administration will expand support for civil society, which creates a point of cooperation with Poland and the EU to coordinate aid activities and build international support for democratic changes in Belarus.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Human Rights, Bilateral Relations, Elections
  • Political Geography: Eurasia, North America, Belarus, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Japan Institute Of International Affairs (JIIA)
  • Abstract: The year 2020 was characterized by the intensification of US-China confrontation and strategic competition, which had been pointed out in the Strategic Annual Report 2019, in all areas from military and security affairs as well as dominance in advanced technologies and supply chains to narratives on coronavirus responses. Amid this confrontation, the rules-based international order faced even more severe challenges; the multilateral framework established after World War II with the United Nations at its core lost its US leadership and fell into serious dysfunction. While the international community is struggling to cope with the rapidly expanding outbreak of the novel coronavirus, China has been moving to expand its influence through increasingly authoritarian and assertive domestic and international policies on the rule of law and territorial issues, as well as through economic initiatives such as the existing “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) and its responses to the pandemic. The confrontation with the United States is becoming more and more pronounced, and the Indo-Pacific region is turning itself into divided and contested oceans. In this transforming strategic environment, expressions of support for the vision of a rulesbased “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” (FOIP) that Japan has been promoting for the past several years, or announcements of similar visions have followed one after the other. The year 2020 also saw significant strengthening of the cooperative framework among four countries – Japan, the United States, Australia, and India (QUAD) – together with the enhancement of bilateral cooperation between countries in this group. At the same time, progress was also made in a regional cooperation framework that includes China with the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement in East Asia. The Strategic Annual Report 2020 looks back at major international developments since last year’s Report through the end of 2020, focusing on the transformation of the strategic environment in the Indo-Pacific region and the response of the international community.
  • Topic: International Relations, Arms Control and Proliferation, Diplomacy, Science and Technology, Bilateral Relations, Multilateralism, COVID-19, Destabilization
  • Political Geography: Russia, Japan, China, Middle East, United States of America, Indo-Pacific
  • Author: Jeremy A. Murray
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Cultural and educational exchanges between the United States and China have become pawns in an increasingly fraught relationship. But maintaining and deepening these ties will prevent a return to the dangerous mutual ignorance of the Cold War.
  • Topic: Cold War, Education, Nationalism, Bilateral Relations, Culture, Academia
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, United States of America
  • Author: Wilder Alejandro Sanchez
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Since achieving its independence after the fall of the Soviet Union, Kazakhstan has maintained warm relations with the United States. The country regards the United States both as a potential source for trade and investment and as a partner to balance the influence of Russia and China in Central Asia, a perspective which underlines the importance of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s February visit to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. During the visit, Pompeo was generous in his praise for Kazakhstan and highlighted the importance of bilateral ties, while criticizing China’s detention of hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs, Kyrgyz, and ethnic Kazakhs in so-called “re-education” camps.
  • Topic: Security, Terrorism, War, Bilateral Relations, Conflict, Trade
  • Political Geography: Russia, Central Asia, Kazakhstan, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Elliot Hentov
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Iran is currently facing an incredibly unlucky alignment of pressure sources that are interrelated and will force the regime to engage in risky or experimental behavior, most likely in 2020. The COVID-19 epidemic simply exacerbates the combined challenges of a regime squeezed by an international sanctions network and a restive population reaching a breaking point with economic hardship. A continued acceptance of the status quo is untenable; thus, the regime will likely begin to undertake various initiatives in the coming months, more likely military than diplomatic in nature, that could force the United States to ease the isolation of the country.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Bilateral Relations, Governance, Culture, COVID-19, Society
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: International Crisis Group
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Naval incidents in the Gulf have spotlighted the danger that a U.S.-Iranian skirmish could blow up into war. The two sides have little ability to communicate at present. They should hasten to design a military-to-military channel to lower the chances of inadvertent conflagration. What’s new? Tensions between the U.S. and Iran have repeatedly brought the two sides to the brink of open conflict. While neither government seeks a full-fledged war, a string of dangerous tit-for-tat exchanges amid mounting hostile rhetoric underscores the potential for a bigger military clash. Why does it matter? Due to limited communication channels between Tehran and Washington, an inadvertent or accidental interaction between the two sides could quickly escalate into a broader confrontation. The risk is especially high in the Gulf, where U.S. and Iranian military vessels operate close to one another. What should be done? The U.S. and Iran should open a military de-escalation channel that fills the gap between ad hoc naval communications and high-level diplomacy at moments of acute crisis. A mechanism facilitated by a third party might contain the risk of conflict due to misread signals and miscalculation.
  • Topic: Bilateral Relations, Military Affairs, Conflict, Crisis Management
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Derek Scissors
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Partial decoupling from China is overdue. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) suppresses foreign competition and infringes intellectual property. It is an ugly dictatorship at home and increasingly aggressive overseas. Decoupling involves a range of tools and economic activities. Policymakers should quickly move to document and respond to Chinese subsidies, implement already legislated export control reform, monitor and possibly regulate outbound investment, and provide legal authority to move or keep supply chains out of the PRC. Decoupling has costs—higher prices, lower returns on investment, and lost sales. But they are dwarfed by the costs of continued Chinese economic predation and the empowerment of the Communist Party.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Kamal A. Beyoghlow
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: This monograph analyzes the current political tensions between the United States and Turkey and suggests ways to manage them. The two countries have been strategic allies since at least the end of World War II—Turkey became a North Atlantic Treaty Organization member and participated with its military forces in the Korea War, and during the Cold War protected NATO’s southern flank against Soviet communism, and Turkey’s military and intelligence services maintained close relationships with their Western and Israeli counterparts. These relationships were not without problems, due mostly to differences over minority and civil rights in Turkey and over Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus in 1973 and continued tensions with Greece. The special relationship with the United States was put to the final test after the Islamic conservative populist political party, Justice and Development, and its current leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, came to power in 2002. Turkey opposed the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the NATO-backed regime change in Libya in 2011. Most recently, Turkey has had strained relations with Cyprus, Greece, and Israel—all key US allies—and has alienated the US Congress and select NATO members further by its October 2019 invasion of Syria against Kurdish forces aligned with the US military against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, all against a background of a military rapprochement with Russia. This monograph highlights differences between US agencies concerning Turkey and ways to reconcile them, and offers several policy recommendations for new directions.
  • Topic: NATO, Politics, History, Military Strategy, Bilateral Relations, Armed Forces
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Conference Board
  • Abstract: China’s fast-paced economic rise and defiance of globally accepted market rules—along with the growing and yet unknown economic impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19)—are driving the next phase of US-China trade negations to the top of the nation’s post-election agenda. While the Phase I US-China trade deal has eased tension, it also set the stage for discussions on other important economic disputes, including forced technology transfer, cyber theft of intellectual property (IP), industrial policies, state subsidies, and new technology, according to a new Solutions Brief, The China Trade Challenge: Phase II, by the Committee for Economic Development of The Conference Board (CED).
  • Topic: Bilateral Relations, Global Markets, Economy, Global Political Economy, Trade
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Abrão Neto, Ken Hyatt, Daniel Godinho, Lisa Schineller, Roberta Braga
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The year 2020 marks the turning of a page for the Western Hemisphere, a region that in 2019 saw uncertainty dominate headlines as new governments came in and out of office, trade tensions grew, and citizens took to the streets to voice their concerns with the status quo. For years, the opportunities that could come with a stronger bilateral relationship between the United States and Brazil have been underestimated. Significant potential exists to produce sizeable benefits for both societies. That potential must be maximized. While US and Brazilian governments and businesses have begun to seize the benefits of the synergies the two countries share, hurdles remain that prevent a full and successful commercial reality. The United States and Brazil would benefit from a closer and stronger trade and foreign-direct-investment-relationship that would amplify growth and prosperity, in both the short and long terms. Deepening the economic relationship would pay dividends in other areas as well, translating into greater opportunities for strategic bilateral cooperation. This paper recognizes that the moment is now and that 2020 is a pivotal year to substantively advance bilateral economic ties. Building upon the successes and progress made over the years, this paper incorporates the input and expertise of the US and Brazilian private sectors and policymakers to offer a renewed vision and new momentum for strengthening US-Brazil trade and foreign direct investment (FDI), supporting concrete steps toward deepening the commercial relationship, and laying the foundation for a potential free trade agreement (FTA) between the United States and Brazil. As the global balance of power shifts, as the world faces new hurdles that could slow growth, and as Latin America must contend with more uncertainty amid new external shocks, the two countries strategically and economically have countless reasons to deepen commercial relations. Stronger ties will ultimately provide additional certainty at this critical time.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Bilateral Relations, Global Markets, Economy, Business
  • Political Geography: Brazil, South America, North America, United States of America
  • Author: C. Anthony Pfaff
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: With US-Iraq ties strained and a Strategic Dialogue between the two countries set to begin in June 2020, this Atlantic Council Iraq Initiative report by Nonresident Senior Fellow and former White House National Security Council Iraq Director Dr. C. Anthony Pfaff analyzes the current challenges in the relationship and presents policy recommendations. Dr. Pfaff argues in the report that the United States should: Avoid dragging Iraq into its broader campaign against Iran; Play to its comparative advantage: The United States can be a better security partner for Iraq than other countries and can also assist with integrating it into the international community and developing the economic and financial capabilities necessary to participate in the global economy; Continue to insist on the integration of Iran-backed militias into Iraq’s security forces; Highlight US aid to Iraq and while acknowledging US mistakes, push back against politicized narratives that explain Iraq’s lack of recovery; Emphasize military interoperability, so that in the event of an ISIS resurgence – or the emergence of a like-minded group – US forces can quickly fill in the Iraqi armed forces’ capability gaps; Promote reconciliation and provide an alternative to Iranian mediation while at the same time avoiding advocacy for a particular outcome; Provide economic assistance to set conditions for foreign investment by US companies and like-minded partners; Focus additional COVID-19 related assistance on economic recovery;.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Bilateral Relations, Military Affairs, Economic Development , COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, United States of America
  • Author: Elizabeth Rosenberg, Peter Harrell, Ashley Feng
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for a New American Security
  • Abstract: The United States and China have long used coercive economic measures to advance both economic and foreign policy objectives. In recent years, however, both countries have turned to coercive economic measures as mainstream instruments of foreign policy and national security policy, and increasingly have deployed coercive economic measures against each other. For the United States, China’s economic scale and global interconnections make it a fundamentally different type of target for coercive economic measures than the comparatively smaller and less sophisticated economies that have been primary targets of U.S. economic coercion in the past. The United States cannot simply isolate China from the global economy. Instead, it must adopt a more strategic focus on limiting Chinese actions in areas significant to U.S. national security and shoring up economic and technology arenas where the United States maintains lasting leverage. Over the past several years, the United States has deployed an array of coercive economic measures against China. The most prominent of these have been the tariffs on approximately two-thirds of U.S. imports from China. The tariffs remain largely in place despite implementation of the Phase One trade deal that the United States and China signed in January 2020. But the United States also has developed and deployed an increasingly sophisticated set of other coercive economic tools that will play a prominent role in U.S.-China relations over the years ahead, regardless of whether the United States and China fully implement the Phase One deal and reach a broader Phase Two trade agreement. Those other coercive economic tools include export controls, restrictions on U.S. imports to secure U.S. supply chains, heightened scrutiny of Chinese investment in the United States, sanctions, and stepped-up law enforcement measures against Chinese intellectual property (IP) theft and other Chinese activities in the United States. This expanding set of measures serves a broadening array of U.S. policy goals, including economic objectives, foreign policy goals, and the maintenance of America’s technological edge. The U.S. record of success in the use of these coercive economic measures has been mixed. While tariffs and other measures have succeeded in putting some macroeconomic pressure on China, they have not extracted fundamental concessions from Beijing. Targeted sanctions and law enforcement measures similarly have had economic impacts on some Chinese companies, but other Chinese companies have demonstrated an ability to weather U.S. economic coercion. To be effective in translating economic coercion into policy change by China, the United States needs to better integrate its coercive measures with each other and with other policies, better signal intentions and escalation, more rigorously assess impacts and costs, and galvanize allied support and coordinated action. For its part, China appears to recognize a balancing act between limiting economic ties with foreign partners in some domains and maintaining them in others. China has sought to distance certain Chinese economic sectors, particularly high-tech manufacturing, from the United States in some areas, investing heavily in domestic capacity development. In other areas where China must rely on foreign partners for technology, IP, or manufacturing, or where China does not appear to see a clear interest in severing trade, Beijing has sought to keep trade and investment flows moving in an unencumbered fashion. As for the United States, this is a dynamic policy environment.
  • Topic: Security, Bilateral Relations, Economy, Strategic Competition
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Karl Friedhoff
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Chicago Council on Global Affairs
  • Abstract: North Korea’s promise to deliver an end-of-year “Christmas gift” went unfulfilled amid signs that the United States wanted to continue diplomacy with the Kim regime. This has led to a continued lull in tensions between the two countries, although actual progress in negotiations remains elusive. With that lack of progress, President Donald Trump has reportedly told his advisers that he does not want another summit with Kim Jong Un before the US presidential election in November. In a survey conducted from January 10–12, 2020, the American public is now less concerned about the threat posed by North Korea, but little else has changed in terms of Americans’ policy preferences to deal with North Korea’s nuclear program. Majorities still oppose airstrikes against North Korea and support long-term military bases in South Korea.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Bilateral Relations, Public Opinion, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea, North Korea, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Karl Friedhoff
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Chicago Council on Global Affairs
  • Abstract: The United States and South Korea remain locked in negotiations over the Special Measures Agreement (SMA)—the agreement which formally determines how much South Korea contributes to the financial cost of stationing US troops in South Korea. In the past, these negotiations took place behind the scenes away from the public eye. But keeping details of this round of negotiations private proved difficult when it was disclosed that the United States requested $5 billion dollars, an unprecedented 400 percent increase from the previous year. When the two sides failed to reach a deal by April 1, 4,000 Koreans who work on US bases in South Korea were furloughed. The public attention to these negotiations—and the US request being framed as extortive by Korean media and US analysts—raised concerns that the South Korean public’s positive views of the alliance would be damaged. But just-completed polling by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs suggests that is not the case. Little has changed in terms of South Korean attitudes towards the alliance. The South Korean public remains positive about the alliance, supportive of stationing US troops in South Korea, and confident that the US will defend South Korea if North Korea attacks. But the data also suggests that there are scenarios in which South Korean public confidence could be punctured. Confidence in the US commitment to defend South Korea if attacked by North Korea is strongly related to views that the alliance with the United States is mutually beneficial. This, in turn, implies that the biggest downside risk to support for the alliance stems from actions that would impact US credibility to defend South Korea if North Korea attacks. While a range of actions may trigger a decrease in confidence in US commitment to defend South Korea, one of the most immediate reported to be under consideration is a partial withdrawal of US troops. This move has the potential to shift South Korean attitudes away from seeing the alliance as mutually beneficial and towards views that the alliance benefits only the United States.
  • Topic: Bilateral Relations, Armed Forces, Alliance, Troop Deployment
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea, North Korea, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Ali Akbar Dareini
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Al Jazeera Center for Studies
  • Abstract: Neither Iran nor the United States want a full-fledged military war but the Trump administration’s campaign of “maximum pressure” and Soleimani’s assassination mean the two foes remain on collision course.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Foreign Policy, Bilateral Relations, Qassem Soleimani
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Scott Edwards
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Al Jazeera Center for Studies
  • Abstract: On the 3rd of January 2020, the United States signalled its intent to escalate tensions with Iran, through the assassination of Qasem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s Quds forces, in Iraq. Following attacks from Iranian-backed Iraqi Shia militia on the American embassy in Baghdad, the escalation took place on a backdrop of worsening US-Iranian relations, focused on the US withdrawal of the Iranian nuclear deal (and Iran’s subsequent rollback of key commitments), the reinstatement of economic sanctions against Iran, and increasing tensions in the Straits of Hormuz. Such tensions have been met with concern in East Asia, particularly among countries that have been steadily expanding their relationships with Iran. Responses, however, reflect a continuation of business as normal rather than any great change. While Malaysia, for example, has condemned the assassination in line with their growing closeness to Iran, there has been no tangible change of policy. Indonesia, who has developed a relationship but emphasised their desire to remain neutral in the Iran-Saudi tensions, have avoided making overt statements in support of Iran or condemning US action. For the most part, therefore, Southeast Asian states have been unwilling and unable to abandon their relationship with the US and other key states such as Saudi Arabia, or isolate themselves by supporting Iran overtly. For other East Asian states, overtly supporting Iran runs the risks of encouraging the escalation of the conflict and the damaging of their interests, such as is the case with China. As such, this paper will argue that while the perception surrounding Soleimani’s assassination among East Asia is for the most part negative, this will not fundamentally impact on their relationship with the US or spur a further shift to Iran. Instead, in the face of continuing US pressure on Iran, Iran’s relationships within East Asia have begun to ultimately suffer. This paper will begin by analysing the expansion of Iran’s relationship with East Asian states before going on to argue how these are likely to decline in future despite these countries’ concerns of US actions as well as actions of other important states such as Saudi Arabia. While Iran has expanded its relationship with a number of partners in East Asia, this paper will focus on relationships Iran finds particularly important. Primarily, this is Malaysia and Indonesia, who, as countries with Muslim majority populations, have seen their involvement with Iran growing at a faster pace than others but in relationships mired in complexity. It will also consider China’s perspective; a relationship that has taken on importance for different reasons.
  • Topic: Bilateral Relations, Sanctions, Conflict, Qassem Soleimani, Militias
  • Political Geography: Iran, Malaysia, Middle East, East Asia, Saudi Arabia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Ali Akbar Dareini
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Al Jazeera Center for Studies
  • Abstract: “The Central Intelligence Agency has been secretly supplying Iraq with detailed intelligence, including data from sensitive U.S. satellite reconnaissance photography, to assist Iraqi bombing raids on Iran’s oil terminals and power plants in the war between the two nations … Iraq reportedly used the intelligence to calibrate attacks with mustard gas on Iranian ground troops.” (1) This was a Washington Post report in 1986. “In 1988, during the waning days of Iraq’s war with Iran, the United States learned through satellite imagery that Iran was about to gain a major strategic advantage by exploiting a hole in Iraqi defenses. U.S. intelligence officials conveyed the location of the Iranian troops to Iraq, fully aware that (Saddam) Hussein’s military would attack with chemical weapons, including sarin, a lethal nerve agent.” (2) This was part of one of the declassified CIA documents published by Foreign Policy on 26 August 2013. Satellite imagery, communications intercepts and CIA assessments forwarded by the United States to Iraqi commanders showing ‘where the Iranian weaknesses were’ led to the death of many Iranian soldiers and civilians during the bloody 1980-88 war. That bitter and costly experience left a profound impact on the minds of Iranian military strategists. Having an intelligence eye to watch enemies from the sky and prevent similar disasters in the future preoccupied their brains. At the outset, possessing instruments of visual observation in the sky appeared to be a dream for many Iranians. But that would be a long-term project to make sure that Iran would not suffer again. Reconnaissance satellite is now widely seen as a strategic asset enabling states possessing this technology to obtain first-hand key information about the activities and resources of their enemies. It also enables states to protect their national security in this competitive world. This paper argues that great powers threaten weaker states. And regional powers like Iran have no option to survive but to get strong in order not to be bullied. It also argues that Iran, by successfully launching its “first military satellite” into orbit, has demonstrated a new capability that may shift the balance of power in its favor amid increasing tensions with the United States.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Power Politics, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Kevin Rudd
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Asia Society Policy Institute
  • Abstract: Throughout the recent 18 months of the U.S.-China trade war, which has landed in a “phase one” deal, and awaits the tackling of more difficult economic elements in phase two negotiations, there has been a slow and steady structural shift in the U.S.-China relationship as it continues to head in a more adversarial direction. Against the backdrop of this drift toward confrontation occurring in the absence of any common strategic understanding or high-level diplomatic mechanism to manage the mounting economic, security, and technological tensions into the future, Asia Society Policy Institute President the Hon. Kevin Rudd brings together a series of speeches delivered during 2019 in the collection, The Avoidable War: The Case for Managed Strategic Competition. This volume works to help make sense of where the U.S.-China relationship is heading in the current period of strategic competition, and follows on from Rudd’s 2018 collection, The Avoidable War: Reflections on U.S.-China Relations and the End of Strategic Engagement. In this new volume, Rudd focuses not only on the bilateral relationship, but also on China's domestic politics, economics, and its strategic vision. But on the bilateral relationship, Rudd writes that while there may be a truce of sorts on the trade front during 2020, that will not be the case across the rest of the economic, political, and security relationship. Challenges will continue in areas such as the future of 5G mobile telecommunications infrastructure, the Belt and Road Initiative, Xinjiang, Hong Kong, allegations of Chinese political influence and interference in foreign countries’ internal democratic processes, and China’s increasingly close strategic collaboration with Russia. Militarily, tensions will continue in the East China Sea, the South China Sea, and the wider Indo-Pacific, together with confrontations less visible to the public eye in espionage, cyber, and space. Against this backdrop, and the steady erosion of diplomatic and political capital in the overall relationship, Rudd asserts that the “2020s loom as a decade of living dangerously in the U.S.-China relationship.” The Avoidable War: The Case for Managed Strategic Competition includes six speeches from 2019 covering a range of critical challenges in the U.S.-China relationship, as well as a December 2019 conversation at the Harvard Kennedy School which begins to outline an approach to managing the growing tinderbox of tensions across the spectrum of the bilateral relationship.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Bilateral Relations, Trade, Strategic Competition
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Agustín Barrios Gómez, Henry Cuellar, Juan Carlos Baker, Kenneth Smith
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Mexican Council on Foreign Relations (COMEXI)
  • Abstract: North America started 2020 as a bloc of three democratic countries with shared values that trade freely in the context of regional peace and cooperation. We are nearly 500 million North American citizens who came together to sign the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) of 1994 and its successor, the United StatesMexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) of 2018, providing a legal framework for commercial freedom on our continent. The world often conducts its affairs with a zero-sum game mentality, meaning that one country’s gain is another’s loss. This is why agreements like NAFTA, in 1994, and the USMCA, today, are particularly valuable. It is also the reason that we must not take them for granted. The effort invested in creating the USMCA was born precisely from the understanding of a fundamental idea: restricting the liberty of our people to trade freely is a mistake. It was not an easy case to make. The current U.S. president based his political campaign on animosity towards Mexico, in particular, and against exchange with the world, in general. However, he was led to a position of saving free trade in North America by the millions of his fellow citizens who saw their economic livelihood threatened by protectionism and the possibility of severing close economic ties with their neighbors. At the same time, a sector of Mexican society that has always been antagonistic to two pillars of trade in our continent: integration with the United States, and economic freedom, came to power in Mexico. This raised the specter of a challenge to free trade from Mexican socialists. However, the overwhelmingly positive results and obvious benefits of NAFTA for Mexico were of such magnitude, that protectionism was not an issue in the return to power of the nationalist Left. It now looks like a given, but both in the case of the U.S. and in the case of Mexico, the survival of the framework of openness born on January 1, 1994, is a testament to enormous political and economic success. In a world that increasingly favors the Pyrrhic victories of political symbolism, the triumph of reason over nativist fervor is well worth highlighting. For each of the three countries, the USMCA was the way to protect these gains, but each country placed its own emphasis on their priorities. Canada, currently the most politically stable country of the three, clearly sought to uphold a system that provides the country with access to its main market, as well as to another market (Mexico) in which it has fewer interests, but which is still important. The United States, the former architect of the world order that promoted economic freedoms for 71 years (1945-2016), was set to become its spoiler. Fortunately for the general interest, despite the rhetoric, with the USMCA it was possible to find a compromise that safeguarded the gains made from economic integration since 1994. Sectors of society, such as farmers and border communities which had never organized to defend their markets, got together to successfully make their case directly to the Administration. Mexico’s interests were clearer: manufactured exports are the most dynamic and competitive part of its economy. They not only provide a major source of hard currency, but in conjunction with the imports made possible by income from exports, they support the internal market, as well. For Mexico, even more than for Canada, protecting free trade of North America was imperative. The result was an Agreement that protected the benefits of North American commercial freedom, at the same time as it brought certain aspects up to date. It also addressed a number of the concerns that had been raised by blue collar workers in the United States, particularly pertaining to the automotive sector. This document helps us understand these changes and provides perspective from three authors who were directly involved in making the USMCA a reality.
  • Topic: Treaties and Agreements, Bilateral Relations, Economy, NAFTA, Free Trade, Trade, USMCA
  • Political Geography: North America, Mexico, United States of America
  • Author: Neena Shenai, Joshua Meltzer
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The US–China economic relationship has reached a critical juncture. Over the past year, the US has imposed tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports and China has retaliated, raising tariffs on a similar amount of US exports. At the G-20 leaders’ summit in November 2018, Presidents Trump and Xi agreed to resolve the trade dispute within 90 days—by March 1, 2019, though this deadline has been recently extended. The US concerns that underpin these bilateral trade tensions stem from specific practices endemic to China’s economic model that systematically tilt the playing field in favor of Chinese companies domestically and globally. Progress on specific trade issues will require China to comply with its World Trade Organization (WTO) commitments and to make certain reforms that will likely touch on areas of state control over the economy. In addition, new trade rules are needed to address China’s economic practices not covered by its WTO commitments, including in areas such as state-owned enterprises (SOEs), certain subsidies, and digital trade. These issues also come at a time of increasing US concern over the national security risks China presents, particularly with respect to technology access. All of these matters underscore the complexity of US-China bilateral negotiations as well as the stakes at play. Resolving US-China differences in a meaningful way will take time. This policy brief assesses the state of the US-China trade relationship by first looking at the economic impact on the US The policy brief then looks at why the Chinese economic model is so concerning. Despite the challenges the US has had at the WTO, the policy brief argues that the WTO should be central to resolving US-China trade tensions. We outline a multi-prong strategy, including bilateral, multilateral, and unilateral actions as well as working with allies that together would constitute positive next steps for this critical economic relationship. In taking this multifaceted approach, the US needs to stay true to its values and not accept short-term gains or “fig leaf” deals. In particular, creating a managed trade relationship with China would not be a constructive outcome. Instead, the US should work with China to agree on long term solutions. The resulting deal should address the real issues at hand in a free market manner and strengthen the multilateral global trading system and rule of law that the US has championed in the post-World War II era.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Bilateral Relations, Economy, Trade
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America