Event Recaps

On October 12, the Atlantic Council’s Global Business & Economics Program hosted a private roundtable discussion with H.E. Ilan Goldfajn, President of the Brazilian Central Bank.  

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On September 28, 2017, the New York Cyber Task Force released a series of recommendations that would help make it easier to defend cyberspace without sacrificing the utility, flexibility, and convenience that has made the Internet so essential to our economies and personal lives. At this Washington, DC launch event, the task force members discussed the report’s groundbreaking findings and recommendations for a more defensible cyberspace.

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On October 10, 2017, the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East held a panel discussion on the recent Kurdish referendum and the state of Iraqi-Kurdish relations. Ambassador Frederic C. Hof, the director of the Hariri center, moderated the event. Ambassador Stuart Jones, Dr. Harith Hasan, and Dr. Denise Natali contributed to the discussion as panelists. Ambassador Jones is currently the vice president of The Cohen Group and has extensive experience with Iraqi affairs from his former career at the US Department of States. Dr. Hasan, a nonresident senior fellow at the Hariri Center, previously a lecturer at Baghdad University and was a member of the Atlantic Council’s Task Force on the Future of Iraq chaired by Ambassador Ryan Crocker. Dr. Natali is the director of the Center for Strategic Research at the Institute for National Strategic Studies (INSS) and is an expert on the Kurdish regions of Iraq.

During the discussion, each of the panel participants highlighted different issues regarding the Kurdish crisis. Dr. Hasan began by examining the various motivating factors behind the Kurdish push for independence. He pointed out the ineffective, oil-dependent Iraqi government institutions, the prevalence of de facto politics over constitutional politics, and the continual failure of the Iraqi central government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to agree on borders and oil resources. Furthermore, Dr. Hasan discussed how Sunni Muslims share some of the grievances of the Kurds and noted that the Kurdish situation serves as both a challenge and opportunity for Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

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On Thursday, October 5, 2017, the Atlantic Council co-hosted a Brexit seminar, in collaboration with the British American Business Council of Greater Philadelphia.

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On Thursday, October 5, the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center hosted an exclusive briefing with Mr. Corneille Nangaa Yobeluo, President of the Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

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Following the end of the third round of NAFTA renegotiations, on October 5, 2017 the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center hosted an event to launch a new country-by-country publication “What if NAFTA Ended? The Imperative of a Successful Renegotiation”. The authors Javier Mancera, Phil Levy, Daniel Schwanen, Jason Marczak and Katherine Pereira quantify the gains and the wide-ranging implications of successful renegotiations.

The public discussion that launched the report began with an introductory statement by Director of the Adrienne Arsht Latin America CenterJason Marczak, who highlighted that via NAFTA the US, Mexico and Canada have worked together, tripled their trade volume and significantly deepened their cultural, diplomatic, and security ties. He stated that despite these gains, we have failed to communicate the benefits of the agreement to the American people.

The Honorable Will Hurd (R-TX-23rd district) gave opening remarks and stated that trade is an issue that impacts every sector of the US economy emphasizing the importance of Mexican firms and their investment for border cities. Ambassador Bob Zoellick followed and focused on a global perspective and talked about the future stakes of US, Canada and Mexico at the global stage if NAFTA ended. He said, “pulling out of NAFTA would send a negative message to the rest of the world, by showing a US that is not willing to support openness and play by the rules.”

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On Thursday, October 5, 2017 the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center and Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center jointly hosted Mr. Gonzalo Aguirre, Mr. José María Castro, Mr. Giovani Machado, and Ms. Sue Saarnio for a discussion about the changing energy markets in Latin America and the role of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in the regional energy mix. The discussion was moderated by the chairman of the Global Energy Center’s Advisory Group and Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center’s nonresident senior fellow, Mr. David Goldwyn.

The event opened with remarks from Mr. Goldwyn, who provided context on economic and energy developments of the last decade throughout Latin America, from increasing hydropower and renewable energy production to fiscal crises that have impacted cross-border trade. Following this introduction, Mr. Aguirre, Director of National Transport and Measurement of Hydrocarbons in the Argentinian Ministry of Energy and Mining, discussed regulatory frameworks for LNG in Argentina, as well as the country’s trade relationships with Bolivia and Chile. When asked about the status of energy in Colombia, Mr. Castro, general manager at Sociedad Portuaria El Cayao (SPEC LNG), touched on the country’s opening of a new LNG import terminal, the government’s mechanisms for financing projects including thermal generators, and the country’s trade relationship with Venezuela. Mr. Castro also called for increased energy integration throughout the region, pointing to a successful trade relationship between Bolivia and Brazil.

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Written by Dr. Gal Luft, Silk Road 2.0: US Strategy toward China's Belt and Road Initiative explores how the United States should engage with China's tremendous infrastructure-building project, and recommends the United States pursue a strategy of constructive participation. This strategy is built on five pillars: acknowledge, engage, adjust; articulate red lines; carve a role for the United States; integrate the BRI into the framework of overall US-China Relations; and present America's own vision for infrastructure development.

The discussion focused on two main themes: the geopolitical and strategic reasons why the United States should engage in China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and how the United States can do so while maintaining and protecting its interests. Overall, the panelists felt the BRI provides avenues for a constructive and cooperative relationship with China, the United States should want a role in development of underdeveloped regions which also provide US companies the opportunity to compete, and, lastly, China’s accrued influence in the countries where their projects are a success will test other hegemonic powers including Russia and India. One particular area to watch is China’s large investments in long-time ally Pakistan’s development. Ambassador Gray, Dr. Oh, and Dr. Luft all described how engagement with the BRI is in the United States’ interest as it helps create the standards for infrastructure development. The BRI provides private sector businesses with transparency to the contract competition process, providing fair access to capital for proposed BRI projects. The US government should help ensure fair access and transparency to business who wish to enter BRI projects. The overall conclusion is this: the BRI is moving forward with or without the US – the strategy that is proposed in this Atlantic Council Strategy Paper provides a roadmap to supporting China’s interest and investments in international development while maintaining US interests and security by selectively choosing when to endorse and when to rebuff aspects of the BRI.
On October 3, The Atlantic Council’s Economic Sanctions Initiative held a two-paneled public event entitled: Economic Sanctions After Brexit: What Roles Should the Public and Private Sector Play? 

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European ambassadors to the United States on September 25 defended the nuclear deal with Iran, saying it is working, while warning that reopening negotiations would be a nonstarter and walking away from the deal would have serious consequences.

This joint defense comes as US President Donald J. Trump, who has to certify to the US Congress by October 15 that Iran is complying with the terms of the agreement, has reiterated his displeasure with the deal.

Germany’s ambassador to the United States, Peter Wittig, said the onus is on those who seek to renegotiate the deal to prove that first, renegotiation is possible, and second, it will deliver better results. “We don’t think it will be possible to renegotiate it and we believe there is no practical, peaceful alternative to this deal,” Wittig said.

Read full article here.