Global Business & Economics Program

  • The WTO May Be Beyond Saving

    US President Donald J. Trump created ripples when he said on August 30, 2018, that if the World Trade Organization (WTO) doesn’t “shape up, I would withdraw from the WTO.” Trump’s comments highlighted growing complaints against the WTO — voiced most loudly by the Trump administration, but shared to various extents by other countries. Eventually, the Group of Twenty (G-20) Summit in Buenos Aires agreed on December 1, 2018, to start discussing WTO reform, with progress to be reviewed at the next G20 Summit in Osaka in June 2019.

    But significant differences remain in countries’ views of the WTO’s problems and the necessary remedies. Several reform proposals have been floated by various groups of countries, only to be promptly rejected by others. Since agreement is based on consensus of all 164 members of the WTO, progress is highly unlikely any time

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  • USMCA is Not a Done Deal. It Must Still Clear Three Legislative Hurdles

    On November 30, the leaders of the United States, Canada, and Mexico signed the US-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement (USMCA), modernizing the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and “rebalancing” trade relations between the three countries, according to the US administration.  Before the new pact officially takes effect, however, the legislatures of all three countries need to approve the agreement.

    The USMCA would preserve the massive trading and shared-production networks that support millions of jobs in the United States, Mexico, and Canada. Those networks support North America’s ability to compete effectively with China, Europe, and other economic powers. Approving USMCA this year would thus appear to be in the economic interest all three countries, providing certainty for the $1.3 trillion in three-way trade and for the many businesses, workers, and farmers that depend on the commerce and co-production that interlinks North America. Since USMCA will last

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  • Quiet, But Important, Progress in Transatlantic Trade

    Amid the chaos over Brexit, few have noticed the quiet, but steady, progress on the transatlantic trade policy agenda. The European Parliament voted on March 14 against a resolution that called on European Union member states not to endorse negotiating mandates that authorize the European Commission to start talks with the United States. The defeat of that resolution sets the stage for a productive spring season of trade talks between the United States and the EU that focus on non-tariff barriers, as we recommended in August 2018.


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  • Use Brexit Delay to Investigate Russian Money

    An opportunity arises from the British Parliament having voted to delay Brexit. If the British government gets approval from the European Union next week for an Article 50 extension, the months ahead should be used to finally get to the truth about the opaque sources of money spent in the 2016 referendum before implementing its results.


    This will only happen if British politicians and investigators prioritize quickly getting the public more conclusive answers. And it is important because the evidence revealed thus far raises the suggestion that the 2016 referendum on whether the United Kingdom should remain in the EU was targeted by a foreign adversary violating British sovereignty to undermine its democracy.


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  • US-EU Trade Negotiations: Talking Past Each Other

    Since the July 2018 agreement between US President Donald J. Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to start trade negotiations, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and European Commission Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström have met five times—most recently on March 6. They have yet to agree on the issues to negotiate. The European Union wants to discuss only tariffs on industrial goods and easing assessment of conformity with technical standards; the United States insists that agriculture must be on the agenda.

    Beyond the lack of an agreed upon agenda and, in particular, the difficulties of dealing with agricultural issues, the differences between the United States and the EU on the governance process and approach to trade makes speedy progress in the trade talks unlikely. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking: Trump has until May 18 to impose tariffs—probably at 25 percent—on US imports of cars and car parts. A Department of Commerce report,

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  • Trump’s New Cuba Policy Threatens to Reignite Historic Disagreement With Key Allies

    The Trump administration broke another policy precedent with its March 4 decision to activate a decades-old US law on Cuba, ostensibly to punish Cuba for propping up Nicolás Maduro’s regime in Venezuela and for its ongoing suppression of human rights, as well as to put additional pressure on Maduro to step down. The unilateral policy decision threatens to further antagonize key US allies, particularly the European Union (EU) and Canada—both of whom have otherwise been largely consistent with the Trump administration on Venezuela policy—while likely stopping short of achieving the desired impacts on Havana and Caracas.

    For the first time since enactment of the 1996 Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (...
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  • Matthews in the Bretton Woods Committee: The Next 75 Years – Coping with Decentralization and Geopolitical Rebalancing


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  • US-China Trade Deal Close, But Will it Actually Repair the Relationship?

    The Trump administration has suspended, until further notice, a scheduled tariff increase—from 10 percent to 25 percent on $200 billion of Chinese imports—citing progress in trade negotiations between Washington and Beijing. Reportedly, talks have focused on six areas: forced technology transfer and cyber theft, intellectual property rights, services (in particular financial services), currency manipulation, agriculture, and non-tariff trade barriers. If successfully concluded, these provisions will form a new binding trade agreement between the United States and China, but one that will not be subject to congressional approval, as negotiations were undertaken in the context of addressing China’s unfair trading practices referred to in US President Donald J. Trump’s order to impose tariffs by invoking Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. Trump has set high expectations, wanting to hold a “signing summit” with Chinese President Xi Jinping at his Mar-a-Largo resort by the end of

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  • O'Toole quoted in Newsweek on Putin's wealth


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  • Building a Capable State: Ukraine Reforms Architecture


    On March 1st, the Atlantic Council’s Global Business & Economics Program’s EuroGrowth Initiative, together with the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center co-hosted a discussion on the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development’s (EBRD) efforts to promote ambitious reforms of the Ukrainian economy.


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