Global Business & Economics Program

  • O'Toole Quoted in Foreign Policy on EU Workaround to US Iran Sanctions

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  • Facing Reality: Europe’s Special Purpose Vehicle Will Not Challenge US Sanctions

    The European Union on January 31 formally announced its long-awaited special purpose vehicle (SPV) for trade with Iran, called the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX). 

    Predictably, the SPV won’t seek to challenge US sanctions by attempting to conduct sanctionable trade with Iran as had been originally floated, and will instead focus on non-sanctionable trade, including humanitarian goods—food, medicine, and medical devices—exempt from US sanctions. It’s clear from the European announcement that there was no real market in the EU, especially from Europe’s financial institutions, to take on the risk of being sanctioned by the United States. But this doesn’t mean that the SPV will be feckless; instead it will serve an important role in conducting the humanitarian trade that US sanctions policy encourages, but harsh US rhetoric and risk-averse...

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  • New Venezuela Sanctions Need Timely Results

    On January 28, the Trump administration again turned to sanctions to ratchet up pressure on Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro to step down.

    The new sanctions measures severely limit key US revenue streams for PdVSA—Venezuela’s state-owned oil and natural gas company—by mandating that any money intended for PdVSA be deposited into blocked accounts, accessible only with authorization from the Trump administration. While PdVSA’s US subsidiary, Citgo, may continue to purchase and import petroleum products (at least until July 27), all payments must also be made into a US-based blocked account. Should that authorization expire, the result will effectively be a US oil embargo affecting a major source of crude oil for the southern United States. Further, the sanctions ...
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  • Can Theresa May Change Brussels’ Mind?

    As British Prime Minister Theresa May packs her bags to go to Brussels once again, European leaders could be forgiven for thinking this “looks like Groundhog Day,” Bart Oosterveld, the Atlantic Council’s C. Boyden Gray fellow on global finance and growth and director of the Global Business and Economics Program, said.

    May pushed through a provision in the British Parliament on January 29—the Brady Amendment—which formally states Parliament’s opposition to the current draft Withdrawal Agreement laying out the terms of the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union over concerns about the “backstop” provision meant to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

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  • The US-China Feud is About Much More Than Trade

    US and Chinese trade negotiators will meet again in Washington on January 30 amid escalating bilateral tensions over issues far broader than traditional trade policy. The meetings will occur in a fittingly freezing city, with plunging temperatures outside accompanying the deep freeze that has gripped the bilateral relationship. US allies in Europe and Japan will quietly cheer from the sidelines as US policy makers prepare to take a tough stance.

    With the ninety-day negotiating window to find a solution to the US-China trade tensions quickly running out and with expected February action by the United States regarding foreign automobile tariffs, the stakes are high. The scope of discussions is also broad. It is highly unlikely that all policy disputes between Beijing and Washington can be resolved in the January 30 meeting.

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  • Oosterveld Quoted in Talk News Media on Brexit

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  • A New Way Forward for Brexit?

    The UK Parliament on January 29 endorsed a provision that would empower British Prime Minister Theresa May to renegotiate her Withdrawal Agreement with the European Union in order to come up with “alternative arrangements” that could break the gridlock over the way the UK leaves the EU.

    The vote on the “Brady Amendment” was seen as a victory for May who dramatically shifted her support from her own withdrawal deal toward renegotiation in order to achieve some consensus within her Conservative Party for a passable deal.

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  • Matthews in the FinReg Blog: ICO Regulation not Slowed by Brexit or US Shutdown Chaos

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  • O'Toole Quoted in The Washington Examiner on Trump Weighing Oil Embargo on Venezuela

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  • Congress Should Explain How Dark Russian Money Infiltrates Western Democracies

    This is the second in a two-part series.


    One should expect a heated national debate about the political implications for US President Donald J. Trump once the key findings of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation become public. Few will stop at that point to ask what the evidence shows about how Russian meddling in the 2016 US election was possible, and what must be done now to protect American democracy and counter continued Russian hybrid warfare.

    Open hearings in Congress can help focus public attention on those important matters of national security policy with a particular focus on the vulnerabilities that are not yet well understood. If Americans were asked to identify Russia’s lines of attack in 2016, the answers would probably include the cyber hack-and-dump operations, the disinformation campaign on social media, and possibly some classic human espionage. Less appreciated is the extent to which foreign adversaries


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