The Trump administration’s revamped NAFTA (or USMCA, as we are being invited to call it) landed this week after a year or so of fraught negotiations with Mexico and Canada. If we discount the amendments to KORUS (The United States–Korea Free Trade Agreement) prompted by the US’s steel and aluminium tariffs earlier this year, it is the Trump administration’s first major trade agreement. It is certainly more than just a rebrand. The many small and large changes throughout the revised text group into and embed some now-familiar Trump policy themes, alongside some long-standing Washington aims.
The long-anticipated constitutional referendum in Macedonia on Sunday has been watched carefully both in Brussels and in Moscow. The seemingly convoluted question in ballot papers – "Do you support EU and NATO membership by accepting the agreement between Macedonia and Greece?" – in fact provided an unequivocal direction for 1.8 million voters in the Balkan nation. The resulting 91% vote in favour of the proposal by the pro-EU government led by social democrat Zoran Zaev looked very good on paper but turned out to be a Pyrrhic victory.
What connects Jean-Claude Juncker with Netflix? House of Cards? Perhaps, but no. Orange is the new black, certainly not. Mathias Döpfner. Maybe. Back in 2014, at the peak of the horse-trading during the Spitzenkandidaten process, legend has it that this article in Bild (owned by Axel Springer, whose CEO is Herr Döpfner) played a decisive role in encouraging Angela Merkel to back Juncker for the role of President of the European Commission. The reason? Because Herr Döpfner, the most powerful media mogul on continental Europe, had been assured by “Team Juncker” that a new European Commission under his leadership would take the fight to the FAANGs (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google).
On her visit to sub-Saharan Africa a few weeks ago, UK prime minister, Theresa May, set out an ambition for the UK to become Africa’s biggest G7 investor by 2022. The announcement came alongside some £4 bn in foreign direct investment (FDI) commitments announced during the visit. This was the first visit by a British prime minister to Sub-Saharan Africa in five years, and the first to Kenya in thirty – and fits with a broader narrative about the key role Africa will play in the UK’s post-Brexit economic and trade strategies.
US: Senior Associate Thomas Gratowski discusses the possible outcomes of the US midterm elections.
WORLD: Global Counsel Chairman Peter Mandelson discusses how businesses and governments can navigate risks amid the current global trade crisis.
Something rather important flew under the radar last week, as the US secured a deal with Mexico on NAFTA. With most of the coverage focused on the revamped rules of origin for auto trade, little light was shed on the Trump administration’s other achievements in the auto sector. The deal struck with Mexico reportedly includes a clause allowing the US to charge more than its most-favoured nation (MFN) tariff on auto imports from Mexico which fail to meet the new rules of origin.
In Sweden’s general election this weekend, the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats (SD) are projected to win approximately 20% of votes. This will make them the second largest party in the country – the result of a swift rise that will dramatically impact Sweden’s political landscape. It echoes a similar surge from anti-establishment and Eurosceptic parties seen in the recent German, Austrian, Dutch and Italian elections.