Category Archives: Global Governance

World’s Biggest Building Project Aims to Make China Great Again

Tom Phillips reports for The Guardian:

Image result for Belt and Road initiativeWhen the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, unveiled what some call the most ambitious development plan in history, Zhou Jun decided almost immediately he should head for the hills.

The 45-year-old entrepreneur packed his bags and set off for one of his country’s most staggeringly beautiful corners: a sleepy, high-altitude border outpost called Tashkurgan that – at almost 5,000km (3,100 miles) from Beijing – is the most westerly settlement in China.

“I saw a great opportunity to turn this little town into a mid-sized city,” Zhou explained during a tour of ‘Europa Manor’, a garish roadside spa he recently opened for Chinese tourists along the Karakoram, the legendary 1,300km highway that snakes through China’s rugged western mountains towards the 4,700m-high Khunjerab Pass.

Zhou said he was part of a wave of entrepreneurs now pouring into this isolated frontier near Pakistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan, hoping to cash in on President Xi’s “Belt and Road initiative”, a multi-billion dollar infrastructure campaign that looks set to transform large swaths of Asia and the world beyond.

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The War Between Globalism and Nationalism Is Just Getting Started

Ian Bremmer writes for Time Magazine:

When the storm turns out to be less severe than the warnings, there’s always a sigh of relief–and maybe a bit of over-confidence after the fact. If fans of the European Union felt better after populist Geert Wilders came up short in the Dutch elections in March, they also took heart from the absence of anti-E.U. firebrands among the leading contenders for this fall’s German elections. Then came May 7. The victory of Emmanuel Macron over Marine Le Pen in France’s presidential elections signaled that “the season of growth of populism has ended,” Antonio Tajani, president of the European Parliament, said on May 8.

Not so fast. Europeans will soon remember that elections are never the end of anything–they’re a beginning. And whether the issue is unelected Eurocrats’ forcing voters to abide by rules they don’t like or fears that borders are insecure, there are good reasons to doubt that the anti-E.U. fever has broken. France’s Macron now faces powerful opposition on both the far right and the far left. Hungary and Poland are becoming increasingly illiberal. Brexit negotiations are getting ugly. And resentment toward the E.U. is still rising throughout Europe.

In the U.S., President Donald Trump may be pushing what increasingly resembles a traditional Republican agenda, but polls show that his supporters are still eager for deeper disruption. Trump’s embrace of Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Egypt’s Abdul Fattah al-Sisi and the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte suggests a lasting affinity with aggressive strongmen. His chief adviser and nationalist muse, Stephen Bannon, may be under fire, but he’s still there. The Trump presidency has only just begun.

In short, nationalism is alive and well, partly because the problems that provoked it are still with us. Growing numbers of people in the world’s wealthiest countries still fear that globalization serves only elites who care nothing about nations and borders. Moderate politicians still offer few effective solutions.

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The Long and Painful Journey to World Disorder

Martin Wolf, influential journalist and regular attendee at Bilderberg and Davos, writes for The Financial Times:

It is not true that humanity cannot learn from history. It can and, in the case of the lessons of the dark period between 1914 and 1945, the west did. But it seems to have forgotten those lessons. We are living, once again, in an era of strident nationalism and xenophobia. The hopes of a brave new world of progress, harmony and democracy, raised by the market opening of the 1980s and the collapse of Soviet communism between 1989 and 1991, have turned into ashes.

What lies ahead for the US, creator and guarantor of the postwar liberal order, soon to be governed by a president who repudiates permanent alliances, embraces protectionism and admires despots? What lies ahead for a battered EU, contemplating the rise of “illiberal democracy” in the east, Brexit and the possibility of Marine Le Pen’s election to the French presidency?

What lies ahead now that Vladimir Putin’s irredentist Russia exerts increasing influence on the world and China has announced that Xi Jinping is not first among equals but a “core leader”?

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Bilderberg 2016: The Elephant in the Lobby

Charlie Skelton writes for Transparency International UK:

On Thursday of next week, at a luxury hotel in central Dresden, the doors of the annual Bilderberg policy conference will be flung open. Not to members of the press, mind. In fact, perhaps “flung” is overstating it. Gingerly, behind a battalion of armed police, private security and secret service bodyguards, the hotel door will be cracked ajar, and in will slide a handpicked few of the most senior corporate executives in the world: board members of transnational banks, chairmen of global energy companies, and the owners of vast industrial and media conglomerates.

Scurrying in behind the bank bosses and hedge-fund billionaires will be a clutch of extremely senior politicians from around Europe: Chancellors, PMs, party leaders and finance ministers. Last year, the President of Austria and the Prime Ministers of Holland and Belgium took part in the discussions. Our own esteemed Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, is a regular attendee, David Cameron himself was ushered inside in 2013, and Lord Mandelson is often to be found popping on a coveted white lanyard. This year, most notably, a hefty contigent from the German cabinet is due to attend.

Inquiries made by the left-wing Die Linke party prompted the German government to confirm that Chancellor Angel Merkel has been invited to the Dresden conference, along with five senior federal ministers: Wolfgang Schäuble (Finance); Ursula von der Leyen (Defence); Frank-Walter Steinmeier (Foreign Affairs), Sigmar Gabriel (Economic Affairs and Energy); and Peter Altmaier (Special Affairs, and in charge of German’s intelligence services).

On the table: the most pressing economic, military and strategic issues of the day. Around the table: the assembled heads of NATO, Deutsche Bank, Airbus, the IMF and Google. Stretching out before them: three days of intense, meticulously structured talks, with nothing but a laughably skeletal agenda released to the press. What the organisers deign to provide is scarcely better than nothing – a weedy list of brilliantly vague bullet points, like “current events” and “Africa”, as if that’s any sort of information at all. I’d be genuinely more impressed if their entire press release was a grainy photograph of the Clacton seafront. It would be intellectually more honest, and a great deal less irritating.

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Why America is Moving Away from the WTO: Interview with Tim Wise

Jessica Desvarieux talks to Tim Wise of Tuft University as WTO ministers meet in Nairobi, Kenya. Wise explains the tensions between developing countries and developed countries, and why America is pursuing asymmetrical negotiations in regional trade deals like the TPP. (The Real News)

What really goes on at G7? Interview with Nick Dearden

‘Nick Dearden, Director of NGO Global Justice Now, talks about what is really going on at the summit in the Bavarian town of Schloss Elmau. As the leaders of the richest countries on the globe meet to discuss improving the world, are they really just planning policies to benefit elites in Western countries? Plus what is The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition and how is it making it easier for big corporations to buy up land in developing countries.’ (Going Underground)

Forget the G7 summit – Bilderberg is where the big guns go

Charlie Skelton writes for The Guardian:

Austrian police officers check cars near the town of Telfs, prior the 2015 Bilderberg conference.As one summit closes, another opens. Thursday sees the start of the influential Bilderberg policy conference, which this year is being held in Austria, just 16 miles south of the G7 summit, and in a similarly inaccessible luxury alpine resort.The participant list for the conference has just been released by the organisation, and some big names leap off the page.

No fewer than three serving European prime ministers will be attending, from Holland, Finland and Belgium. They will be discussing “European strategy” with the head of Nato, Jens Stoltenberg, and the president of Austria, Heinz Fisher. Two European finance ministers are on the list: one Dutch, the other George Osborne. The UK chancellor is a regular attendee of the Bilderberg summit, and this year he will be showing off his post-election glow. Unlike that other Bilderberg regular, Ed Balls, who is being invited back despite having by some considerable distance the weakest job title on the list: “former shadow chancellor of the exchequer.

Europe’s hottest financial potato, Greece, is on the conference agenda, and it’s good to know Benoît Coeuré, a member of the executive board of the European Central Bank will be there to discuss it in strictest privacy with interested parties, such as the heads of Deutsche Bank, Lazard, Banco Santander and HSBC.

The scandal-hit HSBC and everyone’s favourite vampire squid, Goldman Sachs, are both extremely well represented at this year’s conference. HSBC in particular by their chairman, their busy chief legal officer, and board member Rona Fairhead, who is also on the board of PepsiCo, and the chairman of the BBC Trust. Good to know the BBC is in such safe hands.’

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The G7 media centre – a German sausage factory of news

Charlie Skelton writes for The Guardian:

The media centre at the Elmau G7 summit in Germany.[…] Now I know the buffet is amazing, but the truth is there’s not a single good reason why any of us are here. It would be far quicker, and involve fewer taxpayer-funded cocktail bars, simply to email all the clips, photos and information to whoever wanted them.

That’s what I find so surreal about this amazing press centre. It doesn’t need to be here. No one needs to be here. I don’t need to be here.

In fact, I’m leaving now to head 26km south to the Bilderberg policy summit, where the head of Nato, the prime ministers of Holland, Finland and Belgium, the president of Austria, and the chancellor of the exchequer will be meeting for three days with the heads of HSBC, Shell, BP and Deutsche Bank.

It’s every bit as important as the G7. Some would say more so. But because it’s a little bit tricky to report on, with nothing except a skeletal agenda handed out, no footage or photos given to the press, the number of mainstream journalists reporting from the event will drop from 3,000 to about 11.

Go figure.’

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Protesters Press Secluded G7 Leaders on Harmful Policies: Interview with Gawain Kripke, Eric LeCompte and Nomi Prins

‘As leaders of the seven wealthy democracies known as the Group of Seven hold talks in a secluded castle in Germany, thousands of protesters have been met with 20,000 police in the largest security operation in the history of Bavaria. Issues on the G7 agenda include climate change, a $10.4 billion bailout package for Greece, and more austerity measures. We are joined by three guests: Gawain Kripke of Oxfam America, which just published the new report, “Let Them Eat Coal”; Eric LeCompte of the Jubilee USA Network; and former banker Nomi Prins, author of “All the Presidents’ Bankers.”‘ (Democracy Now!)

WikiLeaks releases secret TISA docs: The more evil sibling of TTIP and TPP

Glyn Moody reports for Ars Technica:

WikiLeaks has released 17 secret documents from the negotiations of the global Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), which have been taking place behind closed doors, largely unnoticed, since 2013. The main participants are the United States, the European Union, and 23 other countries including Turkey, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Pakistan, Taiwan and Israel, which together comprise two-thirds of global GDP.

Significantly, all the BRICS countries—Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa—are absent, and are therefore unable to provide their perspective and input for what is essentially a deal designed by Western nations, for the benefit of Western corporations. According to the European Commission’s dedicated page: “TiSA aims at opening up markets and improving rules in areas such as licensing, financial services, telecoms, e-commerce, maritime transport, and professionals moving abroad temporarily to provide services.”

TISA’s focus on services complements the two other global trade agreements currently being negotiated in secret: the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and the corresponding deal for the Pacific region, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which deal with goods and investments. Like both TTIP and TPP, one of the central aims of TISA is to remove “barriers” to trade in services, and to impose a regulatory ratchet on participating nations. In the case of TISA, the ratchet ensures that services are deregulated and opened up to private companies around the world, and that once privatised, they cannot be re-nationalised.

The 17 documents released today include drafts and annexes on issues such as air traffic, maritime transport, professional services, e-commerce, delivery services, transparency, and domestic regulation, as well as several documents on the positions of negotiating parties.’

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New flag proposed to represent planet Earth on its journey into space

Jon Stone reports for The Independent:

Oskar PernefeldtA new flag has been proposed to represent planet Earth’s astronauts and spaceships on their journey into the cosmos.

The flag, which has yet to be officially adopted, was drawn up by a designer with contributions from NASA and other organisations.

The design consists of seven inter-linked white rings on a blue background.

The linked rings would represent the interdependence of life on earth, while the blue would allude to the planet’s vast oceans.

The design was conceived by Oskar Pernefeldt, a Swedish design researcher.’

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UK shift to China and AIIB “extremely worrying for Washington” – Interview with Liam Halligan

‘Liam Halligan, editor at large of Business New Europe and Telegraph columnist, talks to Going Underground host Afshin Rattansi about the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. He explains it is a rival to not only the IMF but also to the Asia Development Bank, which is Japanese-led. This is extremely threatening to the US as the BRIC countries wield a massive amount of power. There is a difference in the way that America and Britain see China, with the UK seeing them as a trading partner rather than a challenge. It is a symbolic move for Britain to back the AIIB, taking a step away from Washington towards a current that the US sees as a ‘major irritant.’ And he feels there is a growing argument that Britain’s future lies not in the West, with a failing Eurozone, but in a thriving Asian economy.’ (Going Underground)

Global Challenges: 12 Risks That Threaten Human Civilisation

The Global Challenges Foundation just issued a report on ’12 risks that threaten human civilisation’:

12riskThis report has, to the best of the authors’ knowledge, created the first list of global risks with impacts that for all practical purposes can be called infinite. It is also the first structured overview of key events related to such risks and has tried to provide initial rough quantifications for the probabilities of these impacts.

With such a focus it may surprise some readers to find that the report’s essential aim is to inspire action and dialogue as well as an increased use of the methodologies used for risk assessment.

The real focus is not on the almost unimaginable impacts of the risks the report outlines. Its fundamental purpose is to encourage global collaboration and to use this new category of risk as a driver for innovation.

The idea that we face a number of global risks threatening the very basis of our civilisation at the beginning of the 21st century is well accepted in the scientific community, and is studied at a number of leading universities. But there is still no coordinated approach to address this group of risks and turn them into opportunities.’

READ THE FULL REPORT…

Russia’s “Startling” Proposal To Europe: Dump The US, Join The Eurasian Economic Union

Zero Hedge reports:

‘Slowly but surely Europe is figuring out that as a result of the western economic and financial blockade of Russian, it is Europe itself that is suffering the most. And while Germany was first to acknowledge this late in 2014 when its economy swooned and is now on the verge of a recession, now others are catching on. Case in point: the former head of the European Commission, and Italy’s former Prime Minister, Romano Prodi who told Messaggero newspaper that the “weaker Russian economy is extremely unprofitable for Italy.”

The other details from Prodi’s statement:

Lowered prices in the international energy markets have positive aspects for the Italian consumers, who pay less for the fuel, but the effect will be only short-term. In the long-term however the weaker economic situation in countries producing energy resources, caused by lower oil and gas prices, mostly in Russia, is extremely unprofitable for Italy, he said.

The lowering of the oil and gas prices in combination with the sanctions, pushed by the Ukrainian crisis, will drop the Russian GPD by five percent per annum, and thus it will cause cutting of the Italian export by about 50%,”Prodi said.

“Setting aside the uselessness or imminence of the sanctions, one should highlight a clear skew: regardless of the rouble rate against dollar, which is lower by almost a half, the American export to Russia is growing, while the export from Europe is shrinking.”

In other words, just as slowly, the world is starting to grasp the bottom line: it is not the financial exposure to Russia, or the threat of financial contagion should Russia suffer a major recession or worse: it is something far simpler that will lead to the biggest harm for Europe’s countries. The lack of trade.

Because while central banks can monetize everything, leading to an unprecedented asset bubble which if only for the time being boosts investor and consumer confidence, they can’t print trade – that all important driver of growth in a globalized world long before central banks were set to monetize over $1 trillion in bonds each and every year to mask the fact that the world is deep in a global depression.

Which is why we read the following report written in yesterday’s Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten with great interest because it goes right to the bottom line. In it Russia has a not so modest proposal to Europe: dump trade with the US, whose call for Russian “costs” has cost you another year of declining economic growth, and instead join the Eurasian Economic Union!’

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Armenia Joins Russia-Led Eurasian Economic Union

The Moscow Times reports:

‘Armenia officially joined the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) on Friday, banding together with Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus in a Moscow-led project meant to counterbalance the European Union.

As part of a deal signed last October, Armenia will have limited representation in the organization until the end of 2015. Three Armenian members will share one vote in the union’s governing body, the Eurasian Economic Commission, TASS news agency reported Friday.

Kyrgyzstan is also set to join the union on May 1.’

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New TISA leak: Secret trade deal threatens privacy rights

Santiago Carrion reports for ROAR Magazine:

‘On Wednesday, the Associated Whistleblowing Press published a new leak revealing US attempts to undermine privacy rights, net neutrality and internet freedoms through top-secret negotiations over the little-known Trade in Services Agreement (TISA). Even a quick glance at the leaked document is already extremely revealing. At the top of its front page, in capital letters, the word CONFIDENTIAL is highlighted — and further down the full extent of the treaty’s secret nature is revealed: “Declassify on five years from entry into force of the TISA agreement.”

A full reading and understanding of the text, however, not only explains these harsh terms, but makes them necessary. Because what government would tell its citizens, explicitly, that they are opening the door for mega-corporations to take control of their public services? What company would clearly inform its customers that their private data will be handed over to foreign entities without any restrictions? In the case of TISA, when the players involved include the US, the EU and more than twenty other countries — together making up almost 70% of the world services market — the answers are painfully obvious.’

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China’s building a new Silk Road to Europe, and it’s leaving America behind

Pepe Escobar writes for Tom Dispatch:

‘[…] The Yiwu-Madrid route across Eurasia represents the beginning of a set of game-changing developments. It will be an efficient logistics channel of incredible length. It will represent geopolitics with a human touch, knitting together small traders and huge markets across a vast landmass. It’s already a graphic example of Eurasian integration on the go. And most of all, it’s the first building block on China’s “New Silk Road,” conceivably the project of the new century and undoubtedly the greatest trade story in the world for the next decade.

Go west, young Han. One day, if everything happens according to plan (and according to the dreams of China’s leaders), all this will be yours—via high-speed rail, no less. The trip from China to Europe will be a two-day affair, not the 21 days of the present moment. In fact, as that freight train left Yiwu, the D8602 bullet train was leaving Urumqi in Xinjiang Province, heading for Hami in China’s far west. That’s the first high-speed railway built in Xinjiang, and more like it will be coming soon across China at what is likely to prove dizzying speed.

Today, 90% of the global container trade still travels by ocean, and that’s what Beijing plans to change. Its embryonic, still relatively slow New Silk Road represents its first breakthrough in what is bound to be an overland trans-continental container trade revolution.

And with it will go a basket of future “win-win” deals, including lower transportation costs, the expansion of Chinese construction companies ever further into the Central Asian “stans,” as well as into Europe, an easier and faster way to move uranium and rare metals from Central Asia elsewhere, and the opening of myriad new markets harboring hundreds of millions of people.

So if Washington is intent on “pivoting to Asia,” China has its own plan in mind. Think of it as a pirouette to Europe across Eurasia.’

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The End Of An Era: Is The US Petrodollar Under Threat?

Andrew Topf writes for Oil Price:

‘Recent trade deals and high-level cooperation between Russia and China have set off alarm bells in the West as policymakers and oil and gas executives watch the balance of power in global energy markets shift to the East.

The reasons for the cozier relationship between the two giant powers are, of course, rooted in the Ukraine crisis and subsequent Western sanctions against Russia, combined with China’s need to secure long-term energy supplies. However, a consequence of closer economic ties between Russia and China could also mean the beginning of the end of dominance for the U.S. dollar, and that could have a profound impact on energy markets.’

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A real counterweight to US power is a global necessity

Seumas Milne writes for The Guardian:

Vladimir Putin‘[…] There is little chance of the western camp responding to Putin’s call for a new system of global rules. In fact, the US showed little respect for rules during the cold war either, intervening relentlessly wherever it could. But it did have respect for power. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, that restraint disappeared. It was only the failure of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq – and Russia’s subsequent challenge to western expansion and intervention in Georgia, Syria and Ukraine – that provided some check to unbridled US power.

Along with the rise of China, it has also created some space for other parts of the world to carve out their political independence, notably in Latin America. Putin’s oligarchic nationalism may not have much global appeal, but Russia’s role as a counterweight to western supremacism certainly does. Which is why much of the world has a different view of events in Ukraine from the western orthodoxy – and why China, India, Brazil and South Africa all abstained from the condemnation of Russia over Crimea at the UN earlier this year.

But Moscow’s check on US military might is limited. Its economy is over-dependent on oil and gas, under-invested and now subject to disabling sanctions. Only China offers the eventual prospect of a global restraint on western unilateral power and that is still some way off. As Putin is said to have told the US vice-president, Joe Biden, Russia may not be strong enough to compete for global leadership, but could yet decide who that leader might be.’

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Can China and Russia Squeeze Washington out of Eurasia?

Pepe Escobar writes for TomDispatch:

Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping‘A specter haunts the fast-aging “New American Century”: the possibility of a future Beijing-Moscow-Berlin strategic trade and commercial alliance. Let’s call it the BMB.

Its likelihood is being seriously discussed at the highest levels in Beijing and Moscow, and viewed with interest in Berlin, New Delhi and Tehran. But don’t mention it inside Washington’s Beltway or at NATO headquarters in Brussels. There, the star of the show today and tomorrow is the new Osama bin Laden: Caliph Ibrahim, aka Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the elusive, self-appointed beheading prophet of a new mini-state and movement that has provided an acronym feast—ISIS/ISIL/IS—for hysterics in Washington and elsewhere.

No matter how often Washington remixes its “Global War on Terror,” however, the tectonic plates of Eurasian geopolitics continue to shift, and they’re not going to stop just because American elites refuse to accept that their historically brief “unipolar moment” is on the wane. For them, the closing of the era of “full-spectrum dominance,” as the Pentagon likes to call it, is inconceivable. After all, the necessity for the indispensable nation to control all space—military, economic, cultural, cyber and outer—is little short of a religious doctrine. Exceptionalist missionaries don’t do equality. At best, they do “coalitions of the willing” like the one crammed with “over 40 countries” assembled to fight ISIS/ISIL/IS and either applauding (and plotting) from the sidelines or sending the odd plane or two toward Iraq or Syria.

NATO, which unlike some of its members won’t officially fight Jihadistan, remains a top-down outfit controlled by Washington. It’s never fully bothered to take in the European Union (EU) or considered allowing Russia to “feel” European. As for the Caliph, he’s just a minor diversion. A postmodern cynic might even contend that he was an emissary sent onto the global playing field by China and Russia to take the eye of the planet’s hyperpower off the ball.’

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World Cup Lessons: What Brazil 2014 could mean for Russia 2018

Manuel Veth writes for Futbolgrad:

‘The World Cup 2014 in Brazil was hailed by some media outlets as the greatest tournament of all time. But while the action on the pitch may serve as the benchmark for future tournaments, the headlines circling the organisation of the tournament will serve as a serious warning for the next edition of football’s most prestigious tournament, to be held in Russia in 2018.

Both Russia and Brazil share a place among the BRIC grouping acronym, which refers to four emerging market powerhouse economies – Brazil, Russia, India and China – all deemed to be at a similar stage of economic development and expected to be among the world’s most dominant economies by the year 2050 . Such similarities are leading analysts to use Brazil’s experience as a guide, or more importantly as a source of foreboding concern for Russia over the next four years.’

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Global Value Chains, Globalisation and the New Trade Policy Narrative: Interview with Faizel Ismail

World Trade Organization’s failure points to fragmented future for global trade

From Reuters:

‘[…] For several years, many of the bigger economies have been pouring their energies into new clubs aiming to liberalise trade in particular regions or in specific sectors of the economy. “What WTO promoters fail to understand is that their forum competes with other vehicles for reform. Through poor design, bad luck and bad tactics, the WTO has handicapped itself in this race,” said Evenett.

Of all the big economies, India has perhaps bet most on the WTO, with little progress in opening up bilateral or regional ties. Despite its role as a offshore services hub and its vast population, it has yet to sew up a bilateral trade agreement with the EU and an investment treaty with the United States. The 28-nation EU and the United States, which are trying to negotiate a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, are among pioneers of the smaller clubs, but China is also involved.

Beijing is a member of groups trying to develop new standards for information technology products and environmental goods, and it wants to join one that is working to liberalise trade in services. Last week’s veto prompted some countries to discuss moving ahead with the customs treaty without India.’

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Obama on the new world (dis)order

Editor’s Note: Many people, especially within the conspiracy community, get excited whenever the term ‘new world order‘ is uttered by politicians. The ‘new world order’ often spoken of by U.S. leaders over the past 25-30 years, starting with George H.W. Bush at the end of the Cold War, refers to an American led global order. In recently years there has been a challenge to this American led system through the growth of the BRICS countries which has weakened U.S. global military and financial power. It is the growth of Russia and China in particular that TTIP and TPP are designed to stifle economically. You also have the Asia Pivot (aimed at China) and American/NATO involvement in Ukraine (aimed at Russia) which come into it on the side of foreign policy. It’s all essentially one big game of chess that has been going on for many years now.

Ben White reports for Politico:

‘President Obama at a fundraiser last night outside Seattle: “People are anxious. Now, some of that has to do with some big challenges overseas. I am very proud that we have ended one war, and by the end of this year we will have ended both wars that I inherited … But whether people see what’s happening in Ukraine, and Russia’s aggression towards its neighbors in the manner in which it’s financing and arming separatists; to what’s happened in Syria … to the failure in Iraq for Sunni and Shia and Kurd to compromise … to what’s happening in Israel and Gaza” …

“Part of people’s concern is just the sense that around the world the old order isn’t holding and we’re not quite yet to where we need to be in terms of a new order that’s based on a different set of principles, that’s based on a sense of common humanity, that’s based on economies that work for all people. … But here in the United States, what people are also concerned about is the fact that although the economy has done well in the aggregate, for the average person it feels as if incomes, wages just haven’t gone up; that people, no matter how hard they work, they feel stuck.”’

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Pepe Escobar: A chessboard drenched in blood

Pepe Escobar writes for the Asia Times:

‘ […] The Big Picture spells out the Empire of Chaos elites as extremely uneasy. Take Dr Zbigniew “The Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski, who as a former foreign policy mentor has the ears of the increasingly dejected White House paperboy. Dr Zbig was on CNN this Sunday challenging Europe’s leaders to “stand up to Putin”. He wonders if “Europe wants to become a satellite” and worries about “a moment of decisive significance for the future of the system – of the world system”.

And it’s all Putin’s fault, of course: “We’re not starting the Cold War. He [Putin] has started it. But he has gotten himself into a horrendous jam. I strongly suspect that a lot of people in Russia, even not far away from him who are worried that Russia’s status in the world is dramatically being undermined, that Russia’s economically beginning to fail, that Russia’s threatened by the prospect of becoming a satellite to China, that Russia’s becoming self-isolated and discredited.”

Obviously Dr Zbig is blissfully unaware of the finer points of the Russia-China strategic partnership, as well as their concerted voice inside the BRICS, the G-20 and myriad other mechanisms. His trademark Russophobia in the end always gets the better of him. And to think that in his latest book, Strategic Vision (2012), Dr Zbig was in favor of an enlarged “West” annexing Turkey and Russia, with the Empire of Chaos posing as “promoter” and “guarantor” of broader unity in the West, and a “balancer” and “conciliator” between the major powers in the East. A quick look at the record since 2012 – Libya, Syria, Ukraine, encirclement of China – reveals the Empire of Chaos only as fomenter of, what else, chaos.

Now compare a fearful Dr Zbig with Immanuel Wallerstein – who was a huge influence in my 2007 warped geopolitical travel book Globalistan. In this piece (in Spanish) Wallerstein argues that the Empire of Chaos simply can’t accept its geopolitical decadence – and that’s why it has become so dangerous. Restoring its hegemony in the world-system has become the supreme obsession; and that’s where the whole “policy” that is an essential background to the MH17 tragedy reveals Ukraine as the definitive do or die battleground.

In Europe, everything hinges on Germany. Especially after the National Security Agency scandal and its ramifications, the key debate raging in Berlin is how to position itself geopolitically bypassing the US. And the answer, as pressed by large swathes of German big business, lies in a strategic partnership with Russia.’

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Nobel Economist Joseph Stiglitz Hails New BRICS Bank Challenging U.S.-Dominated World Bank & IMF

‘A group of five countries have launched their own development bank to challenge the U.S.-dominated World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Leaders from the so-called BRICS countries — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — unveiled the New Development Bank at a summit in the Brazilian city of Fortaleza. The bank will be headquartered in Shanghai. Together, BRICS countries account for 25 percent of global GDP and 40 percent of the world’s population. To discuss this development, we are joined by Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, a professor at Columbia University and the World Bank’s former chief economist. “It’s very important in many ways,” Stiglitz says of the New Development Bank’s founding. “This is adding to the flow of money that will go to finance infrastructure, adaptation to climate change — all the needs that are so evident in the poorest countries. It [also] reflects a fundamental change in global economic and political power. The BRICS countries today are richer than the advanced countries were when the World Bank and the IMF were founded. We’re in a different world — but the old institutions haven’t kept up.”‘ (Democracy Now!)

China’s President offers to build a railway across South America

From the Business Standard:

‘Firming up ‘s engagement with resource-rich Latin America, President Xi Jinping has offered to build a railway network across the continent, considered the backyard of the US.
During his meet with Peruvian President Ollanta Humala on the sidelines of BRICS summit in Brasilia yesterday, Xi proposed that China, Peru and  form a working group to promote cooperation on the project.

He suggested that a trilateral working group be established to guide their cooperation in all related aspects including planning, design, construction and operation of the transcontinental railway, state run China Daily said today. Experts say collaboration on the railway project, which would run from the Peruvian Pacific coast to the Brazilian Atlantic coast, will be a good example of China’s positive impact on the Latin American continent, the Daily said.’

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Jim Rickards: BRICS Development Bank A Significant Step Away From The Dollar

China plans investment bank to break World Bank dominance

RT reports:

‘China is moving forward with a plan to create its own version of the World Bank, which will rival institutions that are under the sway of the US and the West. The bank will start with $100 billion in capital. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) will extend China’s financial reach and compete not only with the World Bank, but also with the Asian Development Bank, which is heavily dominated by Japan. The $100 billion in capital is double that originally proposed, the Financial Times (FT) reported.

A member of the World Bank, China has less voting power than countries like the US, Japan, and the UK. It is in the ‘Category II’ voting bloc, giving it less of a voice. In the Asian Development Bank, China only holds a 5.5 percent share, compared to America’s 15.7 percent share and Japan’s 15.6 share. At the International Monetary Fund, China pays a 4 percent quota, whereas the US pays nearly 18 percent, and therefore has more influence within the organization and where loans go. “China feels it can’t get anything done in the World Bank or the IMF so it wants to set up its own World Bank that it can control itself,” the FT quoted a source close to discussions as saying.’

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India seeks giant gas deal with Russia following in China’s footsteps

Valentin Mândrăşescu reports for The Voice of Russia:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry O. Rogozin in New Delhi. File photo‘Less than a month ago, China ensured that its voracious economy would have a steady supply of Russian natural gas for the next thirty years. Indian press reports that Narendra Modi would like to follow Xi Jinping’s lead and connect India to the vast energy resources of Russia. For a decade, Russian experts have been talking about making the country the top energy supplier in Asia and creating a North-South energy axis that will inevitably lead to closer relations between the biggest geopolitical players on the continent. It seems that India’s newly elected Prime Minister is willing to take the necessary steps to make Moscow’s dream a reality.

The Financial Express reported that Narendra Modi is considering an ambitious plan to extend the natural gas pipeline between Siberia and China all the way to India. The pipeline will link Russia’s natural gas resources to Indian industrial and domestic consumers, drastically reducing the current exuberant energy costs that act as a drag on the country’s economy. For Modi, industrialization is everything, because without industrialization he can’t fulfill the promises he made to the India’s poor and middle class citizens during the recent elections. However, industrialization without low energy prices is impossible and India’s new leader is therefore obliged to seek cheap and reliable sources of natural gas and oil. The only reasonable option is to strike a long-term deal with Russia.’

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