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  Félix Peña

INTERNATIONAL TRADE RELATIONS NEWSLETTER
2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009
A DYNAMIC, COMPLEX AND UNPREDICTABLE WORLD:
Its impact on the international, global and regional trade agenda.

by Félix Peña
January 2018

English translation: Isabel Romero Carranza


 

The idea that the world of the upcoming years will continue to be dynamic, complex and unpredictable was mentioned in our newsletter of last December. We added that perhaps it would be much more so than in recent years and that this will have an impact on international commercial relations. From there, we concluded that all countries, including Argentina, would need to have the ability to identify and assess all feasible options for their international commercial insertion strategy.

The annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) that will take place in Davos-Klosters (Switzerland) on 22 to 26 January will be held with the central theme of "Creating a shared future in a fractured world".

This idea of acting together in a divided world, evokes the regional strategic approach of "convergence in diversity" promoted in Latin America by the Foreign Minister of Chile, Heraldo Muñoz, at the beginning of the government of President Michelle Bachelet.

It continues to be a valid strategic approach for the region, especially to realize the political will to promote a greater articulation between different integration processes, particularly between Mercosur and the Pacific Alliance. Moreover, this strategic approach can lead to strengthening existing institutional frameworks in the Latin American region, especially that of LAIA.

However, the idea of "Creating a shared future in a fractured world" gives special importance to the November G20 Summit of Buenos Aires. The problems of international governance that are becoming evident -and that have a notorious epicenter in the international trade arena-will require a special effort to build the necessary consensus among the member countries and to irradiate them to the rest of the world. This relevance is reflected in the vision of the Argentine Presidency in the G20-2018 entitled "Building Consensus for Fair and Sustainable Development".

Davos is an opportunity to convey the vision of political leaders on relevant issues of the global agenda. President Mauricio Macri will participate and will have the opportunity to present his vision on the role that the G20 can play in relation to relevant issues of international governance and, in particular, the governance of the global system of world trade. The Buenos Aires presidential declaration of the WTO Ministerial Conference will allow President Macri to invoke the consensus reached on such issues between Latin American countries and, especially, among the members of the Pacific Alliance and Mercosur.

IN MEMORIAM

I dedicate these reflections to a great teacher and friend, Professor Jean-Pierre Lehmann. He passed away in Lausanne, on December 21. He was Professor Emeritus at IMD Lausanne and founder of the Evian Group. He participated as a special guest in the INTAL-CAF-CARI-FICBC meeting on the WTO Ministerial, which took place in Buenos Aires on December 10 (he had to do it remotely since his health condition prevented him from travelling). Some of his latest publications are listed as recommended reading of this newsletter, including his piece on the WTO, published on March 16 in the South China Morning Post. For his full biography go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Pierre_Lehmann.


On January 2 of this year, Ian Bremmer and Cliff Kupchan, President and Chairman respectively, began the annual report of the Eurasia Group, entitled "Top Risks 2018", by pointing out: "Let's be honest: 2018 doesn't feel good. Yes, markets are soaring and the economy isn't bad, but citizens are divided. Governments aren't doing much governing. And the global order is unraveling"…then they added: "if we had to pick one year for a big unexpected crisis -the geopolitical equivalent of the 2008 financial meltdown- it feels like 2018. Sorry...we now see more clearly a world without leadership". They concluded their introduction by mentioning: "Concerns about the prospects of a geopolitical depression form the backdrop for our top ten risks this year". (For the full report in English go to https://www.eurasiagroup.net/).

In turn, Malcolm Turnbull, the Prime Minister of Australia, began the presentation of his government's White Paper on Australia's Foreign Policy noting that: "Change, unprecedented in its scale and pace, is the tenor of our times. These are the most exciting times, the times of greatest opportunity, but they are also times of uncertainty, of risk, indeed of danger". (For the full text in English of the 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper-Australian Government of November 22, 2017, go to https://www.fpwhitepaper.gov.au/).

Coinciding with many other analysts, the idea that the world of the next years will continue to be dynamic, complex and unpredictable, was also present in our newsletter of last December. We added that perhaps it would be much more so than in recent years and that this will have a strong impact on international commercial relations.

From there, we concluded that all countries, including Argentina, would need to have the ability to identify and assess all feasible options for their international commercial insertion strategy. This will require something that has not always abounded in our ideas about the country's international insertion, which is the need to reconcile, simultaneously, short-term visions and interests with those of the very long term. Moreover, it will require the ability to grasp and anticipate, in due time, the continuous displacements of competitive advantages between nations and firms, originated in technological changes, in variations of relative power of the protagonists, or in cultural transformations that affect the values and priorities of consumers (see the December 2017 edition of this newsletter, entitled: "A complex and inevitable transition: Towards a new stage in international commercial relations?", on http://www.felixpena.com.ar/).

The annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (Davos-Klosters, Switzerland) to be held from January 22 to 26 will have the central theme of "Creating a shared future in a fractured world". It will bring together political, economic and social leaders from different countries, as well as experts and opinion formers.

The WEF meeting's announcement points out that: "The global context has changed dramatically: geostrategic fissures have re-emerged on multiple fronts with wide-ranging political, economic and social consequences. Realpolitik is no longer just a relic of the Cold War. Economic prosperity and social cohesion are not the same. The global commons cannot protect or heal themselves". It continues by adding: "Politically, new and divisive narratives are transforming governance. Economically, policies are being formulated to preserve the benefits of global integration while limiting shared obligations such as sustainable development, inclusive growth and managing the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Socially, citizens yearn for responsive leadership; yet, a collective purpose remains elusive despite ever-expanding social networks. All the while, the social contract between states and their citizens continues to erode". Finally, it states that: "The 48th World Economic Forum Annual Meeting therefore aims to rededicate leaders from all walks of life to developing a shared narrative to improve the state of the world. The program, initiatives and projects of the meeting are focused on Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World. By coming together at the start of the year, we can shape the future by joining this unparalleled global effort in co-design, co-creation and collaboration. The program's depth and breadth make it a true summit of summits".

This idea of acting together in a divided world evokes the regional strategic approach of "convergence in diversity", promoted in Latin America by the Foreign Minister of Chile, Heraldo Muñoz, at the beginning of the government of President Michelle Bachelet. (Refer to the July 2014 edition of this newsletter and the December 2014 edition on http://www.felixpena.com.ar/). It continues to be a valid strategic approach for the region, especially to realize the political will to promote a greater articulation between the different integration processes and, especially, between Mercosur and the Pacific Alliance.

It is, moreover, a strategic approach that can lead to strengthening existing institutional frameworks in the Latin American region and, in particular, that of LAIA. (On this topic, see the March 2017 edition of this newslette, and the July 2017 edition, on http://www.felixpena.com.ar/).

The idea of "Creating a shared future in a fractured world" gives special importance to the November G20 Summit of Buenos Aires. The problems of international governance, which are becoming evident and that have a notorious epicenter at the international trade level (see our newsletter of last December), will require a special effort to build the necessary consensus among the member countries. It was precisely the need to have a functional political ambit to build consensus on international governance what originated, in the middle of the deep financial crisis of 2008, the first meeting of the G20 Summit at the level of Heads of State, not just of Finance Ministers and Presidents of Central Banks as it had been until then. Thus, geopolitics entered fully into the agendas of the G20.

This relevance is reflected in the vision of the Argentine Presidency in the G20 - 2018, entitled "Building Consensus for Fair and Sustainable Development". At the beginning of his term in charge of the Presidency of the G20, in December of last year, President Mauricio Macri pointed out that: "We are proud to have this opportunity to show our commitment to international cooperation, multilateralism and global governance". He also added: "We will steer the G20's efforts throughout our presidency in the spirit of an honest broker". (For the full text of the document on the vision of the Argentine Presidency of the G20 - 2018, go to https://g20.org/. The English version can be found on https://www.g20.org/).

As noted above, the WEF in Davos is an opportunity to convey the vision of political leaders on relevant issues of the global agenda. President Xi Jinping did so when he spoke in 2017 (see the text of his presentation on https://america.cgtn.com/). President Donald Trump will speak this year. Given the position of his government on relevant issues of the governance of the global system of world trade, it is logical to imagine that his speech will be analyzed with strong interest.

Also participating will be President Mauricio Macri, who will then have an opportunity to present his vision on the role that the G20 can play in relation to relevant issues of international governance and, in particular, on the governance of the global system of world trade. The Buenos Aires presidential declaration will allow President Macri to invoke the consensus that has already been reached on such issues between Latin American countries and, especially among those who are members of the Pacific Alliance and of Mercosur. (For the text of the presidential declaration at the opening of the Eleventh WTO Ministerial Conference, go to https://www.wto.org/).


Recommended Reading:


  • Aragón, Pablo, "Mercosur y sus fantasías. Un acuerdo entre la UE y el Mercosur de libre comercio es muy improbable para 2018", en "El Observador", sección Opinión, Montevideo, enero 8 de 2018, en https://www.elobservador.com.uy/.
  • Barbosa, Rubens, "O Brasil e as Perspectivas Globais para 2018", jornal "O Estado de Sâo Paulo", 9 de janeiro 2018.
  • Camroux, David, "Is Trump's America the "dispensable" power in Asia", East Asia Forum, 31 December 2017, en http://www.eastasiaforum.org/.
  • El Observador, "La opción de salir del Mercosur. Abrirse del bloque regional es un camino razonable pero no fácil de emprender"", Editorial, "El Observador", Montevideo, enero 2, 2018, en . https://www.elobservador.com.uy/.
  • Eurasia Group, "Top Risks 2018", Ian Bremmer, President and Cliff Kupchan, Chairman, 2 January 2018, en https://www.eurasiagroup.net/.
  • Ferguson, Niall, "The Square and the Tower. Nertorks, Hierarchies and the Struggle for Global Power", Penguin Random House, 2017.
  • Gasparré, Dardo, "¿Y si nos vamos todos del Mercosur" Lo que le convendría a los países fundadores es irse del Mercosur, un extremo que muestra la inviabilidad de cambiar su proteccionismo", en "El Observador", sección Opinión, Montevideo, enero 9 de 2018, en https://www.elobservador.com.uy/.
  • Glossrman, Brad, "Trump thumps the WTO", East Asia Forum, 10 January 2018, en http://www.eastasiaforum.org/.
  • Goh, Evelyn; Reilly, James, "How China's Belt and Road builds connections", East Asia Foum, 4 January 2018, en http://www.eastasiaforum.org/.
  • Held, David; Roger, Charles (eds.). "Global Governance at Risk", Polity Press, Cambridge - Malden, 2013.
  • Holbraad, Carsten, "Middle Powers in International Politics", St.Martin's Press, New York 1984. Versión en español, "Las Potencias Medias en la Política Internacional", Fondo de Cultura Económica 1989.
  • Iglesias, Enrique V., "Reflexiones sobre la coyuntura internacional y regional", en revista "Estudios Internacionales", Instituto de Estudios Internacionales - Universidad de Chile, Volumen 49, Edición Especial 50 Años, Santiago de Chile 2017, ps. 39 a 47, en https://revistaei.uchile.cl/.
  • IRI, "Revista de Relaciones Internacionales", Instituto de Relaciones Internacionales - Universidad de la Plata, Año 26 - Nª 53, Julio/Diciembre 2017, en http://www.iri.edu.ar.
  • Nayyar, Dhiraj, "Why India and China must take the lead in the Asia century", East Asia Forum, 7 January 2018, en http://www.eastasiaforum.org/.
  • Lafer, Celso, "Em defesa da OMC. Não identifico boa-fé na diplomacia de combate ao multilateralismo do governo de Trump", Jornal "O Estado de Sâo Paulo", 17 de dezembro 2017, en http://opiniao.estadao.com.br/.
  • Legro, Jeffery W., "Rethinking the World. Great Power Strategies and International Order", Cornell University Press, Ithaca and London, 2005.
  • Lehmann, Jean-Pierre, "A revived WTO offers the best defence against Donald Trump's assault on trade", "South China Morning Post, Edition International, 16 March 2017, en http://www.scmp.com/.
  • Lehmann, Jean-Pierre, "The global order is crumbling and we need a fix to curb humanity's worst instincts", South China Morning Post, Edition International, 12 April 2017, en http://www.scmp.com/.
  • Lehmann, Jean-Pierre, Why the West and Japan should stop preaching to a rising China", South China Morning Post, Edition International, 6 July 2017, en http://www.scmp.com/.
  • Lehmann, Jean-Pierre, "Why the world has to study Chinese history, and how China views history", South China Morning Post, Edition International, 8 August 2017, en http://www.scmp.com/. En español en http://historiaglobalonline.com/.
  • Lehmann, Jean-Pierre, "A trade war is imminent, but not inevitable. Can mindsets change before it's too late?", South China Morning Post, Edition International, 8 Septermber 2017, en http://www.scmp.com/
  • Lehmann, Jean-Pierre, "China's rise is assured in our new world order, but not as a hegemon", South China Morning Post, Edition International, 13 October 2017, en http://www.scmp.com/.
  • Lehmann, Jean-Pierre, "Why fears over a malign China replacing a benign America are a gross distortion of history", South China Morning Post, Edition International, 13 November 2017, en http://www.scmp.com/.
  • Lieven, Anatol, "America Right or Wrong: An Anatomy of American Nationalism", Oxford University Press, Oxford - New York, 2004.
  • Loaiza, Carlos, "Mercosur: trampa o trampoline. ¿Qué impacto económio tiene realmente el bloque para nuestro país? ¿Cabría acaso la posibilidad de un "Uruexit"?", en "El Observador", Montevideo, diciembre 29, 2017, en https://www.elobservador.com.uy/.
  • Ping, Jonathan H., "Middle Power Statecraft. Indonesia, Malaysia and the Asia-Pacific", Routledge, London and New York, 2005-2018.
  • McCoy, Alfred W., "In the Shadows of the Americaan Century. The Rise and Decline of US Global Power", DB Dispatch Books - Haymarket Books, Chicargo 2017.
  • Morandé Lavin, José A., "Presentación", Instituto de Estudios Internacionales, "Estudios Internacionales", Revista del Instituto de Estudios Internacionales, Universidad de Chile, Volumen 49, Edición Especial 50 Años, ps. 7 a 17, en https://revistaei.uchile.cl/.
  • Nathan, Andrew J., "Self-interest shapes China's policies toward the international", East Asia Forum, 19 December 2017, en http://www.eastasiaforum.org/.
  • Osnos, Evan, "Making China Great Again. As Donald Trump surrender America's global commitments, Xi Jinping is learning to pick up the pieces", The New Yorks, January 8, 2918, en https://www.newyorker.com/.
  • Peña, Felix, "América Latina en un mundo incierto y turbulento: impacto sobre las estrategias de integración regional", Instituto de Estudios Internacionales - Universidad de Chile, Volumen 49, Edición Especial 50 Años, Santiago de Chile 2017, ps. 113 a 124, en https://revistaei.uchile.cl/.
  • Perry World House, "The Future of the Global Order. In an era of populism, nationalism, and retrenchment", Fall 2017 Colloquium Report, Pennsylvania Pa., September 2017, en https://global.upenn.edu/.
  • The White House, "National Security Strategy of the United States of America", Washington DC. December 2017, en https://www.whitehouse.gov/.
  • Torreblanca, José Ignacio, "La Casa Blanca ha caído", diario "El País", 11 de enero, página 2, en https://elpais.com/.
  • Wolff, Michael, "Fire and Fury. Inside the Trump White House", Henry Holt and Company, New York 2018.

Félix Peña Director of the Institute of International Trade at the ICBC Foundation. Director of the Masters Degree in International Trade Relations at Tres de Febrero National University (UNTREF). Member of the Executive Committee of the Argentine Council for International Relations (CARI). Member of the Evian Group Brains Trust. More information.

http://www.felixpena.com.ar | info@felixpena.com.ar


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