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What we are reading

Week of November 16

Published 16 November 2021

What We are Reading is a curated list of articles and reports on the latest developments in sustainable trade and investment, technology, and geopolitics.

How do global summits impact trade?

The conclusion of the COP26 conference and APEC leaders’ meeting prompt us to ask: how will the outcomes impact trade and investment flows?

Bloomberg examines whether the COP26 agreement on carbon markets will translate into a reduction in carbon emissions. Gary Hufbauer of the Peterson Institute for International Economics looks at whether certain policies to reduce emissions are WTO-consistent.

Analysis continues on the agreement struck between the EU and US to lift steel and aluminum tariffs. and replace them with tariff-rate quotas. Is this a positive development? The Cato Institute is skeptical.

Will investments and restructuring produce results?

The US infrastructure bill will soon be signed. Akin Gump provides a helpful summary and prompts the question: will this investment allow the US to compete more effectively with China?

Meanwhile, according to Nikkei Asia, China is consolidating three state companies into an industry giant. What is the potential impact on rare earths exports?

Bloomberg also explores concerns over China’s new rules for food imports.

Will China shape the rules of digital trade and new technologies?

China’s development of new rules elsewhere - for cross-border data flows, for one – signals its ambition to shape the framework for global digital trade. Deborah Elms of the Asian Trade Centre analyzes China’s application to join the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement. DigiChina analyzes the knowns and unknowns of China’s new cross-border data rules.

In response, US Trade Representative Katharine Tai is posing big questions about the direction the US should take on digital trade. Bill Reinsch of the Center for Strategic and International Studies argues, the pronouncements raise more questions than answers.

China has also been making moves to set global standards for new technologies, as analyzed by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Leadership in semiconductor manufacturing is another goal. Protocol looks at China’s investments in research of cutting-edge materials as a way to leapfrog current semiconductor technologies.

Expect the unexpected

Some surprises too this week. Bloomberg reports the announcement by China’s President Xi Jinping that China is open to discussing industrial subsidies and SOEs. Lastly, Jeffrey Wilson in Foreign Policy writes that Australia’s economy has done surprisingly well since its sudden break with China. 

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