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What we are reading

Week of October 19

Published 19 October 2021

In What We are Reading this week, we share with you the latest developments in sustainable trade and investment, technology, and geopolitics.

US trade policy slowly emerges

Following her recent speech on US-China trade policy, USTR Ambassador Tai this week spoke to the World Trade Organization, reaffirming US confidence in the institution.  Ana Swanson of the New York Times evaluates Ambassador Tai’s message to the organization.

Analysis of the China policy speech continues. Chad Bown of the Peterson Institute for International Economics examines why President Biden enforces the Phase One deal, while the Financial Times’ Rana Foroohar explains the speech as a significant turning point for US policy.

Meanwhile, in order to create a “worker-centric trade policy”, the Biden Administration requires a better understanding of the distributions of benefits and losses associated with trade. USTR asks the US International Trade Commission for a new investigation

Geopolitics impacting global trade

A special report from The Economist asks big questions about the future of the rules-based international order for trade, its potential role in tackling the biggest challenges of our time, and where it should go from here.

One key question to ask: does China qualify as a market economy? The Atlantic Council’s GeoEconomics Center and the Rhodium Group examines the issue in their annual scorecard.

For the CPTPP, China’s application adds to the list of aspirants that includes the United Kingdom and Taiwan. What attracts them to pursue accession? Read part three of Kati Suominen’s CPTPP series for the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The O-RAN Alliance, a standards-setting body for cellular infrastructure, works to enhance interoperability between systems. Liza Lin in the Wall Street Journal explains that geopolitical-driven conflict within the organization may be a first sign of bifurcation in the sector.

Digital trade requires strong trust between consumers and providers. Susan Ariel Aaronson writes that trade agreements and trade policy can make a positive contribution.

Lastly, as the WTO’s ministerial summit in December approaches, check out the briefing by the Chair of the body’s General Council for what potential outcomes lie ahead, if any.

Continued challenges from Covid-19

Many economies and organizations continue to struggle with the Covid-19 pandemic. A series of WTO papers identifies the bottlenecks in the supply chains of vaccine and medical products.

According to Nikkei Asia, China’s sophisticated vaccine diplomacy could shape pharmaceutical development and the country’s trade, especially with the developing world, for the long term.

Trade and technology

Semiconductor supply chains remain stressed. Techwire Asia outlines how a wrinkle in the chain – in this case, aluminum disruption in Malaysia – can exacerbate the global chip shortage.

Huawei is also still in the spotlight as it strives to position itself in the race for cellular technology leadership. An article in the Wall Street Journal charts US efforts to hobble Huawei’s attempts.

A new era of FDI for Japan?

FDI can be critical for economic growth. According a recent UNCTAD study, Japan ranked last among 196 nations for inward direct investment as a share of GDP. In Foreign Affairs, Richard Katz offers an explanation for Japan’s predicament and how the country may change course.

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