The World from December 14 to 20

Possible post-Brexit deal

According to the European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michael Barnier, a post-Brexit free trade agreement with the United Kingdom may be close and could be reached as early as Sunday. The European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday that the two sides have already reached an agreement on maintaining environmental, social and labor standards, while making progress on domestic subsidies and on how to ensure that measures do not diverge in the long run. The UK will finally have accepted the EU’s demands for a mechanism to ensure that changes in regulatory standards over time will not undermine fair competition, however, UK requirements regarding fishing and control of access to their waters, a matter of great importance for both parties, may complicate an outcome with a final agreement. A last-minute agreement could be provisionally applied on January 1 and subsequently approved by the respective parliaments. Otherwise, after that day, WTO rules will apply and the United Kingdom will be subject to its fees and customs controls.

China prioritizes its technological development

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) emphasized the urgency of China’s technological development at this year’s Central Economic Work Conference, citing that sector as one of its priorities. The CCP thus aims to “strengthen the power of national strategic science and technology” in order to increase the country’s economic independence, at a time when tensions with Washington are intensifying. This week, China’s market regulator was fined and CCP announced an investigation into digital technology companies like Alibaba Group and Tencent, reversing China’s more liberal approach to Big Tech’s role on the internet, thus enforcing its anti-monopoly laws. Upon leaving office, President Donald Trump signed legislation on Friday that could expel Chinese companies from U.S. stock market, unless, according to the White House, they adhere to American auditing standards.

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