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.
- In East Africa, Somalia has severed diplomatic relations with Kenya, after the meeting between president of Kenya and the president of the separatist region of Somaliland. Somalia has strengthened its military presence along its border, in which there have already been several clashes this year between Kenyan and Somali forces.
- As part of the emergence of a strategic partnership, Turkey signed a military agreement for the production of armed corvettes and unmanned aerial vehicles with Ukraine, whose Minister of Defense said he would dramatically strengthen the capabilities of the Ukrainian Navy in the Black Sea and Sea of Azov.
- By launching a new offensive in southern Nagorno-Karabakh on Friday, Azerbaijan violated a ceasefire it had maintained for almost a month with Armenia, that was negotiated with Russia. Baku acknowledged the attack, but justified it as a counterterrorism operation.
- US government officials say the country has been the target of a large-scale cyber attack. Among the targets already established are the Nuclear Weapons Agency, the Department of Homeland Security, the Departments of the Treasury, Energy and Trade. American “senior intelligence officers” accuse Russia of being responsible for the attack. On the other hand, the FBI is investigating the contact of a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) with an alleged chinese spy.
- Australia has sued in the World Trade Organization (WTO) against China’s restrictions on Australian barley imports.
- In the pursuit of multilateral agreements, Taiwan will submit a request to join the renewed version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), once it finishes informal consultations with its 11 existing members.
- The EU approved additional sanctions against Belarus, targeting 29 individuals and seven entities, stemming from contested elections in the country in August. Member states also agreed to extend sanctions related to the annexation of Crimea for another six months.
- US signed a bilateral trade and investment finance agreement with Singapore as part of its strategic integration on the Indo-Pacific market.