Category: Chine-Inde-Afrique

The Bridge Tank co-organises the conference “Central Asia: between Russian and Chinese covetousness, what place for the European Union? “

On 17 September, a conference on Central Asia “Between Russian and Chinese covetousness, what place for the European Union?” was held at Sciences Po Strasbourg with the support of The Bridge Tank, the Think Tank Paris-Berlin-Moscow, Sciences Po Forum and the Alumni Association of Sciences Po Strasbourg. The aim of this conference was to discuss Central Asia and more specifically to study the Russian, Chinese and European influences in the five Central Asian countries of the former USSR: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, thanks to the expertise and experience of practitioners of international relations and the region.

Among the speakers were Mrs Sylvie Bermann, former French Ambassador to China and Russia and President of the IHEDN Board of Directors, Mr Gilles Rémy, Director of the CIFAL Group, Mr Thierry Kellner, Professor at the Université Libre de Bruxelles and China specialist, Mr Michaël Levystone, Researcher at the Russia/NEI Centre of IFRI and Mrs Malaurie Le Bail from The Bridge Tank.

This event brought together around 150 people: Mr Ivan Soltanovsky, Ambassador, Permanent Representative to the Council of Europe, Mr Anuarbek Akhmetov, Consul General of the Republic of Kazakhstan in Strasbourg, Mr François Loos, Former French Minister, Mr Pierre Andrieu, Former French Ambassador, various experts who have worked in the region and many students.

The Bridge Tank, co-organiser of the event, was represented by analyst Malaurie Le Bail. She deciphered the climate and environmental situation of the region through a scientific reading of the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (IDNC) of Kazakhstan and Tajikistan a few weeks before the COP26. According to Malaurie Le Bail, many analyses, both in academic and institutional literature and in the media, highlight Kazakhstan’s climate leadership in the region. However, when comparing the INDC of Kazakhstan and Tajikistan, their greenhouse gas reduction targets are almost identical. Her presentation put Kazakhstan’s leadership into perspective and highlighted the way in which the climate ambitions of states should be studied according to the notion of “differentiated common responsibilities”. Malaurie Le Bail suggested two recommendations:

  • The development of a tool to measure the degree of ambition of a State and to compare the climate ambitions of States with different and/or equal contexts.
  • The importance of creating a Central Asian climate coalition during the climate negotiations to fight against common environmental problems, such as the lack of water irrigation or desertification.

Finally, Malaurie Le Bail concluded her intervention by presenting a vision of The Bridge Tank on new Silk Roads (BRI – Belt and Road Initiative). The BRI is a Chinese-Chinese solution to a Chinese-Chinese problem and responds to low domestic market demand and high exports of goods, which caused the accumulation of Chinese currency in the years 2000-2010. The BRIs are therefore not an initiative to promote investment but to develop Chinese loans abroad that generate trans-border economic activity. The idea for China, especially for Chinese companies, is to create infrastructure and activities abroad financed by debt to rebalance the domestic economic situation and to develop infrastructure in the western provinces of the country. The Bridge Tank argues for a reading of the BRIs from within China, rather than from simply a regional and global influence perspective. From a Central Asian perspective, the BRIs allow these countries to benefit from the infrastructure and technologies developed and used in this project, but also to integrate a global market and to be at the heart of a strong geopolitical system.

EU-US Summit : towards a new transatlantic partnership ?

“America is back” and the Trump years are behind us, as evidenced by the holding of the EU-United States summit in Brussels on June 15, 2021: being the first meeting of this type since 2017, it marked the launch of a renewed partnership and a joint program for cooperation between the EU and the United States, following a sectoral approach. This meeting notably enabled three major commercial achievements to revive and deepen transatlantic trade in a context of Sino-American tensions.

 Civil aircraft cooperation agreement closes 17-year dispute

Leaders Joe Biden, Charles Michel, president of the European Council, and Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, have committed to creating a cooperative framework for large civil aircraft, taking a major step toward ending the dispute over the sector. After 17 years of dispute between Brussels and Washington before the WTO, this agreement initiates a new transatlantic relationship in the aeronautics sector. At the root of the dispute: illegal subsidies granted to aircraft manufacturers Airbus and Boeing. Under the Trump administration, tensions were exacerbated and the WTO authorized the imposition of taxes on $7.5 billion worth of imported European goods and services, including 25% on wine and 15% on Airbus aircraft. 

At the end of the summit, the leaders announced the suspension of punitive tariffs imposed on each other, as part of a five-year truce. The resolution of this dispute, which has plagued bilateral relations, is a strong signal that the Biden administration is moving toward a rapprochement that will create a level playing field and address new industrial challenges. 

This search for appeasement reflects an attempt to bring the EU on board in the US tug-of-war with China by strengthening the U.S.-European position. Especially since this former duopoly of aircraft manufacturers is now becoming an oligopoly with the entry of the new Chinese player Comac. This common-sense measure therefore also has the potential to counter the Chinese breakthrough in this sector and to challenge China’s perceived unfair competition practices. The idea is also to set up an effective cooperation model to jointly address other challenges posed by China’s economic model. While it is not certain that a compromise will be reached at the end of this truce, there is a real American will to reach an agreement. Indeed, when the dispute began in 2004, Airbus was gaining ground on the international market to the detriment of Boeing, whereas today the threat comes from China and it is time for unity on both sides of the Atlantic.

Negotiations to resolve steel and aluminum dispute underway

Leaders agreed to begin discussions to resolve the steel and aluminum trade dispute and to lift all additional and punitive tariffs by the end of the year. Ursula von der Leyen announced a working group on this issue that has marred transatlantic relations since Donald Trump announced in 2018 the imposition of taxes of 25% on European steel imports and 10% on aluminum imports, provoking European countermeasures in return. 

Lifting these taxes in the spirit of appeasement that prevails today would be a much-awaited political gesture by the EU, which expects strong actions beyond intentions. However, this diplomatic gesture should not change the face of European trade, nor turn the European steel and aluminum market upside down, as prices have risen in an unprecedented manner over the past six months, drowning out the impact of the US taxes.

Moreover, the actual resolution of the conflict is likely to be thorny, as the EU does not have a tariff and trade logic but a border tax logic that is different from the United States. The partnership is not self-evident and leaves the door open to a possible rapprochement with China, whether on the American or European side. 

The establishment of an EU-US Trade and Technology Council 

It is no longer a question of Europe and the United States entering into a free trade logic, as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiated since 2013 is no longer relevant. However, a Trade and Technology Council will be created to provide a platform for cooperation on trade, investment, technology, digital issues and supply chains. It embodies a willingness to cooperate in developing compatible and international standards and to promote innovation while avoiding unwarranted new trade or technical barriers. It will enable the partners to align on global technology issues, such as artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, clean technologies… Both sides have already committed to a partnership on rebalancing semiconductor supply chains as a priority. 

This third announcement is both the most imprecise and the most structuring for the future of EU-US bilateral relations. At a time when a technological war seems to be underway with China, the issue of technological coordination is central. After a first American and commercial globalization, which was undermined by the Trump years, Biden now has the project of knitting a new one, which will take the form of technological liberalization. 

Policy Brief: For a Rural Economic Ecosystem Strategy: Towards Inclusive Growth in Emerging Countries

Emergence is not just industrial or urban. The Bridge Tank outlines a strategy for inclusive growth through the creation-densification of agricultural economic ecosystems forming a diversified rural economy.

In the context of the emergence of urban economies of Asia and Africa, this Policy brief sets out an inclusive growth strategy through the creation-densification of agricultural economic ecosystems forming a truly diversified rural economy, making it possible to ensure food security by generating income. Generalizing successful or ambitious national initiatives, it recommends for developing  sub-Saharan Africa and Asia a territorial-level coordination of initiatives already implemented by economic actors at local scales. After the aporia of “development”, emergence re-widens the horizon. Everywhere in the South, it is time to structure a true rural economy.

Read the policy brief here in French. 

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