Category: Columns and media

OpEd: Risky Business: The U.S. Should Rethink Business With Kazakhstan

An article written by our President, Joël Ruet about Kazakhstan’s current and growing challenge to fight corruption that undermines foreign investment and the country’s socio-economic development, was published in the media Entrepreneur.com. He warns that “despite the Kazakh government’s public campaign to attract foreign investors […] it will need to implement fundamental changes, and that starts with taking anti-corruption seriously and honoring agreements with foreign investors. Until then, U.S. investors should rethink the risk of doing business in Kazakhstan.”

“Profiteering & pandemic: WTO, pharma industry must introspect”, tribune by our board member Pranjal Sharma

In the ongoing context of the Covid-19 pandemic, our board member, Pranjal Sharma, wrote the following OpEd, published by The Daily Guardian, on the benefits of waivering the IPR (intellectual property rights) on vaccine production, particularly for low-income countries such as India and those of the African continent.

Read his tribune here: https://thedailyguardian.com/profiteering-pandemic-wto-pharma-industry-must-introspect/

2M TV Morocco – Joël Ruet speaks on how the roll-out of the vaccine pass will facilitate the return to normal life

Joël Ruet, President of The Bridge Tank, spoke on newscast Infosoir on Monday 25 October on the French-Moroccan television channel 2M. Joël Ruet indicated that the world is in a new phase in the treatment of the pandemic, with imperatives and specificities that differ from the period of its advent. “Before,”, Joël Ruet recalled, “the virus had to be prevented from circulating but, in doing so, populations were prevented from circulating, it was containment,” a necessary measure given the absence of a vaccine.

Watch his intervention (in French) here

OpEd: G20 Must Help Low Income Countries Get Out of Debt Crises

On the occasion of the G20 Finance Ministers meeting in Washington DC, our Policy Brief on the modernization of the African Banking sector was mentioned in an OpEd in Diplomatic Courier by Joel Ruet. This paper suggests that, in addition to sovereign aid, commercial banks in Africa get a fairer rating of their (low) risks and (high) profitability and thus ease their refunding costs to deliver levers of growth and employment.

Read our policy brief here

Read the OpEd here

Issue Brief: AUKUS – A storm in the Pacific

On 15 September 2021, Australia terminated a contract with France to supply conventional submarines, in favor  of a nuclear military-technology collaboration with the United States and the United Kingdom. This breach of contract highlighted the nascent AUKUS (Australia, United Kingdom and United States) military alliance, which was created in response to China’s growing power in the Indo-Pacific. This tripartite alliance has only served to add insult to injury in the current tense international context, as well as to exacerbate diplomatic relations between France and the United States.

In light of the visit to Paris on October 5, 2021, of the Secretary of State of the United States, Anthony Blinken, to try and appease the situation, The Bridge Tank published an analytical note, written by retired French General Eric de La Maisonneuve.

This issue brief is based on the idea that the contract denounced by Australia, a long-term contract and considerable in financial terms, had become a limited contract in technological terms and modest in relation to the strategic stakes in the Indo-Pacific zone. This Australian reversal reveals several key points:

  • The worsening situation in the region, particularly in the South China Sea, the growing antagonism between China and the United States on trade issues, the impressive rise of the Chinese navy and its associated armaments, the multiple Sino-Australian tensions, all lead both the United States and Australia to review their arrangements.
  • If, as is to be expected, events in the area precipitate, urgency will prevail and the USA will be forced to install their bases and nuclear submarines directly in Australia, even if it means renting or loaning some of them to the latter. Here again, it is likely that this future contract under the AUKUS umbrella will have difficulty seeing the light of day.
  • France for its part should draw the consequences of this diplomatic-strategic fiasco in three directions:
    • Revise its “foreign policy/defense policy” complex,
    • Re-evaluate the European security pillar and its concretization through a Franco-German alliance under the French Presidency of the EU,
    • Rethink in this context its systems of analysis of China to better anticipate its strategy and its actions.

Read the issue brief here (in French): 2021-10-04-IB La Maisonneuve

When bad controversies drive out the good ones: rehabilitating scientific controversy

At a time when Covid variants are multiplying, what is known genetically about this virus, from the processes of its emergence, to the role of virology in the analysis of its current evolution, to the genetic origins of its transformation into a pandemic, as well as the hypothesis of the possible role of humans and virological laboratories in its rise? What are the hypotheses supported by facts and debated by scientists, the controversies based on scientific protocols?

From the emergence of a pathogenic virus to the pandemic and variants: virology’s point of view

To shed light on these questions, this dossier presents our exchanges with Sterghios Moschos, researcher, virologist, with Gabriel Gras, former virology researcher and biosafety expert, and with Professor Jacques Cohen, physician and scientist, professor of immunology.

Sterghios Moschos introduces the panorama of the scientifically debated theses, Gabriel Gras tackles the questions linked to the origins of the virus and the functioning of the biological security laboratories and finally Jacques Cohen tackles the questions linked, starting from the virus, to the emergence of the disease and then to its transformation into a pandemic, in order to draw some lessons on a better coordination between disciplines, between science and the public authorities.

Finally, in a current situation where the International Conference for the Conservation of Nature is being held, we open the question of the relationship between humanity and nature.

When bad controversies drive out the good: rehabilitating scientific controversy

When a new epidemic erupts into the world, virology and epidemiology are initially blind to the DNA of the virus, its capacity to spread and contaminate, as well as its origins. Eventually, these scientific fields become more astute, able to see more clearly the DNA of the virus, its family of possible reservoirs and hosts, becoming potentially clairvoyant later on its capability to spread, transform as well as its origins, resulting eventually in the creation of a vaccine.

However, science takes time and a certain protocol, during which hypothesises need to be raised and de-bunked, or confirmed, fully or partially. This is a classic process of science in the making, well established since modern science developed, well understood by the epistemology of sciences including Gaston Bachelard and others; in this context, “scientific controversy” helps unearthing the truth from gathering, accumulation and minute interpretation of facts.

In the post-media age, however, politicised as it is, scientific controversies often escape the preserve of science, leak or get leaked by the media, and can even be intentionally diffused as propaganda by all sides or state/philanthropy/media machines. The current pandemic most likely has not escaped this trap.  

To this, time may still clarify the debate, but an interesting tool is provided through “Mapping” controversies (MC). As defined by Wikipedia: MC is an academic course taught in science studies, stemming from the writings of the French sociologist and philosopher Bruno Latour. MC focuses exclusively on the controversies surrounding scientific knowledge rather than the established scientific facts or outcomes. This “mapping” helps sociologists, anthropologists and other social scientists get insights not into scientific knowledge per se, but rather into the process of gaining knowledge. MC sheds light on those intermediate stages corresponding to the actual research process whilst pinpointing the connections between scientific work and other types of activities.”

“Mapping of Controversies” goes against political controversy, and controversy in the right sense ought to be re-appropriated by those it belongs to by sheer design of science: the scientists.

To read more on this topic, Joël Ruet, President of The Bridge Tank, has published an article in french on the website La Tribune : Coronavirus _ un analyseur de la complexité des relations hommes-animaux _

The Bridge Tank also wrote a note on scientific controversies and a literature review: The Bridge Tank COVID19 – A note on scientific controversies and a Literature review

Read the transcript of each interview here: Verbatim – Interview Sterghios Moschos_FINAL; Verbatim – Interview Jacques Cohen_FINAL; verbatim – Interview Gabriel Gras_FINAL

EU strategic interests vis-à-vis China: our article published in the National Defence Review and published by China Today

As the strategy of European autonomy in the face of Chinese power gathers traction, The Bridge Tank published an issue brief in both the National Defense Review and China Today. An indication that rigorous discussion for a tight negotiation remains possible?

After two years of work, The Bridge Tank has positioned itself in the calibration of the balance of power between the EU and China, in particular by publishing last March issue briefs (For a balance of power – what is at stake around the pre-agreement of principle on investment, co-signed by several former ministers and French ambassadors; and Sino-Western Conflict, analysis and proposals, the latter written by General Eric de la Maisonneuve)

The analyses developed highlight the fact that the two protagonists in their power relations are out of step both in time and space.

The Bridge Tank, active in both Western and Chinese debates, points out the double error of analysis that these two protagonists are making of each other as well as proposals for firm discussions on strategic resources.

This approach was taken up in March 2021 in the “Revue Défense Nationale”, a French strategic and defense reference magazine, an intervention that we then popularized in a high-circulation Chinese-language media, China Today. This bilingual article explicitly analyses the European interests generated by this new partnership with China in conjunction with political, ecological and economic issues.

A degrading context

On Tuesday 4 May 2021, European Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis announced the suspension of a landmark EU-China investment agreement. This agreement, which has been under construction for seven years, was concluded on 30 December 2020, but was finally cancelled due to the deteriorating political and business climate between the parties.

What role can the EU play?

This agreement, although met with contempt by some European leaders and the international press, offers crucial benefits for the EU’s economic development. In the context of a new Cold War between China and the United States and the health crisis, Europe wants “to cooperate with China is also to cooperate with the RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership), the world’s third largest economic bloc, and thus gain access to the ASEAN countries”.

European sovereignty based on an environmental thread

Since signing the Paris Agreement in 2015, the EU has shown itself to be a pioneer in the fight against global warming and for environmental rights. China, one of the world’s largest emitters of CO2 with 28% of global emissions, has declared its goal to reduce its carbon emissions by 2060.

 

By working with China, this agreement would allow for a more open and direct dialogue on urban innovations, such as smart cities, developed for the benefit of future generations.

In the face of the rise of China and the United States in the digital field, it is clear that Europe needs to catch up to counter the power game in order to guarantee its strategic autonomy.

Read the issue brief (in French) here

Tribune: The Winners and Losers of the Australian-China Trade War

The current trade war between Australia and China has heavily impacted the position and importance of China’s global trading partners, particularly within the beef and wine industry. Whilst Australia has undoubtedly suffered, other countries such as USA and Brazil are taking this opportunity to fill in the market gap.

The Bridge Tank president Joël Ruet explores the current state of trade and potential new Chinese partnerships incurred by this conflict in his latest article published on the Diplomatic Courrier. Read here  

‘China, new Atlantis between the United-States and Europe?’ Joël Ruet deciphers the triangular power-play in his latest article in Euraktiv and The Tribune

There is no longer denying that America, under Biden’s new administration, is preparing to confront the growing presence of China within the global arena by waging what many have called the ‘new Cold War’. Despite growing concerns over what America’s aggressive stance could bring to the future, as echoed by the likes of Bernie Sanders, the China-centric discussions conducted by the American president during the recent series of world summits, from the G7 to NATO, confirm this claim. His recent tour to Europe was essentially a call to arms to his allies, a congregation of democratic powers and values. However, within the friction created by the shifting of these political tectonic states, Europe declines to choose a side, its leaders evoking in response repeatedly the term; “strategic autonomy”. In refusing to align explicitly with either America or China, Europe plans to forge its own destiny; with China’s entry into the Northern Atlantic, the political fabric of the world is being restitched. 

This, in short, is the context of Joel Ruët’s recent article published on the website La Tribune, titled: ‘China, the new Atlantis between the United-States and Europe?’. Anchored on the analysis of dialogues that took place over the recent series of world summits, Ruët’s article explores not only the meaning behind Europe’s key phrase: “strategic autonomy”, but also what this strategy entails for its potential partnerships with America and China. Through profound and precise analyses of the events and dialogues which took place over the recent series of summits, Ruët presents crucial observations and outlooks within the tense context of an American-China Cold War 2.0. 

Read the article in French here: https://www.latribune.fr/opinions/tribunes/la-chine-nouvelle-atlantide-entre-les-etats-unis-et-l-europe-887357.html

Read the article in English, republished by Euraktiv here: https://www.euractiv.com/section/china/opinion/china-the-new-atlantis-between-the-united-states-and-europe/ 

Download the PDF version in French here: La Chine, nouvelle Atlantide entre les Etats-Unis et l’Europe

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. 

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