Category: Events-reports

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. 

Our analysis of Morocco’s New Development Model

Context:

Ambassador and former Interior Minister Chakib Benmoussa, Chairman of the Special Commission on the Development Model (CSMD), presented his general report on Tuesday 25 May 2021 at a ceremony presided over by King Mohammed VI. The latter will give rise to a national pact for development – an unprecedented proposal in Morocco. The objective is to anchor the New Development Model as a common reference for the actors and to commit the different parties. In other words, the pact will be the tool for renewing the relationship between the State and the development actors (political parties, constitutional institutions, the private sector and social partners, territories and the third sector); a renewal whose key words are: accountability, subsidiarity, partnership, sustainability and inclusion.

Read our report in french here

Download the version PDF in French here: The Bridge Tank_analyse_Maroc_Juin2021

Financing the African economy: Supporting the Modernization of African Economies

By Clarisse Hida & Joël Ruet

As the Summit on the financing of the African economy will be held on May 18, 2021 in Paris, at the invitation of Emmanuel Macron and with the African heads of state and government, solutions must go well beyond refinancing of sovereign debt, to integrate the dynamics of an African financial system undergoing a great transformation, and must include the banking sector, both at the level of the private sector and of commercial banks.

Africa has been resilient since the economic crisis of 2008 with controlled debt until the covid pandemic, and, for many countries, debt has been raised in connection with a transformation, an extension of the tax base, with margins remaining in this in terms of debt sustainability. But above all the continent, and in particular sub-Saharan Africa, has demonstrated a real boom in its economies, served by the growth of pan-African banks, which now desreve better support internationally.

But today Africa remains underbancarised, and a “classic” treatment of African economies by the tools of the banking system possibly supported by a multilateral public tool for the correct assessment of risks, including the issues of “rating”, looks promising.

Key Take-aways :

► The issue of financing the African growth should be approached through:

– Maintaining development assistance in the context of COVID-19 which, in itself, does not constitute a specific risk for Africa.

– The revival of public and private foreign investments in Africa, by improving the perception of African opportunities, including a fairer rating of private and sovereign financial assets.

– And finally, through support the access to capital markets for commercial banks since it is clear that many banking regimes are sound and should not be underestimated.

► In each of the avenues proposed, the international community must play an integrating or intermediary role that goes beyond the framework of development aid.

► This triple approach would make it possible to tap new types of financers, who would be able to better understand the specificities and strategies of African countries, particularly, but not only, with regard to debt and its refinancing.

The Bridge Tank at the BOAO Forum for Asia 2021: a partnership anchored in a shared vision for the future

The Bridge Tank at the annual “Chinese Davos” meeting

After a year of pandemic which led to its suspension in 2020, the BOAO Forum renewed its annual conference from April 18 to 21, 2021 in a context fluctuating between resumption of international trade and temptation to withdraw. As such, the “Chinese Davos” plays a decisive role in the international calendar by advocating an open multilateral dialogue, at a time when the Covid19 has lastingly disrupt the international balance and created a series of new challenges while exacerbating those which pre-existed to it.

Since 2018, the chairman of the Bridge Tank Joël RUET has participated to the BOAO Forum, of which the think tank is a partner. As every year, he spoke at a high-level conference alongside international leaders from the political and business worlds, such as Dmytro KULEBA, Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jens ESKELUND, vice-president at the Chamber of European trade in China, or LIU Hualong, president of China Poly Group, but also the director general of the WTO, Ngozi OKONJO-IWEALA, or the South Korean Minister of the Environment.

He was one of the three French speakers, embodying the circle of think tanks, while Jean-Pierre RAFFARIN and Henry GISCARD D’ESTAING, respectively represented the political and economic world. This high-level platform of dialogue, eagerly awaited in the context of a return to international discussions, aspires to build a global consensus and promote common and sustainable development. This meeting was an opportunity to discuss the measures takenby the BRI countries to keep the economic and trade volume roughly stable and normal during the COVID-19 pandemic when the global economy plunged, and cross-border trade and investment slowed down. The role of China-Europe Railway Express in stabilizing the global supply chain was also discussed, as well as the role played by e-commerce in renewing and developing international economic cooperation. In the context of an implementation of the New Silk Roads, but also of an Investment Agreement between the EU and China which is debating, the future of Sino-European relations also occupied the space of discussion.

For Joël Ruet, chairman of the Bridge Tank, “the investment of today makes the business of tomorrow”

In his speech, Joël Ruet stressed the need to optimize Eurasian trade, embodied by the rise of the China-EU Railway Express, by emphasizing the role of upstream investment. As such, it calls for a rebalancing of trade, in favor of exports of European technologies and equipment to China. On this point, the Bridge Tank discussed at length the subject of the EU’s competitive advantages to be brought to bear in its trade with China.

He also addressed the energy issue : the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) could play an important role in connecting the two hydrogen champions Asia and Europe. The Bridge Tank has also developed several avenues of cooperation in terms of research that it would be strategic to develop between the two regions.

Joël RUET added that the EU did not intend to tackle the climate issue as one subject among others, but as an issue that conditions and prevails over everyone’s interests, and compared this approach to the Blinken line: dealing separately with technological rivalries and coordination for the climate. Joël Ruet said it remains to be seen whether this separation is audible by the Chinese side.

He also reflected on the place of Africa in the Belt and Road Initiative, suggesting that Africa wants and must find its place there. According to him, investments on the African continent, still too limited to infrastructure, would benefit from further enhancing contact between individuals by focusing on human capital and skills training.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister in favor of an ambitious European cooperation on hydrogen

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry raised the many challenges brought to light by the pandemic. He argues that international trade will play a key role in the global economic recovery, provided cooperation is boosted. To achieve this, and like Ukraine, which is posed as a strategic logistics hub, the regions of the world must enhance their connectivity in order to foster multilateral interactions.

He advocates enhanced European cooperation in the sector of alternative energies such as hydrogen. He therefore calls for coordinated efforts to invest in hydrogen technologies, ensuring that Ukraine intends to play its role as a strategic partner. The Bridge Tank shares with interest the Minister’s enthusiasm for innovative cooperation around hydrogen, as evidenced by these numerous works on the subject.

For Jens Eskelund, Managing Director of Maersk and Vice-President at the European Chamber of Commerce in China, “the business world allows constructive international dialogue beyond politics”

Jens Eskelund spoke about the pre-Investment Agreement between the EU and China, whose ratification has been suspended due to political disputes. For him, this is the dangerous symptom of a phenomenon of politicization of world trade: the political circle meets the business world. However, this situation is untenable in the long term: both parties must be aware of the need to maintain an open dialogue. For him, trade remains the area where constructive and frank links can be maintained regardless of political differences. The business world therefore has a role to play in maintaining contact where diplomatic relations face an impasse.

According to him, and the Bridge Tank totally agrees with him, international cooperation is indeed crucial to meet future challenges such as the climate challenge: on this subject, the EU and China cannot afford to develop technologies in parallel without converging.

LIU Hualong and the importance of working towards a state of trust to rebuild international relations

In a context of tension in diplomatic exchanges, the CEO of Poly Group insisted on a return to a state of trust, a necessary prerequisite for any trade or international investment. According to him, sharing experience and building trust are essential to rebuilding a sustainable post-covid world and stabilizing the global supply chain.

Joël Ruet bounced back from this intervention, emphasizing that constructive relations must be rooted in a state of mutual understanding, fueled by international networks and cultural projects. In fact, for a rapprochement on investment to be made by companies, it is essential to get to know each other, through multicultural initiatives.

The Bridge Tank at the BOAO Forum : to go further

If the Bridge Tank has been a faithful partner of the BOAO Forum since 2018, it is because it works to offer a vision of the world converging with the vision shared at BOAO, in favor of openness and cooperation. The interviews suggested below, given by Joël Ruet to Chinese media, allow us to deepen the meaning of this shared vision.

During an interview with CGTN TV, Joël Ruet proposed avenues for reflection on environmental cooperation between China, the European Union and the United States. He also mentioned the need to strengthen coordination between the G20 and the BRI and addressed the issue of governance of these new Silk Roads to these journalists.

Joël Ruet was quoted by CCTV13, a Chinese national news channel, about the role of BOAO in the economic integration of Asia, but also of the world on a global scale.
 
In an interview with Xinhua news on the occasion of the opening of the Forum, the president of the Bridge Tank presented his point of view on the trade of tomorrow, necessarily based on proactive and ambitious investments, a reform of the WTO, and the greening of the New Silk Roads. Quoted in an article of Xinhua news on the place of China in sustainable development on a global scale, Joël Ruet argued that the BRI has a big role to play in the energy transition, in particular in the field of hydrogen.
 
To find all the media resources of the Bridge Tank about this 2021 Edition of the BOAO Forum : (insert link of the short post).
 

EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment: Stakes for a constructive balance of power

By Philippe Coste, Pierre-Noël Giraud, Stéphane Gompertz, Henri de Grossouvre, Fatima Hadj, Brice Lalonde, François Loos, François Quentin, Joël Ruet, Raphaël Schoentgen, Alex Wang, avec Clarisse Comte et Claire Thomas.

After seven years of negotiations, the European Union and China reached an investment agreement on December 30, 2020. While Beijing sees in it the promotion of a “high degree of openness”, the EU aspires through this treaty to establish the long sought after “equality of market conditions”.

To carry out this project, a balance between the strategic interests of each side and common objectives on which to agree remains to be found… just as it remains to find avenues for concrete action.

Find the analysis note in French :2021-03-Issue-Brief-UE-CHINETélécharger

• This treaty provides for the intensification of economic and trade relations between the EU and China. It guarantees EU investors greater access to China and also helps to create more balanced conditions of competition.

• Areas of collaboration are proposed here, in various fileds : political (place of China in international organizations, global governance), legal (international standards, ESG), industrial (mobility, decarbonisation, role of SMEs), economic, environmental, scientific , technological (energy transition, carbon capture, hydrogen, nuclear, new energies), financial (coordinated introduction of carbon prices) and cultural.

• For the EU, it is above all a matter of asserting its strategic interests in a coordinated manner with the member countries during the ratification process.

The long-term issues of technological sovereignty, of competition between blocs, all possible causes of “stop and go” in bilateral relations must be seriously dealt with.

Despite the identified obstacles, maintaining an open but precise dialogue between the EU and China is essential. The European Union must continue its transformation and ensure respect for its increase in diplomatic power both within the EU and in its relationship with China: beyond state-to-state relations, it is up to the EU in as a community to negotiate the terms of a new bilateral relationship with China. It is in this way that it will confirm its status as a “balancing power”.

China “Two Sessions” : the Bridge Tank co-organizes the Think Tank & Media Forum on Global Economic Development

A Forum on Global Economic Development on the occasion of the Two Sessions in Beijing

Together with its Chinese partners, the China International Publishing Group and the China Institute for Innovation & Development Strategy, as well as the Prospective & Innovation Foundation, the Bridge Tank co-organized on March 8 a hybrid Forum on the sidelines of the Two Sessions.

On this occasion, Joël Ruet spoke alongside Wei Jianguo, former vice-minister of Commerce in China and vice-chairman of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, Cai Jiming, deputy at the People’s National Assembly and director of the Central Committee of the China Association for Promoting Democracy, and Zhang Yuyan, member of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and director of the Institute of World Economics and Politics.

Jean-Pierre Raffarin, former Prime Minister of France, opened this webinar alongside four Chinese vice-ministers and the deputy speaker of the House of Representative of Argentina. For almost three hours, representatives of more than ten countries, ranging from Russia to India, from Brazil to South Africa, explored new avenues of thoughts, in particular in favor of multilateral cooperation, global economic recovery supported by innovation and reform of global economic governance. The role of international think tanks in building platforms for dialogue was highlighted, and presented as an essential strength in building a community on a humanity scale.

Chinese media articles China Today, China.org, China Institute for Innovation and Development Strategy covered this event in particular.

Opening of the Forum by Jean-Pierre Raffarin: against the temptation of isolationism, an international cooperation based on innovation

In his remarks, the former French Prime Minister said that sharing of experiences and mutual understanding were essential to achieve peaceful development, a common goal for all countries. As a global crisis exacerbates the need for a coordinated response to global challenges, he stressed the dangers of a temptation to unilateralism and protectionism. Emphasizing the role of innovation, he argued that each country should actively conduct international cooperation while safeguarding its own sovereignty. He mentioned in particular the fight against climate change, referring to the joint efforts of France and China, a strong signal in favor of a global consensus for green development.

From crisis to opportunity for renewal, according to Chinese speakers Wei Jianguo, Zhang Yuyan and Cai Jiming

Former vice-minister of Commerce Wei Jianguo said China’s “dual circulation”, a pillar of the 14th Five-Year Plan launched at the same time, will bring new opportunities for global economic development. According to him, beyond the crisis it is going through, the world is entering a new era of globalization, where China must play a crucial role.

But experts have set it against a less optimistic scenario, warning of current systemic risks threatening the global economy, such as inflation, the symptoms of which – sharply rising commodity prices – are already visible. Inflation and climate change therefore emerged as two challenges of common interest to be tackled together.

Zhang Yuyan called for renewed international cooperation, which involves working together on the issue of global governance. Indeed, discussions remain to be conducted, and this responsibility falls to the great world powers, which must find the right balance between strategic autonomy and common interests.

Cai Jiming emphasized the importance of building a fair and sustainable world trading system, based on the notion of comparative interest in the international division of labor, firmly opposing isolationist tendencies that threaten the balance of world trade.

China’s commitment in Global Security and Sino-European Cooperation : Joël Ruet’s Intervention

Joël Ruet, chairman of the Bridge Tank, said China must adopt more multilateral ways to clarify its position in the security issue and create a stable external environment. Speakers also agreed on the idea that China should play a role commensurate with its economic weight in global governance.

He referred to the pre-investment Agreement concluded between China and the EU, symbol of the opportunities that can emerge from a crisis, while warning of two priorities that should not be overlooked. Indeed, he targeted two areas where Sino-European cooperation is fundamental : the environment, where the ambitious words of the heads of state must be implemented through acts in the perspective of the COP26, and industrial cooperation, that the European and Chinese industries and businesses see as very promising.

The take of The Bridge Tank on the 2021 Two Sessions – “Dual circulation”, high-quality development, disappointing environmental objectives…

 

The Two Sessions designates the two annual plenary meetings of the National People’s Congress and the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. After a year of pandemic which had postponed this meeting in May 2020, the Chinese leaders were keen this year to launch it on March 5, as if to embody the exemplary resilience of the country and the regained normality of the regime’s institutions. Plus, it is marked by the launch of the 14th Five-Year Plan 2021-2025 and the 100 years anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party. 

Among the highlights of this event, Prime Minister Li Keqiang has set a growth target of 6% for 2021. This moderate figure shows that the priority will be less focused on an attractive GDP – the IMF is banking on an 8% recovery – than on stable growth in a context of uncertainty, and on three pillars: “reform, innovation, and high quality development”. Also, the budget allocated to research and development will increase by more than 7% per year over the next five years, to achieve breakthroughs in future technologies and allow China to gain strategic autonomy. Another priority of the regime is to upgrade the supply chain and to promote domestic consumption, especially in the automotive and household appliances sector.

In fact, both the Two Sessions and the 14th Five-Year Plan have as a common thread the development paradigm of “dual circulation”. This notion denotes a two-pronged development strategy that requires both internal and external market support to stimulate long-term consumption patterns. The domestic cycle is particularly emphasized while it is complemented by an international cycle, with foreign trade and investments abroad. This objective of betting on the huge Chinese domestic market is rooted in a desire to hedge against external shocks, in the context of rising diplomatic tensions and instability in the world economy.

Li Keqiang also stopped on the environmental issue: he called for the promotion of the greening of lifestyles and production. For example, one of the targets for 2021 is to achieve a rate of 70% for the use of clean energy for heating. The 14th Plan calls for China to reduce its energy consumption per unit of GDP by 13.5% and CO2 emissions by 18%. Yet the experts say that the objectives mentioned do not represent a real acceleration to achieve the carbon neutrality expected in 2060, for lack of concrete means. For example, the Double Assembly as well as the 14th Five-Year Plan introduced the idea of ​​a “cap on CO2 emissions”, without actually setting one. While it is encouraging that a component dealing with climate change is for the first time adopted in a national-level plan, these initial environmental indications are therefore often perceived as ambiguous, even disappointing.

Minister Brice Lalonde and former UN deputy SG discusses ecological transition with the Bridge Tank

Brice Lalonde, who served as French Minister for the Environment, UN Under-Secretary-General for Climate, and Executive Coordinator at Rio+20, detailed the major issues at stake around the ecological transition around which powers must engage in a new cycle of technological cooperation.

Prospects for Sino-European cooperation

The former minister recalled that the electrification of our economies is key for the transition, requiring the deployment and improvement of techniques such as batteries, electrolysers, and more broadly raising the question of large-scale electricity production. Brice Lalonde believes that it is in this context that nuclear energy is most relevant and should be subject to technological exchange. He recalled, by way of example, the previous signing of a France-China agreement on the construction of a nuclear waste reprocessing plant.
The speaker also mentioned several times the prospect of future use of synthetic fuels, which consist in capturing and reusing the carbon dioxide initially emitted as energy. Brice Lalonde thus insisted on the distinction between present and future energy resources, illustrating his point with the example of water, which should become a strategic resource because of the technology of water electrolysis, allowing for the production of hydrogen.
Finally, the former minister addressed the research issues surrounding carbon fixation, in the form of artificial photosynthesis or through the sequestration of carbon dioxide (CO2), on which China and the EU must also work together.

Global governance and the future of international trade

On the other hand, and apart from Sino-European relations alone, Brice Lalonde more broadly presented the lack of international cooperation on ecological issues as the main shortcoming preventing the deployment of the ecological transition on a large scale. In his opinion, a paradigm shift is necessary consisting in the establishment of a minimum of global governance on these subjects, in contrast to the current configuration where sovereign climate programmes are simply added together, without any supranational dimension. He believes that we lack major international cooperation agreements, concerning gas for example, where the gas industry should have coordinated to finance the transition of coal-based economies to gas, which emits much less CO2. It therefore seems crucial to him to revitalise multilateralism, in order to carry out projects such as the establishment of a common carbon market on an international scale.

Finally, on the subject of international trade, the former Environment Minister was able to oppose a shared opinion that would like to present it as an outdated practice in a world seeking to achieve carbon neutrality. On the contrary, Brice Lalonde stated that trade can be ecological. “We absolutely need trade. Trade can be a very powerful ally for the environment,” he said. To do so, trade rules should no longer focus solely on finished products, but also on production standards (i.e. regulating production-related greenhouse gas emissions). From this point of view, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) still has its place in the world of tomorrow. The WTO has already accepted the primacy of environmental law in prior cases, when this law is enshrined in international agreements. In the future, states could thus theoretically take advantage of international ecological agreements imposing production standards in order to block imports from countries that violate them.

Lalonde was one of the keynote speakers of the Bridge Tank’s forum on the post-COVID-19 EU-China cooperation. He took part in a panel entitled « Green development or ecological civilisation? », which was moderated by Wen Cui-Pottier, former journalist of the Shangai Media Group. This forum took place in the Brongniart Palace in Paris on the 15th of October 2020.The other speakers of this session were Nicolas Imbert, Executive Director of Green Cross France & Territoires and two members of the Bridge Tank’s board : Guillaume Henry, President of the Association of the Ecological Analysis of Law, and Zhao Wei, researcher at Sun Yatsen’s University.

Minister Edmond Alphandéry exchanges with Bridge Tank experts about carbon pricing

Edmond Alphandéry, former French Minister of the Economy and Chairman of the Task Force on Carbon Pricing, gave a long explanation of his vision of the place and importance of carbon pricing in the ecological transition, and highlighted the decisiveness of this measure in order to achieve the objective of carbon neutrality, within the framework of the Paris agreement.

Carbon pricing: an essential tool for the ecological transition

Minister Alphandery began by reminding us of the scale of the challenge posed by global warming and the complexity of the issues at stake : given that we emit 40 billion tons of CO2 each year, he explained that if we reasonably assume that the price of a ton of CO2 should be set at around 100€ (according to the main evaluations), then a carbon pricing system would cost €4,000 billion each year, which amounts to Germany’s Gross National Product (GNP).

In this context, the former minister sees carbon pricing as central to the fight against global warming. His explanation is simple: when carbon has a price, all economic agents (households, companies, the State) are encouraged to reduce their emissions, or even to stop them or to find alternatives, in order to reduce their expenses.
The speaker specified that there are two solutions currently applicable and applied in order to put a price on carbon. The first is a carbon tax, which is simple and effective, but politically difficult to implement and whose adjustment is complex. The second is the introduction of a carbon market, where emission permits are issued according to the total volume of emissions desired. Permits are bought by market participants in proportion of what they emit, and their price is defined by supply and demand.
According to the chairman of the Task Force on Carbon Pricing, the tautological advantage of the carbon market is that it is a market, and that it therefore encourages innovation and the adoption of virtuous behaviour by agents in order to resell their permits (see the example of Tesla in the United States). However, it has the disadvantage of being characterised by a high volatility of carbon pricing.
It is this last reason that prompted the former minister to chair the Task Force on Carbon Pricing in order to promote among decision-makers a targeting of the price of carbon rather than volumes, as is currently the case. On the European carbon market, for example, he said that this would give stability to a carbon price that had collapsed during the subprime crisis, and also increase visibility.

Against the threat of climate change, China must adopt and extend carbon pricing

Edmond Alphandéry then spoke about the role of China, whose place he considered to be unavoidable regarding these issues. The country’s emissions are indeed higher than those of the United States and Europe combined. In this respect, he pointed out that the Chinese government is aware of the importance of the issues at stake and has already promoted a number of ecological transition measures. For instance, he stated that there is already a carbon pricing system in China, even if the price remains largely insufficient for now and is limited to the energy sector.
The former minister also stated that, in his view, there is a real Chinese will to carry out reforms. He particularly welcomed the initiatives and discussions that are taking place between various European and Chinese personalities, discussions in which he himself took part, in order to defend a convergence of the carbon prices of the two powers.
For Edmond Alphandéry, if such a reform was promoted, it would be no less than a revolution in the fight against global warming.

In conclusion, the panelist made a proposal to the Chinese authorities regarding their major strategic programme that is the BRI. As the government increases energy investments, especially aimed at thermal power plants, Edmond Alphandéry would consider it relevant and effective to introduce an internal carbon price in the companies and industries financed by Chinese funds. This would simulate a carbon price and thus encourage decarbonisation, while sending a strong message to the international community by underlining the importance that China attaches to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Edmond Alphandéry said he would be ready to support such an initiative immediately.

Alphandery was one of the main speakers at the Bridge Tank forum on EU-China cooperation post-Covid-19.
He participated in a panel moderated by Philippe Coste, former French ambassador, on greening investment in the European Union (EU) and China, and on the challenges of the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI). The forum took place at the Palais Brongniart in Paris on 15 October 2020. Other speakers in this session were Pierre-Noël Giraud, Professor of Economics at the Ecole des Mines de Paris, Djellil Bouzidi, member of the Haute Autorité de la Statistique and of the Bridge Tank’s Board, and Song Luzheng from Fudan University.

Exchange on the role of culture in international relations between Irina Bokova, former Director-General of UNESCO and the experts of the Bridge Tank

The first woman elected as Director-General of UNESCO, Minister of Foreign Affairs in Bulgaria in 1996, and former Bulgarian ambassador to France, Irina BOKOVA is a passionate politician, who shares the values ​​of openness and dialogue with the Bridge Tank. During her career, she became involved in international efforts in favor of equality between women and men, education for all and access to culture. Among her many fields of action, scientific cooperation for sustainable development is particularly close to her heart. She has also pleaded for Bulgaria’s membership of the EU and NATO, and continues to campaign for European integration by promoting the values ​​of diversity and human rights.

Irina Bokova, Board member of the Bridge Tank and co-organizer of the EU-China post-covid Cooperation Forum

From the opening session, the former Director-General of UNESCO recalled that Sino-European cooperation should take into account a human and cultural aspect, like said in the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda, which will allow a constructive link in the economic, political, security and environmental fields.

She gave a more “UN” dimension to the debates, to reflect on multilateralism, globalism and the climate, in which China and the EU are key actors. Dialogue between these two powers is therefore essential to build a more inclusive, sustainable and multilateral post-covid world and reform the multilateral system, as she said in the Forum on January 21. Irina Bokova insisted on the growing role of China in this project : she recalled President Xi Jinping’s carbon neutrality commitments by 2060, the central place of China in the recovery of global activity, as well as Beijing’s role in integrating culture and science into the United Nations 2030 Agenda.

What post-covid human exchanges?

Irina Bokova federated the debates around the question of human exchanges, be they cultural, educational or scientific in the development of a vision of the future. This essential theme must be part of the wider debate on geopolitical issues and ecological transitions. The former Minister of Foreign Affairs affirmed that there is a convergence in the thoughts on this aspect of cooperation between the EU and China, which are two great cultural powers. It is therefore an essential aspect of the current debate on the refocusing of Sino-European relations, all the more crucial as China has invested heavily in the areas of culture and identity in recent years.

Indeed, Xi Jinping has revived a major UNESCO project, the Silk Road, by giving real importance to heritage, cultural and identity issues. The new Silk Roads, beyond trade flows, must play a role in building intercultural bridges. In addition, China now ranks first on the UNESCO World Heritage List. This sector is an integral part of its economy, showing the world that culture and its industries can play a significant role in the growth and trade of a country.

The digitalization of cultural exchanges

Irina Bokova dwelled on the place and dangers of digital in the promotion of culture. With its ability to create bridges between societies, it has enormous potential, to such an extent that the United Nations will soon adopt measures that makes access to digital a human right. However, she warned of the worrying risks associated with technology : it tends to standardize and erase diversity and threatens to fragment societies by creating isolation and alienation in communities.

On the condition therefore of being part of an ethical approach at the service of humanity, technologies remain a space of extraordinary creativity and an unparalleled connection platform, making it possible to link museums to the digital world by arousing curiosity about cultural projects. The former director of UNESCO concluded that a nation never awakens without curiosity for its culture, something that China understood well when it completed in seven years the construction of 5 000 museums, and for the culture of the others, pillar of all cooperation and bulwark against intolerance.

 

Irina Bokova is a Bridge Tank’s Board Member, which regularly shares her thoughts and expertise. She notably co-organized and opened the post-Covid EU-China Cooperation Forum alongside Joël Ruet, President of the Bridge Tank and Sylvie Bermann, French Ambassador to China.

On October 15, 2020, this “hybrid” Forum brought together four former ministers, five former ambassadors and around thirty experts at the Palais Brongiart in Paris, as well as around a hundred registrants on three continents, to share nourished, informed and precise on economic, industrial, social and cultural questions on the EU-China relationship.

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