British influence

In this paper, the author considers how the UK could maintain its international influence after Brexit. 

He begins by outlining the global landscape at the start of 2021. He argues that the Covid-19 pandemic has “stalled globalisation and intensified geopolitical competition”. Looking to the US, he believes the incoming Biden administration will prioritise its relationship with the EU and allies in Asia over the UK. 

The author then outlines six areas where he believes the UK can lead the way in offering solutions to global issues. These are: 

  • Protecting liberal democracy. 
  • Promoting international peace and security. 
  • Tackling climate change. 
  • Enabling greater global health resilience. 
  • Championing global tax transparency and equitable economic growth. 
  • Defending cyberspace.  

 The paper argues that the best partners for the UK to team up with to pursue these goals are the EU and its member states and the United States, as well as Australia, Japan, South Korea and countries in sub-Saharan Africa 

Looking to the UK’s immediate priorities, the author outlines three areas for the UK to focus on in 2021: 

  • secure stronger commitments on climate change from the US and China; 
  • advocate for closer working between NATO and the EU; and 
  • reach out to mid-sized G20 democracies, such as Australia, Indonesia and Mexico, to make the G7 group more inclusive on shared global objectives.  

Finally, the article discusses the UK Government’s global spending priorities. The author argues that the UK will need to spend significantly more on diplomacy if it wants to act as a global leader 

Read the full article: Dr Robin Niblett, Global Britain, Global Broker, Chatham House, 11 January 2021 

Trade between EU and China

Considering a potential trade deal between the EU and China, Deshpande argues that while there are economic benefits, the differences in the two sides’ respect for civil freedoms could prove politically difficult. 

Economically, the author states that an EU-China trade deal would open up access for European companies in certain Chinese industries, such as financial services, real estate, construction and transportation. Other industries, such as technology and telecoms, would remain closed to European markets. In return, China could invest in European energy and technology companies, as well as implementing some “self-control measures” on its own industries.  

The article then moves on to China’s political situation. The author discusses the reported forced labour of China’s Uyghur population to produce masks for the coronavirus pandemic, and the use of mass surveillance to deter political opposition. Under the proposed EU-China deal, China would have to “work towards the ratification of the ILO (International Labour Organization) fundamental conventions”. The author states this could allow China to remain inactive on reforms for 70 years.  

Deshpande states that the deal would be a “shrewd geopolitical strategy” by China, negotiated out of “political necessity” due to increasingly hostile relations from Asia, Africa and the Americas. She raises concerns that the push to complete the agreement before incoming President Joe Biden takes off does not allow the EU to sufficiently address its political concerns with China. However, she states that the EU could cooperate with the incoming Biden administration to pressure China to agree to some form of human rights standards.  

Read the full article: Sonali Deshpande, ‘Caught between China and the US, Europe faces tough strategic decisions in trade negotiations’, 89 Initiative, 29 December 2020