Archive for the ‘Globalization & International Trade’ Category

25
Jan

By Javier Solana and Ian Bremmer

In today’s world, identifying and managing hotspots is not simply a matter of pulling out a map, spotting the wildfires, and empowering diplomats to douse the flames. To understand today’s major conflicts and confrontations, we must recognize important ways in which global political conditions enable them.

Conflicts are much more likely to arise or persist when those with the means to prevent or end them cannot or will not do so. Unfortunately, this will be borne out in 2013.In the United States, barring a foreign-policy crisis that directly threatens national security, President Barack Obama’s administration will focus most of its time, energy, and political capital on debt reduction and other domestic priorities. In Europe, officials will continue their struggle to restore confidence in the eurozone. And, in China, though the demands of economic growth and job creation will force the country’s new leaders to develop new ties to other regions, they are far too preoccupied with the complexities of economic reform to assume unnecessary costs and risks outside Asia. That is why the world’s fires will burn longer and hotter this year.

This does not mean that the world’s powers will not inflict damage of their own. Today, these governments are more likely to use drones and special forces to strike at their perceived enemies. The world has grown used to US drone strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen, but recent news reports suggest that China and Japan are also investing in unmanned aircraft – in part to enhance their leverage in disputes over islands in the East China Sea. By lowering the costs and risks of attack, these technological innovations make military action more likely. Read more…

Javier Solana was Foreign Minister of Spain, Secretary-General of NATO, and EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy. He is currently President of the ESADE Center for Global Economy and Geopolitics and Distinguished Fellow at the Brookings Institution. Ian Bremmer is President of Eurasia Group and the author of Every Nation for Itself: Winners and Losers in a G-Zero World.

As published in www.project-syndicate.org on January 22, 2013.

22
Jan

By Roger Cohen

DIPLOMACY is dead.

Effective diplomacy — the kind that produced Nixon’s breakthrough with China, an end to the Cold War on American terms, or the Dayton peace accord in Bosnia — requires patience, persistence, empathy, discretion, boldness and a willingness to talk to the enemy.

This is an age of impatience, changeableness, palaver, small-mindedness and an unwillingness to talk to bad guys. Human rights are in fashion, a good thing of course, but the space for realist statesmanship of the kind that produced the Bosnian peace in 1995 has diminished. The late Richard Holbrooke’s realpolitik was not for the squeamish.

There are other reasons for diplomacy’s demise. The United States has lost its dominant position without any other nation rising to take its place. The result is nobody’s world. It is a place where America acts as a cautious boss, alternately encouraging others to take the lead and worrying about loss of authority. Syria has been an unedifying lesson in the course of crisis when diplomacy is dead. Algeria shows how the dead pile up when talking is dismissed as a waste of time.

Violence, of the kind diplomacy once resolved, has shifted. As William Luers, a former ambassador to Venezuela and the director of The Iran Project, said in an e-mail, it occurs “less between states and more dealing with terrorists.” One result is that “the military and the C.I.A. have been in the driver’s seat in dealing with governments throughout the Middle East and in state to state (Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq) relations.” The role of professional diplomats is squeezed.

Indeed the very word “diplomacy” has become unfashionable on Capitol Hill, where its wimpy associations — trade-offs, compromise, pliancy, concessions and the like — are shunned by representatives who these days prefer beating the post-9/11 drums of confrontation, toughness and inflexibility: All of which may sound good but often get you nowhere (or into long, intractable wars) at great cost.

Stephen Heintz, president of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, wrote in an e-mail that, “When domestic politics devolve into polarization and paralysis the impact on diplomatic possibility becomes inordinately constraining.” He cited Cuba and Iran as examples of this; I would add Israel-Palestine. These critical foreign policy issues are viewed less as diplomatic challenges than potential sources of domestic political capital. Read more…

As published in www.nytimes.com on January 21, 2013 (a version of this op-ed appeared in print on January 22, 2013, in The International Herald Tribune).

21
Jan

By STEVEN RATTNER

As recently as 2006, when I first visited India and China, the economic race was on, with heavy bets being placed on which one would win the developing world sweepstakes.

Many Westerners fervently hoped that a democratic country would triumph economically over an autocratic regime.

Now the contest is emphatically over. China has lunged into the 21st century, while India is still lurching toward it.

That’s evident not just in columns of dry statistics but in the rhythm and sensibility of each country. While China often seems to eradicate its past as it single-mindedly constructs its future, India nibbles more judiciously at its complex history.

Visits to crowded Indian urban centers unleash sensory assaults: colorful dress and lilting chatter provide a backdrop to every manner of commerce, from small shops to peddlers to beggars. That makes for engaging tourism, but not the fastest economic development. In contrast to China’s full-throated, monochromatic embrace of large-scale manufacturing, India more closely resembles a nation of shopkeepers.

To be sure, India has achieved enviable success in business services, like the glistening call centers in Bangalore and elsewhere. But in the global jousting for manufacturing jobs, India does not get its share.

Now, after years of rocketing growth, China’s gross domestic product per capita of $9,146 is more than twice India’s. And its economy grew by 7.7 percent in 2012, while India expanded at a (hardly shabby) 5.3 percent rate. Read more…

Steven Rattner, a long-time Wall Street financier, led the restructuring of the auto industry in 2009 as counselor to the Treasury secretary under the Obama administration.

As published in www.nytimes.com on January 19, 2013 (a version of this article appeared in print on 01/20/2013, on page SR12 of the NewYork edition with the headline: India Is Losing The Race).

16
Jan

By Jeongwen Chiang

Apple staff welcoming customers in the new Apple store at WangFujin business district in Beijing on October 20, 2012

Apple CEO Tim Cook expects China, the world’s most populous country, to become the No. 1 market for the company.

Equally heavyweight tech companies Google or Facebook can only watch with envy. It is not because of lack of effort that they are nowhere near the success of Apple in China. Their businesses are just too different.

The Chinese government’s tight control on freedom of information flow applies especially to the Internet. Web access is filtered on a regular basis. Social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter are blocked because the government deems them as potential hot spots for facilitating politically sensitive or socially inappropriate content.

Meanwhile, Google is operational in China but has to route all searches to its Hong Kong site, and the access is often interrupted. So, it is fair to say that the Chinese government is the reason why companies such as Google and Facebook are not doing well in China.

In contrast, Apple mainly sells hardware, so it has not run into any censorship problems.

Chinese consumers love electronic gadgets. Mobile phones are ubiquitous. Apple is doing incredibly well because its products are so much more attractive and pricy. The iPhone quickly become a status symbol product in Chinese social circles since its debut. Likewise, the iPad also joined the must-have list as soon as it was launched.

If someone wants to lubricate his “guanxi” — relationship — with an important person, these two products are often the gift of choice. Before the iPad reached China, a businessman in Shanghai told me that in the back of his car trunk, he had stocked at least 20 iPads, all bought in Hong Kong. “It is the most-loved present for government officials,” he claimed.

The social pressure of having an Apple product is strong, especially as the wealthy elites set the trend. If a middle class Chinese consumer cannot afford an expensive car or watch, sporting an iPhone may be just as good. Even the bad press surrounding Foxconn, the main manufacturer of Apple products, did not make too much of a dent on the company’s sales. Read more…

Jeongwen Chiang is professor of marketing and chair of the department of marketing at China Europe International Business School.

As published in www.cnn.com on January 15, 2013.

14
Jan

Japan, Israel and Britain are facing big problems of their own just as the U.S. needs their help.

By Ian Bremmer

There are three big unfolding stories for international politics and the global economy: The next stage of China’s rise, the continuing turmoil in the Middle East and the redesign of Europe. The three countries with the most to lose from these trends are, respectively, Japan, Israel and Britain. They also happen to be America’s most reliable allies in the world’s three most important regions. As 2013 unfolds, the special relationships that these countries enjoy with Washington won’t protect them from the worst effects of these sweeping changes. That is also bad news for U.S. foreign policy.

The further expansion of China’s political, economic and military power leaves Japan in an increasingly tough spot. The broadening and deepening of China’s consumer market creates critical opportunities for Japanese companies, but Beijing’s new assertiveness, particularly on territorial disputes involving Japan, is fueling nationalist anger inside both countries. The risk isn’t that the two countries will exchange fire but that emerging frictions will undermine the exchange of everything else, reversing the momentum in a commercial relationship that has become especially important for the buoyancy of Japan’s economy.

In September, the battle over a string of contested islands in the East China Sea rattled Japan’s economy. A move by Tokyo to assert ownership of the Senkaku-Diaoyu islands ignited anti-Japanese fury inside China, and Beijing let protests burn longer and hotter than usual. In the process, Chinese protesters destroyed Japanese stores and products in several cities and launched boycotts of Japanese companies. That month, Toyota and Honda’s year-on-year sales in China were down, respectively, 49% and 41%.

Japanese policy makers know they must hedge bets on trade with China by bolstering ties elsewhere in Asia. But Japan remains dangerously exposed over the long term to its dependence for growth on Chinese markets. New Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants to expand U.S.-Japanese security ties, and Washington can help defend Japan’s interests in the East China Sea. But it can’t protect Japanese companies doing business in China from the fallout over growing frictions in Chinese-Japanese relations—and that is the greatest immediate threat to Japan’s future. Read more…

Ian Bremmer is the president of Eurasia Group, a research and consulting firm on global political risk.

As published by The Wall Street Journal on January 11, 2013 (a version of this article appeared January 12, 2013, on page C2 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Three Troubled Allies, One Superpower).

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