25 June 2018   Leave a comment

Chinese President Xi Jinping told a group of business executives that it “must also stay vigilant because … we have seen a surge of trade protectionism, isolationism and populism”.  The trade rhetoric continues to heat up and, according to reports, the Wall Street Journal quoted Xi as saying: “In the West you have the notion that if somebody hits you on the left cheek, you turn the other cheek. In our culture we punch back”.  We still do not know if the threatened tariffs by both China and the US are going to go into effect, but investors are becoming increasingly nervous about the possibility of a trade war.  In a sign of how some businesses are being affected, Harley Davidson, the maker of motorcycles, said today that it would shift production of motorcycles bound for Europe away from its American factories to factories in other places of the world not affected by the European tariffs.

 

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has won the national election in Turkey and will rule the country with vastly expanded powers.  The turnout for the election was 87%–a very high percentage.  But Erdogan’s party, Justice and Development (AKP), only got 43% of the vote, an actual decline from the party’s performance in the last election.  Nonetheless, the coalition with the Nationalist Action Party (MHP) assures control of Parliament.  The Kurdish Party, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), got more than 10% of the vote assuring it of seats in the Parliament which was a victory for Turkish Kurds.  The outcome does consolidate Erdogan’s grip on Turkish politics, moving it closer to an “illiberal” democracy or to authoritarianism, depending on one’s perspective, and it complicates US foreign policy in the region.

 

US policy toward North Korea continues to defy careful analysis.  Despite statements yesterday by US Defense Secretary Mattis that North Korea would be given a list of US expectations for the process of denuclearization, today US Secretary of State Pompeo said that there is no “timeline” for those steps.  It would be highly unlikely that North Korea would agree to any timeline offered up by the US and there is no reason to believe that North Korea will denuclearize at a rate that the US would consider expeditious.  It is not clear at all what the next steps for the US-North Korea discussion will be.

Posted June 25, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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