17 July 2019   Leave a comment

Economic relations between Japan and South Korea are deteriorating, as Japan has announced some onerous trading rules on South Korean importers. The roots of the dispute are historical, not economic, as South Korea has argued that Japan has reneged on some of its promises concerning apologies and restitution for its conduct during the occupation of Korea from 1910-1945. The dispute will affect the trade of semiconductors and other technologies that are integral to the global supply chain. So the dispute, if it escalates, will quickly spill over into the economies of many other states. The current US-China trade dispute has weakened the strong norms against tariffs, and the US is now considering actions against Vietnam which has benefited from producers shifting from China to Vietnam because of the tariffs.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the outbreak of the Ebola virus in central Africa to be a “public health emergency of international concern.” The designation comes after a case of Ebola was found in the city of Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Central Africa is currently experiencing the second-largest outbreak of the virus in recent years. The largest outbreak was in West Africa in 2014-16 with more than 28,600 cases and 11,325 deaths. The declaration is being made because Goma is a large city and an important transit point and the possibilities for spreading the virus has increased dramatically without strong intervention. The virus has been located in rural areas of Congo that have been troubled by extreme violence which has made containing the outbreak very difficult.

US-Turkish relations have reached a breaking point because Turkey has purchased a Russian air defense system, the S-400. The defense system is the most advanced in the world and it poses serious problems for any state’s fighter jets. As a NATO ally, Turkey was scheduled to receive F-35 fighter jets, the most advanced in the US arsenal. But the US feared that the technical details of the F-35 would be available to the Russians and that they could modify the S-400 to be even more effective against the F-35. So the US has cancelled the sale of the F-35s to Turkey. Politico assesses the significance of the cancellation:

“Turkey was set to buy about 100 of the Lockheed Martin-built F-35s and its pilots have been training in the United States. The pilot training program is set to end at the end of July if Turkey went ahead with the S-400 sale, according to a letter from the Pentagon last month.

“Turkey also manufactures more than 900 parts for the F-35, and the Pentagon will have to find an alternative among other partners on the multinational program. That could cause significant delays in the program, according to Soner Cagaptay, the director of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.”

The US will have to confront this issue again as India has indicated that it intends to buy the S-400 from Russia in 2023.

Posted July 17, 2019 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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