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Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi is in Washington to accept the Atlantic Council’s Distinguished International Leadership Award at a black tie gala that is tonight’s hot ticket. The people of Ukraine will receive the Council’s first-ever award for an entire nation, to be accepted by Ambassador Oksana Markarova.
Virtual Covid summit: Co-hosting are the United States; Belize, as CARICOM chair; Germany, as G-7 presidency; Indonesia, holding as G-20 presidency; and Senegal as African Union chair. Barring last-minute developments, the White House is likely to show up empty-handed: While you can expect to hear from all participants the usual set of pleas for more financial contributions to fight Covid, Congress has stymied the White House from getting money it says it needs to fight Covid and home and abroad.
White House cancer moonshot event: The cause, close to President Joe Biden’s heart, is framed as a “Goals Forum” bringing together private, clinical, patient advocate and public sectors. The follow-up will include a WHO-hosted summit around the U.N. General Assembly in September on non-communicable diseases, including cancer.
NATO: Finnish President Sauli Niinistö will announce his country’s intention to join NATO, officially putting Finland on the path to membership, with Sweden expected to follow within a week.
U.S-ASEAN: U.S. President Joe Biden will host a special summit with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Washington.
Also happening: An EU-Japan summit in Tokyo, and a three-day G-7 foreign ministers’ meeting also kicks off.
TRADE TOP OF MIND AS U.S. AND ASEAN MEET
Biden wanted to chart a course between former President Donald Trump’s economic nationalism and free-wheeling globalization.
But supply chain disruptions and spiraling inflation have proven that more trade doesn’t always lower prices, while out-of-control authoritarian regimes are a reminder that a rules-based order doesn’t guarantee democracy, let alone peace. The domino effects on America’s trade policy are everywhere.
Full story: “Biden’s trade team: RIP globalization.”
Among these turbulent forces, Biden’s team is trying to resurrect a trade agenda with Asian allies. He meets with ASEAN leaders this week, and will travel to Japan and South Korea in late May to formally launch a new Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, Japan’s ambassador to the U.S. Koji Tomita said on Monday.
While American allies (see below) refrain from criticizing the Biden administration’s trade approach, U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Suzanne Clark had no qualms expressing her frustration Tuesday, at a Chamber event on global trade and competition.
Referencing war in Ukraine, Clark said “the fates of democracy and free enterprise are intertwined [and] the heart of free enterprise engagement is trade.”
But “while other economies race to ink new deals” she icily noted that “the U.S. has not entered an agreement with a new trade partner in a decade. … The EU has 46 trade agreements with 78 countries. The U.S. has just 14 trade agreements with 20 countries. America needs to get back in the game.”
Britain’s Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan told Global Insider that Britain’s bid to join the CPTPP trade deal — which the U.S. helped negotiate (before withdrawing) back when it was known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership — is now in its second stage. Given the lack of progress on a U.S.-U.K. trade deal, her teams are negotiating now with individual U.S. states to remove non-tariff barriers, including efforts to agree on mutual recognition of professions and other standards.
Singapore’s Trade Minister Gan Kim Yong told Global Insider that he’s not worried about a proliferation of overlapping trade platforms in South East Asia (ranging from organizations like ASEAN, to trade deals such as CPTPP and RCEP, and the forthcoming Info-Pacific Economic Framework from the Biden administration).
Tan simply wants that “collectively these form an inclusive and rules-based system that will benefit all the participants,” including by offering a bulwark against China. He said that to be successful, Biden’s forthcoming framework should engage with non-democracies and be modular: “so that members can decide particular areas of interest to them.”
Both Trevelyan and Tan joined the Chamber in warning about the cost of economic decoupling from China. Tan said: “Decoupling is going to be very costly for everyone.”
Noting the impact of Russia’s war in Ukraine on global food security, Trevelyan previewed a statement from more than 50 countries to be launched next week at the WTO “on open and predictable trade in output from food products,” and said the lead-up to the June WTO ministerial meeting would be dominated by practical efforts to “maximize food production and ensure food security.”
NEW PODCAST EPISODE
DOES THE U.S. NEED TAKE LESSONS FROM THE EU ON REMOVING MARKET BARRIERS?
Trevelyan’s message about the U.K. negotiating for mutual recognition of standards will be music to the ears of this week’s Global Insider podcast guests — political scientists Matthias Matthijs (Johns Hopkins and Council on Foreign Relations) and Craig Parsons (University of Oregon) — who say the U.S. has been coasting for decades on market reform, and could take a leaf out of the EU’s book.
Parsons told Global Insider, “this notion of mutual recognition just really doesn’t exist in American jurisprudence and legislation. It’s a really extraordinary invention of the European single market: This principle that if you want to have relatively easy movement, across jurisdictions, you don’t necessarily have to sit down and draw up single common standards; you can have an alternative where you just all agree that anything that meets anybody’s standard is acceptable across all the jurisdictions.”
The European Union has spent 60 years tearing down commercial and migration barriers between its member countries — and yet the flow of people, goods and services between California and Texas is still much larger than between Germany and France. Matthijs and Parsons say that’s not a sign of EU failure, but instead indicates that the EU has removed regulatory barriers while failing to tear down cultural ones — leaving the continent with an underused single market.
Americans, on the other hand, are enthusiastic about working, buying and selling across state lines. And yet they face innumerable and pointless barriers — from local standards for elevators to different state hairdresser licensing rules. The payoff from U.S. state and federal governments doing some EU-style market reforms could be huge.
COVID — THE 1.6 MILLION DEATHS XI FEARS: China risks a “tsunami” of coronavirus cases resulting in 1.6 million deaths if the regime in Beijing changes its policy to live with the virus rather than crush it, according to a new study by Fudan University researchers.
That didn’t stop WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus — in a rare public criticism of Beijing — telling the country’s leadership that their “zero-Covid” approach needs to change. “We don’t think that it is sustainable considering the behavior of the virus,” told a media briefing.
HONG KONG’S NON-ELECTION ELECTION: John Lee Ka-chiu’s appointment as Hong Kong’s new chief executive signals another decisive lurch toward Beijing-driven authoritarian rule.
SANCTIONS: Atlantic Council has published a global sanctions dashboard.
FUNDING: “We are not as dumb as you might think”: In an exclusive interview, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told POLITICO’s Christopher Miller he rues U.S. delays in providing weapons. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy today thanked Speaker Nancy Pelosi for her efforts to swiftly pass funding bills. On Tuesday night, the House passed a $40 billion military aid and humanitarian assistance package and sent it to the Senate for consideration.
While the U.S. is funding the bulk of Ukraine’s defense support (to the chagrin of European commentators such as Eoin Drea), the EU expects to stuck with the bill for Ukraine’s much more expensive eventual reconstruction.
WEAPONS: Russia’s weapons lack precision, and even the better ones are running out, U.S. defense officials say.
Charles Michel, president of the European Council, was forced into a bomb shelter with Ukraine’s prime minister when Russia launched missiles at Odesa.
UNITED NATIONS: The war and U.N. reform prospects: Read this edited version of a recent lecture by International Crisis Group’s Richard Gowan.
TURKEY — TENSION OVER TURKEY’S 4 MILLION REFUGEES NEARS BOILING POINT: Turkey is home to more than 4 million refugees, most of them from Syria. But with inflation in Turkey reaching 70 percent in April, a sign of broader economic instability, “it is no coincidence that the fears over refugees are mounting,” writes Laura Pitel for the Financial Times.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is sending mixed messages. As recently as March, he was defending his policy of hosting “our Syrian brothers and sisters” and last week announced a plan to build 100,000 homes in northern Syria that he said would convince around one million Syrians to go back. Then, in a televised address Monday, Erdoğan pushed back against opposition CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who is promising to return Syrian refugees to their homeland within two years of him coming to power. “We will protect up to the end these brothers who fled the war and took refuge in our country,” Erdogan said.
SRI LANKA — PROTESTORS SEND PM’S HOME UP IN FLAMES: Protesters torched the family home of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, who resigned on Monday after weeks of anti-government protests sparked by his economic mismanagement. Rajapaska fled under military protection. His older brother, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, remains president of the country and a target of protestors.
PHILIPPINES — MINIMUM VIABLE DEMOCRACY ON THE WAY: Ferdinand Marcos Jr. won the Philippines election, proving that a family history of looting the state is no barrier to democratic success. One of the foundations of Marcos Jr.’s success: a retelling of his family’s history as a “golden era” of stability and high growth. The opposition will attempt to disqualify Marcos in a Supreme Court case. If that all sounds familiar to American readers: Yes, you have been paying attention.
Marcos should at least be more friendly to Washington than the outgoing Rodrigo Duterte administration — but it’s not clear the vibes will be returned “given the Biden administration’s focus on human rights and other governance issues,” said Charles Dunst, an associate at The Asia Group and fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
TECH — BY THE NUMBERS: The world’s largest technology companies have shed over $1 trillion in value over the past week.
WORKPLACE TREND — FOUR-DAY WORK WEEK
Are you so glued to your screens from Sunday night to Thursday night that you informally dial down on Friday?
The idea of a four-day work week isn’t new. It’s the subject of pilot programs and opinion polls that, unsurprisingly, show strong public support. Congress and the lobbying industries it supports always worked a four-day Washington week; if the actual work didn’t end on Friday, at least the D.C. focus did.
What’s different in 2022 is the type of organization taking the thinking on-board. Trends that started as “casual Fridays” are morphing from an invitation to dress down into more expansive “summer Fridays” programs, where workers at companies like IBM spend the day doing some kind of training or personal development, or simply closing their laptop at lunch.
This week, Washington’s HFX — which runs the Halifax International Security Forum — officially adopted a four-day workweek. HFX President Peter Van Praagh said “an in-person, four-day workweek now is not just possible, but desirable.”
For some managers, “in-person” is the key phrase there, not “four-day workweek.”
Are you struggling to get your staff into the office for even one or two days? Are you moving to a four-day workweek? Email [email protected] with your thoughts.
TRANSCENDING: Insider’s guide to partying and making money in the metaverse.
MISSING: Queen Elizabeth II missed the state opening of Parliament for only the third time in her reign due to “episodic mobility problems,” whatever that means. The other two times were pregnancy-related.
MOVING: South Korea’s incoming leader Yoon Suk-yeol is moving out of Seoul’s Blue House, which housed presidents for six centuries. He’s moving to an office complex in an area known for once hosting a U.S. army base. Yoon thinks the Blue House is a “symbol of imperial power” and wants to name his new office the “People’s House,” write Sam Kim and Jeong-Ho Lee.
FLYING: The airlines around the world with the most legroom in economy.
BOOK: “Undelivered,” by Biden speechwriter Jeff Nussbaum, about consequential political speeches drafted but never delivered. Nussbaum is interviewed by POLITICO’s Alex Thompson and Max Tani here.
LONG READ: How New York’s Covid war spun out of control. John Hendrickson in The Atlantic reports on the ongoing vilification and harassment that civil servants and public-health leaders are facing due to current public policies around Covid-19.
Thanks to editor Ben Pauker and producer Hannah Farrow.
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