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Perspectives
pic geab125 Currencies, armies, oil: Extensive repositioning of major world players

Following the removal of the last of the bolts imposed by the previous world order[1], and in line with our anticipations, vast amounts of until now restrained transforming energy are now being released along paths that have long been marked out but were previously forbidden. The challenges raised by this transition are immense, but the major global players seem to be in a position to handle – and no longer endure – this huge reconfiguration. As a matter of fact, we are beginning to see more clearly who they are and what their strategies are. This is precisely what we aim to report in this GEAB issue.

China is unveiling its economic power (as the world’s largest importer of oil), its military power (with J-20 stealth fighter planes[2], air-to-air missiles[3]) and its monetary power (with the famous petro-gold-yuan[4]). It is establishing itself worldwide, particularly in the South China Sea[5], setting up its regional security architecture whilst Western eyes are fixed (quite rightly) on the Middle East: Everyone, as they say, has their own problems! … (Register here)

Europe, on the other hand, continues its separation from the United States, with European leaders trying desperately to dig up their old European defence project. The US withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear agreement provides a perfect opportunity to assert that the US is no longer a strategic partner reliable enough for the destiny of Europe to be kept in their hands[6]… (Register here)

With respect to trade, Trump’s European steel and aluminium tariffs are likely to serve the same EU-US decoupling dynamic. But beware, they can also serve the cause of a transatlantic rear-guard, invoking the need to sign any free trade agreement with the United States to avoid those tariffs. It should not be forgotten that, just after its announcement of tariffs on steel and aluminium, the White House said that ‘agreements could be reached for permanent exemptions with Argentina, Australia and Brazil’ whereas in the cases of Europe, Canada[7] and Mexico, only a thirty-day extension of exemptions was available. If Trump did not want the TTIP, that does not necessarily mean he does not desire a free trade agreement with Europe… He just wants it on his own terms. Europe is free to accept it or not.

The African Union is gaining considerable strength, now managing to take important decisions, like, for instance, the unification of air transportation, the liberalisation of civil aviation, the 0.2% taxation on imports and the creation of a free trade area. The AU is also cooperating closely with China in the context of an industry transfer which the latter is working towards (with environmental protection issues still under negotiation)[8]. China, for reasons of efficiency, no doubt, is favourable to negotiating on an equal footing with the AU, rather than using a strong-to-weak strategy with the African ... Read