GETTING BY WITHOUT HELP FROM YOUR FRIENDS?

This week, senior US, EU, and Japanese trade officials met to discuss a common strategy to tackle a common problem: China. In particular, they oppose China’s policies of giving huge subsidies to its own companies while also forcing foreign firms to share technology as the price of admission to the massive Chinese market.


From China’s perspective, a united front among the US, Europe, and Japan – which together are twice the size of China’s economy – would be a nightmare. Beijing is already facing a trade war with the Trump administration, and while that has (so far) proven manageable, Chinese officials would be under much greater pressure if China’s three largest trade partners formed a unified front.

Good news for China: that’s not likely to happen. Rather than rally US allies to his side, President Trump has threatened trade wars on all fronts: including with Japan and the EU.

In fact, just this week, he used his address to the United Nations General Assembly to trash the Iran nuclear deal and threaten retaliation against (mostly European) countries and companies that refuse to respect US sanctions. He did so over the objection of European allies France, Germany, and the UK, which have announced an agreement with Russia and China to find novel ways to evade US sanctions and undermine US dominance of the global financial system.

US relations with Japan aren’t much better. Though Japan wants good relations with Washington, it also needs pragmatic economic ties with China, its giant neighbor. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is busy beating back pressure from Trump for a US-Japan free trade agreement that Japan doesn’t want and managing US threats to impose sanctions on Japanese automobiles.

The bottom line:  EU and Japanese officials are worried about China’s expanding power, but they also need good relations with Beijing—and they worry about what Donald Trump will do next to make their lives more complicated. It will be much harder for Trump to build a unified front to force changes to economic policy in China, arguably his highest foreign-policy priority, if he continues to threaten action against everyone at once.

Kevin Sneader, global managing partner of McKinsey & Company, answers the question: Are CEOs getting real about climate change?

The answer, yes. Why? One, it's personal. Many have watched with horror the wildfires that took place recently. Others have even been evacuated. And for some, the snow set in Davos, they experienced incredibly mild temperatures that laid all to quip that climate change really has arrived. But the other reasons are a growing understanding of the nature of climate change.

More

Welcome to the eleventh parliamentary elections in Iran's 40-year history.

Want to run for a seat? You can…if you're an Iranian citizen between the ages of 30 and 75, hold a master's degree or its equivalent, have finished your military service (if you're a man), and have demonstrated a commitment to Islam. Check all these boxes, and you can ask permission to run for office.

Permission comes from the 12-member Guardian Council, a body composed of six clerics appointed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and six jurists that Khamenei appoints indirectly. If the Council says yes, you can win a seat in parliament. If they say no, you can't.

This parliament, also called the Majlis, does have real power. It approves the national budget, drafts legislation and sends it to the Guardian Council for approval, ratifies treaties, approves ministers and can question the president. The current Majlis represents a wide range of values and opinions.

More

As the head of a leading management consulting firm, global managing partner of McKinsey & Company Kevin Sneader has an inside view into the challenges facing the world's top executives. Every Thursday, Sneader will address questions about key issues like attracting and retaining talent, growing revenue, navigating change, staying ahead of the competition, and corporate responsibility – all in 60 seconds.

GZERO's Alex Kliment interviews New Yorker correspondent and author Joshua Yaffa. The two discuss Yaffa's new book, Between Two Fires, about what life is like for Russians today. They also sample some vodka at a famous Russian restaurant in NYC, of course!