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Ari Winkleman

The Graphic Truth: Russia vs. US trade ties in Africa

On the one-year anniversary of Russia’s war in Ukraine, the UN General Assembly last week held a vote calling on Russian troops to leave Ukrainian territory. Those who opposed the resolution included the usual suspects that have aligned themselves closely with the Kremlin like Syria and Belarus, as well as Eritrea and Mali, which have close links to the Russian military.

Perhaps more interesting, however, is a look at those countries that abstained in a bid to reinforce their neutrality. Crucially, most of last week’s abstentions came from African states, which can be seen as a reflection of Russia’s growing political and economic clout in the region. But a look at bilateral trade relations between these African nations with Russia and the US, separately, shows that in most cases, two-way trade in goods with the US is way more lucrative.

Indeed, this suggests that Russia’s political leverage across the continent is multifarious. It comes from Russia’s vast reserves of oil, wheat and fertilizer — as well as its position in the global weapons trade, accounting for around half of all arms exports to Africa. We take a look at two-way trade between African states that abstained from the recent UN vote with the US and Russia, respectively.
Will Europe Respond to US Protectionism With a "War of Subsidies"? | Europe In :60 | GZERO Media

US protectionism could trigger "war of subsidies" with Europe

Carl Bildt reporting from the 2023 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

What's happening in Davos from the European point of view?

I think there are two issues that are discussed quite broadly.

The one is what's going to be the European response, their response, to what's happening in the US with these massive subsidies and slight protectionist tendencies of evolving industrial policy? Is there going to be a European response of the same sort? There's a danger there, in my opinion, of a war of subsidies across the Atlantic that is going to be to the detriment of both the US and the European economies over time. But that's the big issue.

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Paige Fusco

The Graphic Truth: Who trades with Taiwan?

China and Taiwan are longtime foes: Beijing is committed to reunifying the island with the rest of mainland China, while Taipei desperately wants to retain its self-governance. And in recent days, Beijing has demonstrated its willingness to use military force to safeguard its national security interests. Despite the bad blood, Taiwan and China are closely intertwined, maintaining robust trade and people-to-people ties. Beijing remains Taipei’s largest trade partner by far, accounting for nearly one-third of all Taiwan’s exports. It’s for this reason that recently imposed economic sanctions on Taiwan by China stand to really hurt the self-governing island.

Paige Fusco

The Graphic Truth: Russia-Iran trade rebounds

The leaders of Russia, Iran, and Turkey recently met in Tehran, where they portrayed their countries as great friends. Not only were Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Raisi in agreement on many things — such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — but they signed a $40 billion deal to develop future oil and gas projects jointly. We look at trade numbers between the two to see just how strong their friendship really is. As it turns out, the commitment is real: the Russia-Iran trade balance more than tripled between 2020 and 2021.

Annie Gugliotta

What do the Americas want from America?

On Wednesday, US President Joe Biden travels to Los Angeles to host the sixth Summit of the Americas, a gathering of leaders from, well, the Americas. But so far the event has gotten more chatter about who isn’t showing up, the light agenda, and doubts over whether it’ll accomplish anything after decades of US neglect and mutual mistrust.

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Taiwan and US flags are placed for a meeting in Taipei.

REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

What We’re Watching: Trading with Taiwan, Türkiye talk, battered Boric

Washington & Taipei launch new trade deal

The US and Taiwan just unveiled a new trade initiative to expand cooperation across a number of sectors, including agriculture, tech, and labor regulation, among others. Taipei sees the pact as a precursor to an eventual free trade deal. For Washington, this is the latest initiative to come from its strong Asia focus in recent weeks. Just days ago, President Joe Biden launched the Indo-Pacific Regional Framework, a trade deal with 13 states – including regional heavyweights India, Japan, Australia, South Korea, and some Pacific islands – in a bid to counter China’s regional clout. (Taiwan was not invited to that deal to avoid really irking Beijing.) The US wants to address technology trade with Taiwan, specifically semiconductor production. The self-governing island produces more than 90% of the world’s semiconductors, which power the device you’re reading this on and have been in short supply thanks to the pandemic’s distribution and production disruptions. Washington would love to help prop up Taiwan’s semiconductor industry to block China from getting a bigger piece of the global tech pie. Beijing, obviously not thrilled, called on Washington to “stop elevating relations with Taiwan,” which it sees as part of the mainland.

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Joe Biden speaks during a joint news conference with South Korean President Yoon Suk-youl in Seoul.

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

In Asia to fix imbalance, Biden talks both guns and butter

In his first presidential trip to Asia, where he is visiting South Korea and Japan as well as huddling with Quad partners, Joe Biden isn’t expected to sign any major trade deals or defense agreements. But America’s commander-in-chief is going to be in China’s neighborhood, shoring up new and old alliances in the region, reminding Beijing that checking the PRC is very much on Washington’s agenda, despite the administration’s attention being taken up by domestic politics and the war in Ukraine.

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A Belarusian soldier during a shooting exercise.

EYEPRESS via Reuters Connect

What We’re Watching: War spillovers, Biden bolstering allies, Modi’s free-trade rethink, Russian defection

Ukraine war spillover

As President Joe Biden meets with EU and NATO leaders this week, they’ll be talking about how best to prevent the war in Ukraine from spilling across borders. But Russia’s President Vladimir Putin will have much to say about that, particularly as he tries to punish Ukraine’s Western backers for making the Russian military’s job in Ukraine much tougher and for waging war on Russia’s economy via sanctions. On Wednesday, Putin announced that “unfriendly countries” that want to buy Russian natural gas must pay for it in rubles. That would force Europeans hungry for Russian energy to boost Russia’s sagging currency, which would help Putin finance his war in Ukraine. There is already much behind-the-scenes discussion in Europe on how to avoid that problem.

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