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What We’re Watching: China vs Australia, Kashmir talks, EU’s Putin FOMO

China-Australia trade row continues: In the newest installment of the deepening row between China and Australia, Beijing has launched a complaint against Canberra at the World Trade Organization over tariffs placed on three Chinese exports: wind towers, railway wheels and stainless-steel sinks. Australia says it was caught off-guard by China's suit — the tariffs have been in place since 2014, 2015, and 2019 — and that Beijing didn't go through the regular WTO channels nor pursue bilateral talks before filing the complaint. It's the latest move in a game of tit-for-tat: last year, Beijing slapped tariffs on Australian products like wine and barley, a massive blow to Australia's export-reliant economy. Since the Chinese crackdown on Australian wine, sales have fallen from AU$1.1 billion ($840 million) to just AU$20 million, prompting Australia to recently challenge Beijing's move at the WTO. China-Australia relations have become increasingly fraught over a range of issues including trade, Chinese spying, 5G, and Australia's call for a global probe into the origins of the pandemic.

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What We’re Watching: US vaccine patent U-turn, right wins big in Madrid, Biden weighs in on Russia-Ukraine

US reverses course on vaccine patents: In a surprise move, the Biden administration will now support waiving international property rights for COVID vaccines at the World Trade Organization. Until now the US had firmly opposed waiving those patents, despite demands from developing countries led by India and South Africa to do so. Biden's about face comes just a week after he moved to free up 60 million of American-bought AstraZeneca jabs — still not approved by US regulators — for nations in need. It's not clear how fast an IP waiver would really help other countries, as the major impediments to ramping up vaccine manufacturing have more to do with logistics and supply chains than with patent protections alone. But if patent waivers do accelerate production over time, then that could accelerate a global return to normal — potentially winning the US a ton of goodwill.

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Women in power — the World Trade Organization's Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Starting a new job is always daunting. For Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who just weeks ago started a new stint as director general at the World Trade Organization, the timing could not be more trying: she is taking over the world's largest global trade body amid once-in-a-generation public health and economic crises that have emboldened protectionist inclinations around the world.

Who is Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and how has her worldview shaped her politics and policymaking?

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Texas grid shows need to fix infrastructure in US; RIP Rush Limbaugh

Ian Bremmer discusses the World In (more than) 60 Seconds:

What's happening in Texas?

Speaking of weird weather, my goodness yeah, I didn't know this was coming up here. Yeah, it's cold, right? There's snow. It looks horrible and millions of people without energy and of course that is because the level of infrastructure investment into the Texas grid is well below what it needs to be. There's a lack of integration. Texas' grid largely stands by itself. It is not under the authority of or coordinated multilaterally with broader energy infrastructure. And there has been a lot of investment into renewables in Texas. It is certainly true. They've been very interested in that. Sped up under former Governor Perry but still the vast majority of electricity is coming from fossil fuels. It's coming from coal and mostly oil and gas.

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"Fixing" US foreign policy isn't the real challenge Biden would face

Josh Rogin's Washington Post op-ed argues that Donald Trump's assault on US foreign policy could take decades to repair. But Rogin gives Trump too much credit and misses the real challenge to American global leadership. Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group analyst Jeffrey Wright use The Red Pen to keep the op-ed honest.

Today, we're taking our red pen to an op-ed from the Washington Post written by Josh Rogin, a columnist for the Global Opinions section.

The piece is called "U.S. foreign policy might be too broken for Biden to fix" it. I mean, we could start with the title--which encapsulates just how much we feel Josh overstates the damage done in the past four years and fails to recognize the resilience of US institutions in general.

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No, don’t abolish the WTO. Reform it.

Have you ever read a major op-Ed and thought to yourself, "no! no! no! That's just not right!" Us too. That's why we're launching a new series called The Red Pen, where Ian Bremmer and the crew at Eurasia Group will pick apart the argument in a major opinion piece. Right, left, Republican, Democrat, American, Global — we aren't particular. We just want to keep writers honest. This week, we take the red pen to Senator Josh Hawley's Times op-ed calling for the end of the WTO. No, Josh, killing the WTO isn't a good idea — but reforming it is. Watch the video here, and stay in the red with us!

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Amb. Cui Tiankai on coronavirus aid: "China cannot be safe" until the whole world is safe

Cui Tiankai, China's top diplomat in the U.S., says there is a lack of global coordination in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. While he praises international agencies like the World Health Organization and International Monetary Fund, Cui believes more needs to be done and for a wider swath of impacted nations. China, he says, is poised and ready to lead in aid and relief efforts on a global stage, and he urges the U.S. to also do its part.

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