What We're Watching: Finally, a trade deal

What We're Watching: Finally, a trade deal

Trump gets his deal – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced yesterday that Democrats will back the USMCA, the US-Mexico-Canada trade agreement that will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement. Crucially, the bill will also have support from the nation's largest labor union. This is a major political victory for President Trump, who promised he would close this deal, but it's also good for Pelosi: it shows that the Democrats' House majority can still accomplish big things even as it impeaches the president. But with the speed of the Washington news cycle these days, we're watching to see if anyone is still talking about USMCA three days after it's signed.


The end of martial law in the southern Philippines – More than two years after imposing martial law in Mindanao – the Philippines' second largest island and home to more than 90 percent of the country's more than 5 million Muslims – President Rodrigo Duterte will now lift the restrictions by year-end. The measure was originally imposed in response to the seizure by Islamic State rebels of parts of the southern city of Marawim in 2017, but rights groups criticized it as evidence of Duterte's authoritarian instincts. The Philippines' government now says the clout of armed groups in the region has diminished, but the influence of ISIS in Southeast Asia more broadly has grown in recent months, with Mindanao itself hit by a number of deadly suicide bombings.

Anguish and election in the UK – Tomorrow, voters will decide whether Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservatives will get the parliamentary majority he needs in order to push through his Brexit plan. After three years of Brexit anguish, Johnson's "Get Brexit Done" platform appears to be resonating with working class and rural voters who see Brexit as a way to revive British industry and limit immigration. His chief rival, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, is trying to talk past Brexit – which many working class Labour voters now support – toward issues of social justice and economic inequality that can also attract urban and younger voters. The fiercely anti-Brexit Liberal Democrats, for their part, are just hoping to win enough seats to deny Johnson a majority. The latest polls show Johnson with a 10 point lead over Corbyn. Oddly, the latest electoral map appears to shows cartoon character Homer Simpson in a muumuu.

What We're Reading

How China pitched Italy rightwards The migrant crisis of 2015-2016 may have contributed to the recent explosion of rightwing parties across Europe but, at least in Italy, the fuse was lit decades ago when Chinese competitors began to hollow out the country's industrial heartlands. Though Chinese immigrants have contributed a lot to the economy since then, the far-right, anti-immigrant Lega party still has a large number of formerly left-wing, working class voters in these regions. A fascinating long read from the New York Times here.

Carbon has a bad rep, but did you know it's a building block of life? As atoms evolved, carbon trapped in CO2 was freed, giving way to the creation of complex molecules that use photosynthesis to convert carbon to food. Soon after, plants, herbivores, and carnivores began populating the earth and the cycle of life began.

Learn more about how carbon created life on Earth in the second episode of Eni's Story of CO2 series.

As we enter the homestretch of the US presidential election — which is set to be the most contentious, and possibly contested, in generations — Americans are also voting on 35 seats up for grabs in a battle for the control of the Senate. The 100-member body is currently held 53-47 by the Republican Party, but many individual races are wide open, and the Democrats are confident they can flip the upper chamber of Congress.

Either way, the result will have a profound impact not only on domestic policy, but also on US foreign relations and other issues with global reach. Here are a few areas where what US senators decide reverberates well beyond American shores.

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On September 23, GZERO Media — in partnership with Microsoft and Eurasia Group — gathered global experts to discuss global recovery from the coronavirus pandemic in a livestream panel. Our panel for the discussion Crisis Response & Recovery: Reimagining while Rebuilding, included:

  • Brad Smith, President, Microsoft
  • Ian Bremmer, President and Founder, Eurasia Group & GZERO Media
  • Jeh Johnson, Partner, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP and former Secretary of Homeland Security.
  • John Frank, Vice President, UN Affairs at Microsoft
  • Susan Glasser, staff writer and Washington columnist, The New Yorker (moderator)

Special appearances by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde, and comedian/host Trevor Noah.

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Jon Lieber, who leads Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, offers insights on the Supreme Court vacancy:

Will Senate Republicans, who stopped a Supreme Court nomination in 2016, because it was too close to an election, pay a political price for the change in tactics this time around?

Not only do I think they won't pay a political price, I think in many cases, they're going to benefit. Changing the balance of power on the Supreme Court has been a career-long quest for many conservatives and many Republicans. And that's why you've seen so many of them fall in line behind the President's nomination before we even know who it is.

At this point, do Senate Democrats have any hope of stopping President Trump from filling the ninth seat on the Supreme Court?

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In a special GZERO Media livestream on global response and recovery amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Eurasia Group & GZERO Media president Ian Bremmer discussed the difference between Europe's unified approach to economic stimulus and the deeply divided and political nature of the current conversation in the US. While initial stimulus support was bipartisan, there is little chance of Democrats and Republicans coming together again ahead of the November 3 presidential election. "It's red state versus blue state. President Trump's saying that coronavirus isn't so bad if you take the blue states out. He's president of the blue states, you can't take the blue states out," Bremmer told moderator Susan Glasser of The New Yorker.

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Panel: How will the world recover from COVID-19?

UNGA Livestream