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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.

Khant Thaw Htoo is a young engineer who works in Eni's Sakura Tower office in the heart of Yangon. As an HSE engineer, he monitors the safety and environmental impact of onshore and offshore operations. He also looks out for his parents' well-being, in keeping with Myanmar's traditions.

Learn more about Khant in the final episode of the Faces of Eni series, which focuses on Eni's employees around the world.

On his first day as president, Joe Biden signed a remarkable series of executive orders. Boom! The US rejoins the Paris Climate Accord. Bang! The United States rejoins the World Health Organization. Pow! No more ban on immigration from many Muslim-majority countries. Biden's press secretary reminded reporters later in the day that all these orders merely begin complex processes that take time, but the impact is still dramatic.

If you lead a country allied with the US, or you're simply hoping for some specific commitment or clear and credible statement of purpose from the US government, you might feel a little dizzy today. The sight of an American president (Barack Obama) signing his name, of the next president (Donald Trump) erasing that name from the same legislation/bill, and then the following president (Biden) signing it back into law again will raise deep concerns over the long-term reliability of the world's still-most-powerful nation.

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"There needs to be a dramatic and deep reduction in the amount of debt on the poorest countries. That's clear." As the world's poorest nations struggle to recover from a devastating pandemic, World Bank President David Malpass argues that freeing them of much of their debt will be key. His conversation with Ian Bremmer is part of the latest episode of GZERO World.

Listen: Renowned tech journalist Kara Swisher has no qualms about saying that social media companies bear responsibility for the January 6th pro-Trump riots at the Capitol and will likely be complicit in the civil unrest that may continue well into Biden's presidency. It's no surprise, she argues, that the online rage that platforms like Facebook and Twitter intentionally foment translated into real-life violence. But if Silicon Valley's current role in our national discourse is untenable, how can the US government rein it in? That, it turns out, is a bit more complicated. Swisher joins Ian Bremmer on our podcast.

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

Biden's first scheduled call with a world leader will be with Canada's Justin Trudeau. What's going on with the Keystone Pipeline?

Well, Biden said that that's it. Executive order, one of the first is that he will stop any construction or development of the Keystone Pipeline. This is of course an oil pipeline that would allow further oil sands oil to come to the United States. The infrastructure is significantly overstretched, it's led to backlogs, inefficiency, accidents, all the rest, but it also facilitates more energy development and keeps prices comparatively down if you get it done. So, there are lots of reasons why the energy sector in Canada wants it. Having said all of that, Trudeau, even though he's been a supporter of Keystone XL, let's keep in mind that he did not win support in Alberta, which is where the big energy patch in Canada is located. This is a real problem for the government of Alberta, Canada is a very decentralized federal government, even more so than the United States. The premier of Alberta is immensely unhappy with Biden right now, they've taken a $1.5 billion equity stake in the project. I expect there will actually be litigation against the United States by the government of Alberta. But Trudeau is quite happy with Biden, his relationship was Trump was always walking on eggshells. The USMCA in negotiations ultimately successful but were very challenging for the Canadians, so too with the way Trump engaged in relations on China. All of this, the fact that Trump left the nuclear agreement with Iran, the Paris Climate Accords, WHO, all of that is stuff that Trudeau strongly opposed. He's going to be much more comfortable with this relationship. He's delighted that the first call from Biden is to him. And it certainly creates a level of normalcy in the US-Canada relationship that is very much appreciated by our neighbors to the North.

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The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

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