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.

That's Bank of America's new target in its Environmental Business Initiative in order to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon, sustainable economy.

Here's how it will drive innovation to address climate change.

On Tuesday, a major US intelligence report said the top threat to America right now is China. A day later, John Kerry, the Biden administration's "climate czar," got on a plane to... China.

Such is the drama of ties between the world's two largest economies these days.

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More than a dozen COVID-19 vaccines have been fully approved or are currently in early use globally, and COVAX, the global initiative started last year by the World Health Organization and other partners, is pushing for equitable access to vaccines for all. But most of the half billion jabs given so far have gone to citizens of wealthy countries, with half going to the US and China alone. What's the problem with so-called vaccine nationalism? Ian Bremmer explains that besides the clear humanitarian concerns, the continued global spread of COVID increases the risk of new mutations and variants that can threaten the entire world, vaccinated or not.

Watch the episode: Vaccine nationalism could prolong the pandemic

Should wealthy individuals and nations shoulder more of the burden in addressing climate change? Pulitzer Prize-winning climate journalist Elizabeth Kolbert argues that Big Tech leaders like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk should shift more of their focus to fighting for our own planet's survival, instead of space exploration. "We're doing as much as we can to make life difficult on planet Earth for ourselves. But there's virtually nothing we could do to make it as difficult as life on Mars, where there's, among other things, no oxygen." Kolbert, the author of Under a White Sky, discusses why it's so crucial for a few rich countries to bear most of the climate burden, since they're also the biggest emitters. Her conversation with Ian Bremmer is featured in the upcoming episode of GZERO World, airing on US public television stations starting this Friday, April 16. Check local listings.

In recent days, Northern Ireland has seen some of its worst street violence in over a decade. The anger has subsided a bit this week, but post-Brexit fears leave many uncertain about their future in a deeply divided land with a long history of political violence between Irish republicans and UK unionists.

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Fighting climate change is about making the planet get less hot. The more quickly countries slow down their carbon emissions, the faster that'll happen. All the more important for the nations that pollute the most — but not all of them are on board. Although the majority, including China, are setting future targets to go Net Zero, India doesn't want to commit (yet) to when to stop burning fossil fuels to spur economic growth. We take a look at when the world's top polluting economies intend to go carbon-neutral, compared with their share of global emissions, of renewable energy as a source of electricity, and percentage of global coal consumption.

Peruvian runoff: Perú's presidential election is going to a runoff in June between two surprise and polarizing contenders, each of whom won less than 20 percent of votes in a highly fragmented first round. Pedro Castillo, a far-left union leader and teacher who benefited from a late surge in the polls, will battle rightwing populist Keiko Fujimori, daughter of the country's imprisoned former strongman. Castillo wants to rewrite the constitution to weaken the political influence of the country's business elite and maybe to allow the state to nationalize parts of the mining sector to pay for social programs for the poor. Fujimori wants to use mining revenues to create jobs by investing in infrastructure and healthcare. The runoff will probably be a national referendum on Fujimori, a divisive figure running for the top job for the third time. No Peruvian president has ever left office without facing corruption charges, but Fujimori already faces several — and she'll avoid jail time if she wins.

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900 million: Egypt has impounded the Ever Given, the ship that recently blocked the Suez Canal for almost a week, until its owners pay some $900 million in compensation for losses and the cost of the rescue operation. The blockage of this major naval chokepoint caused severe disruption to the global maritime shipping industry.

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