The Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) stands for 55% of global trade, 60% of global GDP, 60% of the world’s population, 65% of global production, and 75% of global tourism. Figures such as these are published every two years on the occasion of the biennial ASEM summit, but in and of themselves they say very little.
With US President Donald Trump apparently hell bent on upending global rules, can Europe and Asia join forces to shore up a rapidly weakening multilateral order? New initiatives unveiled by the European Commission for revamping the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and setting governance standards for transport, energy and digital connectivity offer opportunities for more joint Europe-Asian action.
The state of relations between Europe and China on the issue of bilateral direct investments has recently become more and more delicate. Precisely since the end of 2017, which marked a milestone in Europe-China economic relations. For the first time ever, Chinese direct investment flows exceeded their German counterparts, traditionally the largest European investors in the Middle Kingdom.
Since the beginning of trade tensions with the US, Beijing intensified its outreach to Europe in search for allies. In a ‘charm offensive’, China showed goodwill by suggesting it would make economic and political concessions. Particularly, it addressed issues of reciprocity, i.e. EU requests to have equal access to the Chinese market as Chinese investors and State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) do in Europe, and Europe’s concerns over Chinese initiatives undermining EU unity and rules.
In NATO's Southern flank, the general picture is quite bleak. There is a general failure of governance as the Eastern Mediterranean and its adjoining regions remain an extremely turbulent and unstable neighborhood, where the security environment continues to be "Hobbesian".
The Middle East rarely plays a central role in NATO summits and the coming one, convened in Brussels on 11 and 12 July, will be no exception. Given the current diplomatic environment, the Brussels Summit will be primarily about reassuring the international community that transatlantic ties (whatever happens with regards to the nuclear deal with Iran, or the emerging trade war between the US and Europe) still translate into a strong NATO.
On June 8 and 9, the leaders of the G7 countries have met in Canada for their 44th annual summit. For decades, the summit has offered an opportunity for representatives of democratic, economically-advanced countries to reaffirm their commitment to a free and liberal world.
This year’s G7 may mark a new milestone on the declining path of multilateralism. Despite all efforts by Mr. Trudeau, a strong supporter of multilateralism, the Canadian G7 Summit will likely achieve a very mild and short-sighted Final Declaration, if any. Just a few days before the Summit, President Trump announced his decision to let tariff exemptions expire, de facto imposing tariffs on all the other six G7 members.
In 2018 global governance will be importantly shaped by the summits of the two global institutions centrally responsible for this task. The first is that of the Group of Seven (G7) major economically advanced democracies, to be hosted by Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau in Charlevoix, Canada, on June 8-9. The second is that of the Group of Twenty (G20) systemically significant countries, to be hosted by Argentinian president Mauricio Macri in Buenos Aires on November 30 and December 1.
The increased protectionist turn taken by the United States, including steel and aluminium tariffs levied against the EU and other countries and a potential trade war with China, comes at an awkward time for the United Kingdom. While the United Kingdom is negotiating its exit from the European Union, it still remains within the EU and its customs union and so is dependent on the EU to negotiate on its behalf.