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The Geopolitics of it all


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I thought an interesting discussion for this crowd would be about where the world is going from a geopolitical standpoint. This is a really good video with Peter Zeihan. Most of the Canadian content starts at about the 41 min mark, but it's all very interesting. I'm interested in everyone's contribution to this thread.

This link has Zeihan's analysis on different areas. Know Your World - Zeihan on Geopolitics
Some thoughts - Not a lot of trust in governments or institutions in evidence

And finally

Some thoughts - Not a lot of trust in governments or institutions in evidence

And finally

Do you need another scoop of the approved government narrative ?

Mongolian government approved narrative .... ;)

Squeezed between China and Russia, Mongolia backs Ukraine​

  • The Buryats, Kalmycks, Tuvans and other marginalised minorities have been used as cannon fodder (Photo: Wikimedia)



As a democratically-elected president, I have a firm conviction in the cause of freedom, and in the power of the people, united as one, to defend it when under attack. This cause, and this faith, are now being tested on the blood-stained soil of Ukraine in a way we have not seen in many decades.
As the war in Ukraine grinds into its second year, the world's democracies must rally with even greater resolve to ensure that freedom is non-negotiable. The allied nations must give Ukraine the weapons it needs to win.
  • Former PM and ex-president Elbegdorj Tsakhia: 'I know Putin does not tolerate freedom. I have sat with him on many occasions. He despises difference, and competition, he is a deep narcissist' (Photo: Wikimedia)
Tyrants are always obsessed with their own survival and longevity in power, not the prosperity of their people. Sooner or later, dictators become desperate, servicing their corrupted web of crooks.
I know Putin does not tolerate freedom. I have sat with him on many occasions. He despises difference, and competition. He fears a free Ukraine. As a deep narcissist, he could not allow a more successful and prosperous neighbour. A free, democratic Ukraine could represent a grave danger for his regime.
The Russian aggression against Ukraine did not happen out of the blue. It was the culmination of a decades-long battle between freedom and repression.
The frontline of this war runs well beyond Ukraine's devastated battlefields. It runs through Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East. The conflict rages between humanity's best and worst instincts, between the free world and the suppressed. When Ukraine prevails, the forces of freedom will win everywhere, including in China and Russia.

Why neutral?​

Many ask why, compared to Europe, most Asian countries tend to have a neutral position on Ukraine. The answer is simple. Sadly, the continent of Asia is also full of self-proclaimed rulers. In most cases, their governments lack legitimate representation. I know first-hand how important it is to stand firm on the principles and values you believe in engaging with more powerful, assertive neighbours.
Ukrainians are fighting for that very principle, which is why our support should be global and without condition.
The Kremlin propaganda machine is in full steam, blaming Ukraine even as Russian troops commit abominable war crimes against the Ukrainian people. In truth, no one is depriving Russia but the Kremlin. No one is depleting Russia's resources and potential but the Kremlin. No one started a war of aggression but the Kremlin. Finally, no one is calling for the inevitable demise of the Kremlin but — by its actions —the Kremlin.
In starting this war of aggression and then purposely brutalizing innocent civilians, the Kremlin leadership is guilty of serious international crimes. It has had no shame in bringing devastation and suffering to the most vulnerable. To the innocent children, elders, and families. And this horror is not solely present in war-torn territories. It is also present in Russia itself.

Ethnic-minority cannon fodder​

Putin's so-called "partial" mobilisation has brought fear to Russia's most vulnerable, its ethnic minorities who have been disproportionately drafted and thrown to the frontline.
The Buryats, Kalmycks, Tuvans and other marginalised minorities have been used as cannon fodder. By local accounts, the Kremlin is committing textbook ethnic cleansing under the umbrella of a "special operation".
Under Putin's shadow, Russia's development has been set back a generation, and its politics have been frozen to the core.
The outspoken and brightest in Russia are mostly silenced. Many have fled, while the remaining brave people in Russia are still fighting against corruption and the deeply intimidating war while facing torture and jail. The world is not against the Russian people, but against the Kremlin's kleptocracy and atrocities.
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Due to its geography, squeezed between China and Russia, the government of Mongolia is forced to perform a balancing act. However, public opinion in Mongolia resolutely condemns the brutal attack against this sovereign nation.

Mongolian history​

When Adolf Hitler attacked the Soviet Union, the people of Mongolia united against this fascist invader. They showed solidarity with the Soviet people. If nomadic herders had over 100 horses, they sent more than half of their livestock to the Soviet Union. A quarter of all the horses on the Soviet frontline during World War II came from Mongolia. Mongolian gold and hard currency reserves were donated to the Soviet war effort, and meat to the front line.
When the Soviets launched a counter-offensive against German forces on the outskirts of Moscow during the bitter winter of 1941, most of the Red Army wore warm uniforms made from cattle stocks in Mongolia.
It is in this same spirit that today, the people of Mongolia stand against the Kremlin's war on Ukraine.
The West should do what the Mongols did, and act like the Mongols acted. President Zelensky is still begging for fighter jets and longer-range missiles to protect his innocent people. Ukrainians are paying the ultimate price for our freedom. They are sacrificing everything precious to them, not just to defend their sovereignty and democracy, but to restore the damaged world order.
Western leaders might have time to wait. But a wounded Ukraine has no time to wait. Those who snatched Ukrainian territories, cities, and villages are not waiting. The killers, rapists, and looters are not waiting. Putin is not waiting.
Ukraine needs wings and missiles to defeat Russia's death squads. The only path to peace is through Ukraine's victory.
Japan - UK - Italy

Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP)

UK Taiwan

Britain bending towards

Scandinavia and the North

United Kingdom, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden

You can add Poland, Czechia, Slovakia and Ukraine. - And perhaps some others.

And the Pacific

Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Canada, Mexico, Chile, Vietnam, Malaysia, Peru, and Brunei

There is a battle for the world’s operating system, and UK accession would make it more likely that those who believe in competition on the merits and systems that inter-operate on the basis of mutual recognition will win it.

Is that a game Trudeau knows how to play?

You can't always get what you want

The Northern Irish Protocol and the Windsor Framework

What about the role of the European Court of Justice?​

The oversight role of the ECJ – the subject of much opposition to the protocol from unionists – remains as the final arbiter of EU law but the EU and UK have agreed to resolve disputes that arise first within the joint structures set up under the Brexit divorce deal to address disagreements.

Any veto imposed by the UK on “the Stormont brake” can only be challenged through independent arbitration mechanisms, not the ECJ.

New text inserted into the protocol will protect specific arrangements for internal UK trade, which is subject to EU-UK arbitration rather than the jurisdiction of the ECJ.

Sunak said that, under the new deal, the “only EU law that applies in Northern Ireland under the framework is the minimum necessary to avoid a hard border with Ireland and allow Northern Irish businesses to continue accessing the EU market.”

But sometimes, you get what you need

Pacific trade deal will mean Britain can never rejoin the EU​

Partnering with the Pacific giants would be a huge win for post-Brexit Britain
SHANKER SINGHAM29 March 2023 • 7:05pm
Shanker Singham

UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor Handout photo issued by UK Parliament of the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (centre), Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab (left) and International Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London. Issue date: Wednesday October 26, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story POLITICS PMQs. Photo credit should read: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.

The deal to join the CPTPP is a triumph for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Secretary of State for Business Kemi Badenoch CREDIT: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor

When it was originally proposed that Britain join some of the world's biggest Pacific nations in a trade partnership, there were howls of derision from the cognoscenti. But it looks like this accession process is now finally in the home stretch.

The UK has been seeking to accede for some time to the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), the trade agreement consisting of eleven countries in the Pacific region, including Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Canada, Mexico, Chile, Vietnam, Malaysia, Peru, and Brunei.

Accession to the partnership would be a huge event for Brexit Britain and would not have been possible inside the European Union. Accession would mean that the UK would not be able to rejoin the EU customs union.

Since the pact requires that the UK has control over its own regulatory system, dynamic alignment of UK regulations with the EU would also not be feasible, except in those areas where EU regulation passes CPTPP muster.

There is regulation of many products, for example, that have been challenged by other countries in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) – and where WTO cases have been lost.

Since the Indo-Pacific deal requires more liberalisation in these areas than the WTO (so-called WTO-plus), the UK would not be able to simply follow EU rules as this would bring it into conflict with its new trade partners.

Accession would be a huge triumph for UK negotiators, and for the Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Business and International Trade in particular. It would mark the point at which Brexit could not be reversed.
But there are even more important reasons why this is such an important global event that goes well beyond the narrow economic benefits for the UK.

For the first time, a major G7 country has chosen to accede to a regional grouping not because it is part of that region but rather because the agreement represents the most advanced and deeply liberalising agreement based on mutual recognition, equivalence and adequacy.

Increasingly, countries are viewing the CPTPP as the alternative liberalising framework to the WTO, which maximises regulatory competition. It is also a geo-economic and geo-political grouping which has a major impact on the way global trade agreements work. Now the CPTPP is not just a regional agreement, it becomes a real challenge to the atrophied WTO system – and will, hopefully encourage that system to “wake up”.
The UK has now made a choice about whether it wants a world of regulatory harmonisation or one of regulatory competition. Competition is the most powerful force known to man to create wealth and increase productivity and economic growth.

The CPTPP is also a bulwark against Chinese market distortions that are damaging the world and provides a platform where novel approaches to these anti-competitive market distortions can be agreed by a large like-minded global group.

CPTPP+UK has equivalent economic weight to the (EU-28)-UK. If this accelerates the possibility of the US rejoining the CPTPP – after it pulled out under Donald Trump – then it would become a grouping that spans around half of the global economy.

By joining the CPTPP, Britain will strengthen the efforts to resist Xi Jinping's attempts to ensure Chinese domination of the global

There is a battle for the world’s operating system, and UK accession would make it more likely that those who believe in competition on the merits and systems that inter-operate on the basis of mutual recognition will win it.

No doubt, many will focus narrowly on the static economic modelling regarding the impact of CPTPP accession on the UK’s economy in the short term, or the impact of the UK’s accession on its defensive interests, but this is to miss the wider point about the geo-political significance of this event.

Our allies will certainly pick this up even if we don’t. They will notice that the UK is able to do lead and execute on a smart global trade strategy. It would show the UK understands its new role in the world and is prepared to act on it.

It has always been the case that trade policy is part of your wider foreign policy, not merely an accretion of narrow commercial interests or whatever businesses tell you they want.

The wider foreign policy dimensions are even more significant now, with a war on the European continent, and with Chinese market manipulation causing severe economic disruptions all over the world.

This is why UK accession is so important, and we are hopeful that the good news will emerge soon.

Shanker A Singham is chief executive of Competere, a former trade advisor to UK Secretary of State for International Trade, and an academic fellow to the Institute of Economic Affairs

You get what you need

Joint Expeditionary Force: A New Era of Military Cooperation​

29 MARCH 2023


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The Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) is a multinational defence framework designed to provide security to the High North, North Atlantic and the Baltic Sea Region as a response to global security challenges.

From a concept born from the 2010 Strategic Defence Review, the establishment of the JEF in April 2014 at the NATO Summit signalled UK Defence’s intent to improve its high readiness capability. Since then, it has shifted to ensuring the mutual security of JEF Participant Nations, by training together continuously, demonstrating interoperability, capability, and commitment to the JEF populations.

The JEF is ten-like minded northern European nations: the United Kingdom, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden. Each nation provides a key contribution to European security.

The ten nations are stronger when working together: demonstrating capability across a range of roles, increasing capacity, and complementing NATO and other European and global security arrangements.

One of the key features of the JEF is its focus on joint training and exercises. By working together, the participating nations can improve their interoperability and readiness.

The JEF has already conducted several successful exercises, from Baltic Protector in 2019 to the most recent being Exercise Joint Viking, in Norway’s High North. This was a major training exercise which allowed JEF participant nations to pool their resources, knowledge, and expertise to conduct operations.

The JEF is capable of operating in diverse environments and under different scenarios. It consists of air, land, and maritime components, with the ability to carry out joint operations and exercises across all five domains, as well as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions.

As the global security landscape continues to evolve, the JEF remains committed to working closely with its global allies to ensure a secure and stable future. The framework is a testament to the enduring strength of partnerships, and to the importance of international military cooperation in promoting Euro-Atlantic security.

As Britain leans away from Paris and Berlin I reckon Northern Ireland will become a diplomatic dead letter - with Paris, Berlin and Brussels having no way to enforce their jurisdiction.

And the Dubliners like making money of the Brits too much to make waves. Especially when the Brits keep giving them gifts like a 25% corporate tax advantage against the Irish 12%.
Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Canada, Mexico, Chile, Vietnam, Malaysia, Peru, and Brunei with UK

The Commonwealth in red and 4 of the 5 Eyes.
Britain bending towards

Scandinavia and the North
It's been interesting to watch. Back in the 00's when I was over in Europe about four times a year and when most of the former Soviet block were only PfP members you could see a natural division as between the Northern countries (Germany, the Scandinavian ones, the UK) and the Latin ones (France, Spain, Italy, Greece et all).

I expected the Baltic States and Poland of slipping into the former. I didn't expect Germany to slide away. I'm not sure its all the way yet but it seems like its losing its influence. I guess that's you get with a long term Chancellor who grew up in East Germany.

It's been interesting to watch. Back in the 00's when I was over in Europe about four times a year and when most of the former Soviet block were only PfP members you could see a natural division as between the Northern countries (Germany, the Scandinavian ones, the UK) and the Latin ones (France, Spain, Italy, Greece et all).

I expected the Baltic States and Poland of slipping into the former. I didn't expect Germany to slide away. I'm not sure its all the way yet but it seems like its losing its influence. I guess that's you get with a long term Chancellor who grew up in East Germany.

Personally I think it has more to do with spending too much time on the Champs d'Elysee. Bad influence.
Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Canada, Mexico, Chile, Vietnam, Malaysia, Peru, and Brunei with UK

The Commonwealth in red and 4 of the 5 Eyes.
…and if the US rejoins CPTPP, that will go a long way to stemming Bejing’s efforts to pivot the world from the Dollar to the Yuan..
The Guardian reports that the UK has joined the CPTPP trade agreement with Japan, Australia and Canada, among others.

Evans-Pritchard agrees with Shanker Singham on its import.

Britain’s accession to the world’s most dynamic trade pact is the end of the Rejoiner dream​

The CPTPP deal is a direct challenge to Brussels' protectionist doctrines
AMBROSE EVANS-PRITCHARD31 March 2023 • 6:00am
Ambrose Evans-Pritchard

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak quickly follows the Windsor Framework with the CPTPP deal CREDIT: Rory Arnold / No 10 Downing Street
Rishi Sunak is on a roll. The Windsor Framework begins to put Britain’s trade relations with Europe on a workable foundation, and without having to submit to European legal and political suzerainty.
Britain’s imminent accession to the Pacific free trade pact helps him finish the job. The accord instantly raises Britain’s bargaining power in dealings with the EU, and sets in motion a process that shatters a host of Rejoiner shibboleths.
“It is not about immediate trade figures: it is about the geopolitical dynamic in world trade over the next 20 or 30 years. It raises the UK’s status enormously in the global economy,” said Professor David Collins, an expert on world trade at City University.
The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) comprises Japan, Canada, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Australia, New Zealand, and Brunei. It jumps overnight to 16pc of global GDP once Britain joins, leap-frogging the combined EU.
The Pacific bloc is heading rapidly for 20pc as a string of states in the Far East and Latin America signal an intent to join, at which point it becomes a stampede. By the end of this decade it will probably be the world’s largest trading system by a wide margin, increasingly able to set the tone and rules of global commerce.
This revenge of the ‘middle powers’ demolishes the central catechism of Britain’s pro-EU trade elites: that the world is divided into three regulatory blocs – the US, EU, and China – and that the underlings must buckle under and accept the terms.

“This is a seismic event. The EU and the US fully understand the geo-economic significance of this, and are utterly shocked that it could have happened,” said Shanker Singham, a UK trade adviser and a fellow at the Institute of Economic Affairs.
“It is a wake-up call in Washington. It is now much more likely that we’ll see a US-UK bilateral trade deal, and there is going to be a chorus of calls for the US itself to join the CPTPP,” he said.

As a practical matter, UK accession kills off any likelihood that it will ever rejoin the EU customs union or single market. There will be no ‘dynamic alignment’ with EU directives. The course is set irreversibly in a different direction.
The CPTPP members have one shared objective: to make trade as smooth and easy as humanly possible, subject to basic civilised standards. It is governed by twin principles of mutual recognition and equivalence.
This is entirely at odds with EU ideology. Brussels obliges supplicants to adopt identical laws, rules, and standards – under the writ of the European Court – in order to secure access to the European market. It does not accept reciprocation as a governing principle of trade.
The EU’s neo-colonial ambitions have reached obvious limits. Its share of global GDP will drop to 14.6pc this year. It is losing roughly one percentage point every three years. Europe will remain a valuable market. Its regulatory apparatus will punch above its weight for a while yet.
Yet the EU is undergoing a slow, comfortable, economic relegation, trailing badly in the Sino-US technology arms race, and politically captured by corporate vested interests wedded to the status quo - a reflex on display over the last week as the German car industry won a (futile) reprieve for 20th century combustion engines.

“The EU’s dream of being a global regulatory superpower was never what it was cracked up to be and from now on it is going into decline. I don’t think it is going to be exporting its rules or precautionary principle for much longer,” said Prof Collins.
The tide is already receding over digital data. Japan, Singapore, and Korea are embarking on their own soft-touch regimes rather than swallowing the EU’s rule-heavy GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) – a nightmare for small business.
The CPTPP has a “trade-driven” philosophy. Its chapter on small business is designed to promote easy access to information for start-ups and hi-tech firms, rather than seeking to restrict it. The pact reduces the burden of rules of origin in cross-border commerce to the absolute minimum with self-certification and paperless trade, unlike the bureaucratic overkill of the EU’s customs regime - sheer torture for small British exporters trying to ship goods across the Channel.

The EU never delivered on free trade in services. National barriers proved intractable and Brussels failed to enforce its own laws. This was a chronic grievance for the UK as the world’s second largest exporter of services. “The CPTPP goes much further in opening up e-commerce and financial services,” said Prof Collins.

Britain’s pro-Brussels camp has always ridiculed UK’s Pacific tilt as grandstanding, an implausible attempt to put flesh on the bones of Global Britain. The Pacific is far away and the volumes are trivial. The canonical ‘gravity’ model of trade is solemnly invoked, even though it has less traction in the digital age. We are told that the CPTPP can never be a swap for lost EU trade.

But it is not intended to be a swap. It is better understood as a direct challenge to the EU’s protectionist trade doctrines. It is an attempt to assert a rival Peelite doctrine of open global trade. It is a bid to seize intellectual leadership as the paralysed World Trade Organisation enters its agonies. “There is a battle going on over the operating system for global trade. The EU is going to discover that it can’t impose its laws on other countries,” said Mr Singham.

British accession to the CPTPP matters in the international political dance. It brings added G7 heft and free-market credibility at a critical moment. Taiwan, Korea, Thailand, Uruguay, Colombia, Ecuador, and Costa Rica have either applied or talked of doing so. The Philippines and Indonesia are exploring the option. China has also applied to join, which concentrates the mind in Washington.
Xi Jinping’s China is clearly not fit for membership today. His Leninist state-capitalism breaches a requirement that private and state companies must operate on a level-playing field. Uyghur concentration camps violate the pact’s labour standards. Nevertheless, Beijing could muscle in at some point and gain a lockhold over the Pacific trading system if the US stands aloof.

The US was a key driver of the original Pacific accord (TTP) under Barack Obama. It was intended to counter China’s push for hegemony in Asia. Donald Trump made it the scarecrow of his electoral campaign in 2016 and later pulled out theatrically, inflicting enormous damage on US strategic interests in the Far East. The Democrats have since been loath to touch it, believing that it cost Hillary Clinton the presidency.
There is by now broad agreement in US foreign policy circles that walking away was a gift to China, and an unforgivable squandering of US credibility in Asia. “The US needs to learn from its TPP mistake and get its seat back at the table,” say Senators Tom Carper and John Cornyn, leaders of a bipartisan coalition in favour of revisiting the issue.

Whatever happens, the UK is about to join a large, open, dynamic free trade grouping that is open to new technology and congenial for sovereign self-governing nations under their own laws. It can look forward to a bilateral deal with the US sooner than most had supposed.
The trading arrangements that free trade Brexiteers had always hoped to see are finally taking shape. Good work Prime Minister.

As does Aussie Alexander Downer

With CPTPP, Britain is re-emerging as an economic powerhouse​

The Government has shown a real determination to make the most of the post-Brexit world, and to stand up to China
ALEXANDER DOWNER31 March 2023 • 2:30pm

The announcement that the UK is to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans Pacific Partnership is a huge achievement. It should not be underestimated. This will open up free trade between the UK and 11 economies in the Indo Pacific region. It means free trade not just with Australia and New Zealand but with countries like Japan, Canada and Mexico, as well as Singapore and Vietnam. It will in time prove transformational for the British economy.
These countries have a population of 500 million and a GDP of $9 trillion. Japan is the third largest economy in the world. Of the others, many are fast growing and progressive economies, and then there are the more traditional, stable, developed economies of Australia, Canada and Singapore.
The UK will be in a unique position. It already has a free trade agreement with the EU which may not be quite as liberal as being a member of the single market, but nevertheless gives the UK tariff and quota free access to the EU market, as well as being able to import from the EU duty-free. No country has freer trade with the EU than the UK. Add to that free trade with 500 million people in the Indo-Pacific and the UK has amongst the best trading arrangements of any country on earth.
At the moment, the UK’s trade with the CPTPP countries constitutes just 7.8 per cent of its total trade. Critics may think that is unimportant, but remember: these countries are some of the most economically dynamic on earth. It is estimated that by 2030, 65 per cent of the world’s middle-class consumers will be in the Indo Pacific region. So for the naysayers who think the CPTPP may not be important to the British economy, let me remind them that the growth on trade with those 11 economies is already running at around 8 per cent a year.

Once trade barriers are torn down, expect that trade to grow a great deal faster. And while we have no idea how well British exporters will fare in those Indo Pacific markets, the opportunities have now opened up as never before. Getting into the CPTPP is not just beneficial in the short-term, it is locking the British economy into the most economically dynamic region in the world. It constitutes a very serious investment in the future.
Added to the trade statistics, it is important to remember that UK service suppliers are already deeply integrated with the Indo Pacific region. UK service suppliers exported nearly £30 billion worth of services to CPTPP members in 2019.
Of course, membership of the CPTPP also has geo-political importance. While the return of British Armed Forces to the Indo Pacific region over the last year is significant, joining the CPTPP is the single most important step the UK has taken as part of the tilt to the Indo Pacific. Some have argued the tilt is unaffordable, and that the UK should focus on its own neighbourhood. I think this vision is wrongheaded.
By engaging with the Indo Pacific, the UK is making a serious contribution to balancing the growing power of China, both in the region and beyond. By joining the CPTPP, the UK will have the opportunity to reduce its dependency on supply chains from China. It will be possible to establish new supply chains with other countries in the Asia Pacific. At the high technology end, building further links with Japan is highly prospective. Already that is a critically important economic relationship for the UK and extending it further makes a lot of sense.
But in terms of lower cost economies, building supply chain networks with a country like Vietnam or Mexico does mean less dependency on China.
So the UK is now starting to re-emerge as a significant partner for other liberal democracies in the Indo Pacific region, as a country, which contributes to balancing China’s growing power, and as a nation which is seizing the economic opportunities from the fastest growing economic region in the world.
None of this would have been possible had the UK remained in the EU. And although we will all accept there are some disadvantages from being outside of the EU, there are also very substantial opportunities if the British government is prepared to take them. In the case of joining the CPTPP and meeting the terms of membership, the Government has shown a real determination to make the most of the post Brexit world. The long-term consequences should be very beneficial.

Alexander Downer is a former Australian foreign minister and High Commissioner to the United Kingdom. He is Chairman of Trustees at Policy Exchange

Keith Starmer tries to keep the focus on Brussels.

Politics latest news: Starmer calls for 'closer trading relationship with EU' after UK signs Indo-Pacific deal

Meanwhile Brussels (home of both the EU and NATO) tries to keep both houses in order

Despite Brexit, JEF, Finland-Sweden, Visegrad, Bucharest, French Exceptionalism, Ukraine and Turkey. And now the CPTPP.
[say this in a Anarchosyndaclistic non-Roman accent]

“Right, so other than Brexit, JEF, Finland-Sweden, Visegrad, Bucharest, French Exceptionalism, Ukraine and Turkey, what have others givens us we couldn’t get right here from Europe?” 😆
[say this in a Anarchosyndaclistic non-Roman accent]

“Right, so other than Brexit, JEF, Finland-Sweden, Visegrad, Bucharest, French Exceptionalism, Ukraine and Turkey, what have others givens us we couldn’t get right here from Europe?” 😆
soft cushions and comfy chairs?? And nothing but a cup of coffee til 11 oclock?

Are the wheels starting come off yet?

Germans supporting the Internal Combustion Engine.
German Greens putting pragmatic alliances and real fuel above saving Gaia.
The Brits scratching their heads over Net Zero, Electric Vehicles and Heat Pumps.
The Germans, Japanese and South Koreans begging for Canadian hydrocarbons.
And Joe not being able to figure out why he has to keep releasing more oil and gas to keep the price of fuel down.

Saudi crown prince’s shock power grab is catastrophic for Biden​

A geopolitical earthquake threatens to shake the West to its core
5 April 2023 • 6:00am

So much for “stability”, and so much for “strategic partnerships”.

The ramifications of Opec’s decision to slash production targets by another 1.2m barrels per day will be profound, though you wouldn’t know it from the “business as usual” responses from the White House and Riyadh following Sunday’s shock move.
Saudi Arabia said the cuts were a “precautionary measure aimed at supporting the stability of the oil market,” a statement instantly made to look ridiculous by the 8pc spike in global benchmark Brent crude when markets opened on Monday morning.
It was the steepest one-day increase in oil prices in more than a year, with West Texas Intermediate experiencing a jump of the same proportions to leave prices hovering around $85 a barrel.

(Edit: NB - as an Albertan I have to say thank you MBS)

After the sharp drop in prices following the turmoil in the banking industry, this is Saudi Arabia’s panicked attempt to install a floor to help Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (known as MBS) bankroll a series of mega-building projects at home that make HS2 look like it belongs on the set of Thomas the Tank Engine by comparison.

Under what has been dubbed MBS’s “Vision 2030” economic plan, the kingdom is constructing a $500bn (£400bn) futuristic “smart” city in the Arabian desert that it claims will be 33 times bigger than New York City and powered entirely by renewable energy, and a sprawling holiday resort the size of Belgium on 28,000 sq km of pristine land next to the Red Sea.

Still, the idea that ties between America and Saudi Arabia can still be called “a strategic partnership” in the face of this latest snub to Joe Biden, as national security spokesman John Kirby sought to claim, is even more preposterous, even if US officials were given a heads-up on the plan.
The worst that Kirby could bring himself to say was “We don’t think that production cuts are advisable at this moment, given market uncertainty – and we made that clear”, which threatens to be the understatement of the century. It is the second time in six months that the Saudis have delivered a massive diplomatic humiliation to the US president.

Last October’s production cut had followed months of intensive White House shuttle diplomacy as the US Government desperately sought to convince Riyadh to keep the taps open. But it was Biden’s excruciating fist-bump in a face-to-face meeting with MBS that will come to symbolise Washington’s spectacular underestimation of the shift in US-Saudi relations.

Biden saw the move as a grave betrayal and threatened “consequences”, though tellingly neglected to even give a flavour of what they might be. But if that dealt a severe blow to an energy-for-security alliance that has endured for nearly 80 years, then this latest rebuff must represent the death knell.

In choosing to protect oil prices, MBS has sent an unequivocal message to Washington that he intends to prioritise national interests.

America's ties with the kingdom are a dirty pact that can be traced back to a meeting between Franklin Roosevelt and the Saudi founder King Abdulaziz ibn Saud in 1945 on board the American warship USS Quincy in the Suez Canal. Roosevelt wanted oil to fuel the American war effort, and its post-war recovery; in return it promised protection.

The arrangement has survived numerous major skirmishes dating back to the 1973 oil embargo. It made it through two Gulf wars, possible Saudi links to the 9/11 terrorism attacks and more recently, the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which US intelligence agencies concluded was personally approved by MBS.

But it seems unlikely it will survive this, and it is no exaggeration to say that Biden’s presidency may ultimately struggle to do so as well.

The Saudis' power grab has left the octogenarian’s administration looking weaker than ever at a time when advisers are battling to contain fresh doubts about his health sparked by a decision to miss the King’s Coronation next month.

On the economic front, a fresh supply squeeze risks a new inflationary spiral that will be felt acutely. In a country where pump prices have long been capable of determining who holds office, the political fallout will be inescapable.

Goldman Sachs is predicting oil prices of $95 a barrel by the end of the year, and $100 a barrel by December 2024 - a disaster for a president who has repeatedly staked his presidency on gas prices being suppressed. In February, Biden promised to “work like the devil” to address high prices, a pledge at odds with an admission that he also had little understanding of what the cause was.

The damage to America’s standing on the world stage threatens to be equally catastrophic. If Biden’s critics wanted a clear sign of Washington’s waning global influence then they need look no further than Saudi Arabia’s defiance in the face of his threats.

The Saudi view of the world, and its values, has always sat more comfortably with other autocracies than Western democracies but the breakdown in relations with the US threatens to unleash a geopolitical earthquake.

As America surrenders control of the Gulf, a new Saudi-Russia-China axis is emerging that makes it harder to enforce US-led sanctions against Moscow, and for the White House to counter the rising power of an increasingly anti-Western Beijing.

Under Biden’s increasingly inward-looking administration, the US has seldom looked so weak.

Need to sell a lot more F35s and P8s to balance the books. Even as Turkey is cornering the market on cheap UAVs.

Europe must not ‘separate’ from China, warns Macron as he lands in Beijing​

French president vows to ‘proactively’ commit to a ‘commercial relationship’ as he prepares to meet counterpart Xi Jinping

ByHenry Samuel IN PARIS5 April 2023 • 5:08pm

And Macron never misses an opportunity to be "exceptional".

Europe must not “separate” from China, Emmanuel Macron warned on Wednesday as he landed in Beijing for talks with Xi Jinping on trade, diplomacy and the Ukraine conflict.
The French president’s comments come at the start of a three-day trip to China alongside European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, who last week said that Europe must “de-risk” ties with Beijing, notably by limiting Chinese access to sensitive technology.

In his speech, Mr Macron cautioned against breaking off trade or diplomatic ties with China despite differences.
“We must not disassociate ourselves, separate ourselves from China,” he said, adding that France would “commit proactively to continue to have a commercial relationship with China”.

(Edit: How is that going to work with France in the EU and the EU at sixes and nines over foreign and internal affairs - Even Ursula and Macron seem to be having difficulty singing off the same page.)

Shortly after touching down in Beijing, Mr Macron said: ”We hear increasingly loud voices expressing strong concern about the future of relations between the West and China that in some form lead to the conclusion that there is an inescapable spiral of mounting tensions.”
There was also an impression that de-coupling from the Chinese economy was already underway and that the only remaining question was over pace and intensity, he added.

Mr Macron said the process of de-risking economies does not mean not doing any business with China as the interests of France were to keep a “multipolar” world.

(And there, perhaps, you have it. In a proper EU world Ursula would have met Xi on her own. But Macron isn't ready to give up the French dream yet. - UK's accession to the CPTPP troubles the narrative of both "damaging Brexit" and "evermore Europe" - as well as the historic debate between Colbert and Adam Smith. - The only real question is: Who initiated the meeting? VdL or Macron? Did he prod her to go and take him? Or did he invite himself along as a brake?)

“Strategic autonomy does not mean autarchy,” he added.

Mr Macron’s first trip to China in four years is set to be dominated by the conflict in Ukraine, with an official from his office telling reporters he would seek to stand firm in talks with his Chinese counterpart, who he and Ms von der Leyen are due to meet on Thursday.
Mr Macron made it clear that while China could play a “major role” in finding a path to peace in the Ukraine war, Europe could not accept it offering Russia military aid.
“We have decided since the beginning of the conflict to help the victim, and we have also made it very clear that anyone helping the aggressor would be an accomplice in breach of international law,” he said.
However, Mr Macron told members of the French community earlier that France would seek to work with China “in this shared responsibility for peace and stability” in Ukraine.
“China, with its close relationship with Russia, which has been reaffirmed in recent days, can play a major role,” he said, noting Beijing’s stated opposition to the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine as well as its proposal for peace between Kyiv and Moscow.
“China's interest isn’t to have a lasting war,” he said.
Mr Macron also mentioned Vladimir Putin’s plan to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, which China opposes.
“Territorial integrity, the sovereignty of nations is part” of the Charter of the United Nations, which China affirmed, he said.
Defending those principles “means moving forward together and trying to find a path for peace”, he added.
Europe's relations with China have soured in recent years first due to a stalled investment pact in 2021 and then Beijing's refusal to condemn Russia over Ukraine.
China this year proposed a 12-point peace plan for the Ukraine crisis, which called on both sides to agree to a gradual de-escalation leading to a comprehensive ceasefire.
But the plan was largely dismissed by the West due to China's refusal to condemn Russia, and the US and Nato then said China was considering sending arms to Russia, which Beijing has denied. Suspicions deepened after Mr Xi flew to Moscow for hours of closed-door meetings with Putin last month.

With Mr Macron facing embarrassing pension protests at home, the trip also offers a chance to land some economic wins as he travels with a 50-strong business delegation, including Airbus, which is negotiating a major plane order, Alstom and nuclear giant EDF.

Musician Jean-Michel Jarre - a star in China - and his Chinese girlfriend, the acclaimed actress Gong Li, are also part of the delegation.


Also of note and basically unreported in Western media....

The Japanese broke ranks with the rest of the G7 and are buying Russian Oil at market value again.

Too bad we don't have any oil to sell Japan at market value. I understand there is no business case for west coast terminals.
Can we hope for Justin to relocate to Geneva in the near future?

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