Jean-Claude Juncker said he was “crystal clear” there will be no renegotiation of the Brexit deal, despite claims from several candidates in the U.K. Conservative leadership race that they will reopen talks with Brussels.
The European Commission president will meet Theresa May, who will be replaced as prime minister when a new Tory leader is elected this summer, ahead of an EU summit in Brussels on Tuesday evening.
Arriving at the summit, where leaders, including May, will discuss the European election results and begin the process of choosing the next European Council and Commission presidents, Juncker said his view on Brexit and the Withdrawal Agreement was unchanged: “There will be no renegotiation.”
Meanwhile Luxembourg’s prime minister Xavier Bettel told the BBC that a renegotiation under a new British prime minister was “not how it’s going to work.”
Several contenders to succeed May have indicated they will seek to renegotiate. Brexiteer figurehead Boris Johnson has written in the Telegraph about striking “a good bargain” with Brussels, while keeping the option of no-deal on the table, while Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, told BBC Radio 4’s Today program on Tuesday that he wanted to form a new negotiating team including Brexiteer MPs, and the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party to renegotiate the Irish backstop plan.
Former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, who is also planning to run for the leadership, has said he will “fight for a fairer deal in Brussels with negotiations to change the backstop arrangements.”
Arriving in Brussels, May herself said that Brexit was now “a matter for my successor” but warned that the next prime minister would have to “find a way of addressing the very strongly held views on both sides of this issue, and to do that and get a majority in parliament.” The task, she said would require “compromise,” reiterating her view that the government should strive for a deal with the EU.
Asked whether she would play a role in selecting the new European Council and Commission presidents, May said the U.K would “continue to play a constructive role during the time of this extension of Article 50.”
Threats to the global economy do not come much bigger than a trade war. Tariffs helped turn a stock market crisis and recession into the Great Depression back in the 1930s, scarring the world economy for decades to come.
The key lesson for the best part of the past century was that prosperity flows when borders are open to trade.
So far the trade spat between the US and China has not tipped the world into crisis. That is not guaranteed to continue: IMF chief Christine Lagarde this week warned it is “a threat for the global economy.”
The trade war started at a time of strong economic growth, and central banks around the world have responded with economic stimulus measures, dampening the conflict’s impact.
However, global growth has weakened since then and the current fragile stability could let much of the world avoid a recession, if there are no more shocks.
Yet that could change this week. After months of negotiations, the US looks set to raise more tariffs on Chinese imports.
It took markets by surprise – investors had grown used to the idea a deal was on the table.
Donald Trump smashed that complacency with tweets promising the 10pc tax on $200m of imports will rise to 25pc on Friday.
“$325bn additional goods sent to us by China remain untaxed, but will be shortly, at a rate of 25%,” wrote the US President.
“The Tariffs paid to the USA have had little impact on product cost, mostly borne by China. The Trade Deal with China continues, but too slowly, as they attempt to renegotiate. No!”
This misses a key point: the tax is paid by American consumers of those imports, not by the Chinese. But nonetheless, the message was clear: negotiations have failed and taxes are going up.
Wall Street tumbled in response, while China’s stock markets also fell hard.
Perhaps it is a negotiating ruse designed the shake Beijing’s team, including Vice-Premier Liu He, into folding, but Trump’s threats could easily take effect on Friday.
Now leaks have emerged indicating the Chinese have also played hardball. It pulled back from prior commitments to address US concerns on intellectual property, technology transfers, competition policy, foreign exchange intervention and access to financial services, according to sources quoted by Reuters.
That indicates the two sides are far from a deal.
China warned it will retaliate on any extra tariffs in a sign an escalation of the trade war is a real possibility.
Economists are split on the chances of an agreement taking place to avert another big rise in taxes, indicating the extent of uncertainty over the next step in the trade war.
“Call us wishful thinkers, but evaluating Trump’s latest threat in the context of all the other facts on the table has left us exactly where we started – with the belief that the two sides are motivated to close a deal,” says David Woo at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
He believes no “new deal-breakers” have emerged, with China’s flexibility a sign a deal can be done. He also sees Trump’s tough stance as a last-minute negotiating tactic designed to hasten a deal and prove to the public that it is as good an agreement as possible.
On top of that Woo sees China as vulnerable and so in need of a deal, while Nafta talks “provides some assurance to us that he [Trump] values a deal more than getting everything he wants”.
By contrast, Iris Pang at ING is much more sceptical: “I don’t think the US is going to accept China’s ‘new terms’ in any draft deal. So tariffs from US will increase and China will retaliate by imposing an additional 25pc tariffs on $200bn of goods.”
She foresees a longer-term negotiation kicking off. “The more interesting issue we are watching for is what are the ‘new terms’ that China wants from the US, and what are the ‘discussed terms’ that China wants to renegotiate. This information will be useful to evaluate how long further renegotiations will be needed, and how difficult an ongoing negotiation will be,” says Pang.Subscribe now for unlimited access to our Premium content
Jan Hatzius at Goldman Sachs is in the middle, giving a 40pc chance of the increase taking effect on Friday.
“This announcement clearly reintroduces the risk of further tariff escalation, which seemed very unlikely over the last couple of months,” but the arrival of a large delegation from China “would indicate that they believe a deal is still reasonably likely”.
He notes that the legislative process to hike tariffs is already complete. The President can raise or cut the taxes relatively quickly now, allowing the US more flexibility, showing the results of progress or impasse with ease.
The implications of a wave of new taxes are serious indeed if it becomes a long-term clash.
“Although there are risks … a sustained and/or intensified trade war that would lead to global financial implosion, we do not regard [this] risk as either imminent or systemic,” says Willem Buiter at Citi.
UBS estimates global growth would be hit by about 0.45 percentage points, with a potential fall in global stock markets of close to 10pc.
The US economy is relatively closed – exports amount to less than one-tenth of its GDP. In contrast, economies across Europe are much more open and therefore likely to be more vulnerable to trade disruption.
Germany, for example, is a key customer of China, selling industrial goods to the world’s second-largest economy. As China suffers, so does Germany, and then Germany’s trading partners.
German industry has only just escaped a recession caused in part by a dip in demand from China. It is no leap of the imagination to see a renewed trade war ramping up the pressure on the eurozone’s industrial powerhouse.
On top of the harm already caused, China’s response was to stimulate the economy with more debt and easier financial conditions.
The Bank of England fears those mounting debts are a threat to financial stability, which could become unsustainable if economic growth slows sharply.
If the trade war flares up, watch out for a chain reaction across much of the world.
A quarter of a century ago, in Rwanda, you stood a higher chance of getting flowing blood instead of running water if you opened a tap. That is, of course, if you were in one of the few areas that had access to piped water infrastructure. Elsewhere, poverty, pain and disease festered and the horror of death lurked, awaiting to claim the next victim. And there were many of them! Many stories of the suffering endured during this period are yet to be told in full, and many more will never be told in full for they bring into question the entire concept of humanity itself.
Regardless, a quarter of a century ago, a people decided to defy death, took a stance against an ongoing genocide and fought for freedom, dignity and prosperity. The Rwanda that is familiar in popular imagination today – environmentally clean, economically growing and politically stable – is the result of the sum of all the people who have chosen to be makers of their own history, not bystanders singing redemption songs to a selfish and disinterested international audience. It is a country that has vowed to never again go through the pain and suffering it did, losing over one million lives to ethnic chauvinism. It is also a country that, in building the future it desires, has come under severe criticism at best, and under serious attacks, some of which are – in fact – a threat to national security.
In building the new Rwanda in the aftermath of a horrific genocide, certain adjustments have had to be made resulting in a lot of people who previously enjoyed various privileges and the exercise of unaccountable power either being brought to justice or, fleeing the country altogether, turning themselves into fugitives from justice. Historically, the loss of unaccountable power and excessive privilege, especially in the political arena, has often inspired fightbacks aimed at regaining such power and consequently, privileges. In the case of Rwanda, after 1994, the fightback has also included even those who fought against the genocide but only with the intentions of removing, from power, the perpetrators so that they could replace them without fundamentally changing the order that had encouraged and empowered ethnic chauvinism. In doing so, they have refused to be subjected to public accountability – one of the founding values of a new Rwanda – and they have attempted to use their positions of power, and historical role in fighting the genocide to refuse being questioned by the people they claim to have liberated. Most of them have since coalesced under the banner of the RNC.
The RNC was formed in December 2010 in Washington DC by General Kayumba Nyamwasa, Colonel Patrick Karegeya, Theogene Rudasingwa, and Gerald Gahima (Mr. Karegeya’s January 2014 murder in South Africa remains unsolved). These four men were senior military and political leaders of the RPF until they fled Rwanda between 2004 and 2010, and as such played important roles in creating the post-genocide order they now want to see overthrown. They claim they fled Rwanda to escape persecution for legitimate policy dissent. There does not appear to be any evidence of this beyond their own claims. The Rwandan government has long asserted they fled to avoid being held accountable for corrupt activities. This goes unmentioned in the documentary flighted on BBC. But this is only its least egregious silence about the RNC.
The RNC entered into a formal and open alliance with the Unified Democratic Forces (FDU) and is concentrated in Western Europe, with branches in North America and Africa.
The FDU coalition’s core party, the Republican Rally for Democracy in Rwanda (RDR), was established in spring 1995 in eastern Congo (then Zaire) by the fugitive military leaders of the 1994 genocide, to replace the “interim government” which had just carried out the genocide. Several of the RDR’s founding leaders have since been convicted of genocide by the UN’s International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and several of its current leaders are the subjects of Interpol warrants based on Rwandan genocide charges. UN experts have documented supportive links between the FDU and the FDLR. The President of both the FDU and the RDR, Victoire Ingabire, has been convicted in open Rwandan court on charges of genocide denial as well as subversion related to her ties with the FDLR and her plans to create an armed group of her own.
The ideology and goals of the FDU, like those of the FDLR, demonstrate continued loyalty to the Hutu Power coalition which perpetrated the 1994 genocide. Of itself, the RNC’s alliance with the FDU demonstrates a complete lack of scruples. But there is more. The RNC is reported, largely in Rwandan and other African media but also in several UN reports on the Congo, to have its own ties to the FDLR and allied armed groups in Congo. These reported ties include meetings with FDLR leaders in eastern Congo, Tanzania and South Africa, and, as documented by UN experts, a significant volume of telephone communication between the RNC and FDLR as well as the provision of money and communication equipment to an FDLR faction by an RNC coalition partner, General Emmanuel Habyarimana, resident in Switzerland.
Finally, the government of Rwanda has since 2010 named the RNC as a leading organizer, along with the FDLR, of the recurrent grenade attacks in different parts of Rwanda which have killed and maimed scores of Rwandan civilians, as well as two recent assassination plots aimed at the present Rwandan leadership. All this can be summarised as a direct threat to Rwanda’s national security, peace and stability.
As Rwanda’s profile grows, and as the country takes up various positions of responsibility within numerous pan-African institutions such as the African Union (AU) and EAC, the attempts at destabilisation are likely to escalate. If not countered, they may pose significant threats not just to Rwanda itself but to several countries as well. It is, therefore, imperative that all peace loving Africans pay proper attention to outfits such as the RNC, who harbour aspirations of promoting violence and the destruction of democratic institutions by mobilising and emphasizing ethnic difference while disregarding popular democratic will. Africa should not entertain such bigotry and chauvinism in the name of democracy because such aspirations are opposed to democratic culture. On its part, Rwanda has to continue sticking to principles of democracy by ensuring that the space for political participation remains open while putting in place national security mechanisms that can prevent the country from sliding into its horrific past. Hence the timing of the “Inquest” is because the prosecution couldn’t provide any proof to link Rwanda Government, this is now a desperate attempt to drag the case and make Rwanda look guilty in court of public opinion!
It has been a lot of work to get Rwanda to the place it is today, 25 years after the genocide. Key parts of this work have only been possible because of pan-Africanism – a cherished value in Rwanda after 1994 – and it is important that these bonds are strengthened in fighting against all those who do not share in the vision of a united, peaceful, democratic and prosperous Africa. If Rwanda is the contemporary model for African development, then its stability must be prioritised by all.
Ali Naka is a practicing Pan Africanist.
The African Union agreed last year to create a free trade zone on the continent, the largest since the World Trade Organization was formed.
MEDIA FREEDOM – ETHIOPIA> “Generally I’m against the involvement of the government in enacting any kind of laws,” he said. “As we’ve seen, the government can infringe on the rights of individuals using laws such as the 2009 Anti-terrorism proclamation”Ethiopian journalist Elias Meseret,
On Tuesday, Gambia became the 22nd country to ratify the accord, reaching the threshold for it to be implemented. It’s hoped the deal will reduce tariffs and trade rules, and create jobs for a market of 1.2 billion people. But Africa’s largest economy, Nigeria, isn’t on board with the agreement. So will the deal succeed?