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Mogherini

Mogherini visit deepens EU-Asia relations

12 August 2018

Federica Mogherini spent the first half of August on a major diplomatic effort to deepen EU-Asia relations. After attending the Asean regional forum (ARF) in Singapore, and holding more than a dozen bilateral meetings, she visited Korea, followed by New Zealand and Australia.

Although she has had to spend huge amounts of time trying to save the Iran nuclear deal, Mogherini understands how important Asia is for European prosperity. The Asia-Pacific is the EU's biggest trade partner, with some €1.5 trillion in two-way trade in 2017 and over €800 billion of European FDI going to Asia in 2016. All projects show that these figures are likely to increase in coming years.

If the EU interest is clear, Mogherini’s visit also reflects a growing Asian interest in strengthening ties with the EU which is now viewed as a stable and predictable actor, compared to the uncertainty that characterises the US under Trump. The constant refrain from all Asian leaders in recent months is that they do not wish to see the current rules-based international system destroyed.

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Imran Khan

Imran Khan wins Pakistan Elections

30 July 2018

 

Former cricketer Imran Khan, whose PTI party won more seats than other parties in the 25 July elections, is on course to be the next PM of Pakistan. The second party, the PML-N, led by former PM Sharif, had alleged vote-rigging but said the outcome of elections would be accepted ‘for the sake of democracy.’ There now seems, however, some doubt on this commitment leaving the final outcome uncertain.

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EU-China Summit

EU Summits with China and Japan

23 July 2018

EU leaders took part in two important summits in Beijing and Tokyo in mid-July. In Beijing, Tusk and Juncker met with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Kequiang to review the international scene as well as bilateral relations. Both the EU and China have been buffeted by the imposition of US tariffs and a sense of unease due to the unpredictable nature of President Trump.

The top priority was discussions on how to save the multilateral system. Following a recent visit by Vice President Katainen, who also attended the summit, the two sides have established a working group on the future of the WTO, including how to tackle the sensitive issue of industrial subsidies.  China’s over-capacity in steel production remains a difficult issue. Leaders discussed how to take these issues forward in light of Trump’s assault on the global trading system. 

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mogherini and swarm

EU-India Ministerial

9 July 2018

Mogherini meets Sushma Swaraj

Federica Mogherini met with Sushma Swaraj, Minister of External Affairs of India, on 9 July. The meeting focused on latest developments in the EU-India Strategic Partnership. Progress was noted on energy and climate change, the environment, ICT, transport, research and innovation, as well as space with the signature of the Agreement on Earth Observation Data Exchange in March 2018. 

Mogherini informed Ms Swaraj about the forthcoming Communications on EU-India relations and on EU-Asia connectivity. There was a short exchange on trade and investment flows but both noted that little progress had been made on the FTA negotiations. Mogherini outlined the new EU data protection regime.

Apart from counterterrorism, cybercrime and maritime security, the talks covered Myanmar (the situation of the Rohingya), Afghanistan, the Maldives, the importance of preserving the JCPOA with Iran, and the DPRK.

Prior to the meeting, Mogherini and Minister Swaraj opened the photography exhibition "New Homelands: The Indian Diaspora in the European Union" which is on display at the EEAS.

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Malmstrom and Turnbull

EU opens FTA talks with Australia and New Zealand

25 June 2018

EU Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström visited Australia and New Zealand last week to start negotiations on a free trade agreement with both countries. Malmström said that the FTAs were part of the EU’s global trade strategy and would build on the successes of recent agreements with Japan, Canada, Mexico, Singapore and Vietnam.

In Australia, Malmström met with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Trade Minister Steven Ciobo, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and David Littleproud, the Minister for Agriculture. Both sides looked forward to a swift agreement aimed at removing barriers to trade in goods and services, as well as developing trade rules to make trade easier and more sustainable.

In New Zealand, Malmström opened the FTA talks with the Minister for Trade David Parker and also met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters, as well as with the Parliamentary Select Committee on Foreign Affairs.

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EUAC opens office in Xi'an

EU Asia Centre opens office in Xi'an

25 June 2018

The EU Asia Centre has opened an office in Xi'an International Studies University. At the opening ceremony on 21 June, Wang Junzhe, President of the university, said that he looked forward to cooperating with the Centre in promoting research on EU-China relations as well as educational and cultural visits and exchanges. The presence of the Centre on campus would also be a boost for students seeking more information about the EU.

 

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Historic Summit with Weak Outcome

Historic Summit with Weak Outcome

12 June 2018

President Trump has met with DPRK President Kim Jong-un in Singapore for a historic summit. Just months after the two leaders exchanged insults, Trump said he was ‘honoured’ to meet the ‘talented’ President Kim, a marked contrast to how the US President behaved towards Canada and European allies in Quebec.

In a much hyped summit, the two leaders signed a declaration which stated they were committed to work towards the complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula. But according to most experts there was nothing new in the statement and some considered it even weaker than what was agreed in 1994. Most regarded the summit as a major victory for Kim who was able to bask in the glow of the summit.

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mahathir

Mahathir Wins in Malaysia

11 May 2018

Against all odds, Mahathir Mohamad, the 92 year old chairman of the opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan (PH), was elected as the new Prime Minister on 9 May to succeed Najib Razak. This put an end to 61 years of Barisan National-led governments. Najib could neither shake his alleged involvement in a major corruption scandal nor deal with charges about the rising cost of living., Despite the robust economic growth during his term in office, he failed to see off the challenge from his former mentor Mahathir.

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Malaysia

Uncertainty as Malaysia goes to the Polls

7 May 2018

On 9 May Malaysians will elect the new Parliament and the new Prime Minister, after 9 years of Najib Razak-led governments. The results are far from being predictable. Despite robust economic growth and positive achievements during his term in office, PM Najib is embroiled in ongoing scandals and has to cope with the political return of his old mentor, former PM Mahathir Mohamad leading the opposition. There is also growing dissatisfaction linked to the rising costs of living. Two main coalitions are running for the Premiership the Najib-led Barisan National (BN) coalition and the Mahathir-led Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition,[1] diverging on three main issues: ethnic divides, economics and relations with China.



[1] Pakatan Harapan coalition is made up of Mahathir Mohamad’s Malaysian United Indigenous Party (PPBM), Democratic Action Party, Anwar Ibrahim’s People’s Justice Party (PKR) and National Trust Party (AMANAH). 

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kimmoon

The Historic Kim-Moon Summit

30 April 2018

The third inter-Korean summit, the first in over ten years, took place on 27 April 2018 at the Peace House in Panmunjom. The North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Un, met with South Korea’s president Moon Jae-In in what was the first encounter of two Korean heads of state on South Korean territory. The historic meeting has been described as a success by all the main players, including Trump. Both sides committed themselves to the establishment of a solid peace regime on the peninsula and complete denuclearization.

The “Panmunjom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity and Unification of the Korean Peninsula” which was released at the end of the summit, starts out with the promise “before the 80 million Korean people and the whole world that there will be no more war on the Korean peninsula and thus a new era of peace has begun”. Ending the armistice agreement of 1953 by signing a peace treaty, a step which will require the support of the United States and China as signatories of the armistice, would be a crucial step towards normalization of relations not just between the two Koreas but also between Pyongyang and Washington. The regime in the North has stated repeatedly that a security guarantee would make the possession of nuclear weapons dispensable, lastly during Kim’s visit to Beijing at the end of March.

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