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Landmark China-Japan Summit

30 October 2018

30 October 2018

Last week’s visit to China by Japanese Prime Minister Abe has opened a new chapter in relations between the two strongest powers in Asia. For several years relations remained cool because of disputes over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands and Abe’s visits to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine. 

When Beijing hosted APEC in November 2014, Xi and Abe shared an awkward handshake. In May 2018, Premier Li Keqiang visited Japan for the China–Japan–ROK trilateral summit as well as a bilateral visit with Abe. Now, as both countries are threatened by Trump’s tariff policies, they are seeking to rebuild ties.

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Successful ASEM in Brussels

22 October 2018

23 October 2018

Successful ASEM Summit in Brussels

Last week’s ASEM summit was regarded as a success by all participants who, after some disputes on the South China Sea, DPRK and WTO reforms, signed off a reasonably ambitious final statement calling on nations to fight protectionism and defend the rules-based multilateral system. 

In what may be interpreted as a clear defensive signal to President Trump, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang met with European Commission President Juncker to assess progress in EU-China relations, including on WTO reform and on the investment agreement that is currently being negotiated.

One of ASEM’s greatest strengths is that it has a solid bottom-up dimension, bringing together governments as well as parliaments, the private sector, the academic community and civil society organisations. It therefore has the capacity to engage with several different stakeholders.

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ASEM Comes To Town

17 October 2018

17 October 2018

Apart from the UN General Assembly, the biggest gathering of world leaders take place in Brussels this week for the biannual Asia-Europe meeting, known as ASEM. Representing two-thirds of the world’s population, trade and GDP, Europe and Asia have lots to discuss.

As the US retreats into quasi-isolationism, this is a golden opportunity for the EU and Asia to get their act together in defending the rules-based, multilateral system, and also working out how better to connect their two continents. 

ASEM turns 22 this year. It has got over its teenage tantrums and is turning into a responsible young adult. It still needs nurturing but no one can deny that it has a useful role to play in today’s highly uncertain world.

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Mogherin-Asia connectivity

Mogherini Presents EU's Much Anticipated Connectivity Strategy

21 September 2018

19 September 2018

On 19 September, the European Commission and the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini adopted a long-awaited Communication, forming the elements for an EU Strategy on "Connecting Europe and Asia." 

The Communication lays out the conditions on which the EU is ready to invest in connectivity throughout Europe and Asia. It emphasizes the need for investments to be sustainable - environmentally, socially, financially and economically, with due respect for multilaterally agreed standards on transparency in public procurement, equal market access for businesses and a level playing field. 

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HR/VP Federica Mogherini in the EP on the state of EU-China relations

12 September 2018

On 11 September, the European Parliament adopted a non-legislative report, authored by Bas Belder MEP (ECR, NL) on the general state of EU-China relations. The adoption in Strasbourg was followed by a plenary discussion with HR/VP Federica Mogherini on the state of Sino-European relations. 

The report underlined the need for the EU and China to continue to cooperate and reaffirmed the EU's China policy of different modes of engagement for different policy areas. HR/VP Mogherini welcomed the report and underlined that the EU's continued dialogue with China can help the world move beyond the current chaos, towards a better global order. The dialogue will remain based on clarity, on respect, on the EU's interests and values, benefitting both Europe, China and also the rest of the world.

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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.

Her visit 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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