Pressure on EU's southern borders from African migrants seen persisting in 2018 -Reuters

EU prepares response to possible US tariffs The European Commission is mulling concrete counter-measures, should the United States impose high tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. Brussels has no intention to just sit still. -DW

POLITICAL CULTURE MATTERS Germany’s political identity crisis The next four years in Germany will be anything but boring. A tectonic shift is taking place in Germany that will either revitalize or paralyze its usually staid political culture.

German army problems 'dramatically bad', report says -BBC

STAGE RIGHT Marion Maréchal-Le Pen to share stage with US conservatives Niece of far-right Front National leader Marine Le Pen to address conference after vice-president Mike Pence on Thursday -The Guardian

Italy’s Northern League Is Suddenly In Love With the South -Bloomberg

Russia admits dozens of Russian casualties in Syria battle Russia's foreign ministry has confirmed that "several dozen" Russian citizens - not regular soldiers - were killed or wounded in a recent battle in Syria. -BBC

Syria pro-government forces enter Afrin to aid Kurds against Turkey The confrontation pits the Turkish army and allied Syrian rebel groups directly against the military alliance backing the government of President Bashar al-Assad, further scrambling northwest Syria’s already messy battlefield. -Reuters

Zuma's fall a chance to take moral leadership in Africa -BBC



Why Europe's Google Rulings Don't Benefit Consumers Consumers and small businesses aren't getting much from Europe's antitrust activism because it's not really their fight. -BloombergView

Oracle and Naspers’ stealth lobbying fight against Google Two companies’ exclusive control of FairSearch raises questions about transparency of EU lobbying.

Facebook’s tracking of non-users ruled illegal again -Tech Crunch

Italy seeks Vestager’s help in jobs fight Rome wants to stop electrical appliances factory leaving for Slovakia.

Spain's Balearic Islands to fine Airbnb 300,000 euros for illegal rentals -Reuters

COMPLIANCE CORNER The General Data Protection Regulation: What it says, what it means Here is a guide to the major principles of GDPR.

Right to be forgotten; Consent; Data breach notification; Data protection authorities; The Board; 4 percent fines; Privacy by design; Data protection officer; Profiling

AML William Hill fined £6.2m by Gambling Commission for lax controls Betting firm William Hill has been hit with a £6.2m penalty package for breaching anti-money-laundering and social responsibility regulations. -BBC

MORE AML On February 7, 2018, Dutch bank Rabobank’s U.S. subsidiary pleaded guilty to conspiring to impair, impede, and obstruct a review by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (“OCC”) of the bank’s anti-money laundering (“AML”) program, agreeing to forfeit more than $368 million as a result. -Lexology

READ THE PLEA United States v. Rabobank, National Association, Plea Agreement

RELAX AND INVEST, Saudi prince tells investors after corruption crackdown Three months after Saudi Arabia detained scores of people in a crackdown on corruption, its rulers are trying to reassure investors that the kingdom remains open for business. -Reuters


EU joins global growth bandwagon After many false dawns, at last some sunlight has fallen on Europe's strongest economies. -BBC

Dalio's Bridgewater Quadruples Shorts on European Union Stocks The firm, run by Ray Dalio, has at least $13.1 billion in shorts, or wagers that a stock will fall, according to EU regulatory filings. That’s up from the $3.2 billion it had disclosed in such bets on Feb. 1. -NewsmaxFinance

PACIFIC PIPE DREAM Australia says UK could join Pacific trade group after Brexit UK ministers have previously floated the idea of joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership to make up for trade likely to be lost with the EU -Independent

BLAME IT ON THE RAIN Latvia Signals Russia May Be Interfering in Banking Crisis -Bloomberg

Ramaphosa Takes Tax Gamble as South Africa Targets Debt, Ratings -Bloomberg





ABIDING IDEOLOGY China’s next ideological front Beijing is tightening the screws on internal political dissent, and Americans are growing more uneasy about the nature of Chinese influence abroad. Ideology once again defines the terms of the U.S.-China relationship. -Reuters

China angered as Indian PM visits disputed border region -Reuters

ARTICLE 9: TOKYO DISPATCHなぜ9条の政府解釈はモヤモヤしているのかいよいよ改憲国会が始まった

How Did Japan Lose Its Air Superiority Advantage? Once one of the world’s most capable air forces, Japan now finds itself outmatched in air-to-air combat capabilities. -The Diplomat

In Japan, a Liberal Maverick Is Seeking to Lead a Conservative Party But a new generation of politicians is already positioning itself to succeed him [Abe]. Mr. Kono, 55, is one of the most intriguing, bringing a maverick streak to Japan’s usually stodgy political world. -NYT

The face of immigration is rapidly changing in Japan -The Japan Times

US-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference to be held in Taiwan for first time More than a dozen military manufacturers will participate in the US-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference -Taiwan News

China’s South China Sea islands won’t stop lawful patrols, US Navy says American forces will continue to operate in waterway ‘as long as international law allows’ -SCMP




China's State-Backed Start-up Push Can the government create a true start-up ecosystem, or are its efforts only creating a bubble? -The Diplomat

China’s tech push likely to increase trade and security tensions with US and Europe, report reveals State-backed technology drive likely to prompt US, Europe to upgrade national security reviews of Chinese investment -SCMP

The US and China Can Avoid a Technological Standoff -TheNewsLens

OPPORTUNITY China's Tourists Go Global, Smartphones in Hand Chinese are traveling overseas as never before. That's a major opportunity. -BloombergView

S.E.C. Blocks Chinese Takeover of Chicago Stock Exchange A federal securities regulator on Thursday struck down the proposed $20 million acquisition of a Chicago-based trading hub, the Chicago Stock Exchange, by a Chinese-owned company. -NYT

REWARD + RISK Luxury automakers rely heavily on Chinese buyers Market responsible for nearly 90% of global sales growth in 2017 -Nikkei 

China Warns It May Retaliate If U.S. Imposes Metal Tariffs -Bloomberg

“If the final decision impacts China’s interests, China will certainly take necessary measures to protect its own rights”

Chinese police snatch a Swedish publisher and parade him on TV Gui Minhai’s fate is being closely observed by critics of China in Hong Kong -The Economist

FBI chief says Chinese operatives have infiltrated scores of ‘naive’ US universities Christopher Wray says his agents are ‘watching warily’ dozens of Chinese-language Confucius Institutes -SCMP

Cities, prefectures rush to localize ordinances for Airbnb-type lodging before minpaku law takes effect. Ahead of the introduction of a law to regulate minpaku (private lodging services) in June, dozens of governments nationwide have begun drawing up their own rules under the new law. -The Japan Times

Reports that Uber plans to sell Southeast Asian business to Grab 'speculation' -The Strait Times

Uber could be profitable if it wants to, says CEO He said that it’s Uber’s commitment to “developing” markets that are dragging things down, but he views that as an “optional investment.” However it’s the “right thing to do,” he said, claiming that the company won’t stop investing in Asia anytime soon. -Tech Crunch

Vietnam Pulls Request for U.S. Help to Build a Coal-Fired Power Plant -NYT


$$$ TOKYO BOUND Japan's cheap money addiction set to deepen under Kuroda's second term The BOJ's path to normalization will become harder as dependence grows -Nikkei

China's HNA pares back big stake in Deutsche Bank -Reuters




China accuses US of 'Cold War mentality' over nuclear policy -BBC

PODCAST OF THE WEEK Power Dynamics and the “Two Asias” This episode examines the development of two competing conceptions of Asia – an “Economic Asia,” characterized by trade integration and a rising tide of interconnected growth, and a “Security Asia” beset by powerful nationalisms and clashing security concepts. -CSIS

Readers of @oxbowgeoplitix know this paradox well

What Happens When China Eclipses the U.S. in Asia A Q&A with Hugh White, a former top Australian official who feels Beijing has already filled the U.S. leadership void. -BloombergView

RETURN AND VOLLEY – HIT ’EM in the HEARTLAND China to launch anti-dumping investigation into U.S. sorghum imports China will launch an anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigation into imports of sorghum grown in the United States, the Ministry of Commerce said on Sunday, in a sign of increasing trade tensions between the world's top two economies. -Nikkei

Top Five US States in 2017 Sorghum Production

1) Kansas; 2) Texas; 3) Colorado; 4) Oklahoma; 5) Nebraska

2016 Election wins: Donald J Trump: 1) Kansas; 2) Texas; 4) Oklahoma; 5) Nebraska

China Is Planning a New Network of Indian Ocean Bases -The News Lens

India Launches 3rd Kalvari -Class Attack Submarine India’s latest diesel-electric attack submarine was launched today in Mumbai. -The Diplomat

China and Vietnam close to landmark deal on streamlined joint border checkpoint ‘Two countries, one inspection’ system supports Beijing’s ambitions to build closer trade and diplomatic links with Asean nations -SCMP

Scandal swirls around Thailand’s junta at an awkward moment A general on a modest military salary has been caught wearing 25 different luxury watches -The Economist

How a Singaporean trade idea can benefit Hong Kong, due to a provincial Chinese party chief with local experience Hong Kong could be set to muscle in on a Singaporean plan for a ‘southern transport corridor’ to Southeast Asia –SCMP



What did Trump say that matters to business in Asia? -BBC

Battle for data rages between China and US Both sides are seeking more control over today's hottest resource The clash highlights one of the hottest friction points between the U.S. and China today. Both have their claws out as they seek to control one of the 21st century's most valuable resources: data. -Nikkei

PRIVATE BECOME PUBLIC Tencent’s new credit system to use payments, social data -Tech in Asia

Tesla to reduce Hong Kong operations if city refuses to promote electric cars Source says Elon Musk-led firm asked Carrie Lam to rethink last year’s decision to slash tax break for electric car buyers, which stalled Tesla sales and caused overall demand for battery-powered cars to crash -SCMP

Q&A OF THE WEEK Uber Plots Expansion in Japan and Singapore -Bloomberg

Honda leans on China as US market loses gas Lively market fuels Japanese automaker's third upgrade to yearly profit -Nikkei

Taiwanese leaders still strangers to big data -Taipei Times

Foxconn to plug at least $340M into AI R&D over five years -Tech Crunch

Alibaba deepens India push with BigBasket investment -Reuters


Asian markets tumble as rising borrowing costs spook dealers Asian markets tumbled on Friday (Feb 2), hit by profit-taking and growing global concerns about a rise in US Treasury yields to four-year highs, while fresh US political turmoil is also causing unease. -The Straits Times

Financial Services Agency orders internal inspections of all cryptocurrency exchanges in Japan -The Japan Times




A Year in Review The Trump Presidency, Year One Five takeaways from the first year of the Trump presidency. -The American Interest

The Trouble With Kissinger's North Korea Advice Kissinger is moving the goal posts on where the final red line is on North Korean behavior -The Diplomat

“Yet, frustrated as he is with a futile and counterproductive negotiating process, he ends up recommending the same policies followed by four successive presidents until the Trump administration, often based on Kissinger’s own advice at the time.”

IN LATIN AMERICA ON CHINA Tillerson characterized Chinese investment in the region as a bad deal, with any agreement likely to benefit only Beijing. -Bloomberg

“Our region must be diligent to guard against faraway powers who do not reflect the fundamental values shared in the region,” Tillerson said.

Amid low morale, highest-ranked career official at State to step down -Politico

Trump wants his immigration framework debated in Senate -The Washington Post

House Financial Services Committee Advances 15 Bills The US House Financial Services Committee announced that it had advanced 15 bills, many of which would alter the regulatory framework for financial institutions. -JD Supra

Key Republican Pushes Higher Gas Tax for Infrastructure -Bloomberg

Trains Will Work. In Some Places. The politics of using "land value capture" to finance public works will vary depending on developers' power. -Bloomberg View

READ E. H. Harriman, a Biography by Kennan, George

THINK TANK WATCH February 21, 2018 - 9:00 am - Neither Free nor Fair: What to do about Venezuela's presidential elections? -The Atlantic Center

Bolivia Tells President His Time Is Up. He Isn’t Listening. -NYT



The Apple Tax Giveaway One of the biggest beneficiaries of the Trump tax cuts is in Cupertino -The American Interest

MAKE EXPROPRIATION GREAT AGAIN Should Trump Nationalize a 5G Network? According to leaked documents, there is a proposal going around the White House to build a federally owned 5G telecommunications system — the next version of a mobile broadband network — or perhaps even to nationalize the 5G networks that private telecom companies are now building. -NYT

Protecting your business from cyber threats -Tech Crunch

JIMMY HOFFA (BACK) BEHIND THE WHEEL Union heavyweight wants to ban UPS from using drones or driverless vehicles -CNBC

Huge … lobbying push coming against autonomous vehicles

California DMV disengagement report reveals self-driving improvements This year, the report reveals some interesting details about the progress of some of those companies, including Waymo, GM’s Cruise and Tesla (sort of – you’ll see what I mean). -Tech Crunch

INTO THE WEEDS HERE Autonomous Vehicle Disengagement Reports 2017

Zinke's agency held up Indians’ casino after MGM lobbying Two tribes in Connecticut say the Interior Department illegally failed to say yes or no to their plans for a third casino in the state. -Politico

Japan's Fujifilm to take over Xerox in $6.1 billion deal, create JV -Reuters

The Energy Solution Latin America Needs Demand for electricity is increasing rapidly in Latin America: Growing middle classes are buying appliances, while many countries are embracing energy-intensive industries. Electricity consumption is projected to rise more than 70 percent by 2030. -NYT


Fed outlines yearly 'stress test' standards for Wall Street -Reuters

HAPPY PLANTS GROW TOGETHER Trump Still Dreams of a 1950s-Era Economy His tax cuts and pure willpower can't bring back manufacturing jobs. -Bloomberg View

ConocoPhillips Walks the Tightrope of Fear and Greed Higher oil prices give it a lift but don't change its cautious approach. -Bloomberg Gadfly

Argentina airport operator's New York IPO fizzles -Reuters





In Europe, right-wing parties are offering bigger handouts than traditional ones And that is part of the secret of their electoral success -The Economist

A New Leader in the Race to Succeed Merkel For years, it was assumed that German Chancellor Angela Merkel would seek to hand the reins of party leadership over to Ursula von der Leyen. But lately, a new face has emerged in the mix: Saarland Governor Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer. -Der Spiegel

UK keeps up its legal losing streak over mass surveillance -Tech Crunch

QUITE CONTRARIAN FOR A UK PM Theresa May warns China to play by international rules Beijing to stick to international trade rules and tackle the dumping of cheap Chinese steel as she makes her first visit to the country as prime minister.

ITALIA ELECTION WATCH Italian general election poll tracker Italian voters are set to return a hung parliament to Rome -The Economist

US releases list of Putin officials, oligarchs for possible sanctions -France24

Moscow laughs off Washington's 'Kremlin Report' Russia has reacted with ridicule to the release of the US government's so-called "Kremlin Report," a template for future sanctions. Experts have also been critical. DW looks at the list and its potential ramifications. -DW

Turkey’s huge crackdown is destroying civil society -The Guardian




New Cartel Suspicions Secret Price Fixing Among German Carmakers After numerous scandals in recent years, the German automobile industry is facing scrutiny yet again. This time, VW, Daimler, BMW and Bosch are believed to have colluded on steel price fixing. -Der Spiegel

Facebook starts polishing its privacy messaging ahead of GDPR As the May 25 deadline for compliance with the EU’s updated privacy framework fast approaches Facebook is continuing to PR the changes it’s making to try to meet the new data protection standard — and steer away from the specter of fines that can scale as high as 4% of a company’s global turnover. -Tech Crunch

Social media and misinformation WhatsApp: Mark Zuckerberg’s other headache The popular messaging service shows that Facebook’s efforts to fight fake news may fail -The Economist INFORMATION STILL SELLS Blackstone to Buy Thomson Reuters Unit in $20 Billion Deal -Bloomberg

JAB's empire expands in soda with Dr Pepper Snapple deal AB Holding Co, the private holding company of Germany’s Reimann family, is taking on juice and soda in its latest acquisition, as its Keurig Green Mountain business scoops up U.S. beverage maker Dr Pepper Snapple Group (DPS.N). -Reuters

French trade unions voice opposition to Alstom/Siemens tie-up deal French trade unions expressed their opposition on Tuesday to last year’s agreed tie-up between Alstom (ALSO.PA) and Siemens (SIEGn.DE), saying they feared possible job cuts. -Reuters

Disney, Walmart back venture fund to tackle forced labor Companies who have faced criticism for poor working conditions found in their supply chains have backed a fund to combat forced labor. The fund supports tech startups that seek to monitor abuses or trace products. -DW

CLEANED UP Saudi authorities to net over $100 billion in corruption purge -France24


Eurozone growth hit 10-year high in 2017 -BBC

Bank of England turning sights to tackling inflation: Carney The Bank of England is turning its focus back to the more conventional business of bringing down inflation as Britain’s economy showed it was getting over the damage wrought by the 2007-09 financial crisis, Governor Mark Carney -Reuters

OPEC's Year-One Report Card in Five Charts The cartel's performance shows why it has to keep going in 2018 and beyond. -Bloomberg





At Davos, the Real Star May Have Been China, Not Trump it was clear in Davos, Switzerland, this past week that geopolitical momentum lay with Beijing, not Washington. -NYT

WATCH MIRROR IMAGING What Austria's Emperor Franz Joseph Can Teach Trump About War With North Korea Franz Joseph saw an opportunity through war to ‘Make Austria-Hungary great again’. Instead he plunged the world into global conflict. -The Diplomat

Attacking North Korea Is Unthinkable. Or Is It? If radical concessions like pulling troops off the peninsula won't work, the U.S. will have to take out Kim's nukes and artillery from the air. -Bloomberg View

China has India surrounded in their new Great Game Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan -- Beijing is pulling South Asia into its orbit -Nikkei

Hong Kong Bars Democracy Advocate From Running for Legislature -NYT

Japan’s top envoy Taro Kono breaks the ice, but China sees ties as ‘still cool’ Two sides agree to resume reciprocal visits by leaders, continue to work together on North Korea, and hold trilateral summit with South Korea -SCMP

DPP needs to earn a second term One year and eight months after Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) became president and two years after the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won a resounding majority of seats in the Legislative Yuan for the first time, the party appears to be coping fairly well with the stressors of power and has, as yet, not befallen a major scandal of governance which might fatally undermine the public’s perception of its competence in government or its electability. -Taipei Times

A challenging year for Singapore foreign policy -The Straits Times

THE IMPORTANCE OF INDONESIA Former furniture maker now Indonesia's hands-on president A passion for heavy metal music made Joko Widodo world's first 'Metalhead of State' -Nikkei




A Post-Engagement US-China Relationship? -Rodium Group

IF I KNEW THEN WHAT I KNOW NOW @oxbowadvisory @caracalglobal memorandum on US-China commercial relations published 2 years ago on the need for corporations to engage in

New Thinking on US-China: 10 Things To Do Within the Next 36 Months

SUGGESTED LISTENING If I Knew Then (What I Know Now) -- Sarah Vaughan (YouTube)

Will Alibaba Be the First Chinese Company Punished by Trump? Trump reveals that a very big fine will come out soon over Chinese intellectual property theft. -The Diplomat

PODCAST OF THE WEEK Art Dicker: Understanding Chinese outbound investment (January 18th, 2018) Trends in Chinese outbound M&A, the reasons behind these trends, new Chinese policies regarding outbound investment, and the impact of the Trump administration on Chinese investment into the U.S. -AmCham Shanghai

HNA ditches vanity purchases for Silk Road commodity deals to vie for Beijing’s support By shifting to target commodity and logistics assets in ‘Belt and Road’ nations, HNA says it can benefit from government policies -SCMP

China leans on Alibaba and Tencent to digitize public services -Tech in Asia

Weibo falls foul of China’s internet watchdog for failing to censor content Social media platform told to shut down popular services for a week -SCMP

Coincheck to Repay Users Who Lost Money in $400 Million Hack -Bloomberg

Japanese papermakers fear effects of China resuming cardboard imports Companies concerned that surging demand will increase their materials costs -Nikkei

ASEAN businesses boost investment in own backyards Homegrown companies emerge as big FDI players -Nikkei

Vietnam Wants Foreign Money to Overhaul Its Economy -Bloomberg

Vietnam jails former politburo official for 13 years in graft crackdown -Reuters


Here’s how to beat fake data about the Chinese economy The scale of falsification by local bureaucrats has become a major international embarrassment to China – it’s time to send in the graft-busters -SCMP

China's Hebei province to cut coal use by 5 million tonnes this year: Xinhua -Reuters

BOJ Gov. Haruhiko Kuroda didn’t revise price outlook in Davos remark, central bank says -The Japan Times






World nervously watches Trump’s Davos debut While his style still stirs nervousness, the president seemingly sought to smooth a rift with the U.K. and focus on U.S. achievements. -Politico

‘America First’ is a hard sell in Davos -The Washington Post

Trump threatens to take away more U.S. aid from Palestinians if they don’t negotiate with Israel President Trump threatened Thursday to write off the Palestinian leadership and withdraw further U.S. aid if Palestinians are not serious about negotiating peace with Israel, deepening a diplomatic rift and putting Trump’s hopes for a historic agreement on hold. -The Washington Post

THE TILLERSON FILE Tillerson’s State Overhaul Faces Mutiny as USAID Weighs Role The agency in charge of U.S. foreign aid has put Rex Tillerson on notice about rising frustration over his State Department redesign, the most visible sign yet of the confusion surrounding his bid to reshape American diplomacy. -Bloomberg

U.S. Approves New Tariffs on Solar Cells -JD Supra

GOP lawmakers condemn Trump’s tariff decision Prominent Republicans warned President Trump on Wednesday against taking further trade actions that could harm American workers, even as top administration officials meeting in Davos, Switzerland, rose to the defense of the president’s “America First” rhetoric on the eve of his arrival. -Bloomberg

CFIUS WATCH January 25, 2018 Hearing - Reform: Administration Perspectives on the Essential Elements -The Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs

Brazilian court upholds corruption conviction of former president Lula, potentially ending his political career -The Washington Post




WHAT’S YOUR WASHINGTON STRATEGY? Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google spent nearly $50 million — a record — to influence the U.S. government in 2017 Immigration, net neutrality, taxes and Russia dominated tech’s agenda in the nation’s capital last year, per new reports. -Recode

Facebook, Google and Twitter told Congress they do not believe Russian trolls interfered in last year’s elections in Virginia and New Jersey The companies’ comments came in response to another round of questions from the Senate Intelligence Committee -Recode

Russian Trolls Are Only Part of the Problem The companies have misplaced their focus in the fight, concentrating too heavily on removing Russian content while ignoring the problematic articles and posts created and shared by American outlets and users. -NYT Opinion

NICE WRAPPING BUT NOTHING INSIDE SEC Weighs a Big Gift to Companies: Blocking Investor Lawsuits In its determination to reverse a two-decade slump in U.S. stock listings, a regulator might offer companies an extreme incentive to go public: the ability to bar aggrieved shareholders from suing. -Bloomberg

Caterpillar beats estimates on buoyant global demand Caterpillar Inc’s profit topped Wall Street forecasts for the seventh straight quarter on Thursday as equipment sales surged 35 percent on strong global demand for construction, mining and energy machines. -Reuters

WATCH THIS CASE Canadian Court Asserts Jurisdiction over Craigslist Based on Cloud-Based Virtual Presence in Canada  British Columbia (Attorney General) v. Brecknell, 2018 BCCA 5 (Jan. 9, 2018) -JD Supra

Using Drones and Netflix in the Andes, but Sidestepping Google Maps -NYT


$$$ The Treasury Doesn't Need a Dollar Policy It needs to be fiscally responsible and a prudent financial regulator. -Bloomberg 

Protectionism Can't Fix Trade Imbalances If Washington wants to reduce deficits, it must focus on capital. Donald Trump's administration this week announced new tariffs on solar panels and washing machines. It has hinted at more to come. The rationale for these measures is that they'll reduce American trade deficits -- in particular, the widening deficit with China -- and thus benefit the U.S. economy. Rather than take Washington’s assumptions at face value, however, we must consider how protectionism affects capital flows. -Bloomberg View  





MEPs vote to shrink European Parliament after Brexit Following months of debate on redistribution of Britain’s seats, compromise proposal carries overwhelmingly.

Merkel's Got Some Explaining To Do German Chancellor Angela Merkel has completely reversed her refugee policies without bothering to tell German voters why she has done so. Such imperiousness is a common problem for those who have been in office for too long. -Der Spiegel

ELECTION WATCH And the next Italian prime minister is … The field is wide open ahead of March 4 election.

“Paolo Gentiloni is popular in the polls and many in the country have argued he should stay on.”

Asian sweatshop fears threaten EU’s trade momentum Trade commissioner wants Vietnam to commit to labor reforms before deal is implemented.

EU tax haven blacklist: Finance ministers remove eight countries, including Panama Officials and activists have decried a decision by EU ministers to remove several states from a tax haven blacklist. Among those delisted is Panama, less than two years after its secretive tax loopholes were leaked. -DW

US blames Russia for chemical attacks in Syria Washington's top diplomat has accused Moscow of breaching "its commitments" to destroy Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles. Aid workers have reported another chemical attack on the last rebel bastion near Damascus. -DW

A bitter rivalry between Arab states is spilling into Africa THE rivalry between Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on one side and the Gulf state of Qatar on the other is spilling poison into the Horn of Africa, embittering animosities between half a dozen countries in the region. -The Economist

Can Ramaphosa Fix South Africa? -Project Syndicate




WTF is GDPR? European Union lawmakers proposed a comprehensive update to the bloc’s data protection and privacy rules in 2012. -Tech Crunch

THE THERE IS MIFID II AND MIFIR became applicable as from 3 January 2018. -EU rules on investment services

MiFID 2 aims to reinforce the rules on securities markets by

  • ensuring that organised trading takes place on regulated platforms
  • introducing rules on algorithmic and high frequency trading
  • improving the transparency and oversight of financial markets – including derivatives markets - and addressing some shortcomings in commodity derivatives markets
  • enhancing investor protection and improving conduct of business rules as well as conditions for competition in the trading and clearing of financial instruments

MiFIR sets out requirements on

  • disclosure of data on trading activity to the public
  • disclosure of transaction data to regulators and supervisors
  • mandatory trading of derivatives on organised venues
  • removal of barriers between trading venues and providers of clearing services to ensure more competition
  • specific supervisory actions regarding financial instruments and positions in derivatives

Qualcomm Gets $1.2 Billion EU Fine for Apple Chip Payments -Bloomberg

France renews push to lure bankers to Paris after Brexit The French government has already announced measures to cut labour costs to make Paris more attractive to the banking sector post-Brexit following the election of President Emmanuel Macron in May 2017. -France24

France’s New Labor Laws: ‘Flexibility, and No Security’ -NYT

Uber CEO to end 'pirate' culture in push for 'reset' in Germany Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi has said the US ride-hailing firm will focus on "responsible growth" in Europe as he seeks to end the "pirate mentality" -DW

Murdoch’s Bid for Full Control of Sky Is Dealt a Blow by U.K. Regulator -NYT

Corbyn Dreams of Nationalization. But What About Amazon? Royal Mail needs profits to reinvest in modernization. Look at how Deutsche Post has thrived. -Bloomberg View 

Emirates Airlines helps to rescue Airbus with substantial order -France24


OPEC's Casual Relationship With Hedge Funds Oil speculators are helping the cartel, but at a price -Bloomberg Gadfly 

Oil’s Uncertain Comeback Unless there is a notable geopolitical shock, traditional oil producers should treat the recent oil-price gains as a temporary windfall, not a permanent state of affairs. To prolong the price recovery as long as possible, they should reinforce their collective production discipline. -Project Syndicate

Greece secures billions as bailout enters final stages Eurozone finance ministers have reached a "political agreement" to grant Greece €6.7 billion in bailout money. The ministers praised Greece's progress, putting it on track to leave its bailout program this year. -DW




THE GREATEST GAME “Today … we are facing increased global disorder, characterized by decline in the long-standing rules-based international order — creating a security environment more complex and volatile than any we have experienced in recent memory. Inter-state strategic competition, not terrorism, is now the primary concern in U.S. national security.” -Summary of DoD 2018 Report

US Redeploys Nuclear-Capable Bombers to Asia-Pacific The U.S. is deploying six B-52H Stratofortress bombers to the island of Guam in the Western Pacific. -The Diplomat

China says U.S. warship violated its South China Sea Sovereignty A U.S. Navy destroyer this week sailed near the Scarborough Shoal, a disputed lagoon claimed by China in the South China Sea, U.S. officials said on Saturday, and Beijing vowed to take “necessary measures” to protect what it said was its sovereignty. -Reuters

Trump administration says U.S. mistakenly backed China WTO accession in 2001 -Reuters

Japan, U.S. to discuss trade 'framework', U.S. envoy says -NHK/Reuters

GEOPOLITICS OF K-POP Despite diplomatic rows, Japan and South Korea are growing closer The young do not care as much about colonialism -The Economist

Japan stands by Myanmar, lest China gain favor But a dicey human rights record could bring Tokyo criticism by association -Nikkei

POLITICS BY OTHER MEANS Vietnam's corruption crackdown gamble amid crucial SOE debuts Hanoi carries out IPOs, trial simultaneously, emulating tactics of China's Xi Jinping -Nikkei




The rising global tide against bribery Companies with global operations must therefore be mindful that they are now operating in a world of high transparency and vigilance. In countries where bribery is commonplace, it may be especially tempting to go with the flow and conform to local norms or else risk losing business. -The Straits Times

IN CHINA, BIG DATA IS WATCHING YOU … and that could be a huge ‘challenge to the West’ Political scientist Sebastian Heilmann says the reality of Beijing’s digital surveillance exceeds the vision of Orwellian fiction -SCMP 

China's Progress on Intellectual Property Rights (Yes, Really) Foreign firms have been slow to realize the substantial changes in China’s protection of IP rights. -The Diplomat  

REALLY? Ex-IBM employee from China gets five years prison for stealing code -Reuters

Marriott and other firms bow to China to protect business interests For Marriott, it was the wording of a survey emailed to members of its rewards club. At fashion brand Zara, it was a drop-down menu on its website. And for Audi, it was a presentation at the German carmaker’s annual meeting that showed a map of China that excluded Taiwan and parts of Tibet. -The Washington Post

“Marriott, which has been aggressively expanding in China in recent years, says it is implementing an ‘eight-point rectification plan’ to prevent future mishaps.”

Marriott sacks employee who ‘liked’ Twitter post from Tibet independence group -SCMP

Statement from Arne Sorenson, President and CEO, Marriott International, Inc.

“As a company, we take very seriously the privilege and opportunity we have to serve guests in countries around the world – and particularly in China, a market we have been in for over 30 years. We also take responsibility when we make mistakes. We will learn from this experience, make changes to ensure errors like this don’t happen again, and continue to focus on making sure our Chinese guests feel respected and have wonderful experiences as we have the privilege of serving them in our hotels in China and around the globe.”

HISTORY FYI Yan'an Rectification Movement

FREEDOM: A QUAINT NOTION? Japan-EU trade agreement is about freedom When all eyes are on China’s global ambitions, Japan is showing a new way of deploying its soft power. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit this week to six eastern European countries — Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania and the three Baltic states — is a historic first. It reflects Japan’s understanding that the future of the international economic order will be played in and with Europe. -The Japan Times

ONE 2 WATCH Didi makes first move outside mainland China with Taiwan launch -Tech-in-Asia

Petrovietnam scandals lay bare stalling state-sector reforms -Nikkei 

Philippines revokes license of leading news website Rappler Ruling denounced by critics as an ‘alarming attempt to silence independent journalism’ and latest blow to free press in country -The Guardian


REALLY? China's economy set to slow to 6.5 percent in 2018 as government turns off cheap money: Reuters

NO, NOT REALLY China records improved GDP growth in 2017 Latest stats show strong overall rebound of 6.9%, while GDP volume has also exceeded 80 trillion yuan for the first time -Asia Times 




Souring World Views of Trump Open Doors for China and Russia Much of the world has soured on American leadership since President Trump took office, a loss of faith that has opened up opportunities for other countries like China, Russia and Germany to assert themselves on the international stage, according to an extensive new survey of people living around the globe. -NYT

GET THE FULL REPORT HERE Rating World Leaders: 2018 Find out how people in 134 countries rate U.S. leadership -- one year into U.S. President Donald Trump's term. -Gallup

Congress hurtles toward shutdown The House passed a bill to keep the government funded for another four weeks, but prospects in the Senate look dim. -Politico

Congress Approves Six-Year Extension of Surveillance Law The Senate on Thursday voted to extend by six years a law that authorizes the National Security Agency’s warrantless surveillance program, essentially ending a cycle of debate over wiretapping and privacy that began with the leaks in 2013 by Edward J. Snowden, a former intelligence contractor. -NYT

AUTOPILOT DISENGAGED A bill to put more self-driving cars on U.S. roads is stuck in the Senate California’s own senator isn’t convinced the technology is ready. -Recode

Mexican views of the United States drop to record low For the first time in more than a quarter-century, a majority of Mexicans hold negative views of the United States -The Washington Post

LAWYERS TOO Building a Mini-State With Avocados and Guns The avocado orchards were safe as well, guarded by another set of uniformed militias. There was a palpable change at the town’s perimeter, marking the edge of what militiamen called “tierra caliente” — hot ground, meaning cartel territory. The avocado trade appears to be booming. -NYC

Venezuelan opposition skips reconciliation talks with Maduro government The talks are seen as a last-ditch effort to pave the way free and fair presidential elections this year, in which the embattled Maduro is expected to seek another term. -The Washington Post




Trump personally thanks Apple CEO for investment pledge The technology giant announced Wednesday that it would make a one-time tax payment of $38 billion on its overseas cash holdings and invest $30 billion in capital spending over the next half-decade as part of its overall plan to ramp up spending in the U.S. -Politico

YOU’RE WELCOME? Apple, Returning Overseas Cash, to Pay $38 Billion Tax Bill -Bloomberg

Trump says solar tariff decision coming soon, stakes huge for industry -Reuters

How the U.S. Ended Up Enthralled by Unions Even labor-friendly Paris uses fewer workers than New York City, and for a fraction of the cost. American public unions pervert the process. -Bloomberg View  

DISRUPTION MEETS ITS MATCH: THE REGULATOR Big Tech is hiding in plain sight. Today, five companies — Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, and Alphabet (Google’s parent company) — have a collective worth of more than $3 trillion. Yet such transnational companies remain mostly exempt from the sort of regulations and accountability faced by most other industries. -The National Review

Tech giants are telling Trump to preserve a program that allows some spouses of high-skilled immigrants to work in the U.S. Their top lobbying organizations fear the end of the program is imminent -Recode

HSBC to pay $100 million to settle U.S. probe into currency rigging -Reuters

THE RENT Boeing willing to preserve Brazil's 'golden share' in Embraer deal Boeing Co (BA.N) is working to overcome the Brazilian military’s objections to its proposed tie-up with Embraer SA (EMBR3.SA) with alternatives that would preserve the government’s strategic veto rights and ensure safeguards for its defense programs -Reuters


Two Federal Reserve Openings Provide One Chance to Counter Trump The Federal Reserve is facing a significant change in leadership that goes beyond the installation of a new chairman. It is also awaiting the appointment of two other top officials who will play a crucial role in shaping Fed policy. -NYT

ONE UP IEA Sees ‘Explosive’ Growth in U.S. Oil Output as Prices Rally U.S. oil output is set for “explosive” growth this year as prices rally, potentially offsetting a further collapse in Venezuela’s production, the International Energy Agency -Bloomberg

ONE DOWN Crisis-hit Venezuela's oil output plummets in 2017 to decades low Venezuela’s crude oil production fell nearly 13 percent last year, according to figures released by OPEC on Thursday, hitting a 28-year annual low that points to a deepening economic crisis and increased chances of a debt default. -Reuters

ONE EXITS & ENTERS China investment in Brazil hit seven-year high in 2017 -Reuters