7 Dec 2018

Recap: TP1 Workshop

Panelists Anqi Wang and Sean Stacy gave their input regarding the 30 November TP1 Workshop, which featured a speech by Prof. Bart Kerremans on Transatlantic Trade Relations in the Trump Era: Will the 2018 Mid-Elections Make a Difference?

Anqi Wang:

Prof. Bart Kerremans provided an in-depth and passionate presentation in this workshop, and the discussants managed to center on Transatlantic Relations from diversified angles. For my part, I decided to see this topic from the perspective of China as a third party. I started by the initiative of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the distinct attitudes from the EU and US thereon.    

Specifically, the decision of European countries to join this new bank reflected their economic ties with China, while the rejective attitude from the US indicates its suspicion on China’s intention behind, and also the governance and transparency of the bank itself.    

Also, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)  is an important vehicle for delivering China’s foreign economic policy, the Belt and Road initiatives. Which is a macro geo-economic strategy for China to integrate the market of Asia and Europe, and I think a Sino-EU BIT in sight will certainly offer a more transparent and consolidated legal support for the initiative, and for a more stable and mutual-trust economic relation between China and EU as well. What’s more, Trump's protectionist rhetoric could bring China and the EU together to offset the trade tension with the US. Although struggling in a trade war with the US, China is trying to build a stronger strategic network worldwide, seeking for further cooperation both in and outside of Eurasia.

So if seeing the transatlantic relations from China’s position, transition of power from the west to the east is inevitable. While America’s rhetoric has emphasized ‘America first’, China, on the other hand, has been making efforts to establish an image as a committed global leader. Although there are still trade frictions between China and the US, and TTIP may likely repeat the failure of MAI, seeking for cooperation under a more systemized international legal framework could be a solution and might go a long way.

Sean Stacy:

It was my privilege to include be included in the TP1 Workshop on Transatlantic relations after the U.S. midterm elections, which featured a terrific lecture by Professor Bart Kerremans.  Evidencing a breadth of knowledge and a sincere passion for the material, he provided a multifaceted and dynamic look at trade relations before and after the midterms.  Additionally, I was very impressed with the interventions of my fellow discussants.  I thought the diversity of foci and perspectives elicited a number of fascinating and salient questions from the attendees and helped to illuminate the complexity of the current moment. It was my pleasure to make a small contribution towards that end.  

As my work deals with intersections of international economic law and economic development, I centered my intervention on a related area: the state of US foreign aid expenditures (including the debates surrounding these expenditures and the impact the incoming congress may or may not have on those debates).  It was my contention that my chosen topic served to illustrate a growing phenomenon in transatlantic relations; one in which some issue or policy area (e.g. foreign aid) which had previously served as a point of commonality and/or connectivity, had been placed under strain by scrutiny from the U.S. President.

During the course of my talk, I highlighted the relative consistency of US expenditures on foreign aid throughout the last 20 years, and noted that, given the different wielders of power during this timeframe, the consistency of those expenditures likely represented something of a domestic consensus regarding the appropriate aims and magnitude of foreign aid.  I then noted the significant cuts to foreign aid proposed by the Trump administration and the sometimes-unorthodox methods attempted to effectuate that vision.  I argued that the presence of a new Democratic House of Representatives would likely further bolster the resistance to cuts in foreign aid, but that the President’s views on the matter, coupled with changes in his Party, were likely to make this area a continued point of contention. 

Anqi Wang is a PhD candidate in international investment law. Her dissertation topic is The Interpretation of Most-Favored-Nation (MFN) Clause in International Investment Arbitration

Sean Stacy is a PhD candidate in law. His dissertation topic is Development Policy Jewel or Fool's Gold? An Examination of Rule of Law Programs Targeting Economic Institutions.

This TP1 workshop was organised in partnership with the University of Fribourg Department of Law and the Institute for European Law. It featured an opening speech by Prof. Bart Kerremans, and was followed by a panel discussion, chaired by Manfred Elsig.

Bart Kerremans is Professor of International Political Economy and American Politics at the Leuven Institute for International and European Studies, KU Leuven.