ECONOMY

In the midst of the great turbulence in the Brazilian financial markets – with the strong devaluation of the real and the fall of the stock indices – the result of the pre-sal auction, disclosed on June 7, 2018, almost goes unnoticed.

For those who do not know exactly what “pre-sal” is, I refer to this article (in Italian), which clearly describes its potential:

http://www.mondoforex.com/brasile-petrobras-e-progetto-pre-sal/

The government auctioned 4 areas, of which the most coveted was that of Uirapuru (located near to Santos).

The auction was attended by 16 major oil companies, most foreign: a record, demonstrating the renewed interest in the potential extraction of pre-sal.

The auction mechanism foresees a fixed “subscription bonus”: the consortium wins by committing itself to delivering the highest percentage of extracted oil to the Brazilian government, discounted production costs.

In the case of the Uirapuru area, the “bonus” was 2.65 billion reais (about 700 million dollars) and the starting point was a percentage of 22.18% of production: the winning consortium, formed by Exxon , Statoil and Petrogal offered 75.49%, signifying the exceptional potential of this area.

Petrobras, which was part of the losing consortium (having offered “only” 72.05%), exercised the right of preference (established by a law of 2017) and became part of the winning consortium with a 30% stake .

The “Dois Irmaos” area, of lesser importance, went to a consortium formed by Petrobras, BP and Statoil.

The “Tres Marias” area, the smaller of those offered, went to a consortium formed by Petrobras, Shell and Chevron (at its debut in Brazil).

For the fourth area (Itaimbezinho) there were no offers.

It is estimated that, thanks to the oil that will be delivered by the winning consortia, the extra income for the government will amount to about 40 billion reais.

 

This article has been initially published by Update Brazil and can be found here.

China is effectively using its economic muscle in the changing world order. Today, China uses geoeconomic instruments effectually to achieve its geopolitical ends. China is playing its geoeconomic cards to expand its markets from its neighbouring countries to other Asian states and to Europe and sub-Saharan Africa. China has overtly declared that it does not desire to seek hegemony. However, every state including the US and Russia is suspicious of China’s extensive practice of geoeconomics.

China reaching out to its purse instead of a gun

Harris and Blackwill (2016) argue in their book War by Other Means that China looks to geoeconomic means often as its first resort to undermine American influence and power. They criticize the US for abandoning economic techniques of statecraft which China has aptly adopted. “Despite having the most powerful economy on earth, the United States too often reaches for the gun instead of the purse in its international conduct, “they addedHowever, China has started reaching out to its purse to advance its geopolitical ends in the changing world order.

While referring to the US geoeconomic power, Glen Diesen (2017) argues that the US has an ample potential to revive its geoeconomic power because of the ‘Shale Revolution.’ Moreover, he argues that since China is the principal geoeconomic rival of the US, so the realist theory would expect that after reviving its geoeconomics, the US would contain China.

Geoeconomic power of China and the US

Ian Bremmer (2016), President Eurasia Group argues that for frenemies geoeconomics is the perfect instrument. What means China uses and what are its aims behind using those means are the questions raised by China’s geoeconomic power in relation to the US. According to Bremmer (2016), there are four areas in which China’s geoeconomic power against the US plays out:

  1. In China

China’s economic muscle is its geopolitical power. Geoeconomic agenda of China begins at home. It has really become difficult for foreign firms to do business in China because of the various laws and restrictions. However, China’s population of 1.4 billion would make Chinese economic policymakers to realize that they would need foreign direct investment from the US. They have already started working on it (Bremmer, 2016).

  1. In the US

Bremmer (2016) further argues that Chimerica (China-US Relations) is characterized by mutually assured destruction (MAD). China is not only US’s largest trading partner but it is also the leading holder of its treasuries. These reasons are not captivating for China because of China’s approach to direct investment in the US. China is interested in having a strong foothold in the US. What’s most intriguing in this situation is that China is coming close to beating the US in its own game by understanding the capitalism rules.

  1. In International Institutions

Bremmer (2016) argues that China seeks to adapt and scrap the US’s global economic and political system. He refers to the Chinese efforts to maximize its leverage within the Bretton Woods institutions. China’s Asian Infrastructure Investments Bank (AIIB), according to Bremmer (2016) is its attempt to defect from the Bretton Woods system. This is debatable. However, US’s allies like the UK, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Australia etc., have opted to be part of AIIB which in fact support Bremmer’s argument. Moreover, Harris and Blackwill (2016) argue that Chinese promotion of AIIB is to rival the Bretton Woods system. AIIB is also a threat to Manila-based Asian Development Bank in which the US and Japan are the two largest shareholders.

  1. In third-party countries

Because of its ability to deliver fast cash, China has been successfully outplaying the US in Africa and Latin America. Bremmer (2016) however sees this suspiciously because he believes that China’s economy will become fragile and third-party countries will see what good the US represents for them because of liberal world order beliefs.

Trade War between China and the US

In 2017, the trade deficit of the US was $375 billion with China. The US exports to China were $130 billion while its imports were $506 billion. Trump’s imposition of tariffs on imported Chinese goods, met with a tit-for-tat response from Chinese authorities which gave rise to the trade war between China and the US. However, it is reported that both the countries have reached a trade deal this month. In this regard, Edward Elden (2018) comments, “If nothing further is done, the US-China trade deal reached this month will be remembered, to quote a phrase coined by the current president of the United States, as ‘the single worst trade deal’ ever negotiated.” It is yet to be found out what comes out of this China-US trade war and subsequent trade deal.

Conclusion

The US, indeed, is a military power and will remain so for unforeseeable future. According to Andrew Hurrell, the US has a vast global network of 750 overseas military bases in over 100 countries. This clearly shows the US hard power. However, China followed a different suit to cater the US. China used its soft-power rather smart power to advance its geopolitical aims. The US is going to remain the superpower and a hegemon in the world politics. China, on the other hand, would use its geoeconomic muscle to advance its geopolitical ends and shape a China-centric world order.

Muhammad Murad has been writing for different magazines and blogs since 2011. He initially started writing on social issues of Pakistan and later on, he began writing on internal and external issues related to Pakistan. Currently, he is Young Diplomats’ ambassador in Pakistan. He believes in a peaceful liberal democratic world away from war and conflict which would be possible by the power of the pen, not the gun. Muhammad is a business graduate turned  social scientist and aspires to be a writer.

Today, it is nearly impossible for any region to avoid China. China has adapted itself to have this current position in the world order. From free-market economic reforms to the Belt and Road initiative (BRI), China has worked smartly to strengthen its economic might which it currently uses to advance its geopolitical ends. 

China has started promoting its investment and trade in Eurasia to advance its geopolitical aims. In this regard, Sergei Guriev, Visiting Professor, Paris Institute of Political Science, says that the trade and investment in Eurasia is one of China’s key foreign policy initiatives. He adds that China’s investment in Eurasia is significant for the new Silk Road vision connecting China to the North African, Middle Eastern and European markets.

In this article, China’s use of economic tools to gain the geopolitical advantage in Eurasia will be discussed. In this context, China-Russia geoeconomic relationship will also be discussed.

China’s Belt and Road Initiative and Eurasia

Glenn Diesen (2017) writes in his book Russia’s Geoeconomic Strategy for Greater Eurasia that China’s Silk Road Economic Belt aims at connecting Eurasia with land-based energy and transportation infrastructure. Belt and Road Initiative was first announced in this region. Chinese President Xi Jinping announced the One Belt, One Road Initiative in September 2013 during his speech in Kazakhstan. He underlined the role of Central Asia and Kazakhstan in connectivity projects of Eurasia.

Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC)

China is efficiently using Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) to export its goods and meet its energy needs. According to Diesen (2017) Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) is a transportation connectivity program connecting China to Central Asia. It was initiated in 2001 before the Belt and Road Initiative.  CAREC includes 11 countries; China, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia and Kazakhstan. It aimed at facilitating 5% of all trade between East-Asia and Europe by 2017. In 2008, the first trains ran between Germany and China. However, it was by 2013 that the transportation route became competitive to maritime routes by clearly announcing set time schedules, improving travel time and reducing transportation cost. In order to make the transportation route economically viable, adequate trade volume along with infrastructural development and mechanisms is indispensable. By 2011, approximately 200 containers used to pass from the Central Asian Territory which increased to 42000 containers by 2016. Moreover, in order to meet its energy needs, China has constructed pipelines through Central Asia and it is a consumer of Turkmenistan’s majority of gas exports. In this regard, China is also developing, Galkynysh Gas Field in Turkmenistan which is world’s second-largest gas field (Deisen, 2017 p. 85).

China-Russia Geoeconomic Relationship

According to Sergei Guriev, Russia traditionally looked suspiciously at China’s growing influence in Central and Far East Asia. The Russian government did not allow investment of Chinese companies in Russia until recently and in order to keep away the same, it would expand Eurasian Economic Space and Customs Union to its neighbouring countries. Owing to western sanctions on Russia after the war in eastern Ukraine and annexation of Crimea, the west isolated Russia and Russia looked towards East as a counterforce. Since then Russia has become part of Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank (AIIB) and New Development Bank (NDB) and Chinese companies have been permitted to buy stakes in energy industry of Russia. Moreover, Chinese investors have also been leased a large area of land in the Far East.

In addition to this, Glenn Diesen (2017) writes that in order to connect China with Russian Pacific Coast ports, to develop Arctic Sea Route and rail and road development to Europe, Russia has become a significant transportation partner of China. Furthermore, with the Eastern Siberia – Pacific Ocean (ESPO) pipeline, Russia supplies oil to China and it aims to supply gas with the power of Siberia – 1 and Siberia – 2 pipelines by 2019 (Diesen, 2017 & The Moscow Times, 2018).

In a way, western sanctions proved to be a blessing in disguise for both Russia and China. It has become a win-win situation for both the countries and that is what politics of geoeconomics is all about.

China’s geoeconomic influence and Russian apprehensions

Moscow’s biggest apprehension is China-US bipolar system disguised as a unipolar system. The Road and Belt (BRI) initiative also undermines Russian influence in Central Asia which was maintained by the transportation and energy infrastructure of USSR era until a few years ago. Moreover, with the increasingly assertive Chinese naval activities in South and the East China Sea, Russia is afraid that they could be extended to the Sea of Arctic and Okhotsk (Diesen, 2017, p. 89).

China’s geoeconomics and attitude of Russia’s Neighbours

Sergei Guriev believes that Russian neighbouring countries are welcoming Chinese involvement in the region because they are worried of “Big Brother’s” efforts to restore its geopolitical muscle. Kazakhstan is most importantly worried about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s words, “there was no Kazakh State before Nursultan Nazarbayev.” Putin has given such statements about Ukraine before the annexation of Crimea. Therefore, Russian neighbouring countries, most importantly Kazakhstan, are worried about Russia’s next moves. That is why they are interested in Chinese investment as a major economic counterweight to Russia’s dominance in the region.

China and Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan is the most developed ex-Soviet ‘istan,” writes Rapoza in Forbes. He further adds that Kazakhstan is effectively taking advantage of the Chinese Silk Road. With around $8 billion in 2017, China has invested around $20 billion in Kazakhstan since 2014. Rich in oil, sharing the border with China and connecting China with Europe via its rail network, Kazakhstan holds a great significance for China.

To seek the internal insight on China’s geoeconomic moves in the region generally and Kazakhstan particularly, this author contacted a journalist from Kazakhstan.

China is becoming more and more active in the region. Astana particularly very much welcomes the Chinese cooperation, I believe for several reasons,” comments Yerbulan Akhmetav, a journalist from Kazakhstan. Some of the reasons are obvious while others are latent. “Kazakhstan welcomes China because it wants to diversify its economy and move away from exports of natural resources. It wants to start manufacturing good with the help of China by attaching itself logistically to Chinese industries,” he adds them as obvious reasons. These reasons are economical in nature. However, latent reasons are more of political in nature. “Cooperation with China is to diversify foreign interests in Kazakhstan,” he remarks. Moreover, the rationale behind such cooperation is to secure the national interests of Kazakhstan. “The logic is to keep Russian, Chinese, American and if possible European Union investors in Kazakhstan so that they all will have something to lose if there is a political or military aggression towards Kazakhstan,” reflects Akhmetav. Sino-phobia is inevitable when people see so many Chinese walking in their streets. Akhmetav talked about the same phobia taking place in Kazakhstan. While talking other Central Asian countries, he added that it is likely that their relationship with China is motivated for similar economic and political reasons. China is one of the biggest importers of oil in the world and it is interested in the region for oil. Kazakhstan old importance for China because it is an oil-rich country which also happens to share a border with it, he concludes.

Conclusion

Geoeconomics is a positive sum game. China has become vital for Eurasia while Eurasia is crucial for China to meet its energy needs and reach out to its markets. Russia, however, is somewhat suspicious of Chinese moves in Eurasia. Despite this, it could not ignore China’s investments pouring into Russia. Russia’s neighbours being afraid of the “Big Brother’s” next moves welcomed the Chinese investments in their countries.

Muhammad Murad has been writing for different magazines and blogs since 2011. He initially started writing on social issues of Pakistan and later on, he began writing on internal and external issues related to Pakistan. Currently, he is Young Diplomats’ ambassador in Pakistan. He believes in a peaceful liberal democratic world away from war and conflict which would be possible by the power of the pen, not the gun. Muhammad is a business graduate turned  social scientist and aspires to be a writer.

Lately Cuba has faced a serious, almost unbelievable change: Raul Castro, brother of more famous Fidel Castro, announced a start of the elections to the presidency of the Council of State, meaning that people could choose the second person of power after Raul himself, since he officially remains the First Secretary of Cuban Communist Party until 2021, as he claims. This position was taken up by Raul’s First Deputy in the State Council and Government, Miguel Mario Diaz-Canel Bermudez, the first President of Cuba to be born after the Cuban Revolution of 1953-1959.

Undoubtedly, the newly elected Head of State is absolutely faithful to the principles of the revolution, otherwise he wouldn’t have earned Castro’s trust. Still, we can already see that his rule is about to bring changes to the habitual state structure of Cuba. In this article you will see, what tendencies have come along with the Castro family, and what are analysts’ forecasts for island’s future.

Fidel Castro’s reforms

First thing we should consider when talking about Castro’s regime is that he didn’t let the opposition act. He established a great amount of revolutionary field courts whose duty was to prosecute the opposition representatives, especially those who strongly supported Batista, the former Cuban ruler which was overthrown during the revolution. He even conducted demonstrative executions in Havana and provinces. He also closed and banned lost of casinos and brothels owned and held by American mafia.

Second thing is the agricultural revolution. Castro realized that Cuba has very fertile soil, which has much more potential than it was used for. He started a process of industrialized farming development, 40% of the lands went to the state sector, whereas all the rest went to peasants. At the same time 90% of private enterprises were nationalized.

These and many other actions prevented the US from influencing Cuba. US government realized that Cuba’s new administration is about to stay for a long time, so they attempted to exert pressure on Castro and his family by entering quotas on sugar purchase. This was just the beginning of an impending economic blockade.

At the same time Cuba’s relationships with USSR were getting stronger than ever. In 1960 they signed a loan agreement for Cuba, equivalent to 100 million US dollars. Why did the Soviet Union need it? Only to exert even more pressure on USA. They immediately started to supply military equipment to the island, ostensibly to help Cubans repulse potential attacks from the US, but in reality, with their own intentions. This sooner led to the famous Cuban Missile Crisis, being the tensest moment in the Cold War.

From the economic point of view, Castro took actions in favor of industrialization, concentrated in the hands of the State. With the help of USSR, Cuba quickly obtained all the required equipment, oil and loans, while selling sugar, nickel, tobacco and rum back to the Soviets. By the 1970s Cuba reached economic stability, increasing their GDP to 4% per year. Metallurgy and light industry developed, the unemployment rate fell to a historically low level. In 1976 a Constitution was adopted, finally fixing the communist way of State government.

What should Cubans expect from Diaz-Canel

Analysts believe that new Head of State will follow a course of moderate market reforms that Raul started. Still, despite the statement of Cuba’s new government on GDP growth of 1.5% per year, the UN economic commission for Latin American countries and in the Caribbean, the real growth was of 0.5%.

In any case, any process that is about to occur will not be a big surprise for the population, since all his actions are yet strictly controlled by Raul and his entourage. However, US couldn’t stay aside of this situation. The Helms-Burton Act of 1996 included a point where it is stated that one of the demands for the economic blockage annulment was Castro family’s abandonment of power. Three weeks ago, the US representative in the UN raised a question of restarting the US-Cuba economic relationships. However, two days later, on Summit of the Americas in Lima, Peru, which was ignored both by Donald Trump and Raul Castro, US Vice-President Mike Pence returned to the traditional criticism of Cuba, pointing out the violation of Human Rights in Cuba.

To sum up, looks like the tendency of USA’s pressure on Cuban government is far from the end. This adds additional severe conditions for Diaz-Canel’s administrations, while increasing the population’s expectations. The closest crucial moment to happen is Raul’s total resignation in 2021, again, as he claims. From that moment he will have to fulfill those expectations while being considered a totally independent leader of possibly successful independent State of Cuba. We will see where it will lead us to.

 

M.I.G. studies International Relations at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. 

With increased violence and instability in the Middle East in the aftermath of the Arab Spring, Turkish foreign policy has been a hot topic in international media and forums. Over the last two years, Turkey’s role in regional politics has come under increased scrutiny, especially in association with the activity of another resurgent power, Russia. Both Russia and Turkey, whose elites share so many similarities in perspective and their approach to the outside world, act united in their resolution to put their bilateral relations on a firm and strategically coherent foundation.

Conditions for deeper cooperation are ripe as never before. Both powers enjoy ambivalent relations with Western partners. Moreover, both Turkey and Russia have attempted to diversify their foreign relations since the end of the Cold War and move away from what they see to be a cumbersome dependence on Europe.  Against this background, the concept of ‘Eurasianism’ has long been viewed as an ideational platform that can further cement Russian-Turkish ties and can create an effective drive for a civilizational alliance capable of resisting Western pressure.

After the end of bipolar global confrontation in the early 1990s, Turkey and Russia discovered in each other prospective partners in many areas, especially trade, tourism, construction and energy projects. However, it was only with the establishment of the High-Level Cooperation Council in May 2010 that Ankara and Moscow could finally overcome their residual mutual mistrust and could approach each other regarding more strategic issues expanding upon their experience within the Eurasian political space.

Statements made by Turkish and Russian officials may serve as proof that both sides are considering expanding bilateral ties into multilateral cooperation focused on Eurasian integration projects. In November 2013, during the bilateral High-Level Cooperation Council meeting, Turkish Prime-Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan proposed the idea of Turkey entering the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and free trade agreements with Eurasian countries as a way to rebalance its’ unsuccessful accession talks with the European Union.  Signals to this effect were later repeatedly sent even after the 2015 downing of a Russian Su-24 jet by Turkish forces. In August 2017, after having gained no progress over renewals of terms with the European Union Customs Union (EUCU), Turkish officials once again pointed at the possibility of Turkey seeking alternatives in Eurasian integration projects, such as the Eurasian Customs Union that unites the markets of Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan.

Even though, one may speculate that many statements made by Turkish officials in their essence remain mere rhetoric, there are instances where the Turkish government has undertaken practical steps to boost closer economic ties with Eurasian countries. Since 2008, Turkey began implementing a number of projects, mainly infrastructural, such as the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway. Such projects aim to lay the groundwork for the wider integration of the Turkish economy in trade projects with China and Central Asian republics, within the framework of the One Belt One Road Initiative. Meanwhile,  Moscow tends to make statements that both criticize Western political dominance while singling out Turkey as a non-Western power that would be suitable for cooperation and participation in ostensibly Russian-led initiatives.

Historic perspective

The trend to push bilateral relations into a more ideologically refined, Eurasianist framework may have a historical rationale. Both Turkey and Russia share the experience of an imperial history and the related nostalgia for past glories.  After the collapse of their perspective imperial polities, the political process of Russia and Turkey has been defined by efforts of their national elites to modernize and carry out reforms that would enable them to compete with European, and later Western powers, on equal terms. While each country followed a different trajectory, such remedial modernization projects carried out in both Russia and Turkey may have contributed to convergence between Moscow and Ankara during the 20th century, despite the fierce ideological confrontation between them.

In the 1920s, Turkey and the Soviet Union considered each other perfect partners to overcome dangerous isolation of their newly established political regimes by European powers and the United States. The psychological burden of the Treaty of Rapallo and the Treaty of Sevres later played a decisive role in Ankara’s attempts to seek the cooperation and solidarity of Moscow when its own ties with America soured. In 1984, with Cold War hostility waning, Turkey and the Soviet Union managed to forge a very sophisticated goods-for-gas agreement.  This marked a firm beginning for deeper economic cooperation.

But it is not only a common historical legacy and a similar path of modernization, but also common contemporary challenges that today push Turkey and Russia closer. The geopolitical shifts of the post-Cold War order put tremendous pressure on the security and foreign policy of both powers. With the stabilization of national economies in Russia and Turkey in the latter part of the 1990s, both endeavored to expand their footprint in their close geographical neighborhood, in regions where a historical and cultural legacy would facilitate their penetration. The 21st century activism of these new rising powers has caused some political circles to believe that the old world is waning under the rising influence of new Eurasian powers like Russia, Turkey, China and others.

A further force that brought Turkey and Russia together was the expansion of democratic freedoms in both countries during the 1990s, and then a decline of democratization efforts and an eventual drift toward authoritarianism in the 2010s. Today, political regimes in Turkey and Russia can best be described as hybrid regimes. They have competitive authoritarian features with ostensibly functioning democratic institutions. While the ruling party or leader exerts pressure and control on the opposition via informal channels, there has not been a slide into outright authoritarianism which would be neither internationally acceptable nor productive under conditions where national economies depend on the outside world.

Problems with democratic process, the rule of law, human rights and freedom has long been drawing criticism from Europe and the United States. The underlying logic behind Western attempts to anchor democratic rule in Turkey and Russia may be expressed by a desire to see more predictable, cooperative and ideologically friendly regimes that would further contribute to promotion of these norms and values in their adjacent regions: the Middle East, Central Asia, the Caucasus, and Eastern Europe. On the other hand, Western attempts to secure democratic achievements of the previous years and to support civil society are regarded by ruling political elites today as a direct intrusion in domestic affairs, which represents yet another foreign policy challenge uniting Turkey and Russia.

Under these conditions, circles led in Russia by Alexander Dugin and by Doğu Perinçek in Turkey are being bestowed by the benevolence of their rulers, who are eager to talk about a common idea that would unite Russian and Turkish activism for the sake of their better and firmer resistance to the Western attempts to ostensibly subdue these nations. Roots of the Eurasian ideology go back to the early 20th century, when Russian intellectuals tried to redefine the roots of state crisis within the Russian Empire and to assess the results of the Bolshevik revolution that gave rise to the new geopolitical colossus, the Soviet Union. Eurasianists came to the conclusion that Russia represents not a nation, but a civilization that unites all local nations in the vast territories of Eurasia. In its essence this ideology was a reformulated tradition of Russian Slavic nationalism.

Today’s Eurasianism

Today (neo)-Eurasianism tends to describe the efforts of states to develop an indigenous framework of cooperation, usually as an alternative to the dominance of Western capitalism. Russian and Turkish official circles tend to credit Eurasianism as a practical ideological framework for mutual cooperation for several crucial reasons. First of all, by saying that all versions of national democracies have the right to existence, Eurasianists in essence emphasize the idea of sovereignty and vehemently reject interference into domestic affairs. Besides, Eurasianists’ focus on existing alternatives to the Western values and norms of international conduct add legitimacy to Russian and Turkish criticism of Western partners and, on a rhetorical level, improve their negotiating positions in talks over terms of future dialogue with the West.

But looking into the real world manifestation of the Eurasianist narrative reveals serious gaps. The tendency to ascribe Eurasianism as a driving force behind rapprochement seems to be a myth. Alternatively, it doesn’t seem to be a reliable driving force of bilateral ties that are loaded with hidden competition in the Central Asia, Black Sea, Caucasus and Syria. Moreover, advocates of Eurasianism in Turkey and Russia understand the term to mean different things. For Russian Eurasianists, Eurasianism entails an ideology that today is called upon to legitimize the Russian presence in its neighbourhood. Meanwhile, for Turkish Eurasianists the term tends to mean a foreign policy strategy that is focused on developing effective tools against Western pressure. Finally, Eurasian rhetoric serves the purpose of masking the transactional and situational character of bilateral relations, evidenced by the S-400 deal and cooperation in Syria.

While Russian and Turkish officials show a desire to talk about the underlying ideological foundation of the rapprochement, it is nevertheless evident that both countries are more inclined to advance ties with the Western world. The volume of trade between Turkey and the European Union in 2016 was at the level of US $145 billion, while Russian-Turkish trade hit a mark of US $21.6 billion in 2017. An unbalanced trade structure (with Russian energy exports enjoying better positions) and economic relations force Turkey and Russia talk about bilateral ties in more abstract terms by describing their relations as part of a bigger Eurasian project. Moreover, in cultural terms the population of both states feels more affiliated with Europe than with each other. Both Russia and Turkey each have a large expatriate community in European countries.

Attempts being made by Russia and Turkey to dress bilateral relations in a more rigid ideational framework are understandable. Still, Turkey and Russia can’t build the future of their relations on an anti-Western narrative. Paradoxically, it is their common movement towards the European community that may advance cooperation: historical process of entering the European civilization established better rules of diplomatic conduct while providing guarantees from breaking the law by the other side. Within this movement, each of the two powers feels more secure knowing that they share common ideas and values like the rule of law, democracy and human rights. These commonalities may further increase tolerance to inter-dependence and compromise in critical areas and help Turkey and Russia to overcome, rather than ignore their historical legacy of mistrust.

 

David İmoisi, originally from Nigeria, is currently studying international relations at Yakin Dogu Universitesi in Cyprus. His interests revolve around international politics and diplomacy.

Glen Diesen (2017) defines geoeconomics as the economics of geopolitics in his book Russia’s Geoeconomic Strategy for a Greater Eurasia. He further adds that with more destructive weapons and growing economic interdependence in a globalized world, the power derives progressively from control over financial institutions, transportation corridors and strategic markets rather than territory. Moreover, in their book War by Other Means Jennifer M. Harris and Robert Blackwill (2016) define geoeconomics as “the use of economic instruments to promote and defend national interests, and to produce beneficial geopolitical results and effects of other nations’ economic actions on country’s geopolitical goals.” Thus, one can define geoeconomics as an economic instrument or set of instruments to achieve geopolitical ends.

China effectively uses the geoeconomic instruments to achieve its geopolitical aims in the twenty-first century.

China’s Economic Might in a Glimpse:

A specialist in Asian Trade and Finance, Wayne M. Morrison, argues that before the Chinese economic reforms of 1979, the Chinese economy was isolated from the other economies of the world besides keeping its economy centrally-controlled, poor, inefficient and stagnant. The economic reforms resultantly brought in foreign investment and trade into China. China, since then, has witnessed one of the fastest growing GDP growth rates in the world. China’s economy saw almost a double-digit GDP growth rate on an average in last three decades. According to the Trading Economics Website, China’s GDP growth rate from 1989-2017 on an average was nearly 9.66% which is slightly lesser than the two-digit growth rate that China maintained from 1989-2014 on an average. Besides this, China is not only the largest economy in the world in terms of purchasing power parity but also the largest holder of foreign exchange reserves, largest manufacturer and merchandise trader. In 2017, China’s exports were $2.3 trillion.

Changing China Story:

According to Mark Leonard, ECFR Director, “If the big China story of the past few decades was about growth, exports and investments, the story of the next decade will be about the creation of a Chinese economic and political order.” He, furthermore, argues that despite its slow growth rate in the past few years, China has become part of the fabric of economic life of most countries around the world. Rather than overthrowing existing institutions as many had feared, China is utilizing its economic might to develop a series of relationships which connect world in a more China-Centric world order, Leonard adds. Moreover, Leonard says that the new world order (economic and political order) is designed differently from the Western-led multilateral institutions because China prefers to craft a series of bilateral and multilateral relationships with different states and also with regional forums or organizations.

China’s Geo-economic muscle in the 21st Century:

Jennifer M. Harris and Robert Blackwill (2016) in their book War by Other Means state that there are at least seven economic tools apposite to the geopolitical application: trade, investments, sanctions, cyber, aid, financial and monetary policy, and national policies governing energy and commodities.

China effectively uses all these tools to meet its geopolitical ends. However, Wu Xinbo (2016), Executive Dean, Fudan University China, argues that China’s geoeconomic power particularly lies in five areas.

1. Trade

China, owing to its large exports and the largest domestic market, uses Trade as a geo-economic tool commendably. From Asia-Pacific to Africa and from Europe to Latin America China maintains trade relations with over a 100 countries. Xinbo (2016) in this regard claims that China is the largest trading partner of over a 130 states.

  1. Investment Policy

China became an active provider of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) after the global financial Crisis of 2008. Behind only from US and Japan, China became the third largest investor country from 2012 to 2014 (Xinbo, 2016). However, according to World Investment Report 2017, China has become the second largest investor country in the world, leaving Japan behind. It is, furthermore, estimated that China is going to take over US in this regard by 2020. China’s investments are focused on infrastructure and energy mostly. These investments contribute to China’s geoeconomic power in the twenty-first century.

  1. Financial Institutions

Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and New Development Bank (NDB) are established recently. AIIB aims at providing financial support to the One Belt-One Road (OBOR) Initiative of Chinese President Xi Jinping which he announced in 2013 in Astana, Kazakhstan. NDB is BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) bank which aims at providing financial assistance to infrastructure projects in BRICS countries (Xinbo, 2016). Xinbo (2016) adds that China holds over 30% of shares in AIIB and 41% of shares in NDB which give China more leverage in operations and making of rules of both the institutions. China’s economic power will enhance as states start taking assistance from these institutions.

Moreover, some argue that main objective behind AIIB is to compete with and eventually replace Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Bretton Woods Institutions in Asia-Pacific. However, it would be premature to compare and contrast between these at this stage.

  1. Internationalization of Renminbi (RMB)

China started the policy of internationalizing of Renminbi from 2009. Internationalization of Renminbi includes its use in international investment and trade and also its inclusion in the reserves assets held by central banks in other countries (Xinbo, 2016). In 2015, Yuan (Renminbi) received the status of a reserve currency from IMF. Renminbi was added to IMF’s Special Drawing Rights basket in 2016. Yuan (Renminbi) is included in the Special Drawing Rights basket of IMF along with Euro, US dollar, British Pound and Japanese Yen.

  1. Infrastructure alliances under Road and Belt Initiative (BRI)

Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) will connect China with the world from Asia-Pacific to Europe and from Latin America to Africa. Currently, there are 65 countries part of China’s Belt and Road initiative. China is building infrastructure, pipelines and helping countries to get rid of their energy woes.

Besides these instruments, China also uses Cyber as an effective geoeconomic tool to achieve its geopolitical ends.

Cyber as a Geo-economic Instrument for China

Jennifer M. Harris and Robert Blackwill (2016) in their book War by Other Means state that although it is quite uncertain to gauge the magnitude and nature of cyber-attacks yet there is a good reason to consider cyber as the most powerful and the newest instrument of geoeconomics. They further argue that most of the IP addresses of the cyber-attacks can be traced inside China and Russia. They quote a private study and state that in any given day, cyberattacks account for nearly 15% but this figure plunged to 6.5% on October 1, 2011, when many workers in China took leave owing to China’s National Day. Furthermore, with regards to China’s use of cyber, Farid Zakaria opines in his article published in The Washington Post on April 5, 2018, “Look at the Chinese economy today. It has managed to block or curb the world’s most advanced and successful technology companies, from Google to Facebook to Amazon. Foreign banks often have to operate with local partners who add zero value — essentially a tax on foreign companies.” He adds that during these attacks intellectual property and secrets of American companies are shared with their Chinese competitors. Thus, cyber proves to be an effective and the most powerful geoeconomic tools in this era of social media and technology. However, understanding of Cyber as a geoeconomic tool needs thorough understanding which is beyond the scope of this article.

In addition to this, Financial and Economic Sanctions is also a geoeconomic instrument but China does not believe in it or at least does not use it overtly. However, China equivocally insinuates that it can use it against countries which support Taiwan’s independence claim and maintain diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

Conclusion

China’s economic might has enabled it to gain geoeconomic power in the 21st century. Unlike US and other powers of the past, China is using its muscles differently. It is reaching out to its purse instead of a gun to achieve its geopolitical ends as authors of War by Other Means put it. In this regard, China uses several geoeconomic instruments from trade and investments policy to cyber-attacks effectively which are on their way to shape China-centric world order.

Muhammad Murad has been writing for different magazines and blogs since 2011. He initially started writing on social issues of Pakistan and later on, he began writing on internal and external issues related to Pakistan. Currently, he is Young Diplomats’ ambassador in Pakistan. He believes in a peaceful liberal democratic world away from war and conflict which would be possible by the power of the pen, not the gun. Muhammad is a business graduate turned  social scientist and aspires to be a writer.

The Budget Speech by Mr Amadou Sanneh at the Gambia National Assembly in Banjul is brilliant, comprehensive and one of the best budget speeches I have heard and listened to regarding Gambia in recent years. It was presented by a notable economist, a seasoned politician and a very humble man. I had the honour of meeting him last year at an International conference in Jeddah. In the thirty minutes we met, he never discussed his personal ordeals at the hands of the former regime. Rather, he spoke substantively of macroeconomic policies to move Gambia forward.

I listened to his maiden budget speech on Friday 15th December 2017 from A to Z and found in it profundity, substance and policy. He started the Speech by the fact that the New Gambia inherited a debt burden of D58.5 billion (over 120% of GDP). I am no economist, but common sense can dictate to us the seriousness of the above assertion. According to the Minister, the New Government has a gigantic task to undo the 22 years of economic mismanagement and replace that with sound and good economic governance and financial discipline. Indeed, it is not going to be an easy task to rectify the many years of fiscal indiscipline and financial impropriety. However, that needs prudence and calmness to put heads together for a better and prosperous Gambia regardless of political affiliations and ethnic backgrounds. Gambia needs people with ideas and talents to fix the years of damage and mess economically, politically, socially and educationally. The country needs an overhaul in all the sectors. The country faces acute managerial and administrative issues that require urgent attention. The new Head of Civil service is introducing positive reforms in the civil service.  The highlights of the Budget Speech include the following:

  1. Despite the legacy of a great debt burden inherited from the previous regime, the Government of Gambia is bent on initiating a reform agenda economically and institutionally to create efficiency within the Government, stimulate the economy and attract investment by the business community
  2. Increasing transport allowance for the lower paid public employees
  3. Commissioning of research on aligning Gambian pensions policies with world standards to provide Gambians with decent pension scheme during retirement

Minister Sanneh pointed out that the energy sector will witness marked improvement in the coming months and years. On another note, he emphasises the Government efforts to secure a good deal with partners to start tapping into the natural resources of the Gambia in both the energy and mineral sectors.

It is indisputable that the broken economy inherited will not be easily fixed. It will require concerted and collective efforts of all the Gambians in  Gambia and in the diaspora to cross-fertilise ideas in order to bring Gambia out of the mess it was put in for decades.

The Budget Speech is essentially a framework for economic stimulation, transformation and attraction of investors to Gambia. I am sure the Speech must have sent positive signals to global financial markets and created an assurance that the economy of Gambia is in safe hands and on the trajectory of recovery. We believe that this new economic transformation that Gambia is witnessing and the trajectory the Government is taking will change the livelihood of the ordinary Gambians and will enable them to provide their loved ones with basics necessities. I think it will soon be a right for every Gambian to have a decent education, a good standard of living and health insurance. These should be coupled with Government efforts to develop the infrastructure of Gambia both physical and human. It is not impossible to achieve the above if there is willingness to tap into the wealth of experience Gambians have intellectually, technically and above all the rich cultural heritage Gambia is endowed with. I have emphasised a lot on human infrastructure in my previous articles to underline the supremacy of human dignity, human freedom and human rights. It is easier to build the physical infrastructure than the human infrastructure.

 

Dr. Alhagi Manta Drammeh is an Associate Professor at Al-Maktoum College of Higher Education, Scotland, UK.

The nature of opposition politics in Nigeria is such that, matters that should ordinarily generate healthy public debates are often relegated for petty issues or otherwise implicated in mere rabble-rousing. This sometimes makes a party in power to be lost in avoidable denial of the obvious. The comments made by Bill Gates at the expanded national economic council meeting on March 22, 2018 gave a trampoline for the opposition parties to raise their value in the political space by enriching the developmental debate with their findings on the government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP). Bill Gates had said that the execution priorities of the ERGP do not fully reflect people’s needs, prioritizing physical capital over human capital (words which he reiterated in an interview with the CNN). In all conscience however, he acknowledged the fact that the Economic Growth and Recovery Plan identifies investing in people as one of the three strategic objectives.

To put the matter in perspective, we can infer from the foregoing that Bill Gates did not fault the plan but, its implementation. He specifically harped on the string that the investment in young people, in health and education is not good enough. Over time, Nigeria has had wonderful development plans but the problem has always been with implementation and ensuring plan discipline. Hence, it is imperative that we look at different responses and case scenarios to this timely caution and voice of reason. These scenarios on whether the lessons are lost are presented in a typical multiple-choice format of “Yes”, “No” and “Maybe.”

The “Yes” scenario: The Lessons are lost

In the case the lessons from the comment are lost, there are certain indications which include: trivializing the comments or reducing it to another national joke as to whether Bill Gates is an economist or not. First, it wasn’t a comment made by a pseudo neoliberal scholar to sly the government of another country. Rather, he was invited to participate in the expanded economic council meeting having considered him worthy of that. Another indication would be whisking away the comment in a cavalierly attitude like “we-are-doing-good-enough.” However, it will be bold to pretend that the investments in young people in health and education in the country are good enough. As a matter of coincidence, in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria a week after the comment, the President of the Nigerian Medical Association, Mike Ogirima, said that Nigeria had a ratio of one doctor to 6,000 people as against the WHO’s recommendation of one doctor to 600 people in a community. He decried the lack of facility to absorb almost 3,000 medical doctors being produced annually by the medical schools despite the need for them. According to him, those rounding off their training in medical schools lack places to do their one year training. Yet, those who are engaged are daunted by poor working condition as a result of lack of hospital equipments, poor facilities and understaffing forcing many to seek better opportunities abroad. This, no doubt, will have a serious impact on the quality of health service and the productivity of the people.

In the same vein, no nation can grow beyond its education system. Education is the treasure trove for the human capital of a nation. At a time of critical change, nations always turn to their education sector to serve as the conveyor belt and pillar of support for the desired development. After the launch of Sputnik 1 as the first artificial Earth satellite by the Soviet Union in 1957, America felt they might be outstripped by their archrival in space technology. Hence, they overhauled their education system and adopted pragmatism as the new education philosophy. The education system in Nigeria is yet to receive such a wave of change to lead in the march to greatness. Many emerging economies are investing in their young ones through education. According to Kishore Mahbubani, educational excellence is a prerequisite for cultural confidence. He asserted that, what makes Asia’s rise to be irreversible is the simultaneous successes of China and India. Both countries have the most optimistic generation of young people they have seen in centuries. Nothing can hold down the dynamism and rigor they will bring to their societies and the whole world. For instance, education is one of the key indicators in measuring Global Innovation Index. The top 25 spots in the list have always belonged to the high-income economies. In 2016, China broke through this barrier and took 25th place and by 2017, China inched up to 22 in the list. If the leadership of the country remains complacent in their education for “meal ticket” system in this innovation driven and knowledge based world, then the lessons from Bill’s comment are undoubtedly lost.

The “No” scenario: (The lessons are not lost)

If we tick the “No” response scenario, that would amount to a positive attitude by the leadership of the country and accepting the comment in good faith. The manifestation of that would include factoring in social inclusion measurement and indicators in the periodic assessment of the ERGP especially in relation to the young population in Nigeria. The young people constitute about 60% of the estimated population of 180 million which makes their case a concern for all. A positive reaction would also require assessing the effectiveness of current policies and programmes aimed at the young people such as the N-Power and school feeding programme. Importantly, measuring social inclusion is highly relevant in order for countries to assess their performance, to determine the progress being made and to evaluate the impact of their policies. Social inclusion indicators should not only focus on economic growth but also on social spending and access to services. The measurement should cover areas such as poverty alleviation, access to social services (education, health and sanitation), access to job/decent works, social protection, opportunity to participate in decision making process (that affect their lives), housing, empowerment etc. This would ensure the government’s plans are kept on track as stated in the ERGP to support the economically disadvantaged, create jobs, improve accessibility, affordability and equality of health care across the country and guarantee improved human capital through access to basic education for all.

The “Maybe” Scenario (Not sure whether the lessons are lost or not)

This case scenario would be that of finding reasons to justify the current mode of executing the ERGP. The country truly reels under the burden of infrastructural deficit as a result of abandoned projects that have accumulated over time. The infrastructural decadence arising from the mismanagement of past administrations dictates that we must start from somewhere. This is in addition to the fact that we just emerged from a serious recession.

Nevertheless, we would still want to be reassured that we are on course with the implementation pattern of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan. Perhaps, the National Orientation Agency will work towards carrying the people along in government policy execution so that we can be convinced that we have not lost focus as a nation.

 

Kamal Ololade Ahmed is a graduate of Political Science and Public Administration and he is currently a postgraduate student at the Nigerian Defence Academy where he is pursuing a Master’s degree in Defence and Strategic Studies.

 

We should be clear that the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is not an aiding program from China to the involving countries, especially the developing ones. China is not doing any charity with the BRI. The investments, trading and other projects will be profit oriented; it does not matter whether profit could be short or long term.

BRI is an established set of mechanism. I would like to take it as a new concept of regional and global development. If you review the bilateral agreement and relating projects China has signed with countries concerned you may find that there is no such standard version of cooperation under BRI. They were all negotiated and finalized in a mutual trust and win-win spirit. To shoulder the risk and burden together and share the achievements I also believe that more diversified form of cooperation will be adopted as more countries like Nepal are joining the BRI.

While talking about BRI and the Marshall Plan forged by the US after the World War II, I do not find any synchronization between the two. For instance, there might be some political intentions for China to promote this initiative so actively. However, it is totally different from Marshall Plan, which directly aimed at controlling the involved countries politically and economically.

The BRI has been promoted without setting any political precondition and considering the historical anecdotes about China it is difficult to buy the idea of Western scholars regarding the BRI that China might push its Communist ideology along with BRI as a major factor in this commercial world of today.

Although President Xi Jinping has famously said that China is a peaceful nation and will not interfere in the political affairs of any other nation, the recent political debacle in South Asian Countries like Maldives and Sri Lanka (debt trap) has seriously raised the question of Chinese influence in the internal politics of those countries.

The adoption of Mandarin as a national language of Pakistan, another South Asian country, is also a Chinese influence in internal politics of another country. Official consideration of national language seldom might be regarded as a minor issue as it has the potential to replicate the challenges in days to come. These three countries’ politics has been in turmoil within a short span of time due to their over-dependence with China.

These issues can be analyzed in another way too. Those three countries might have envisioned China as the alternate force to balance some other country or power. Similarly, their engagement with China does not seem to have been prepared well. China is a paramount factor in the today’s world unlike its predecessor. The Chinese are much focused on their agenda and they are clear about what they are seeking from their friends and foes.

The interactions between Nepal and China

Is Nepal prepared enough to engage with China in a robust way? To address the asymmetrical dependence of Nepal with India, Nepal needs to cooperate with China in all possible aspects. China and India are the only neighbors of Nepal. We do not have any other choices but to befriend them. Both are our geographical compulsions. To end the asymmetric dependence of Nepal with India, China is only a better choice.

Should the bitter experience of South Asian neighbors with India inspire us to pivot to China? It is true that Nepal wants to escape from political, economic and even psychological hegemony of India over Nepal in many senses. But we should not advocate China as an alternate to India. Nepal needs to take steps to correct the policy courses from equidistance to equi-proximity with two neighbors and reinvigorate relations which could be adapted to changing circumstances with both of our neighbors.

As we can figure out, the modality of International Politics within a decade has distinctly changed with the lasting impacts. Wars, conflict and terror still are in the driving seat; however, the present world is more inclined towards the commercial aspects. Chinese cities are slowly but steadily accepted as modern economic hubs.

Nepal can meaningfully cooperate with China in days to come. Will Nepal be in a position to reap the fruits from the cooperation? If we do not do proper homework in the near future, BRI could be next World Trade Organization for us.

China’s business with Nepal is expanding every year. However, the trade balance vigorously favors China. Considering the statistics presented by the Trade and Export Promotion Center (TEPC) China has surpassed India in the commerce in Nepal. Chinese trade has grown 17 times more in Nepal since 2006. If we look at Nepal’s trade with China in the past one year, exports have decreased by 22.6 percent and import has been increased by 13.8 percent (TEPC, 2017). Can we imagine what might be the condition with the proper implementation of BRI project and its embedded infrastructure?

Nepal hasn’t been able to decrease trade deficit in spite of being given zero tariffs for nearly 9,000 Nepali products in China. The government of Nepal still appears to be unprepared and unclear to deal with this issue. The main objective of BRI is connectivity and infrastructure. China has ample of things to export. But what are we going to export to China? Is only importing Chinese goods and Chinese tourists our purpose in joining the BRI project? BRI will benefit us only if we can re-customize it for our betterment.

With the implementation of BRI, Nepal will be free from singular sea route through India for international trade. Eventually, this could benefit Nepal in many prospects. However, we should also equally be vigilant about security challenges that might occur with Tibetan issues. Security challenges in Nepal ultimately will hamper stability of both the neighbours.

 

It’s over two years now since the World trade organization ‘effectively’ ended negotiations on the Doha Rounds, but what Impact could it have had on global trade?

What are the Doha Rounds?

The Doha Development Round of WTO negotiations which started in 2001 essentially sought to tackle this, as a means of lowering Global trade barriers through cutting subsidies to a level where unsubsidized exports would have been competitive.

Image result for Doha rounds

The Doha ministerial declaration gave birth to the ‘Doha Rounds’ of multilateral trade negotiations with the main objective of lowering trade barriers among other things, thereby fundamentally tackling sticky issues like agricultural subsidies employed by developed nations which continues to empower their domestic agricultural sectors in an effort to create monopoly and drive out competition in global trade.

The Importance of Agriculture

The West spends billions of dollars in direct agricultural subsidies, annually, basically giving artificial economic power to their domestic agricultural sectors

Agriculture is arguably one aspect where developing and least developed countries enjoy a comparative advantage but remains a sector that is overwhelmingly subsidized in developed countries, something that global trade experts effectively considered as a barrier to trade.

The Doha Development Round of WTO negotiations which started in 2001 essentially sought to tackle this, as a means of lowering Global trade barriers through cutting subsidies to a level where unsubsidized exports would have been competitive.

The West spends billions of dollars in direct agricultural subsidies, annually, basically giving artificial economic power to their domestic agricultural sectors thus making it extremely difficult if not impossible for any outside competition.  In fact, such agricultural subsidies also continue to create what is termed as ‘international dumping’ whereby subsidized farmers ‘dump’low-cost agricultural goods in foreign markets and drives out local farmers from developing countries as these governments do not have the economic might to grant fat agricultural financial backing.

As Lord Mark Malloch Brown, former head of the UNDP succinctly puts it in one of his interviews: “it is this extraordinary distortion of global trade, where the West spends $360 billion a year on protecting its agriculture with a network of subsidies and tariffs that costs developing countries about US$50 billion in potential lost agricultural exports.”

And so the ‘death’ of this ambitious Doha Development Agenda (DDA) has grossly damaged the credibility of globalization and is profusely hurting the least-developed countries, which are increasingly becoming anxious to export some of their agricultural goods into the western markets.

The Example of Haiti

A good example of a country adversely affected by agricultural subsidies in the developed world is Haiti. With a capacity to produce enough rice to feed its people, but it is now largely dependent on imported subsidized food as the unsubsidized local farmers can no more compete with the incursion of ‘international dumping’.

This is the magnitude of the trade barrier that the Doha Rounds intended to wipe out.

But these negotiations which were originally planned to conclude in 2005 continue to draw stalemate after more than a decade of the initially planned date of conclusion of talks.

There doesn’t seem to be any solution to the impasse and with over two years after the last WTO ministerial meeting in Nairobi, and with substantially no agreement thus far, we can safely say that the Doha Round has finally died. Developing countries will be looking across their shoulders at what could have been, as they continuously accede to agreements which essentially only allow the west to benefit.

Abraham Zaqi Kromah 

Director of Young Diplomats Liberia

Abraham Zaqi is passionate young Liberian about international affairs and diplomacy, especially economic diplomacy and the rising powers.My interest is how to be able to use diplomacy and global relations as a tool to promote equal opportunities for both the developing and developed states.As a law school graduate, I focus my research efforts mainly on the legal instruments that underlie international affairs.I am presently an LLM student with a very strong concentration on mainly the WTO and its various agreements as a means of promoting multilateral trade.