When U.S. Vice President Joe Biden took to the podium at last February’s Munich Security Conference, he decided to err on the side of caution. Washington’s strategic shift toward Asia, Biden said, would have no impact on the thriving relationship between the United States and Europe. This was music to the ears of Europeans in the packed banquet hall of the Bayerische Hof Hotel. Biden’s words were clearly aimed at reassuring Europe that despite some difficulties, the trans-Atlantic relationship was intact. Biden said that America and Europe had never been so close. The relationship was alive and well. Nothing could […]

Pakistani and Indian officials met earlier this month to discuss cross-border energy cooperation, perhaps signaling that the new government in Islamabad aims to follow through on plans its predecessor spent years talking about. That would be good for both countries. Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party swept Pakistan’s parliamentary election in May, and Sharif took over as prime minister early this month, pledging—among other things—to improve relations with India and address his country’s crippling energy shortage. On June 11, the prime minister’s younger brother, Shahbaz Sharif, the head of government in Pakistan’s largest province, Punjab, reportedly met officials from […]

Then-European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, with Singapore’s prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, center, and former Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates, left, at an ASEAN-EU summit, in Singapore, Nov. 22, 2007 (AP photo by Chitose Suzuki).

Editor’s note: The following article is one of 30 that we’ve selected from our archives to celebrate World Politics Review’s 15th anniversary. You can find the full collection here. One of the key differences between Western and Asian cultures is their view of time: Whereas history is linear and consequential as seen from the West, Chinese and other Asian cultures perceive time as being cyclical. In the latter view, the emerging Asian century is simply a natural phase within this recurring flow. As renowned economist Angus Maddison showed, China and India were the world’s largest economies for centuries. Only upon the […]

Last week, Syria’s currency lost nearly a third of its value, the latest blow to an economy damaged by years of sanctions and war. In an email interview, Samer Abboud, an assistant professor at Arcadia University who has researched Syria’s political economy, explained the sanctions against Syria and the sectors most deeply affected by them. WPR: What is the state of the sanctions regime on Syria, in terms of measures existing before the war began and those enacted since? Samer Abboud: The U.S. sanctions prior to the conflict were mostly symbolic and had limited material impact on the economy. After […]

With small measures of tangible progress counterbalanced by intermittent stumbles, Georgia-Russia relations seem to have taken two steps forward and one step back since Georgia’s 2012 parliamentary elections swept the opposition Georgian Dream (GD) coalition to power. For all of Tbilisi’s best efforts, Moscow continues to view ties from a zero-sum perspective. While some degree of normalcy may be possible, divergent interests mean that the high-water mark of Georgia-Russia relations might already have been reached. After taking office in October, one of billionaire philanthropist-turned-Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili’s first moves was to appoint a special envoy to Russia. Although the new […]

One can picture Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner watching the recent protests in Brazil with more than a little satisfaction. After all, Argentina and Brazil, perennial rivals in countless fields, are both facing challenging times. And Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, has had strained relations with her neighbor across the border. But don’t confuse the troubles in Brazil with those in Argentina. Fernandez’s woes are to a large extent of her own making, and that’s a view that Rousseff has expressed to her Argentinian counterpart. Both countries may have experienced slowing growth and mass protests, but while Argentinians protested against […]

Two weeks ago, the government of Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner announced the seizure of two rail lines operated by Latin America Logistics (ALL), Brazil’s largest private transportation company. Florencio Randazzo, Argentina’s interior minister, echoed a 2012 government report that cited “grave” violations of a 1999 railway contract with the company, including failure to invest sufficient resources in Argentina and refusal to pay large fines, as the reason for the nationalization. The railway seizures mark the latest in a string of nationalizations in Argentina that includes a $24-billion pension fund, Argentina Airlines and, last year, the government’s seizure of […]

The annual plenary meeting of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) later this month in Prague will focus attention once again on India’s application for membership in the group. Since 2008, India has been campaigning to join the NSG, which governs all legal transfer of nuclear technology and material globally. While the India-U.S. civilian nuclear deal concluded that year raised India’s hopes of inclusion, the NSG remains bitterly divided over the issue, with a U.S.-led bloc supporting India’s candidature and a China-led bloc vehemently opposing its entry into the group. The stand-off has frustrated India’s deep-seated desire to become an equal […]

French President Francois Hollande’s three-day visit to Tokyo, where he met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, resulted in major agreements on nuclear cooperation and joint development of military hardware. The summit, which also covered a range of other topics, reflected the noticeable improvement in recent years of the two countries’ already solid bilateral ties. Despite often being rivals for foreign contracts, Japan and France remain closely bound through cooperation on advanced technologies. Indeed, the agreement to increase nuclear cooperation was not a total surprise considering that a French-Japanese consortium just won a lucrative $22 billion joint bid to develop […]

Last month, Taiwan imposed sanctions on the Philippines over the shooting death of a Taiwanese fisherman by the Philippine coast guard in disputed waters. In an email interview, Hui-Yi Katherine Tseng, a research associate at the East Asian Institute who has researched trade and conflict management in East Asia, discussed ties between Taiwan and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and how the current dispute is likely to affect them. WPR: How extensive are trade and diplomatic ties between Taiwan and ASEAN and its member states? Hui-Yi Katherine Tseng: The logic of redressing its overreliance on economic ties with […]

The recent buzz about Africa’s economic progress and potential has aroused long-overdue interest from investors. While the bullish mood is largely justified, it should not obscure the fact that many institutional, infrastructural and policy barriers limit the scope for transformational growth. One of the most serious is that African markets are not sufficiently open. African countries simply do not trade enough with each other. This has huge consequences for a continent where 15 countries are landlocked and where colonial-era boundaries have produced many small, resource-poor nations that are not economically viable by themselves. Some African countries have begun to address […]

For all the focus on contemporary Iran, relatively little attention is paid to its trilateral ties with Afghanistan and Tajikistan, the geolinguistic remnants of an eclectic series of empires collectively denominated Persian. Since 2005, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has made it a point to revive Persian nationalism, contrasting it with the clerical elite’s claim to Islam as the exclusive basis of Iranian identity. Significantly, Ahmadinejad’s nationalist rhetoric was accompanied by a raft of summits, forums and agreements among the three countries, which he called “limbs of the same body,” echoing the 13th-century Persian poet Saadi. Despite the historical echoes, however, […]

Last week, at a joint press conference with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during Li’s visit to Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel openly disagreed with the European Commission’s plans to impose punitive tariffs against Chinese-made solar panels. The commission has accused China of unfair trade practices that undercut European producers. But Merkel’s concerns for German exports to China took precedence over European Union solidarity, highlighting the difficulties Brussels has faced in forging a unified policy toward Beijing. China has been a strategically important partner for Europe for at least two decades, but the economic crisis in Europe has changed the nature […]

The latest meeting of the leaders of the Pacific Alliance on May 23 in Cali, Colombia, was the best one yet, suggesting that this new economic bloc is an emerging powerhouse in Latin America. The alliance is an effort by Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru to link their economies more closely together through trade, finance and labor market integration to build mutual economic competitiveness. It is one of the most dynamic and potentially significant developments in hemispheric trade relations since negotiations to form a Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) broke down in 2003. In the intervening decade, China’s […]