Trump and Kim predict success in Vietnam, media excluded

It’s hard to know what will actually come out of the meeting between Donald Trump and Kim Young Un in Vietnam. It will take time to see what progress is made.

U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un pose before their meeting during the second U.S.-North Korea summit at the Metropole Hotel in Hanoi, Vietnam February 27, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis

An odd looking pair – photo from Reuters

Reuters:  Trump and North Korea’s Kim predict success in high-stakes nuclear summit

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump met in Vietnam on Wednesday for a second summit that the United States hopes will persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons in exchange for promises of peace and development.

Kim and Trump shook hands and smiled briefly in front of a row of their national flags at the Metropole before heading to dinner together.

Trump told reporters he thought the talks would be very successful, and when asked if he was “walking back” on denuclearization demands, said “no”.

Kim said they had overcome obstacles to hold the second summit and praised Trump for his “courageous decision” to begin a dialogue.

“Now that we’re meeting here again like this, I’m confident that there will be an excellent outcome that everyone welcomes, and I’ll do my best to make it happen,” Kim said.

Trump and Kim held a 20-minute, one-on-one chat before sitting down to dinner with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Trump’s acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, Kim’s top envoy, Kim Yong Chol, and North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho.

Reuters:  White House excludes reporters from Trump-Kim dinner after they asked questions

The White House barred reporters from Reuters, the Associated Press and Bloomberg from covering a dinner between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Wednesday after two of them asked Trump questions during his initial interactions with Kim.

The pool was present when Trump and Kim first met and shook hands. During that short initial meeting, while cameras were rolling, Reuters correspondent Jeff Mason asked Trump what he wanted to achieve at the summit and whether he had backed away from his demand for North Korea’s denuclearization.

Reporters in the pool regularly shout out questions to leaders and on Wednesday they asked Trump about the summit and the testimony in Congress of his former attorney and fixer Michael Cohen, in two separate opportunities known as “pool sprays.”

The reporters were later excluded from covering the dinner because of what White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said were “sensitivities over shouted questions in the previous sprays,” the Washington Post reported.

It’s unlikely media will get much from answers from Trump and Kim, but this looks petty from the White House. And it iis an attack on the freedom of the press and their essential role in reporting and holding to account.

Reuters said it was “deeply troubled” by the exclusion of Mason and other reporters from covering the dinner.

“We believe it is essential that government provide access to – and the ability to ask questions of – officials and hold them to account,” Reuters said in a statement.

The Associated Press said it opposed White House efforts to restrict access to the president.

“It is critically important that any president uphold American press freedom standards, not only at home but especially while abroad,” said AP spokeswoman Lauren Easton.

While Trump appears to be working on peace with North Korea he looks a long way from making peace with US media.

Ardern rises to APEC test

Three and a half months ago Jacinda Ardern was going down badly in the polls with Labour led by Andrew Little.

In rapid succession she has taken over the Labour leadership, lifted Labour to a creditable election result, negotiated her way into becoming New Zealand’s Prime Minister, and has just mingled with world leaders at the APEC summit in Vietnam.

Ardern has risen to each occasion.

Vernon Small:  Jacinda Ardern passes Apec summit test

“Oh, there’s Vladimir Putin over there,” was how she put it in a nutshell when chatting to the media, and showing off the Apec leaders’ “silly shirt”.

As an aside, she has been super-accessible to the media on the visit to Vietnam for Apec.

The wheels were barely up on the Air Force plane leaving Wellington before she was wandering down the back to the cheap seats to have one-on-one chats with reporters.

It brought back memories of John Key at his most media friendly and was also a reminder of Key’s last Apec summit, in Peru, when he disappeared behind the first class curtain and stayed there. It was only days before he stepped down and was a signal we all missed at the time.

Good leaders maintain good rapports with journalists. They need each other for success.

Was the summit itself a success for Ardern?

Well, she had the photo-op handshake with Donald Trump and it was, she said,  “standard”.

That was the only contact she had with Trump, probably wise at this stage.

Now for Ardern, she’s off to the East Asia Summit, which kicks off in Manila on Monday.

There the focus will shift to geopolitics from trade (though the unexciting RCEP trade deal is on the agenda).

Ardern’s next test is whether she and Foreign Minister Winston Peters can make the nuanced calls and walk the narrow path between the interests of China, the US and the other regional nations – especially over the South China Sea and North Korea – successfully trod by National in recent years.

This is a big step up from traipsing around New Zealand trying to bolster Little’s flagging campaign.

And it’s a step that Ardern has so far managed very well.

TPP now CPTPP, core elements agreed on

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is back on, and has been renamed the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). Who the hell thought of that name? But it’s just a long winded name.

RNZ: TPP deal revived once more, 20 provisions suspended

The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal remains on track to be agreed by the eleven nations involved.

It has been a tumultuous couple of days for ministers and trade negotiators at Da Nang in Vietnam: 24 hours ago, the deal looked close to collapse, after Canada’s representatives failed to show for a meeting.

A key concern from Canada was reported to be that Malaysia and Vietnam wanted to opt out of requirements for fair workplace laws, including the elimination of child and forced labour.

Speaking to reporters late last night, the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said there was “still more important work to be done to ensure we reach the best deal for Canada and Canadian people”.

Everyone wants the best deal for their own countries and people, but they will only reach agreement by compromising.

But more high-pressure talks have brought agreement – in principle – on the “core elements” of a deal.

The officials did it by suspending 20 provisions of the original TPP, some of which related to protecting labour rights and the environment, although most dealt with intellectual property.

Stuff: Renamed TPP ‘a damned sight better’, could be in place in a few months

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made it clear on Saturday that concessions won, particularly on controversial investor-state disputes settlement clauses, had cleared the way for New Zealand to sign.

“This is not a perfect agreement but it is a damned sight better than what we had when we started,’ she told reporters after the leaders’ retreat at the Apec summit in Da Nang, Vietnam.

“It is not perfect, no free trade agreement is. But it’s a lot better than where we were three weeks ago.”

That will please some  but others will never be happy with any trade agreement.

Trade ministers, including New Zealand’s David Parker, issued a statement acknowledging agreement on the core elements of the CPTPP.

They also released a list of “suspended issues”, which were essentially those that had been important to the US.

They can now only be written back into the deal by negotiation – and only by consensus of all the parties – if the US seeks to rejoin, perhaps in the post-President Donald Trump era.

That’s at least three years off. There’s obviously no need for US specific clauses.

That, in theory, means New Zealand can prevent the suspended changes to the ISDS regime from re-entering the agreement.

“If America comes in, it’s not an automatic lifting of those suspended provision … we worked hard to have lifted,” Ardern said.

The agreement would now be taken back to a select committee for the public and Parliament to assess it.

It will be interesting to see how much it is protested this time.

Ardern said New Zealand negotiators had worked hard on the ISDS clauses, which allow corporations to take legal action against host countries in special tribunals.

They have been narrowed in three areas:

* First, they no longer apply to investor screening, so decisions made under the Overseas Investment Act regime, administered by the Overseas Investment office, could not be challenged. Ardern said that was perhaps the most important change.
* Second, anyone who takes up a contract with the government would no longer be able to sue through ISDS provisions but must instead use domestic procedures.
* The third change related to financial services.

Also, a side letter with Australia has ruled out the use of ISDS provisions between the two countries, meaning ISDS does not apply to 80 per cent of foreign direct investment from TPP nations.

A “handful” of other countries have agreed in principle to ISDS side letters. but Ardern said she could not disclose them now.

Ardern said the ISDS provisions in the CPTPP were now similar to previous trade agreements New Zealand has signed, such as with China and Malaysia.

New Zealand had wanted to go further, but she regarded the progress over just a few weeks since she came to office as “a good outcome”.

But New Zealand had now put a line in the sand.

“We will not sign up to future agreements that include those clauses.”

Other suspensions in the new CPTPP included to copyright provisions. The US had achieved a “life plus 70 years” rule, but that would now drop back to the current “life plus 50 years”. That was worth $50 million to $55m a year to New Zealand.

Also, disclosure and administratives rules imposed on drug buying agency Pharmac would now be suspended, which would have cost $5.5m up-front and $2.5m a year.

The remaining hurdles to all 11 CPTPP nations are four outstanding issues, on which negotiation was still required.

They included how long Vietnam had to meet certain labour standards, and the time when Brunei and Malaysia will make changes to restrictions in their oil and gas industries.

The fourth issue applies to Canada, which is arguing for a “culture” carve out – essentially so it can offer bigger subsidies for French-language programming. New Zealand was a supporter of Canada on that issue.

So the CPTPP could take a while yet but looks back on track.

A fresh approach to negotiations with new leadership may have been a good thing for New Zealand.

TPP objection resolved, then talks abandoned

Some bizarre swings in the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations in Vietnam.

On Thursday night  apparent agreement was thwarted by a late objection by Vietnam, but that was resolved during the day on Friday with another leaders meeting due to start at 8 pm on Friday evening.

However Canada refused to attend, so the talks were abandoned, leaving little chance of a resolution alongside the APEC conference, and putting the future of the eleven country

NZH: No deal: How the TPP talks collapsed

The future of TPP has been thrown into doubt after Canada’s sudden refusal to attend the final leaders’ meeting in Danang, Vietnam, which was then cancelled.

The 10 other leaders including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern turned up expecting Canada to be present at 8pm NZ time.

Instead they found Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, holding crisis meetings with Canada’s Justin Trudeau over an undisclosed issue.

Abe returned to the room saying Trudeau was not attending and so the meeting was abandoned by the other countries, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei, Malaysia, Chile, Peru, Mexico and Vietnam.

The dramas over Canada are not related to the bizarre events of last night in which the TPP deal was declared done by trade ministers, including Canada’s Trade Minister, but Vietnam then objected to a particular issue.

That issue was resolved during the day before the aborted leaders’ meeting.

Trade Minister David Parker said all of Canada’s issues appeared to have been resolved to their satisfaction last night.

“That seemed to change today.”

Parker said New Zealand was surprised at Canada’s sudden change of view and it was not the only country in the room that was. He said Australia was too.

It will be interesting to find out what suddenly turned Canada off the deal after coming close to agreement.

Canada are currently renegotiating the North American trade agreement (NAFTA) with the US and Mexico. Mexico is one of the 11 countries who have been trying to rescue the TPP after President Donald Trump puled the US out of it early this year.

Scathing coverage from Australia. Sydney Morning Herald: Canada’s PM Justin Trudeau sabotages Trans-Pacific Partnership, shocking leaders

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has sabotaged a pact to salvage a multibillion-dollar, 11-nation Pacific Rim trade deal at the last minute, surprising leaders of the other nations, including Australia’s Malcolm Turnbull.

“There were a lot of unhappy leaders left sitting there,” said an official who was in the meeting.

Mr Trudeau’s walk-out is deeply embarrassing for Canada’s Trade Minister Franois-Philippe Champagne, who has agreed to the deal.

Officials expected that the leaders would simply rubber-stamp what had already been agreed by the trade ministers, despite the agreement being unpopular in Canada.

The Australian: TPP: Canada ‘screwed everybody’ after trade talks no-show

CBC News (Canada): ‘Outstanding issues’: Trans-Pacific Partnership faces uncertain future after Trudeau skips leaders’ meeting

A planned meeting of Trans-Pacific Partnership countries was unexpectedly cancelled Friday after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau skipped the event when bilateral talks with his Japanese counterpart ended in disagreement.

A spokesperson for the prime minister said there is simply no consensus between the 11 member countries at this time.

“We made progress but, as we said coming in, there is no rush to conclude. There are outstanding issues for more than one country. One of those countries is Canada. We are working hard for Canadians and Canadian jobs in important industries such as automotive, agriculture, culture and intellectual property,” the spokesperson said.

Trudeau has signalled all week, during his travels in Asia, that Canada is not ready to put pen to paper on the agreement as there are still a number of lingering concerns. “Let me remind everyone Canada will not be rushed into a deal that is not in the best interest of Canada and Canadians,” Trudeau said Wednesday.

I didn’t see that reported here.

Liberal government officials refuted international reports — notably from Australian and New Zealand news outlets — that suggested Canada alone was to blame for delayed TPP talks.

“I can’t really speak for what you might be hearing from other countries,” Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters at the summit Friday. “Certainly, my own understanding, our understanding, is that there are a few countries who continue to have some important issues that they’d like to be addressed. And I think that’s reasonable.”

That’s quite different from Australian and New Zealand reports. And this symbolism:

UPDATE from Stuff:  TPP nations ‘have made good progress’ on deal, no-show ‘a misunderstanding’

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) may not be dead in the water just yet, with Canada’s trade minister denying that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau deliberately skipped a leaders’ meeting in Vietnam.

François-Philippe Champagne said the 11 remaining nations, which include New Zealand, had “made good progress” on striking a deal, though there was still work to do.

Reuters reported on Saturday morning that the 11 nations had agreed to the core elements of a deal, but still had details to iron out.

Reuters said it had seen a draft of the nations’ final statement, which was due to be released later in the day.

The statement said a “limited set of provisions” from the original deal would be suspended, while further technical work was needed on areas that still needed consensus “to prepare finalised text for signature”. It did not say when that might happen.

A Canadian official said: “We’ve agreed to a framework towards the deal, with work programmes to deal with issues.”

It sounds like it is an evolving situation.

TPP-11 “down to the wire”

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is now in Vietnam where Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations are “down to the wire”,  reported to be near agreement but held up at the last minute by one country (not New Zealand).

RNZ earlier today: Ardern: TPP talks down to the wire

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has arrived at the APEC summit saying talks to conclude the Trans Pacific Partnership are “down to the wire”.

Trade ministers of the 11 countries involved, including New Zealand’s David Parker, have been meeting on the sidelines of Apec at Danang in Vietnam.

New Zealand wants to drop the provisions on foreign corporations suing governments using overseas tribunals, but Ms Ardern admitted it had been tough going convincing others.

“I don’t want to predict what way it will go. There are a number of issues still on the table. Not all of them are ours.

“We are pursuing our interests but other countries certainly have their issues they continue to pursue. We of course are continuing to focus on both trying to balance our exporters’ needs but also our country’s.”

Ms Ardern doubted a TPP deal could be be done if if there was no agreement today.

But after apparently getting close to agreement there has been a setback. RNZ: ‘It’s not New Zealand holding up the consensus’ – Parker

The Trans-Pacific Partnership has been put at peril by one country after leaders came achingly close to striking a deal last night.

Officials are now scrambling to revive the stalled trade pact after a series of meetings in Vietnam.

Mr Parker said Labour had got “some of what we wanted” and the issue had been “improved but not completely resolved”.

“We’ve made it clear that for the future we’re not on for [investor-state dispute settlement] clauses.”

Government leaders will resume their talks this evening New Zealand time.

Speaking in Danang, Trade Minister David Parker said ministers thought a deal had been struck when their meeting finished about 10pm on Thursday night.

But in a “somewhat surprising” development, once it was passed on to officials, it emerged one country was still holding out.

“There was celebratory clapping and back-slapping,” Mr Parker said.

“It was then turned over by ministers to officials … and one of the parties said that they had not reached agreement.”

Mr Parker would not name the country responsible, but denied it was either New Zealand or Canada.

“It’s not New Zealand holding up the consensus. We reached agreement.”

Talks will resume this evening (NZ time) to try and get the agreement over the line,

From 90% extreme poverty to 10%

The Communist Party took over China in 1949.

  • In 1981 90% of Chinese lived in ‘extreme poverty’.
  • In 1976 Mao Tse Tung died.
  • In 1978 Deng Xiaoping took power and started major economic reforms.
  • In the 1990s China’s economic performance pulled an estimated 150 million peasants out of poverty.
  • In 2010 10% of Chinese lived in ‘extreme poverty’.

This has changed as China has rapidly transitioned between socialism to a capitalist/market driven economy, just about entirely in the era of ‘neoliberalism’.

10% of 1.3 billion people is still a lot of people in extreme poverty, over 100 million people, but it is a huge improvement in living standards for Chinese people overall.

 

ChinaPoverty

Source – Share of the population living in extreme poverty, 1981 to 2010

Extreme poverty is defined as living with an income of less than 1.90$ per day. All incomes are adjusted for inflation over time and for price differences between countries and expressed in 2011 PPP international dollars.

Change has been less dramatic elsewhere but the move out of poverty has also been significant.

  • India – from 53% to 21%
  • Bangladesh from 70% to 44%
  • Uganda from 95% (1988) to 33%
  • Vietnam from 49% (1992) to 4%

 

Vietnam protests?

There were TPPA protest marches in the weekend. Again. Repeating the same futility.

Will they switch their focus to protesting to against Vietnam trade? 3 News reports:

NZ and Vietnam to boost trade ties

Vietnam’s youthful population is growing wealthier by the day and New Zealand exporters look set to be able to cash in on it.

Prime Minister John Key is in Hanoi, where he’s leading a trade mission aimed at growing the relationship between the two countries.

Mr Key met with his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Tan Dung and the two leaders have agreed to increase trade and other bilateral links.

Among the new initiatives is a plan to maximise education links, as well as agreements to increase cooperation in the health and aviation sectors.

With an economy growing at 6.5 percent a year and a population of 90 million, Vietnam is a potential goldmine for New Zealand exporters.

In the five years between 2009 and 2014, two-way trade between New Zealand and Vietnam increased 120 percent, making it New Zealand’s fastest growing market in South East Asia.

Earlier this year New Zealand and Vietnam set a goal to double two-way trade to US$1.7 billion a year by 2020.

Vietnam is also a part of the Trans Pacific Partnership.