Carlos Ghosn and the rigor of the Japanese state
The surprise arrest of Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn is superficially a tale of personal greed and clashing corporate cultures. But drill deeper and the more significant takeaway is what the case reveals about the Japanese approach to law and the power of the state. That is why Mr. Ghosn’s fate could have an impact on Japan’s international standing and foreign investors.
An offense to common sense and EU principles
The EU’s international trucking business, now dominated by highly competitive companies in Central Europe, can be disrupted by Brussels’ ham-handed attempt to shield cargo movers in countries with high minimum wages. The issue has political ramifications for the EU as well.
Regional integration at the Three Seas summit
With the third summit of the Three Seas Initiative, the countries of Central and Eastern Europe are trying to come together on issues like energy and infrastructure. The effort comes after several failed attempts at regional integration in the 20th century, and this one remains mostly on paper. If the European Union and outside investors will buy into the idea, several proposed projects could help lift all boats.
ASEAN: A nexus of conflict and prosperity
For the first time since the Vietnam War, Southeast Asia has become a cockpit for great-power rivalries. China’s inexorable rise has split the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which had become a regional broker for peace and prosperity. The ASEAN countries have the demographics and infrastructure to leapfrog into the ranks of the advanced economies, but everything depends on whether China’s growing dominance can be accommodated peacefully.
China’s soft landing in the Balkans
In the next few years China will be opening an investment bridgehead in the Balkans. As other powers such as Russia and Turkey have increased their geopolitical presence in the region, China’s expansion will be even stronger – but different in kind because it will be a “soft,” mostly economic penetration. The push will be all the more powerful if the European Union neglects the region, as seems probable with its decision to delay the next round of accession until 2025.
Serbia prepares to change course on Kosovo
The Serbian-Albanian dispute over Kosovo has kept the Western Balkans unstable for more than a century. Now, President Aleksandar Vucic is preparing the Serbian public for a new opening – recognition of Kosovo’s independence as the price of admission to the European Union. The Serbian public and senior officials are far from convinced this is the right move – some are calling for partitioning the territory and keeping Serbia’s orientation towards Russia.
Debate: What China’s new Silk Road means for Europe
In a debate last month in Warsaw, politicians, bankers and businessmen considered the implications for Europe of China's Belt and Road Initiative – likely to be Eurasia's largest infrastructure project in this century. It is both an economic opportunity and a portent of growing Chinese preeminence on the continent.
Four implications of electric mobility
China is doubly dominant in electric vehicles (EV), as the world’s biggest market and largest battery maker, with 55 percent of global production. EV makers also increasingly depend on critical raw materials from China such as lithium, cobalt, graphite and rare earths. This growing dependency, along with production bottlenecks and the environmental costs of EV production, may limit its impact on the global energy mix.
The long road ahead for electric vehicles
The rise in popularity of electric vehicles has generated plenty of hype. But they still make up a tiny percentage of cars on the road, and are expensive relative to their gasoline- and diesel-burning counterparts. So far, their impact on the environment is minimal, even excluding the fossil fuels it takes to make them and the resource exploitation required for their batteries. While advances in technology can always surprise, there is no reason to expect the demise of the internal combustion engine anytime soon.
Cloudy skies for China’s aviation industry
China's commercial aircraft market will soon be the world's largest, but its domestic industry is not well positioned to take advantage. Engine technology is lagging, while safety, maintenance and other performance issues have set back the development of new aircraft. The outlook for military aviation is even worse unless endemic corruption can be stamped out.