Another salvo in the exchange of trade artillery, as the US takes China to the WTO again, this time over Chinese anti-dumping duties on American SUVs. The place and timing of the announcement is obviously political – how awful and cynical, how do these politicians live with themselves – but so what? No surprise or indeed change there.
More interesting is that this signifies (if you are an optimist) that the WTO is doing its job of directing the torrents of protectionist passion down the canals of moderation*, or (for the pessimists) that the WTO’s dispute settlement process is getting clogged up with the consequences of misguided mercantilism.
The US is basically trying to restrain retaliation against one of its own protectionist actions – the ”safeguard” blocks it imposed on imports of Chinese tyres in the fall of 2009. Those also had political intent (possibly more justified, according to my unusually balanced view at the time) but which were also entirely legal. Read more
Let me get this straight, did they just find God in a particle? Not exactly. But yesterday’s announcement that physicists at Cern, the European nuclear research centre, have glimpsed what seems to be the Higgs boson is nevertheless very exciting. Here’s why… Read more
A quick round up of the stories that got us chattering on the world desk today: Read more
An anti-ACTA activist in Berlin. (Adam Berry/Getty Images)
With all eyes on the eurozone crisis (and Barclays), it is easy to overlook other events in Europe which, in their own way, are just as important. I have in mind yesterday’s vote by the European parliament to reject the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (Acta), an international accord aimed at cracking down on copyright theft.
From all sorts of angles this was a landmark vote. It was the first time that the European Union’s legislature had exercised its right, granted under the EU’s 2009 Lisbon treaty, to block ratification of an international agreement negotiated by the European Commission and approved by EU governments.
Some might call the vote an excellent illustration of why EU policy makers should never have given this blocking power to the European parliament in the first place.
Others, however, will see the vote as a welcome expansion of democratic control over the EU executive and national governments. This seems to be the sense of a statement issued by France’s ruling Socialist party, which hailed “a new inter-institutional balance of power” in Europe and “the active participation of citizens in the European debate”. Read more