Your Tuesday Briefing

Over the last seven years, fossil fuel companies have pumped £150 million into British universities - with two thirds going to Oxford, Cambridge, and Imperial College London - to spread fossil fuel propaganda and even fighting back against “anti-oil rhetoric”.

Germany has been stuck in a budgetary crisis since mid-November, when the top German court struck down an accounting trick that opened a €60 billion hole in public finances. Scholz’ government tried to transfer €60 billion of unused borrowing capacity from the pandemic budget to a climate and transformation fund that would also finance German industry modernization; and, as part of the scheme, the “debt brake” which prevents new borrowing, which was suspended during the pandemic, would be restored.

Niger’s government has repealed a 2015 anti-migration law that curbed the smuggling of people through Niger into Europe, as people wishing to enter Europe often go through Niger to reach Libya and Algeria. The leadership repealed it because it “did not take into account the interests of Niger and its citizens”, and thus erases previous convictions under the law. While it was somewhat effective in reducing migrant flows, it mainly had the effect of shifting those flows to much more dangerous desert routes that aren’t being watched by authorities. Some residents of Agadez have welcomed the law, as they made thousands of dollars per month driving migrants through the desert. Obviously, Europe and human rights experts are rather unhappy.

Fiji is attempting to achieve rice self-sufficiency within the next two decades. China has previously helped in this regard, rejuvenating five local rice varieties in Fiji and introduced 16 Chinese rice varieties, and training over 4000 local agricultural officials anf farmers.

CropWatch, a remote agricultural monitoring system developed in 1998 by the Chinese Academy of Sciences for domestic use is now a global initiative, using satellites and ground stations to measure crop yields and environmental changes and publishing bulletins multiple times per year on global agriculture trends. China wishes to export the technology to even more developing countries in order to supplant Western monitoring methods, as those countries otherwise do not have the resources to set up their own monitoring systems.

Since the attempted coup in 2018, Nicaragua has been denied international funding, even from the ghoulish IMF - despite their good track record of using it properly and without corruption - as the US has tried to collapse their economy for committing the cardinal sin of being a left wing government trying to alleviate poverty. These sorts of tactics worked in 1990, but now, the country is better prepared, fought coronavirus and two hurricanes largely by itself, and has succeeded in cutting poverty down to 25%, lower than its neighbours except Panama, has 77 hospitals compared to 29 in Costa Rica and 18 in Panama, which are significantly wealthier, and is experiencing the highest economic growth in Central America.

The US and China have simultaneously pushed for their visions of what a global supply chain ought to look like:

China has launched its first international expo on supply chains, featuring various American tech giants and, in total, 20-25% of the registered overseas exhibitors came from America. Premier Li Qiang vowed efforts to build closer supply chain ties in all countries, in order to retain foreign investment despite de-risking rhetoric from the West. On one hand, this de-risking is largely illusory, as Chinese exports are merely going through third countries like Mexico before entering the United States. On the other hand, foreign direct investment into China is actually taking a hit, with China’s first ever quarterly deficit in direct investment liabilities in 2023 Q3. Regardless, China unveiled a series of measures which include removing investment barriers in the manufacturing sector and opening up some parts of the digital economy, and also expanding visa-free entry to more countries.

Mere hours before this, not to be outdone, Biden inaugurated the first meeting of his supply-chain resilience council, announcing 30 new actions “to strengthen supply chains critical to America’s economic and national security,” to spur domestic production of medicine, for example, to create new tools to monitor supply chains, and in general derisk/decouple from China further.