Five Things You Might Have Missed in the US and Americas This Week
From Donald Trump’s controversial address at the UN General Assembly to Venezuela’s referral to the International Criminal Court, here are five things you need to know from the past week in the US and Americas.
(1) Donald Trump Gives First Solo Press Conference In Over a Year
President Trump’s address to the UN General Assembly this week drew attention for his remarks on his administration’s success, his condemnation of globalism and the response it triggered from those in attendance.
His press conference following the meeting — Trump’s first solo media Q&A in over a year — also deserves attention. In the same week as a new round of sanctions come into effect, Trump accused China of meddling in the US mid-terms by targeting propaganda in battleground states. He suggested that the administration’s trade war with China made Trump a target for meddling and misinformation. Trump also reaffirmed his support for Brett Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court nominee accused of sexual assault, and said that he himself had been the target of ‘false statements’ although he ‘can always be convinced’.
He also took aim at Canada as a poor negotiating partner who ‘treated [the US] very badly’. This comes as the US stands poised to release its proposal for a new NAFTA agreement, that may exclude Canada, on Friday.
(2) Venezuela Referred to ICC by Neighbours
Argentina, Columbia, Chile, Paraguay and Peru, together with Canada, have taken the drastic step of referring Venezuela to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for investigation into alleged human rights abuses by its government including extrajudicial killings, torture and sexual violence. It is uncommon for governments to request that the ICC investigate other governments but the exodus of Venezuelans into neighbouring countries in Latin America has prompted concerns that the crisis in the country could destabilize the entire region. ICC investigations typically take years, and it is unlikely that any legal verdict will be returned in the short-term, although it may prompt a response from Maduro’s government and inner circle as well as drawing more international attention to the conditions in the country.
(3) Rod Rosenstein’s Job Insecurity
Confusion surrounds the future of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election as reports swirled on Monday that the official overseeing it was about to lose his job.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has denied suggestions originally printed in The New York Times that he said the 25th Amendment should be invoked to remove Donald Trump from power and that he would record the president to demonstrate his ineffectiveness as leader. With Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused from the Russia investigation — led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller — Rosenstein is the supervisor of the inquiry and has protected its independence.
The potential for his dismissal has prompted fears that, in his absence, Trump and the executive office would be able to undermine the investigation. Speaking at a news conference on Wednesday night, Donald Trump said that he would ‘prefer keeping’ Rosenstein on given the furore surrounding Brett Kavanagh’s appointment ‘because I don’t want to do anything that gets in the way of this very important Supreme Court pick.’
(4) IMF Bailout to Argentina Increased — Now Biggest in IMF History
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is poised to increase, and speed up, the bailout offered to Argentina to $50 billion through 2019 — $19 billion more than was offered during the summer — to provide a total of $57 billion to the country. The IMF must still vote on whether to carry this proposal forward. In return, Argentina has pledged fiscal responsibility, reducing its budget deficit to zero in 2019 by cutting government spending and limiting central bank operations.
Christine Lagarde, director of the IMF, said that the organization was committed to providing for the ‘most vulnerable’ during this bailout. But many Argentines feel nervous about the austerity package that accompanies the bailout and a return to the social unrest of previous financial crises over the past 20 years.
(5) EU-US-Japan Trade Meeting Addresses International Anti-Competition
The Japanese minister for economy, the European commissioner on trade and the United States trade representative have agreed to cooperate on combating unfair trade and economic practices of certain ‘third party countries’.
The statement released in the aftermath of the meeting does not name China specifically but takes aim at subsidies to state-owned enterprises that they argue unfairly distort the geoeconomic sphere as well as forced technology transfers and non-market oriented policies of third countries that damage competition and functioning in international trade and international relations.
The three parties also reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening the role and the authority of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).