Global Taxes, Northern Ireland Troubles, JCPOA, the Coca Crown, and the Week in Review

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Global Taxes, Northern Ireland Troubles, JCPOA, the Coca Crown, and the Week in Review

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Go big or go home. U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen gave a speech at the Chicago Council on Global affairs. In the speech, Yellen called for a global minimum corporate tax in order to stop a “thirty-year race to the bottom on corporate tax rates.”

What it means: Yellen’s comments on a global corporate tax rate have attracted most of the headlines. While her comments and the U.S.’ subsequent proposal to set a global corporate tax minimum at 21 percent are important, the bigger story is the way Yellen invoked “Bretton Woods” in her remarks and the more general transformation the Biden administration is advocating for the future of American economic leadership in the world. Yellen proposed major new U.S. initiatives on digital finance, global corporate taxes, and climate change and painted a picture of a far more ambitious, aggressive, and globally involved U.S. foreign policy in her speech. 


Troubles 2.0? There has been rioting in Northern Ireland every night for the past week, culminating with a bus hijacking on Wednesday evening. Fortunately, as of this writing, no one has been killed yet in street violence. The Irish Foreign Minister said his country was concerned over “scenes we haven’t seen in Northern Ireland for a very long time,” and Northern Ireland’s executive said it was “gravely concerned.”

What it means: This is one of those situations where we were hoping not to be right. We’ve been warning that lurking beneath all the Brexit melodrama was the potential unraveling of the United Kingdom, and some of the worst violence we’ve seen in Northern Ireland in years has us understandably concerned. While the UK continues to squabble with the EU over the terms of the withdrawal agreement, the stress and pressure of years of uncertainty around Brexit and Northern Ireland’s status are finally spilling over.

The return of the JCPOA? The United States and Iran will establish two working groups with the goal of getting both countries back into compliance with the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

What it means: Geopolitically, it has never made much sense for the U.S. and Iran to be enemies. Politics, ideology, and bad timing have all conspired to pit Tehran and Washington against each other as enemies. Informal working groups may not sound like a big deal, but this is a necessary first step toward getting both sides to potentially return to compliance with the JCPOA. If both sides do so – a big if that will depend in large part on the results of Iran’s presidential elections this summer not putting an anti-U.S. hawk in power – this could reshape the balance of power in the region no less significantly than when the JCPOA was first agreed to in 2015.

Heavy lies the coca crown. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime gave Bolivian President Luis Arce a sneak preview of its June 2021 annual report showing that illegal cultivation has increased in Bolivia by roughly 39 percent since interim and recently imprisoned President Jeanine Añez instituted anti-coca policies in 2019. Arce subsequently announced that he was reinstating the Evo Morales-era policy of legalizing small amounts of coca cultivation, and said his first step would be to eradicate 9,000 hectares of illegally cultivated coca leaf crops. Meanwhile, two opposing factions of coca growers are clashing over who gets control of the Departmental Association of Coca Producers.

What it means: Obviously, you should sign up for the LatamPolitik newsletter if this sort of content is of interest! Big picture: The political unrest that came with Morales’ ouster led to more illegal cultivation despite an interim Bolivian government that was purportedly against coca production. Arce has a difficult balancing act ahead of him since restoring the Morales approach will mean a harsh crackdown in the short term. As if that weren’t hard enough Arce also has to deal with two squabbling factions without appearing to be favoring one side or the other.

Honorable mention

Vladimir Putin has been named Russia’s most handsome man.

Dubai police arrested a Russian national who organized a nude photoshoot in the middle of the day on a high-rise balcony in the UAE.

A U.S. State Department spokesman warned China on Wednesday that “an armed attack against the Philippines’ armed forces, public vessels or aircraft in the Pacific, including in the South China Sea, will trigger our obligations under the US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty.”

Former Jordanian Crown Prince Hamzah bin Hussein was placed under house arrest after allegedly plotting with “foreign entities” to overthrow his half-brother, King Abdullah.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy pleaded with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg to speed up Ukraine’s membership in the NATO alliance.

Greenland held elections and Inuit Ataqatigiit (IA) won the largest share of the vote at 36.6 percent. IA ran on a platform explicitly opposed to a major rare-earths mining project at Kvanejfeld.

Two Turkish politicians – the leader of the İyi Party, Meral Akşener, and Ankara mayor Mansur Yavaş, offered rare and sharp criticism of China’s treatment of its Muslim Uighur ethnic minority in Xinjiang.

In a phone call with Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi exhorted Japan not to copy the U.S. and levy sanctions against China over human rights abuses in Xinjiang and Hong Kong.

Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Trade and Investment will no longer discourage Cuban Americans from investing in projects in the country.