Week Ahead in International Trade: COP28 closes, Xi visits Vietnam and Cameron talks EU-UK trade

Mon 11 Dec 2023
Posted by: Danielle Keen

A quieter week in trade beckons as the world winds down for the festive season and new year. Still, COP28 will wrap up tomorrow, Xi Jinping will head to Vietnam with offers of infrastructure grants and David Cameron will answer questions on EU-UK relations.

COP28 ends: After almost two weeks, the UAE’s COP28 will come to an end tomorrow (12 December). All eyes are trained towards the text that that the 200 countries in attendance will sign, with interest focused on the commitments they’ll make towards meeting the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C target.

Draft texts have been published over the past week which range from a pledge to “phase out” oil and gas altogether to only phasing out “unabated fossil fuel” use, which would pivot focus to mitigating the effects of emissions through carbon capture, Reuters reports.

The conference has been beset by controversy, much generated by president Sultan al-Jaber – revealed to have used his position to lobby government leaders on behalf of his country’s oil industry, and recorded saying that there is “no science” to support claims a fossil fuel phase-out would be required to meet the 1.5°C target.

One piece of progress made was the inaugural ‘Trade Day’ held last week (4 December), spotlighting how trade could provide solutions to the climate crisis, rather than serving purely as a source of emissions.

Xi in Hanoi: Chinese Premier Xi Jinping will visit Vietnam tomorrow (12 December) at the invitation of Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, per Nikkei Asia.

The visit is expected to generate a mix of infrastructure and digital deals, including generous Chinese grants to enhance railway connections between the two countries, as well as new lines connecting major inland and port cities like Kunming and Haiphong.

There are expectations that, under the new digital Belt and Road Initiative, there could be investment in optical fibre cables, data centres and other telecoms infrastructure, with Reuters noting that diplomats have suggested new submarine cables could be agreed and Chinese firm Huawei could be involved in the development of Vietnam’s 5G network.

Cameron gives evidence: New foreign secretary David Cameron will be answering questions from the European Scrutiny Committee during an oral evidence session tomorrow.

Titled ‘The UK’s new relationship with the EU’, the session will explore changes since the end of the post-Brexit transition period with a particular focus on the operation of the UK/EU Withdrawal Agreement and the Northern Ireland Protocol, as well as the Trade and Cooperation Agreement that came into effect in 2021.

The session takes place after a recent report by think tank British Future found that more than half of those polled wanted a closer relationship with the EU. Notably, 61% of respondents want a closer trading relationship.

Other dates for the diary:

Monday – UNCTAD Global Trade Update published

Tuesday – Four years since Conservative 2019 general election victory

Wednesday – ONS trade statistics released

Thursday – G20 quarterly GDP released

Friday – Flash UK PMI released

Saturday – ASEAN-Japan Summit

Sunday – Chile holds referendum on new constitution