Jul 1, 2019

Europe's Jean-Claude Juncker is saving free trade

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

As the U.S. has abandoned its role as a champion of global free trade, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has quietly been cutting deals around the globe, bolstering free trade pacts and international cooperation many feared (or hoped) were dying in the age of Trump.

What's happening: At this weekend's G20 summit all eyes were on Trump and Xi's agreement to relax further trade war escalation. But perhaps lost in the shuffle was the official announcement of two major trade deals by the EU, with Vietnam and the Mercosur alliance, a bloc that includes Brazil and Argentina, South America's largest economies.

Details: The agreements with Vietnam and Mercosur follow recent accords the EU has signed with Canada, Japan, Mexico and Singapore.

  • The deals cover trade of goods and services valued at nearly $600 billion a year, which is about half the value of trade between the EU and U.S.

"This deal is a real message in support of open, fair, sustainable and rule-based trade," Juncker said of the Mercosur agreement during a news conference on the sidelines of the G20.

  • The EU had been in negotiations with Mercosur over this agreement for 20 years.
  • New deals with Vietnam and Singapore will give Europe a major footprint in Asia and serve as a stepping stone for a regional agreement, Juncker said.

What's next? There is a good chance for the EU to ink an agreement with the Pacific Alliance, Latin America's other major trading coalition that includes Mexico (with whom the EU has a separate deal) as well as Peru, Colombia and Chile.

  • Mercosur and the Pacific Alliance account for 93% of Latin America's GDP.

The big picture: The EU also is in prime position to supplant the U.S. in the abandoned Trans-Pacific Partnership, having now secured trade deals with the agreement's major players. TPP was picked up by Canada and Japan, re-labeled TPP-11 (or TPP-minus-the-United States), and signed in December, but lacks a major world power.

  • The deal was intended to strengthen ties between Pacific countries from Asia to Latin America with the U.S. to curtail China's growing dominance.

The bottom line: With the world's two largest economies weakening each other through a potentially protracted trade war, Juncker's dealmaking has put the EU in position to take the reins on the future of global trade, and given fresh legs to hopes for globalization and liberalized international trade.

Go deeper: Free trade comes to Africa

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Wisconsin Supreme Court blocks governor from delaying state's primary

Tony Evers. Photo: Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

Wisconsin's Supreme Court on Monday blocked an executive order by Gov. Tony Evers (D) that attempted to delay in-person voting for the state's primary election — currently scheduled for Tuesday — until June 9.

Driving the news: Judges ruled 4-2 along ideological lines that Evers does not have the power as governor to unilaterally postpone the election, despite the fact that the state has a stay-at-home order in place due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 5 p.m. ET: 1,331,032 — Total deaths: 73,917 — Total recoveries: 275,851Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 5 p.m. ET: 356,942 — Total deaths: 10,524 — Total recoveries: 18,999Map.
  3. 2020 update: Wisconsin governor orders in-person primary voting delayed until June.
  4. States latest: West Coast states send ventilators to New York and other states with more immediate need — Data suggest coronavirus curve may be flattening in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
  5. World update: U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson moved to intensive care as coronavirus symptoms worsen.
  6. Stocks latest: The S&P 500 closed up 7% on Monday, while the Dow rose more than 1,500 points.
  7. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal health. Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Stocks jump 7% despite bleak coronavirus projections

People passing by the New York Stock Exchange amid the coronavirus pandemic. Photo: John Nacion/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The S&P 500 closed up 7% on Monday, while the Dow rose more than 1,500 points.

Why it matters: The huge market surge comes amid rare optimistic signs that the spread of the coronavirus may be slowing in parts of the country, including New York. But government officials say this will be a difficult week, while economists — including former Fed chair Janet Yellen today — warn that the pandemic could have a catastrophic impact on the global economy.