Covington’s Senior Advisor Carl Bildt, former prime minister and foreign minister of Sweden, analyses the key trends expected to drive geopolitics and business over the near term.
Globally, strategic competition between the United States and China, and to some extent with a revisionist Russia, continues to be a source of geopolitical tensions. At the same time, global challenges such as the Covid-19 pandemic and climate change require cooperation among the major powers, particularly in the run-up to the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow in November. In Europe, the shape of the new German government, and how quickly it can begin to form and implement its policies, will determine to what extent European policy-making can resume pace once Angela Merkel steps down after 16 years in power. At the transatlantic level, relations between Europe and America have strengthened significantly with the Biden-Harris team, notwithstanding a slightly rocky period over the past couple of months. In particular, the EU-US Trade and Technology Council ministerial in Pittsburgh last month launched regulatory cooperation in a series of important policy areas. In Asia, China’s President Xi Jinping has increased regulatory activity affecting a variety of sectors. Finally, the Covid-19 pandemic will continue to cast a shadow over our lives until, according to the World Health Organization and other experts, 70% of the world’s population is fully vaccinated by September 2022. We are less than halfway there, at 32% vaccination rates globally. Until the pandemic is globally under control, there is a risk of new variants developing and endangering everyone.
These developments raise complex questions of regulation, policy, politics and diplomacy. Drawing on the experience of our diverse global team, Covington’s Global Problem Solving helps clients navigate these challenges across the world, protect their core business interests and further their commercial objectives.