Tanks, chips and infrastructure: Democracies get their act together 

Tanks, chips and infrastructure: Democracies get their act together 

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Changing it up: This week marks the third anniversary of Global Insider, and heading into our fourth year, we’re going to try some new approaches. I will continue writing each Monday edition, a POLITICO reporter based in Europe will deliver your Wednesday news and analysis, and on Friday, a rotating cast of POLITICO’s top talent will share with you a feature interview with a global mover or shaker.

Thanks for your readership and feedback; we look forward to bringing you even more insights through 2023!

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Happening Today

GERMANY AGREES TO SEND TANKS TO UKRAINE: Ending an embarrassing rift among his governing coalition and among Western democracies, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz this morning announced Germany will send 14 tanks to Ukraine.

Germany will also grant export approval to countries such as Poland and Finland which want to send their German-made tanks to help Kyiv.

Next up: Watch for the Biden administration to announce approval for sending the U.S. M1 Abrams tank to Ukraine.

CHIPS FOR ALL (DEMOCRACIES): A proposed EU Chips Act — which complements the U.S. CHIPS and Science Act — will move to the final stage of negotiations in March, after receiving committee support in the parliament, the lead negotiator at the European Parliament Eva Maydell told Global Insider.

The goal, Maydell said, is to finalize the law before summer. For that to occur the three main EU institutions (the executive commission, the council of ministers and the Parliament) need to reconcile texts.

INTERVIEW — C.P. GURNANI, CEO, TECH MAHINDRA

Tech Mahindra is one of India’s fastest growing tech companies, with 163,000 staff spread across 90 countries. Chander Prakash (C.P.) Gurnani spoke to Global Insider last week in Davos about how he and India are positioning themselves in a low-growth, China-skeptical economy, where the pressure is on to achieve green transitions.

A lot of people know India as a tech leader, but know less about its individual tech companies. How do you feel about that?

We are interconnected: I represent my company, but also my country. We are a very resilient economy, we are agile — able to produce our own vaccine, for example — but also the new iPhone 14: The world’s largest producer now is India.

Big companies are coming under pressure to deliver on climate promises: Where do you sit in those debates? 

We listen to our own employees. They want to know, “Are we leaving this planet in a better place?” Our board has started to hold us accountable. And we have a role to educate others outside our company ecosystem.

We are a technology company that offers end-to-end [sustainability] metrics through our dashboards. But dashboards don’t fix problems, they only show them. You need to change inputs, understand wrong practices. This room we are in has seven light bulbs. Why? Change the input to adjust the outcome.

Have you been surprised by the rapid advance in generative AI?

No. My job is delivering connected solutions. Whether I use AI, or metaverse, or blockchain, or Web 3.0, or quantum computing: The goal is a more connected solution for you (rather than to sell a particular technology). In terms of investment, we invest heavily in customer experience management and 5G.

GLOBAL RISKS AND TRENDS

EU — 70 PROJECTS LINED UP TO COMPETE AGAINST CHINA’S BELT AND ROAD: Europe’s claim to compete against China’s global infrastructure investment is finally getting real. The bloc’s first big “Global Gateway” projects will include a digital cable under the Black Sea; a submarine optical fiber cable to connect the Mediterranean and Northern African countries; and a dam and hydroelectric plant in Cameroon. More here.

UKRAINE — CORRUPTION MASS RESIGNATION: President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has banned his officials from traveling abroad amid an intensifying corruption probe.

A wave of top officials resigned Tuesday after Ukrainian newspaper ZN revealed a series of illicit payments and inflated military food contracts. Those resigning include Zelenskyy aide Kyrylo Tymoshenko, Deputy Defense Minister Vyacheslav Shapovalov and Oleksiy Simonenko, the deputy prosecutor general. Four governors are also expected to resign this week. Zelenskyy was elected in 2019 on an anti-corruption platform.

IRAN CORNER 

THE WOMEN’S REVOLUTION IS NOT FADING: “This time is different,” Suzanne Kianpour, an Iranian-American BBC journalist, writes in a POLITICO opinion piece. While protests are not uncommon in Iran, often sparked in recent years by election fraud and economic woe, this time it’s women in the lead. It’s “a spontaneous civil rights movement made up of people at their wit’s end — unable to afford basic life necessities while forced to adhere to the oppressive rules of a religious autocracy that promised to take care of its people,” she writes. “What’s more dangerous than a mob with nothing to lose? See: The French Revolution.”

ISRAELI PRESIDENT HERZOG: IRAN EXPORTS REPRESSION

President Isaac Herzog, in Brussels to meet European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen,NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg and to address to the European Parliament for International Holocaust Remembrance Day, writes in an opinion piece for POLITICO that the Iranian regime policy is “exporting the same brutal oppression it applies against its own citizens.”

“In arming violent proxy forces throughout the Middle East, Iran has spread extremism to every place it touches — from the Gaza Strip to Lebanon, from Yemen to Syria.” Not to mention Ukraine, via its drones, Global Insider notes.

SRI LANKA — PLANS TO HALVE ARMY, TO HELP DEAL WITH DEBT: The majority of Sri Lanka’s defense spending goes to salaries. While that’s not unusual, it makes those service members an easy target for government cost-cutters. Defense specialists agree the government can cut back without undermining security.

BY THE NUMBERS 

CHINESE DEVELOPMENT AID 

After a pre-Covid surge, Chinese overseas development finance has been on a general downward trend for several years. Boston University’s Global Development Policy Center has identified a mere 28 new loan commits in 2020 and 2021.

The center’s new China’s Overseas Development Finance Database looks at the likelihood of Beijing returning to large scale lending levels, and a new policy brief puts those insights and trends into the broader context of what’s changed in China’s aid financing since 2008.

FIVE BULGARIAN ELECTIONS IN TWO YEARS: If Israel’s election calendar has made you dizzy, spare a thought for Bulgarians, who will vote for the fifth time in two years on April 2.

Parliament will dissolve Feb. 2, with President Rumen Radev urging lawmakers to spend their remaining time passing anti-graft measures, in response to protests against corruption that have flared since 2020.

GLOBETROTTERS

KLEPTOWATCH

CLAIMS OF BRAZEN CORRUPTION MADE AGAINST INDIA’S ADANI: Hindenburg Research, a firm that specializes in forensic financial research, claims in a new report that Gautam Adani, the world’s third-richest man, has pulled “the largest con in corporate history.”

The report is the output of a two-year investigation and accuses Adani Group of “brazen stock manipulation and accounting fraud scheme over the course of decades.” In a statement, Adani Group called the report a “malicious combination of selective misinformation,” and said it complies with all relevant laws.

MOVES

WHEN POLITICIANS CLIMB DOWN THE LADDER: A handful of former members of Congress run for local office after retiring (former Rep. Albio Sires is vying to be the latest member of the club).

Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is doing the diplomatic version of that in March, when he arrives in D.C. as Canberra’s ambassador. In that role he will be reporting to not one but two of his successors: Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Foreign Minister Penny Wong (Rudd has previously held both roles).

FORTUNE ADDS A “GLOBAL FORUM” TO ITS PORTFOLIO: The business publisher is teaming up with the UAE government for an event just days ahead of the COP28 global climate conference in November.

ONLY IN SWEDEN: Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson is in hot water over a political scandal involving illegal eel fishing. The PM’s close aide Peter Magnus Nilsson was caught illegally fishing for endangered European eel without the correct permit and then lying about it back in 2021. It turns out Kristersson knew about it before hiring Nilsson. A parliamentary committee is now investigating.

LISTEN TO POLITICO’S ENERGY PODCAST: Check out our daily five-minute brief on the latest energy and environmental politics and policy news. Don’t miss out on the must-know stories, candid insights, and analysis from POLITICO’s energy team. Listen today.

BRAIN FOOD

Tim Cook’s $50 million pay cut is his smartest move yet, by Jason Aten.

What it takes to sell climate action to conservative voters, by POLITICO’s Alex Burns. Australian political and climate consultant Byron Fay is telling his U.S. counterparts that conservative voters will respond to climate messages — as long as they aren’t pushed by liberals.

3 big questions for the U.N. in 2023, by International Crisis Group’s Richard Gowan.

Thanks to editor Heidi Vogt and producer Hannah Farrow.

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