Republicans take over US Congress; China hopes to 'set road map' for Free Trade Area of Asia Pacific at APEC summit; Indian finance minister commits to further economic reforms; Christian couple beaten to death in Pakistan; ebola treatment centre to open in Sierra Leone; Latin America's first high-speed train to be built in Mexico; and more 

Top of the Agenda

U.S. GOP Wins Senate Majority

Republicans gained control of Congress in U.S. mid-term elections (NYT) on Tuesday, winning a majority in the Senate for the first time in eight years and strengthening their hold on the House of Representatives. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was reelected and is the presumptive new Senate Majority leader. The results raised fresh questions about the ability of Republican lawmakers to work with the Democratic administration of President Barack Obama. The new Congress is expected to address U.S. policy on issues such as immigration reform, sanctions against Iran, the military campaign against ISIS, and trade.

Analysis

"We should expect continuation of not very much from Washington. Inaction, to be sure, is better than drama. That's why the recent comments from [House Majority Leader Kevin] McCarthy, along with the Republicans' expected desire to retain their Senate majority in 2016, suggest that we may, at least, not have to put up with unnecessary distractions," writes CFR's Peter Orszag for the Bloomberg View.

"President Barack Obama's foreign policy has been in the spotlight in the run up to November, as the administration was inundated with a spate of foreign policy crises […]. Republicans capitalized on the crises, playing up a narrative that the administration is indecisive and lacks a clear strategy. They sought to tie vulnerable Democratic candidates to the president (with some resistance), putting Obama's policies on their ballot," writes Molly O'Toole in Defense One.

"Republicans, then, should treat the next two years as an opportunity to legislate in good faith, not to push serious work beyond the next election in the fantasy that the country has permanently turned in a more conservative direction. For his part, Mr. Obama should not embark on his final two years with an assumption of Republican intransigence that would be self-fulfilling," writes the Washington Post.

 

PACIFIC RIM

U.S. Defense Secretary Postpones Southeast Asia Visits

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel postponed visits (AFP) to Myanmar and Vietnam that were planned for mid-November, citing a demanding schedule in Washington. Hagel was to attend a meeting with defense ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Myanmar and hold a follow-up bilateral meeting in Vietnam after the easing of the U.S. embargo on lethal weaponry.

CHINA: Assistant Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen said that the government hopes to set a road map (SCMP) for a Free Trade Area of Asia Pacific (FTAAP) at the upcoming APEC Summit hosted in Beijing. Analysts widely view the FTAAP as a counter effort to the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement.

The APEC forum in Beijing offers China the opportunity to reclaim the mantle of a positive force as a driver of growth in the Asia Pacific, writes CFR's Elizabeth C. Economy.

 

SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA

Indian Finance Minister Commits to More Reform

India's finance minister, Arun Jaitley, committed to further economic reforms (Hindu) in order to eliminate corruption and create a fair and transparent business environment, he announced at Tuesday's India Economic Summit. Amid recent slowed growth in India, Jaitley said that the new government may consider privatizing state-owned firms, but for now will continue to sell minority stakes in state-owned enterprises.

This CFR Backgrounder looks at the governance issues caused by corruption in India.

PAKISTAN: A Christian couple was beaten to death (Al Jazeera) and their bodies burned by a mob who accused the pair of desecrating the Quran in southwestern Pakistan on Tuesday; police arrested dozens on Wednesday (Reuters).

ELSEWHERE:

Ebola treatment centre opens in Sierra Leone

Latin America's first high-speed train to be built in Mexico

This is an excerpt of the CFR.org Daily News Brief. The full version is available on CFR.org

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