A look ahead at the key events leading the news agenda next week, from the team at Foresight News. Delivered to your inbox on Fridays.
Leading the week
President Joe Biden has a busy schedule next week ahead of his February 7 State of the Union address, visiting Baltimore on Monday (January 30) and then New York City on Tuesday (January 31) to tout projects funded under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. While in New York, he’s also slated to attend a DNC fundraiser ahead of his visit to Philadelphia on Friday (February 3) to speak at the DNC Winter Meeting, which concludes on Saturday (February 4) with what could be a historic vote on the 2024 presidential nominating calendar. In December, Biden made headlines by announcing his support for a radical shake up that would see South Carolina become the first state to hold its primary next February. The proposals, which would also see the primaries in Georgia and Michigan brought forward, have prompted a backlash from Iowa and New Hampshire.
It’s also an important week for economic news, with the Federal Reserve due to announce its rate decision on Wednesday (February 1) ahead of the release on Friday (February 3) of the latest employment figures. Chairman Jerome Powell is expected to announce a 0.25 percentage-point hike next week following recent inflation data and retail sales figures as the Fed continues its effort to engineer a ‘soft-landing’ and avert a recession. Whatever decision the Fed takes will be closely watched by central bankers, notably in Frankfurt and London with rate decisions due from the European Central Bank and Bank of England on Thursday (February 2).
Following a week where the focus was very much on Ukraine’s military needs, there will be a shift in emphasis when President Volodymyr Zelenskyy hosts European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel next Friday (February 3) for the first EU-Ukraine summit since the start of the conflict, and the first since Ukraine was granted candidate country status last June. Ukrainian authorities, keen to show progress towards achieving the so-called seven recommendations laid out by the European Commission, will likely point to the recent departure of a series of top officials amid an anti-corruption drive as evidence of Ukraine’s commitment to its bid for membership, though any decision is not expected until October when the EU’s annual enlargement package is unveiled.
The summit comes just days before the G7, EU, and Australia are due to enact import bans and price caps on Russian oil products, which come into effect on Sunday (February 5) following on from the crude cap agreed in December. It is thought this latest effort may come in the form of two price caps, given additional complications associated with the range of refined products.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken pays a two-day visit to Israel and Palestine on Monday and Tuesday (January 30-31), his first since Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right government took office last month. The trip, which includes stops in Jerusalem and Ramallah, comes amid heightened tensions in the region, notably following a deadly Israeli raid in Jenin on Thursday. Blinken is then expected in Beijing on Sunday (February 5) for high-level talks with his new counterpart Qin Gang, a former Chinese Ambassador to the US. The visit, which was first announced by President Biden when he met Chinese leader Xi Jinping on the margins of the G20 summit in Indonesia last year, is the latest meeting of senior officials from the geopolitical rivals following on from talks earlier this month between US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He.
While Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is on the agenda for talks, it’s difficult to imagine China significantly altering its position on the conflict. The pair will likely also aim to put tensions behind them over Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan last year, though again this may prove difficult amid news that Pelosi’s Republican successor Kevin McCarthy is apparently planning a trip to Taipei. Nevertheless, Blinken is likely to push for the resumption of US-China discussions on issues such as climate change and military matters, perhaps even referencing a line from his China policy speech last year when he said, ‘No country should withhold progress on existential transnational issues because of bilateral differences.’