tv British Ambassador to the U.S. on Coronavirus Response Transatlantic... CSPAN May 4, 2020 9:49am-10:26am EDT
leading a live discussion with scholars. scholars. >> the senate returns today for legislative work with a vote scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on an executive nomination. later in the week, work possible on the fisa authorization and talks likely off the floor of coronavirus relief legislation. watch the senate live starting at 3 p.m. eastern on c-span2. the house after consultations with members and the attending physician is not expected to resume legislative business until at least the week of may 11th. until then, they continue to hold pro forma sessions every three days as bipartisan negotiations continue on possible options for remote voting. follow live senate coverage on c-span2. the house on c-span. >> british ambassador karen pierce was interviewed by politico about the coronavirus pandemic. her diplomatic service and the
status of u.s., u.k. relations. this is about a half an hour. >> thank you so much for joining us. if you haven't already signed up to my weekly newsletter, it's free and you can sign up at mrpolitico.com,/global. and it's my pleasure to introduce the new british ambassador to the united states, karen pierce. welcome, ambassador. >> thank you very much. >> it's such a pleasure to have you here. we've got about 30 minutes of a chat now and we'll get to our questions as well during the conversation. if you haven't sent them already, post them on twitter u.s.ing #askpolitico. we've got great ones rolling in. and ambassador, i won't spend most time about policy, but we're in such strange times i thought maybe we could ask questions about how your job is actually unfolding before we get into the meaty stuff.
maybe let's start with the border stuff first. you've got experience in the u.n. and conflict zones. thinking about to all of those eras, what's changed from when you start you had out in diplomacy? >> wow, that's a big question. one, not much has changed actually and that sounds a bit dull and sounds like in the last century. but essentially it's about human relations, it's about influencing people and explaining your point of view. and that skills has stayed unchanged since the ancient greeks. how it could change, we're seeing in the covid crisis, a lot more being done on-- fundamentally it's been understanding the other size, it doesn't mean you have to be with them.
it's about explaining to your own side. it's about adapting your approach and it's about trying to get your point of view and perspective across. >> and now we all have this once in a generation chance to reset the clock as it were and do some things differently. what would you like to see changed in how the function of the u.k. ambassador is going to play out here in the u.s.? >> i think it's, as this shows, is showing, ryan, it's possible to reach a much wider audience very quickly all at once and i think there's a lot of potential in that. so, i'd be really keen to follow that up. i have to say, i actually like meeting people. i actually like dealing with people face-to-face so i won't be sorry when we get back to face-to-face contacts, even if that's in an auditorium with lots of people.
but i think that the potential that we have at the moment to connect with people and the fact that no one is expecting that to be perfect, everybody is happy just to have the connection as we saw with the global citizen concert at the weekend, i do think though, that it will change diplomacy and the way leaders interact with one another because as america has shown, america has the g7 presidency at the moment. you can see the security council can meet by video. and i'm not arguing that that should replace face-to-face meetings, but i think what it does mean is that leaders can get together more often without having to travel. i think that that is from a climate perspective, but it's good from a relationship building perspective. >> more of an ongoing dialog
rather than the stop part of-- >> i think that's-- >> are you on the phone mostly or is there a legal, feasible way for you to get down to the lincoln memorial and chat on a park bench with some of your stakeholders and other people in congress you need to get in touch with. >> no, i'm afraid there isn't a way to do that. i think the major parks are closed here, as elsewhere, so it's all on the telephone unless i bump into someone in segue. >> i'm disappointed it's not more of a scandal episode, but i do accept the answer. getting on to the meaty stuff. the u.k. has an incredibly deep relationship with america as country to country relations go, but like with anything there must be areas for improvement. what's your number one focus going to be in terms of improving or upgrading the relationship? >> i'm going to call it
enhancements, rather than the-- as you say it's a deep profound successful relationship. it exists on many levels. some of which go right to the professional nooks and crannies of everyday political life. some of it is about people. i think if i look for enhancements, i pick two particular areas. one is all of these new challenges that are coming, of which covid-19 is one. but also, the challenge is to look at the disruptive technology -- to my mind these could be as transformative as nuclear technology was in the 1950's to societies and they may well need the source of architecture and underpinning and international agreements
that we had around technology. and future proofing it, making sure it can deal with these really big issues that also include questions around innovation, next generation of 5g. how can we take this partnership and make sure it keeps adapting as the challenges come out. and then i think the second thing would be about people. when i grew up, a lot of americans had the european connection one way or another. america's demographic has been changing, that's quite natural. but i think now there are probably many more people active in public life, trillion dollar -- interested in overseas who didn't have a europe or u.k. connection and those people in britain maybe
not have a connection and i'd like to make sure in an embassy or consulates across the u.s. we do something bringing next generations together. the next generation of issues and challenges, next generation of people. >> when mentioned about the common architectures and projects, it made me think of the work toward a covid vaccine right now. is that an area you'd like to see the u.s. and u.k. working together so it happens and spreads quicker? >> i think we're already working together. there are definitely some companies already collaborating. i know of one particularly in kentucky that is both british and american and i'm sure there are others. we also have government to government health and science cooperation. in terms of getting the vaccines out quickly, the u.k. today took part in a big virtual meeting with the u.n.,
the who, the european commission, france and germany and a number of others, pledging to ensure that all countries could have access to the vaccines as they are developed and tested. so, it was very much around vaccines access, as well as development and we, the u.k. have given another sum of money to that end so we've now given about a quarter of a billion pounds trying to help the international community deal with the vaccine and innovation issue. >> fantastic. now, if we think sort of a little segue into the trades deal and i think one of the take aways that most people have from the pandemic. we need to diversify the supply chains and beg for the-- big for the u.s. and the u.k., developing manufacturing capability. do you think that the u.k. have
deal with that challenge without protectionism? >> i think that's a critical point. i think that all countries need to deal with that without resorting to protectionism. as far as johnson and dominic-- the sub secretary of state standing in for the prime minister at the moment, they've made clear, including in g7 and g20, that the current crisis should mean keeping the global economy open and keeping trade flowing. that's not to say that some items wouldn't benefit from being sure as the expression goes, to make sure that we have no vulnerabilities in supply, but i think those two things can co-exist, i think it would be, that would set the world's economy to go into protectionism, but i think it's one of those he --
occasions where you want to look at sector by sector to look at what requirements individual countries have so they can be strategically independent or at least work with their very close partners so they don't have these big vulnerabilities that the covid-19 crisis has shown up. ... we had hoped to have a real launch last month, but the cove it restrictions came in just before do that. so the teams have been
discussing whether or not we can do this virtually. we hope to be able to decide something soon, and then we would be happy to talk more about that if it happens. >> it sounds like you are already go at your end at least. >> i think it's really good particularly in the covert context to show the world trading system still functions come to put a bit of optimism if you like into the world economy. we as britain are still pursuing our free trade deal with the eu. no reason why we can't also pursue one with the u.s. at the same time. and as i said i think that's the only practically gives business conference to keep working, i it's a very good overall sign of confidence that the world economy will recover. >> speaking of that i promised not to mention that be the wori won't do that. but it does seem that britain is
willing to play hardball on the global scene in terms of extending its interest with the eu, citing an independent course who it allows in its 5g networks. i want to -- >> i think american negotiators for famously tough on trade, i think there will find what happens as well and we certainly intend to fight our corner. in terms of playing hardball, we made it very clear that having left the eu, where not leaving europe but we do want to be an independent active force for good on the world stage. and we'll try to use policies and our activities to enable us to do that.
>> may be one final trade question. people being able to move about in the worm of trade as well in form of tourism and so on. uk has got open borders at the moment. can you explain to us what the strategy there, what you think the advantages of our staying open when so many have restrictions of one kind or another? >> if you mean particularly with respect to covert, this is something that's kept under review. as you say, some countries have closed the borders. this is something our ministers and are coded taskforces and button keep very close under review. there are pros and cons. i don't want to, into which to get because i'm not part of those discussions. certainly they would be guided by the science and it will make whatever decision they think will best stop the disease from spreading.
>> putting anyone of his come more getting since a think about it, that's one way to keep the economy going if we're not shutting down or the free movement of the labor. >> i can only talk about in general, on the close in that side. there is something very important about keeping the economy moving, as you say, and going back to what we were talking about earlier about supply chains and the economy still functioning as well as being able to move equipment and scientists around. but it obviously needs keeping under review because at such a critical part of how you control the virus. >> and just before you were mentioning about the way britain saw its role in the world. it's a good chance to switch to the sorts of things. help us what in your mind or in the governments mind britain is
doing to stay relevant? in the sense of the diplomatic game and also on the global stage. you are not the only game in town and countries like china and the rest of asia rising. a lot of people questioning their own place in the world, and wondering where all those pieces fit now. >> i'm not going to say, think like the russians and chinese opera think were in a strategic competition to set the rules of international affairs. since the end of the second world war, on the whole, there's been a very cooperative labor to international affairs. i think covid-19 shows why that sort of cooperation collective endeavor needs to continue. at the same time i think the institutions that we set up in 1945 which, by and large, have
kept us safe and prosperous, now do need to change because the world has many more actors, many more countries wanting their place and contributing to the global economy. and i think it's only reasonable and right that they should have a stake, an active state, instead the government governae of these institutions. and that the institutions themselves need to be bold as we were saying earlier to deal with these new challenges. but in terms of protecting ourselves in the u.s., i think by definition there's only so many foreign countries he was want to see on the television screens at any one moment. we've got to be interesting. we've got to show where relevant to the issues that americans think they need to grapple with. we've got to show where relevant to what happens on the world stage.
my previous job was at the u.n. i spent a lot of time on the security council. i don't think there's any major issue in world affairs that britain isn't engaged with. and if you look at something like yemen, then we very much had been engaged, helping the u.n. try and get a cease-fire, get aid in, get food and medical supplies in, then ultimately processed a a political settlement. i would say that's a whole number of other things. we are really keen to maintain our activism. if it something like a foreign secretary dominant romp is always telling us pick he's always saying you must just be active. have to go out there and grab the challenges and deal with them. that's the spirit i hope we can example five here in washington. >> one of the issues that clearly is going to be really
heavily in the u.s. during election season is chine and what he is once to to china. do you think the u.s. and uk should have a united front when it comes to dealing with china? >> i think there would be a united front on certain issues. we, like the americans, attach a lot of importance to freedom of navigation on the high seas, for example. we also attach a lot of importance to human rights, and both of us a a been very worri, very concerned about state of the uighurs in china. but i think there's always differentiation if we don't have a common policy even when we were in the eu, there was some scope, differentiation even within a eu policy. i think our approaches will not be identical, but we do share
the same goal of wanting our liberal democratic open society values to continue. we share the same concerns about the chinese and russian approaches issues like information, freedom of the media, a free internet, government regulation. we will not be surprised to say as open as possible. we want a multilateral institutions like the u.n. and the world bank to function effectively, and actually be able to help developing countries. not in every case but there is a bit of a risk, the way the chinese with developing countries and the way they load the money. it's not necessarily conducive to serious people of them. i think lot of similar concerns.
we talked to the americans all the time about policy. we in britain have different sort of economic relationship with the chinese, and i think that's probably going to continue. >> picking up on some of those points, you already mentioned you sat in the u.n. security council. you've read other roles in the u.n. as well. you want is globe as additions to work. you are probably amongst the best place people in the world to tell us what could improve in some of those mechanisms. have you got any ideas that we could implement with that use negotiation to get things moving a bit better at that level? >> oh well, if you have a spare day or a week or so, i'd be happy to sit here and rant. >> in a nutshell. >> in a nutshell i think there are several areas, some quite technical but nevertheless, quite important. there is something quite
important about making the institutions run themselves better at being more flexible, and that's exactly the same as any national government wants to have good human resources policies, once to run its budgets well, once to be flexible, et cetera, et cetera. big institutions are not immune from those problems. there's some in-house internal housekeeping if you like that could be improved. and in the case of the u.n., there's a particular issue over its budget is incredibly inflexible, and we've got the secretary-general of the top of the unit and we don't let them spend the budget as he judge best. there's an issue there. on the political side, there is many fundamental issues about governance. as i was saying earlier, these institutions evolved to you in a 75 years old, but things have
stayed the same for quite a a g time. it's only right that we should have another look at that and see if we can get more countries to have a stake and to care about effective governance in these institutions. that has to be on the basis of contributing to their goals, obviously, on the basis of contributing funding, and in the case of the u.n. following the charter. i think that's quite important. there's something very important about the big institutions being able to join up with each other. you have the u.n., you also have the wto, and then you have what are called the international financial institutions like the world bank and in the regional development banks. there's still much more i think that could be done that ought to have very mutually reinforcing programs so that when you're trying to help in the disaster or developing countries, that
everyone is pulling together in the same direction. the u.n. secretary-general has made a start on that but i think there's more that can be done. and then speeders actually on the who. i realize i need to bring in some of the questions. you are kind of threat by alice with different approaches. the australians, my home country, they are saying the w.h.o. needs have inspection aye weapons inspection. the u.s. is withdrawing or pausing its funding. what does you care what you think needs to happen for w.h.o. to be most effective? >> well, at the i think the top priority is both debbie wichita everybody get to grips with the pandemic. we would like to concentrate on that at the moment but we do share australia and america and others concerns about reforms and can things be done better. but as i say we want to prioritize the vaccines and help
that w.h.o. can give right now on the pandemic. if you looked at it totally with a blank sheet of paper, there is something quite important about how information gets into the w.h.o. is it through w.h.o. having the right to have inspections? is it through doctors having a hotline or something whereby they can transmit concerns to the w.h.o.? you also have some outlying agencies like the vaccines agency and the global fund for aids and malaria. they were set up to be more rapidly action and more delivery focused. i certainly don't want to give the impression that w.h.o. could never evolve, but whether the w.h.o. itself changes or whether
other things are done around it to meet the need, i think we need to properly review when covid-19 is over, and we need to ask some of these questions and work out collectively what's the best way of dealing with them, what's the best way of making sure that the international health regulations which fundamentally our best practice for country to follow in the event of things like pandemic, that their work as well as they should, do we need a little bit more bigger in the way they work. so all that needs to be discussed but we would argue the time is not right. >> i'm no bring in some audience questions. marissa from the center for foreign policy would like to know what values and principles will be shaping the uk's foreign policy in 2020? can we expect to see a feminist foreign policy, she asks. >> i think you can expect to see
a human rights-based policy, and certainly one that prizes diversity and inclusion. so whether or not you would put a feminist label on that, i think that's quite a judgment call, but certainly the foreign secretary and prime minister are very human rights focused. now we left the eu, we have an opportunity to pursue an independent sanctions policy. so you will see britain move much more towards using sanctions in that sense, particularly on human rights. as i said earlier, foreign secretary is very keen that we make sure we come across our activity, demonstrates we are an active force for good. a lot of that is around free trade, it's about climate change, human rights as a said,
but it's also wrote the rule of law and governance, and that's very important to us. we want the multilateral institutions to work. you will find us very strong supporters of the rules-based international system. >> the next question comes from a nobel peace prize winner actually. she's asking if the uk is pressuring governments including its former colonies in africa not to sign the prohibition on nuclear weapons? on one side of the argument there, tell us about the nuclear power, what your view is. >> always very humbled to meet a nobel laureate yet comes congratulations to beatrice on that. i had the honor to go to the nobel ceremony a couple of years ago, and it's amazing. so we are a nuclear power. we are one of five nuclear powers under the nonproliferation treaty.
the nonproliferation treaty is what's known as the universal treaty which means nearly every country in the world has signed up to it. therefore, we uphold the nonproliferation treaty. it does allow us and the russians and the chinese, americans and french to be a nuclear power. in the original bargain that was done around that, if you like, was in a peaceful nuclear technology being made available. so it follows, we don't support the prohibition on nuclear weapons, the so-called nuclear ban treaty, but we do want to uphold the nonproliferation treaty which also celebrates an important anniversary this year. >> i think we're time for one more question. i can't say who it is some but i will read it out to you nonetheless. the question is how good the g7, which britain would be the residency holder of in 2021, how
can the g7 play a stronger role in the covid-19 response? >> that's really interesting because the g7 under american leadership this year has been having many more meetings of different sectoral ministers. you always have g7 leaders pick your seven g7 foreign minister. he always have g7 finance ministers. we been able to add health ministers to that which is think is been very important, but it's also enable us to help join up the health, the finance, the foreign policy, and then in turn take that into the g20, the biggest group that includes emerging economies that's like saudi arabia. i think as written come into the chair next year will want to see what progress we managed to make on these main areas, and those main areas have been around
keeping the economy is going, but also keeping our values open, democratic, transparent societies. they had been around giving vaccines developed on the basis of access for all countries. they had been around looking after our national overseas in getting them home. and they've been around the other supports the felt the developing countries need to make sure the health systems are resilient in these very difficult times. so i think we want to evaluate that and then take them forward. i think on the health side, we also very interested in antimicrobial resistance. that also is an issue the world shouldn't take if i off of at the moment. but exactly how we want to shape 2021 i think we'll have to
depend on how far we can get in combating the virus this year. >> actually i'm going to throw in one last question from me because i was reminded that you are quite passionate on the climate change front, , and thai wrote a story about that the chemo does when hell lot of focus is now shifting from the sort of u.n. target setting processes now to all the stimulus packages and how can they be green and so on. i was wondering what approach uk's going to take? the uk is running a lot of things at the moment. you will be in charge of the global climate processes going into next year. >> yes, that is a useful conjunction there. cop 26 is something that we as uk are hosting also with italy, cohost of the u.n. as well. it was to have been in december. because of covid-19 we've moved it into 2021. so there is an interesting
congruence there with the g7 presidency as well, that ought p us make everything mutually reinforcing. i think the point to direct economic recovery and greening the economy is incredibly important. this is also a very good opportunity for developing countries. as for uk we were already working on things like green finance. so i think we'll see a lot more of that, particularly to try to help developing countries cope with the economic impact of covid-19 in a way that is much more sustainable and might have been the case without the crisis. so if you like, it's trying to use the crisis as an opportunity to accelerate those greening of economies that we were going to be looking at in the cop 26 context. >> ambassador come yet been very
generous with your time so don't want to take anymore of it. thank you so much for joining us for this global translations virtual interview. >> thank you for having me. >> you are very welcome. we will see a red attention. everybody else, don't forget to sign up for global translations. it's free and once a week. we have new sustainability newsletter delete on the success of the state they barely we had a global translations newsletter so that sculpt the long game, it's starting may 6 and you can sign up at politico.com/newsletters/long dash game. >> the senate returns for legislative work with a vote scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on an executive nomination. later in the week work possible on fisa reauthorization in talks will likely continue off the floor on future coronavirus relief legislation. watch the senate live starting at 3 p.m. eastern on c-span2.
the house after consultations with members and the attending physician is not expected to resume legislative business until at least the week of may 11 until then they continue to hold pro forma sessions every three days as bipartisan negotiations continue on possible options for remote voting. follow live senate coverage on c-span2. the house on c-span. >> while the coronavirus pandemic continues, your members of cars are working on their home districts. >> many of my folks, 30%, are ones that are at the automotive industry. the of the majority of what i would call your frontline workers comp now to consider essential workers. i hope people don't forget these are the folks that output food on table of folks demanding $15 minimum wage. it's important to highlight their the ones who are not really i think keeping us afloat. >> this is a very, very serious
issue. what i've been telling people is pleased to listen to the federal authorities, the state authorities, local authorities, the health experts and do, just a away from people right now. i see this as a war, and the united states is at war with this virus. >> stay in touch using the newly updated c-span congressional directory. picketers all the contact information you need to connect directly with your senator or representative. order your copy online today at c-span store.org. >> acting homeland security secretary chad wolf talked about his departments response to the coronavirus pandemic but he also point out hurricane season is approaching an agency needs to do with that and other disasters turkey participant in an auburn university virtual discussion. >> good