As we move into 2020, the National Interest Foundation (NIF) delves into some of the domestic and foreign affairs issues that will be worth keeping an eye on this calendar year. You can find our analysis of these topics below.
In mid-December of last year, Donald Trump became only the third American president to be impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives. The prior two – President Andrew Johnson and President Bill Clinton – were both acquitted by the U.S. Senate. While many contend that Trump is likely to face a similar fate, due to the Republican-controlled Senate, the conclusion of the impeachment inquiry via the Senate trial will undoubtedly be one of the main domestic affairs stories to watch throughout 2020. The impeachment inquiry’s impact will be multi-layered. In addition to it determining whether or not Trump is removed from office, it comes at a critical time politically and can play a major role in voter perception toward the president in the lead up to the November 2020 general election. Thus, this issue will not only have an immediate effect in the coming weeks during the Senate impeachment trial, but will also reverberate throughout the entire calendar year.
Overall, the impeachment inquiry against President Trump seems to be an extremely polarizing topic. A recent Pew Research Center poll conducted in early-mid January 2020 during the lead up to the Senate impeachment trial found that a slim majority of Americans (51%) believe that President Trump should be removed from office. Unsurprisingly, sentiment in support and against this notion falls largely along party lines, and there is a strong possibility that electoral enthusiasm will be at a heightened state come this November’s election. If Trump is acquitted by the Senate, as most expect will be the realistic outcome, it is likely that constituents on both sides will feel particularly energized to head to the ballot box. Many Democrats may be especially motivated to vote Trump out of office, while on the other hand, many Republicans may also be mobilized because of a belief that he was dragged through this process unjustly.
Turkish and Russian Involvement in Middle Eastern Diplomatic Affairs
As 2020 unfolds, power politics in the Middle East will be at the forefront of global affairs. Ongoing conflicts in Yemen and Syria, coupled with regional tensions between Saudi Arabia, Iran, and their respective proxies, illustrates the multifaceted and delicate nature of Middle Eastern affairs. Traditionally, the aforementioned Sunni and Shia powers of Saudi Arabia and Iran have been the dominant players in the Middle East, and have taken it upon themselves to set policy throughout the region, often butting heads with each other. However, in the latter part of last year, Russia and Turkey have increased their presence in the Middle East, and have looked to project greater influence in the region. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has expanded his powers under Turkey’s constitution, and changed his government’s foreign policy to a more interventionist strategy. Russia has long held an interest in the Middle East, and with the United States looking to reduce its presence in the area, President Vladimir Putin is keen to step into its role as the principal foreign power in the region. The actions of Russia and Turkey at the end of 2019 sheds light on how their policy in the Middle East in 2020 is likely to take shape.
Beginning in the latter months of 2019, Turkey has stepped up its presence in multiple theaters in the Middle East. Turkey was always a significant party in the Syrian conflict, and President Erdogan escalated his country’s role by creating a “safe zone” along the Syria-Turkey border in October. By doing this, Erdogan was able to uproot Kurdish fighters he regarded as terrorists from near the border, which had been a longstanding foreign policy goal of his. Turkey has also recently sent troops and advisors to aid the government in Libya in their civil war. Turkey’s expansion into North Africa will pit it against other Middle Eastern powers also meddling in the region, such as Saudi Arabia. Russia also maintains a presence in Libya, backing the warlord Khalifa Haftar against the internationally recognized government. Russia has also strengthened its relationship with the Assad regime in Syria, and has sided with Iran in their ongoing feud with the United States. While Turkey has taken an interventionist approach that puts it on the frontlines in different parts of the Middle East, Russia has taken a more nuanced and behind the scenes approach. President Putin has supported governments in the Middle East financially and with military equipment and weapons, as opposed to sending Russian troops to the region. This is no less significant than Turkey having a physical presence in multiple nations, as Russia will have influence over the policy of countries they are supporting militarily. As 2020 progresses, the actions of Turkey and Russia in the Middle East could be deciding factors in shaping how the region looks.
2020 U.S. Presidential Election
On November 3rd of this year, Americans will head to the ballot box to elect their next president. The 2020 U.S. presidential election will not only be consequential for domestic affairs, but will also determine the path of American foreign policy in the coming years. The significant level of uncertainty tied to the outcome of the election will undoubtedly affect the behavior of countries around the world, as many world leaders may tread lightly in their dealings with the United States for the time being. On the other hand, the incumbent Trump administration will likely employ an aggressive foreign relations approach, in order to boost their accomplishments in this critical election year. Overall, the combination of these two elements will be intriguing to watch throughout the course of this calendar year in the lead up to the November 2020 election.
One of the main themes that will be greatly influenced by the outcome of the election is the United States’ policy towards its allies, particularly in Europe. Re-election for President Trump would likely spell a continuation of skeptic policies towards long-time partners like NATO and the European Union. However, the field of Democratic candidates running for president have emphasized that if elected, they would aim to re-establish these weakened ties with American allies in the region. Therefore, it is safe to project that the 2020 U.S. presidential election will have a major effect on the United States’ future engagement with multilateral institutions around the world.
Israel is set to hold an unprecedented third election in 2020, after the previous two elections failed to show a clear winner, and efforts to form a coalition government in the Knesset failed. The election is scheduled for March, and will feature the same candidates as the previous two; incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and former military commander Benny Gantz. Netanyahu is the leader of Israel’s right-wing Likud Party, and Gantz heads the centrist Blue and White Party. In the previous elections, neither party won enough of the vote to form a government on their own, and each failed to form a governing coalition with minority parties when given the opportunity. As a result, Israel will head to the polls for the third time in a year in an attempt to break the deadlock.
Prime Minister Netanyahu will campaign for another term while under indictment for fraud, bribery, and breach of trust. He has denounced the charges as politically motivated and refused to step down. Initial polls suggest that the indictment could have a significant impact in the March elections, as opinion surveys show a majority of Israelis being disturbed by the formal indictment being issued. Netanyahu staved off a challenge to his leadership of the Likud Party from within, beating Gideon Sa’ar during a leadership election in December 2019.
Conversely, Benny Gantz’s Blue and White Party remain unified internally, but face an uphill battle to win over voters that have traditionally supported Likud. Prime Minister Netanyahu has been in office since 2009, and has won support from Israelis over issues in the West Bank. Likud has pursued a more aggressive strategy in the disputed territories, which has been appreciated by some voters in Israel. During coalition talks following the September 2019 elections, the Joint List, the largest Arab party in the Knesset, supported Benny Gantz. Gantz has called for a “secure peace” in the West Bank, and an end to the hostile environment between Palestinians and Israelis. Gantz and Netanyahu’s policies toward the West Bank and Palestinians are where the two candidates are most different. While Gantz has a military background and has led operations against Palestinians, he has courted the support of Arab and minority voters. On the other hand, Prime Minister Netanyahu has unabashedly advocated for Israel to turn into an ethnocracy, with a clear social hierarchy based on ethnicity. The difference in those policies could be the deciding factor when Israel returns to the polls in March of this year.
A theme throughout 2019 was the eruption of popular protests around the world. Mass demonstrations against government, unpopular policy, or social injustice incited the people of dozens of countries throughout the world. These protests were not limited to one continent or region, and some of them resulted in fundamental change within their country. As the calendar moves to 2020, these protests are likely to continue; some with old motives, and some with new.
Some of the most noteworthy protests in 2019 were those that focused on government reform, and a more accountable system of government. Namely, protests in this category occurred in Hong Kong, Lebanon, Algeria, Sudan, Chile, Guinea, Egypt, and elsewhere. Government waste, corruption, and a divide between the public and the leaders of these countries facilitated these protests, and many of them were successful in enacting change. Social injustice was another major point of conflict between governments and civilians during 2019, with protests breaking out in England, France, Bangladesh, Russia, and South Africa, among others. The specific issues in these demonstrations ranged from unpopular new taxes, climate change, gender inequality, and political censorship, which shows how wide-ranging the issues of importance to civilians are.
In 2020, it is likely that protests around the world will continue, and there have already been signs that indicate which countries will be faced with such demonstrations. An unpopular new citizenship bill proposed in India has drawn thousands of protestors to the streets across all major cities. In Iran, the downing and subsequent lying about a Ukrainian Airlines passenger plane saw scores demonstrate in Tehran and Isfahan. In France, the resurfacing of the “Yellow Vest” movement brought hundreds to the streets in Paris. The uptick in protests during the latter stages of 2019 is overwhelmingly likely to continue in 2020. Furthermore, there is not a single issue that is uniting people across the world; each nation has its own gripes and individual concerns that are unique to it. This means that each government will need to find its own way to appease citizens, and find a solution that is acceptable to all parties. If both sides abstain from violence, a peaceful solution becomes more likely, and that is the ideal outcome for all protests, regardless of their topic.
Although they are not a new global phenomenon – proxy wars – particularly in the Middle East, were evident in 2019 and look likely to remain so in 2020 as well. Despite the fact that we are only a month into the new year, there have already been major developments with some of these ongoing conflicts which demonstrate their prevalence in foreign affairs. The first is with the war in Yemen. Many view this conflict as a proxy war between the regional powers of Saudi Arabia and Iran, where the former supports the incumbent regime while the latter backs the rebel force fighting it. In recent days, over 100 government soldiers were killed in a drone attack on a mosque in a military camp. With attacks like these, the war in Yemen continues to be one of the most brutal and deadly humanitarian crises in the world. Both sides have been condemned for their indiscriminate bombings, which have killed and displaced thousands of Yemeni civilians since the war’s outbreak nearly 5 years ago in early 2015.
One of the other major contemporary conflicts which has been placed in this category because of a substantial level of foreign involvement is the Libyan Civil War. The country has two rival administrations: The Government of National Accord (GNA) and a rival faction allied with the Libyan National Army. The GNA is backed by countries like Turkey and Qatar, while the opposing force is supported by Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates. In fact, foreign intervention has become such a prevalent issue in the conflict that since the start of 2020, two multilateral conferences have already been held to try and address this concern: one in Moscow and the other in Berlin. Both warring factions have come to rely heavily on diplomatic and military backing from abroad, so it is at least encouraging that these summits have rightfully highlighted this as a major issue which needs to be curtailed. With such a heavy focus on the Libyan conflict so far in 2020, one would expect this topic will stay at the forefront of foreign affairs throughout the remainder of the calendar year.
U.S. – Iran Tensions
Relations between Iran and the United States have rarely been frostier since Iran’s Islamic Revolution in 1979. A combination of President Trump’s bellicose rhetoric toward Iran since taking office in 2016, the killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s aggression in the Persian Gulf, and the disintegration of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action has resulted in tensions skyrocketing between the United States and Iran. 2020 and beyond could be defined by how the two powers deal with each other, and if they are able to resolve the issues that currently exist between them.
Most recently, Iran was incensed by the United States’ decision to kill General Qassem Soleimani, the leader of Iran’s elite Quds Force; a wing of its Revolutionary Guards. Iran retaliated by carrying out airstrikes on American military bases in Iraq, and intelligence has pointed to a larger operation to target American forces across the Middle East. Iran has long harbored ambitions of forcing the United States out of the Middle East, and could use the Soleimani killing as justification for a broader campaign to bring this goal to reality. Iran has also been hit hard by the breakdown of the JCPOA that lifted sanctions in return for Iran curbing its nuclear ambitions. Sanctions have been reinstated by the United States, and there have been widespread protests in Iran at the rising prices of basic goods that resulted from the sanctions.
A theme of international relations in 2020 could be the relationship between Iran and the United States. Major allies of both countries have called for a de-escalation and negotiations to ease tensions. Following Iran’s strike on the American bases in Iraq, both sides signaled that they would not escalate provided the other didn’t. However, Iran is still under pressure due to the sanctions imposed by the United States, and a path forward to lasting peace between the two could be a deal that replaces the JCPOA and relieves sanctions on Iran. However, Iran has been reticent to re-negotiate that agreement, considering they had been abiding by its stipulations and the United States pulled out unilaterally. President Trump has publicly called for a new deal, so if the two sides are able to come to a compromise, 2020 could be the year that sees Iran and the United States warm to each other for the first time in years.
Domestic Problems in China
Throughout 2019, China found itself at the heart of controversial social issues. The arbitrary detention of Uighur Muslims in the country’s northwest, and the outbreak of protests for democracy in Hong Kong ensured that Xi Jinping and his Communist Party leadership had their hands full with domestic problems. Moving into 2020, these problems have not been resolved and are set to dominate international headlines due to the Chinese government’s response. Continually referring to the internment of Uighurs in what are essentially concentration camps as “fake news” has not helped China curry favor with the international community, nor has its response to the protests in Hong Kong.
China’s Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region is home to an overwhelming majority of China’s Uighur Muslims. After Xi Jinping’s first state visit to the region, a Uighur extremist bombed the train station in Urumqi, Xinjiang’s capital, where Xi had been just hours before. In response, Jinping announced a “strike first” policy against extremism in the region. In practice, this policy has taken the form of detaining Uighurs and imprisoning them in what the government calls “re-education camps,” but in reality, bear more resemblance to concentration camps. Uighurs are forced to undergo “manner training” where they are taught how to behave as model Chinese citizens, and take lessons in Mandarin. Men are forbidden from growing their hair or beard, which is traditionally associated with practicing Muslims, and praying is strictly forbidden. Additionally, women have told foreign journalists of being sexually assaulted while imprisoned, in what adds to a growing list of human rights abuses taking place in the detainment camps.
Elsewhere in China, protests for democracy crippled Hong Kong for the best part of the final half of 2019. Hongkongers were originally outraged by an extradition bill that rolled back judicial independence in Hong Kong, and the protests morphed into a concentrated demand for an independent Hong Kong. Despite the protests being peaceful, the Hong Kong police has used harsh tactics to suppress certain demonstrations, at the direction of Beijing. While autonomous, Hong Kong is technically a part of China under the “Two Systems, One Country” policy adopted after the British handed back control of the territory to the Chinese. The protests are calling for an end to this policy, and an independent Hong Kong.
Moving forward into 2020, how China resolves its domestic issues in Xinjiang and Hong Kong will be of the utmost importance. The international community is watching carefully, and the United States and its allies will be taking note of significant developments. Sanctions have already been placed on the architects of China’s Uighur policy, and the sale of police equipment to Hong Kong has been halted. If China is unable to come to reasonable solutions on these topics, it can be expected that the United States and international organizations will apply pressure to the Chinese government to find peaceful resolutions.
A theme of Donald Trump’s presidency to date has been his contrasting policy toward two countries keen to develop their nuclear programs: Iran and North Korea. President Trump has favored negotiation and outreach with North Korea, while taking a more hardline approach toward Iran, underlined by heavy economic sanctions. The respective nuclear programs of Iran and North Korea shape aspects of foreign policy for the United States and the broader international community, and these programs will be key in determining if rapprochement is feasible with two countries that are currently ostracized by much of the international community.
Following a summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Stockholm in October 2019, negotiations to halt North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs came to an end. The United States is seeking a comprehensive end to North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, while Pyongyang wants sanctions lifted before any denuclearization occurs. North Korea has been candid in its desire to obtain a nuclear weapon, and conducted numerous ballistic missile trials throughout 2019. The United States, along with South Korea and Japan, are seeking to end these trials through convincing North Korea to denuclearize. Despite talks breaking down in Stockholm, President Trump and Kim Jong Un have previously shown a willingness to meet with each other face to face, which could be a boost to negotiations.
In the case of Iran, heightened tensions between itself and the United States in other areas has not helped proponents of denuclearization. The United States unilaterally pulled out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, an Obama-era treaty that relieved sanctions on Iran in exchange for Tehran giving up its ability to create a nuclear weapon. Correspondingly, the United States reinstated sanctions on Iran, who then exited the deal as well after an American missile strike killed the distinguished Revolutionary Guards commander, General Qassem Soleimani. As a result, Iran’s nuclear program is currently unchecked, although the American-imposed sanctions have crippled its economy.
Moving into 2020, denuclearization of Iran and North Korea will shape much of the foreign policy landscape. President Trump has been vague about his policy toward Iran, saying only that the country “would never be allowed” to have a nuclear weapon. He has been warmer toward North Korea, saying that he and Kim Jong Un share a good relationship, and that Kim is smart enough to choose peace and prosperity over war. Although unlikely, a negotiated solution whereby both Iran and North Korea denuclearize would be a major foreign policy victory for President Trump in a critical election year.
Much of the United Kingdom’s political discourse for the past two years has been centered on Brexit, the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union. Since the 2016 referendum, lawmakers have tried and failed on numerous occasions to negotiate a deal acceptable to both the U.K. and E.U. to see Britain exit the organization. Finally, following Boris Johnson’s landslide election victory in December of last year, the United Kingdom will formally depart the European Union on Friday January 31st, 2020. Much of the debate until this point has centered around the negotiations between the U.K. and the members of the E.U. over the terms of Britain’s withdrawal. However, as Brexit is finalized, Boris Johnson and his government will need to use 2020 to negotiate new treaties and agreements to replace the ones used by the European Union.
The United Kingdom will need to replace the roughly 70 trade deals that the European Union uses for all its members. The U.K. has been attempting to recreate the trade deals that are currently in place among European Union states. The United Kingdom was permitted to negotiate trade deals with existing E.U. members prior to officially leaving, and have reached agreements with multiple countries on deals that will ensure tariff-free trade. Despite reaching deals with E.U. members, the United Kingdom will also need to agree a trade deal with the European Union itself. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been bullish in his assertions that a deal will be able to be completed by the end of 2020, but President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said it would be “impossible” to reach a comprehensive agreement before 2021.
Among non-E.U. countries, the United States is first in line to negotiate a new trade deal with the United Kingdom. President Trump has promised to work closely with Prime Minister Johnson to agree on a new deal, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have echoed the United States’ commitment to get a deal done. Other countries that the United Kingdom is placing a high priority on are Japan and Australia, given the large amount of goods that travel between the countries. 2020 will be a busy year in London, as the United Kingdom deals with the fallout of leaving the European Union’s economic agreements. After two years of debate over the conditions needed to leave the E.U., the next battle for Great Britain will be replacing the benefits it leaves behind.
Climate change has become an increasingly controversial topic as it becomes a mainstream subject of political discourse. From climate deniers who argue that the increase in the planet’s temperature is nothing to be concerned over, to activists who warn of a climate apocalypse this century, the topic of climate change has become extremely polarizing. Dozens of scientific studies have been released that show the rising levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are becoming irreversible. Throughout 2019, there were multiple international summits that focused on climate change as a key part of the agenda, and prominent climate activists such as Greta Thunberg gained international notoriety for demanding political action to slow the momentum of climate change.
In 2020, it is likely that the discussion around climate change will continue to increase. Corporations have begun taking steps to limit their carbon footprint, and governments are fully aware how important climate change has become to voters. New Zealand, Sweden, France, and the United Kingdom have recently passed legislation that limits carbon emissions, with an aim at being carbon neutral by 2050. More countries are likely to join them in 2020 as pressure mounts from their citizens and international allies. Even with the increased focus on the danger of climate change, certain countries have continued to place economic development over environmental sustainability. Namely, China and India are the primary culprits of this, and argue that international climate agreements place an unfair burden on them, since they are still developing and therefore higher levels of emissions are inevitable. Additionally, the United States lags behind most other Western nations when it comes to combating climate change, with President Trump frequently extoling the value the coal industry has on the American economy. In 2020, it is likely that Western Europe leads the fight against climate change, and uses international organizations and diplomatic pressure to implore other countries to follow their example.
Global Fight Against Terror Organizations
While ISIS lost significant ground in 2019, it is not completely eradicated, despite President Trump’s claims to the contrary. It is one of several terrorist organizations in the Middle East and North Africa that saw its momentum slowed by international coalitions. Among others, Al Qaeda has lost significant influence in areas it used to control with an iron fist, al-Shabab has been pummeled with air strikes, and the Taliban in Afghanistan has shown a willingness to enter into peace talks with the Afghan government. Despite this progress, there has been an uptick in terrorist violence in the Sahel, which will be a key focus of international coalitions in 2020. Additionally, the destruction and chaos created by the wars in Libya and Yemen has fostered an ideal environment for terror groups to move into and assert control. These areas will also be of particular concern for coalitions battling the terror organizations, and will need to be addressed in the new year.
Burkina Faso, Niger, and Mali are among the countries in the Sahel that were hit hard by terrorist violence in the latter stages of 2019, which looks set to continue into 2020. 71 Nigerien soldiers were killed in an attack on an army base, demonstrating the increased audaciousness of terrorist groups in the region. Groups such as Boko Haram are active in the Sahel, and the main combatant against these organizations has been France, which has roughly 4,500 troops deployed in the region. In Libya, the ongoing civil war has created areas of lawlessness that has allowed groups affiliated with ISIS to prosper. In 2020, Russia and Turkey are the primary foreign forces on the ground in Libya, and both have taken an active role in combatting extremist groups. In the case of Yemen, Saudi Arabia’s proxy campaign has devastated the country, and created an environment of chaos that has seen terror groups expand their influence, particularly in Yemen’s south. In 2020, Saudi Arabia and the UAE will be forced to confront these organizations, which will likely only serve to lengthen the period of bloodshed in Yemen. The fight against terror organizations is far from finished, and in addition to the areas that are already known, there is always the possibility of extremist groups beginning operations in new places. 2020 will see the need for international coalitions to continue battling extremists if they are to be rooted out in their entirety.
The Kashmir conflict is a territorial dispute mainly between the nations of India and Pakistan, though China has been involved as well, over the Kashmir region. While the conflict dates back to the partition of India in 1947, 2019 saw a rise in tensions and one would expect the issue to remain a hot-button topic in 2020 as well. There were two key developments which transpired throughout the course of last year and brought an increase in foreign affairs focus back to Kashmir. First, in February, a vehicle loaded with explosives crashed into an Indian paramilitary convoy in the region, killing 40 personnel officers. The Pakistan-based extremist group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) claimed responsibility for the attack, leading to retributive Indian strikes on JeM terror camps across the line of control (LoC) in Balakot, Pakistan. This resulted in a back-and-forth of airstrikes by both nations against targets in each other’s territory.
The second major development took place in August of last year, when the Indian government made a controversial move by revoking Article 370 of its constitution. The article had previously given Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), India’s side of Kashmir, a large degree of autonomy over its own affairs. The revocation was seen as an attempt by India’s Hindu-dominated Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to exert more control over the Muslim-majority J&K state and integrate it more fully with the rest of the country. This worsened the already-heightened tensions between India and neighboring Pakistan, with the latter viewing this latest move as a threat to the region’s autonomy.
Both of these recent events have stoked fear of escalated tensions in the contentious region of Kashmir moving forward. Since India’s revocation of Article 370, Pakistan has ramped up its efforts to urge the international community to act as mediator over the disputed territory. On the other hand, India maintains that Kashmir is a bilateral issue and has rejected foreign offers to mediate the conflict. So far in 2020, the issue has already been a point of discussion between regional and world leaders at the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and the situation in Kashmir will certainly be a foreign affairs topic worth watching throughout the year.
U.S. – China Trade Deal
Since President Donald Trump first put tariffs on Chinese products entering the United States in 2018, the world’s two largest economies have been embroiled in a bitter trade war. A fundamental part of President Trump’s election campaign was his plan to erase the American trade deficit with China. Frequently speaking of being “ripped off,” President Trump accused China of using unfair trade practices and stealing American trade secrets, and placed harsh tariffs on dozens of Chinese products. China retaliated with similar measures, with the result being American consumers suffering more than their Chinese counterparts. Earlier this year, President Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping signed an initial agreement that would see tariffs on certain products dropped, with a view to resuming normal trade practices by 2021.
President Trump hailed the trade deal signed between the United States and China as a huge win for Americans, particularly the farmers that have been hardest hit by the trade war. Included in the deal are commitments from China to buy an additional $200 billion of American goods by 2021, and increased enforcement and punishment of unfair tactics employed by Chinese companies. Among the $200 billion in American products China has promised to buy, agricultural products, airplanes, pharmaceuticals, oil, and gas are the most common commodities that will be exported. However, the deal only stretches until 2021, and there are no commitments after that two-year period. That has raised concerns of another stalemate over trade at that time, and the reinstating of tariffs on goods. In 2020, China will be monitored closely to determine their compliance with the deal. It will be difficult to enforce the terms if China does not adhere to them, as there is no international dispute-settling agreement written into the contract. However, if China does obey the terms of the deal, it will be a boost for American farmers and consumers. After two years of arguments over trade, 2020 could be the year for the United States and China to begin warming relations with each other again.