Top 10 World Changing Negotiations For 2022

Power struggles, elections, civic turmoil, the ongoing pandemic — the world experienced more than its fair share of each during 2021. The sentiment that “The more things change, the more they remain the same,” penned in 1849 by French writer Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr, may be proving itself accurate.

Donald Trump’s negotiating style with Iran is quite different from Joe Biden’s. The new German government has much less to do with democratic elections than it has with complex multiparty negotiations. The world does not know whether to even negotiate with the Afghanistan’s Taliban. And both Russia and China still claim they are merely exercising their rights, not trying to expand their borders through military action.

You’ll find those, and more, accounts of negotiations that changed the world in 2021 and will shape our world in 2022.

10. Trump vs Biden: The Iran Nuclear Talks

Is Iran seriously engaging in negotiations, or is the recently elected Iranian president, Ebrahim Raisi, simply stalling for time to develop the country’s nuclear capacities and gain additional bargaining leverage? 

Observers are quickly giving up hope that a deal of any kind can be reached soon.

Iran wants all current economic sanctions dropped before considering a deal. The Biden administration and U.S. allies say Iran must first return to the JCPOA agreement reached during Obama’s presidency. 

Who will give in first?

Critics of the original deal, enacted during President Obama’s final term in office, lamented that “Iran will be free in a matter of years to produce as many nuclear warheads as it likes, along with the missiles capable of delivering them to anywhere in the world it desires.”


In agreement with that stance (and after Obama sent $1.7 billion in cash to Tehran), President Trump withdrew the United States from JCPOA overnight and ratcheted up sanctions on the country.

The current talks are being held in Vienna, with Iran, Russia, China, the UK, France, Germany and the EU still battling it out. Iran’s negotiators are refusing to meet directly with the U.S. contingent — saying they are “untrustworthy.” Leaning on that stance, Iran wants the United States to agree to never repeat Trump’s actions again. But  that’s one thing the U.S. Constitution doesn’t grant President Biden the right to give them. Well, limited authority can be beneficial to a negotiator.

9. Apple Couldn’t Do It: Amazon Negotiates the Purchase of MGM

Little is known about the discussion at the table, but critics say Amazon paid perhaps $4 billion more than MGM Studios is considered to be worth. That said, once this deal passes the scrutiny of federal regulators, Amazon’s video catalog will be nearly twice the size of the vault controlled by Netflix – a game changer.

Other companies, including Apple, have courted MGM in the past. But with the May announcement of the acquisition at an $8.45 billion price tag, Amazon gets the prize. Maybe.

MGM Chairman, Kevin Ulrich, didn’t want to sell. And the agreement is now under scrutiny by the FTC, and a consortium of labor groups is calling for the FTC to deny the purchase. “Amazon’s influence on the health and diversity of the film-making industry is likely to be negative if the company is permitted to grow larger,” that organization claims.

To further complicate the issue, the famed James Bond movies and associated interests are under the creative control of Eon Productions. That company has been a constant headache for MGM Studios and will likely continue to plague Amazon if the purchase is approved. But then again: if Netflix paid over $ 500 million for Seinfeld, what’s the value of all the Bond movies?

Good deals create value: one plus one can equal much more than two.  

8.  The Largest European Takeover of the Year: Vonovia Acquires Deutsche Wohnen SE

In the largest-ever takeover in Europe’s real estate market, two German rivals are now under one umbrella. Vanovia secured a majority of the stock and 87.6 percent of the voting rights in Deutsche Wohnen.

This wasn’t meant to disintegrate into a hostile takeover, though, negotiations initially proceeded on friendly terms. At the end, stockholder sentiment was of little concern. The deal gives Vonovia control of more than half a million residential apartments.

On the plus side of the purchase, combining the resources of the two companies should cut overhead costs — and those savings could potentially help put the damper on spiraling costs to renters. The negative side, of course, is a reduction in competition among landlords.

Vanovia tried twice before to acquire Deutsche Wohnen. Changes in tactics that finally led to success include hiring advisors to assist in the effort and ensuring Deutsche Wohnen stockholders there was no hostile component to their intentions. In the end, however, the takeover was initiated without majority approval. 

It’s a simple negotiation tactic that often pays of: persistence.

To complicate the deal, many Germans believe the two companies, and others like them, should be nationalized. It is a highly emotional and politicized issue in Germany, a country with one of the lowest home ownership numbers among advanced economies — Germans like to rent. After a successful referendum (without any legal consequence), a poll found that a majority of Berlin citizens indeed favor the nationalization of large-scale landlords. Vonovia’s attempts to sidestep the issue include a promise to sell 14,000 units to the city of Berlin and to forgo rent hikes until 2026.

7. Finally, a Successful Negotiation: The World Trade Organization

In what United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai called “The first successful WTO services negotiation in years,” the WTO Joint Statement Initiative on Services Domestic Regulations (DR JSI) concluded in December. 

Focused on clarification of rules that govern global trade, the new DR JSI provisions aim to improve regulatory practices and increase trade participation by removing barriers to micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSME). Additionally, access will now require non-discrimination according to gender.

What made the difference? Why has it taken more than 20 years for these measures to be introduced? It may be that concerns over the coronavirus pandemic tipped the scales in a positive direction. 

The WTO General Council cancelled the 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) in 2020 and again in 2021. That delay could have encouraged DR JSI participants to go ahead and formalize work previously conducted on the new measures, rather than wait for the pandemic to go away.

Sad but true, live negotiations can be less effective than an array of smaller email, videoconference, or phone negotiations when too many parties are involved.

6. Negotiation, Russian Style: Putin Threatens Ukraine

Here’s a negotiation tactic few can muster: Move upwards of 100,000 troops to the region you aim to conquer. Russia has the West scrambling to ward off what appears to be an impending invasion by Vladimir Putin at Ukraine’s eastern border.

Negotiators from Russia, Ukraine, Germany, and France convened last fall in Paris to ease tensions between the two nations. Those talks, however, failed to do more than establish a rather tenuous ceasefire. 

Russia is now pressing the United States to provide certain security guarantees — including the end of military assistance and Western-style economic desires in Ukraine. Putin also demands that Ukraine’s leader, Volodymyr Zelensky, quash Ukraine’s interest in NATO membership.

The Biden administration responded to the buildup of troops along the border by threatening dire economic restraints and a sure response by NATO constituents in the region. Even though Ukraine’s NATO membership is still a long way off, Biden can hardly accept a veto by Russia.

Putin’s troops are ready and if we look at the scenario as a game of chicken, who would you bet on – Putin or Biden? With his outrageous preparation for a war, Putin has shifted negotiation leverage in his favor.

5. How Far Will the Argument Go? China-Taiwan Negotiations

Taiwan was booted from the United Nations in 1971 and replaced by the communist government in 1949. The People’s Republic of China (PROC) has long desired to restore the “breakaway province” to the fold, yet Taiwan considers itself a sovereign nation. Beijing demands that any nation desiring to secure a diplomatic relationship with the PROC can not recognize Taiwan’s claim. This dispute is at the center of the Chinese-Taiwan conflict and makes for sticky negotiations.

But things get even stickier: The 1979 Taiwan Relationships Act commits the United States to assist Taiwan “in maintaining its defensive capability.” While there is no requirement for the U.S. to actively defend Taiwan in the event of an attack, the implication that it would not stand by and allow a PROC takeover is strong. 

In October, Taiwan’s Minister of National Defence, Chiu Kuocheng, noted that Chinese aircraft were now breaching Taiwan’s air defense identification zone in record numbers. “Military tensions with China are at their worst in more than 40 years,” Chiu remarked. 

In that same month, five members of the U.S. House of Representatives visited Taiwan — one reporting she “received a blunt message from the Chinese Embassy, telling me to call off the trip.” In response to the excursion, Zhao Lijian, speaking on behalf of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, announced “Let me offer a bit of advice to some Americans: don’t play the Taiwan card. Because that’s a bad one. You won’t win.”

In November, U.S. President Biden and PROC President Xi Jinping met virtually. Concerning Taiwan, something spokesperson Zhao called “The most important and sensitive issue in China-U.S. relations,” Biden assured Xi that he will abide by the “One China” policy. Xi reportedly warned Biden that “Whoever plays with fire will get burnt.”

In December, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said there would be “terrible consequences” if China invaded Taiwan — that it “would be a potentially disastrous decision” on China’s part. To add further fuel to the smoldering fire, Taiwan received an invitation to the U.S. Summit for Democracy that same week. China was not invited. Wang Ting-yu, a member of the Taiwanese Legislature, called that action a “clear signal to Beijing.”

It may be that the dispute over the sovereignty of Taiwan turns out to be considerably more important to world affairs than many now believe. It’s not only a territorial dispute, rather it is an issue that could rattle the world and cause nations to line up on one side or the other of a ticking time bomb. Let’s hope the issue will be solved at the negotiation table.

4. North and South Korea Formally End the War — Or Did They?

Vague and enigmatic wording can sometimes be the key to a deal: Henry Kissinger called it “strategic ambiguity.” Such seems to be the case in a statement made in December by South Korean President Moon Jae-in: “The United States, China and North Korea agree in principle on declaring a formal end to the 1950-53 Korean War and Seoul will push to make it happen.”

Agreeing “in principle,” is not quite the same as agreeing on an issue. It does, however, open the door to an easing of tensions on the Korean peninsula. The Korean War officially ended in 1953, but by way of a truce — not a peace treaty. North and South Korea have technically remained at war now for more than 70 years.

In September, North Korea refused Moon’s request to declare the war officially over. According to North Korean state media, Vice Foreign Minister Ri Thae Song declared “Nothing will change as long as the political circumstances around the DPRK remain unchanged and the U.S. hostile policy is not shifted.”

South Korea’s desire to officially end the war, however, does push the door to peace open a bit wider. Formal negotiations have not yet begun, apparently pending a move by the U.S. to end hostilities. The public stance of the Biden administration is to remain “committed to achieving lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula through dialogue and diplomacy with the DPRK.”

On the bright side, in a September address before the United Nations General Assembly, Moon revealed, “Despite North Korea’s recent request to stop applying double standards and hostile policy toward the North as prerequisites for the end-of-war declaration, it has also shown positive responses…”

3. A Strange Coalition: German Government Negotiations

With an election system that led to over half a dozen parties in the German parliament, forming a government is less in the hands of the people as it is in the hands of good negotiators. Smaller parties, such as the Free Democratic Party and the Green Party, were able to choose the chancellor: they selected Olaf Scholz, head of the Social Democrat Party.

Even though the Social Democrats received more votes than the Christian Democratic Union (25.7 vs 18.9 %), it was still the party”s second lowest result in history and needed coalition partners in order to form a government. Consequently, the smaller parties were empowered to edge out the Christian Democratic Union, party of the nation’s previous chancellor, Angela Merkel. 

The Green Party was last to agree to the coalition. With that nod 22 working groups met to hammer out issues. Their recommendations were then passed on to a six-member negotiating team that made final decisions.

Objectives approved include a hike in the minimum wage, making housing more affordable, lowering the cost of electricity to households, lowering the voting age to 16, and legalizing the recreational use of cannabis. 

Commentator Roland Tichy had this to say about the focus of the four year plan: “Inflation? Crisis on the Polish border? Energy shortages? Unemployment? Budget deficits? Not an issue. The main thing is that grazing animals and humans make room for the wolf.”

Multiparty coalitions are highly interesting from a negotiator’s point of view. However, they are not from a citizen’s, as the government formation does not reflect the will of the people but the abilities of the negotiators. Moreover, the coalition is fragile and the two smaller parties could always switch chancellor – a four year negotiation.

2. Negotiating With Taliban: Is It Even Possible?

One can rarely select his or her negotiation partner, particularly when dealing with large corporations – or nations. Well, then how does the world negotiate with the Taliban, who were once removed by a U.S. military intervention? Upon the withdrawal of international forces from Afghanistan, the Talaban were given a direct path to rule — a path they quickly seized. Two decades of attempts to shore up the war-torn nation ended in a few days. Consequently, Afghans now face severe food shortages, poverty is rampant, and the country is again in dire trouble.

Along the way, the Taliban struck deals with Iran and others who oppose the West. One of international negotiation’s oldest principles is “My enemy’s enemy is my friend.” As those enemies gather, will previous negotiations with the Taliban matter at all?

In 2014, an American Enterprise Report summarized the issue like this: “The Taliban’s track record of negotiation is replete with deception. In the past two decades, the Taliban has used negotiation more as a ploy to gain political and military advantages than as a way to settle conflicts.”

According to U.S. President Biden, Afghanistan was given “every tool they could need” to maintain stability. Those tools are now in the hands of Taliban soldiers. Former Afghan official, Hamdullah Mohib, says the United States “betrayed” the country by negotiating independently with Taliban leaders, excluding the old government — something we pointed out in last year’s list. The list of mistakes made by the international community is too long for any Forbes list.

Many wonder, “What was the war even about?” If we are negotiating with the Taliban now, shouldn’t we have negotiated much earlier and saved thousands of lives? And should we not have negotiated and made deals when they were still guerrilla fighters, instead of de-facto rulers? The table has turned.

1. Coronavirus Vaccinations: Why Do So Many Resist?

On one hand, the issue makes no sense. Why would anyone refuse a vaccine that could save their lives and the lives of others? On the other hand, why would people trust the competency of government officials and scientists with a less than stellar track record? Last year, we covered complaints about the availability of vaccines. This year, the “Not my body” proponents are in the limelight.

Why are there so many still unvaccinated among those who have been given the opportunity? No one reason exists, but common threads include doubts about the safety of vaccines, given their rapid development; concerns about side effects of the injections, general distrust of government mandates, and — of course — rumors of a dark conspiracy promulgated by the world’s wealthiest evil-doers.

Complicating the situation is the reluctance of many medical professionals, social influencers, and politicians to get the vaccine themselves. In Michigan, upwards of 400 healthcare workers chose to quit their jobs rather than comply with a vaccine mandate. In Washington state, more than 1,900 state workers chose separation rather than vaccination. Those decisions sound ludicrous to some, but wise to others.

What could relieve the tension and cultivate unity instead of dissent? Here’s an idea: Officials should realize that they are in the midst of a negotiation – to borrow a book title by my colleagues, Larry Susskind and Patrick Field, they are “Dealing with an Angry Public.” Indeed, every time we want somebody to do something and they have a right to veto, we are negotiating.

And as in any well-orchestrated negotiation, instead of expecting people to just eagerly do what they say, governments need to apply the modus operandi of good negotiators: looking behind the other’s positions to uncover underlying interests and anxieties. Treating negotiating counterparts as idiots may lead to bystanders nodding their heads in agreement, but it never leads to a “yes” from the other side – particularly when we all have to get along after this negotiation.

The Tycoon Herald