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SnapshotsOct 14, 2020 | 17:11 GMT
A pile of briquettes, which are compressed blocks of coal dust, is seen in Melbourne, Australia, in March 2017.
With an Apparent Coal Ban, China Ups the Cost of Australia’s Political Defiance
Reports that China has halted purchases of Australian coal suggest Beijing is increasing economic pressure to curb Canberra’s more confrontational stance. Such moves, however, are unlikely to inhibit Australia’s greater strategic shift to rebalance against Chinese encroachment in the region. On Oct. 14, leaks indicated that around 850,000 tonnes of Australian coking coal on ten Panamax vessels bound for China was being diverted to other markets. This follows an Oct. 13 confirmation from Australia's trade ministry that it was determining whether Beijing has suspended purchases of Australian coking and thermal coal. Reports from the day before indicate that Chinese officials told most large power stations and steel mills in early October to halt the use of Australian coal. Many ports were also reportedly told not to offload the product, causing buyers to respond by halting purchases for fear they wouldn’t clear customs. If confirmed, China's suspension of Australian coal purchases
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AssessmentsOct 9, 2020 | 21:25 GMT
A view of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) building from the street in Washington D.C. on Sept. 25, 2020.
Zambia’s Imminent Debt Default
Zambia is expected to default on its external debt when the southern African country misses $118 million in interest payments on eurobonds due from Oct. 14 to March 2021. Hopes for a comprehensive debt restructuring are overly optimistic without major help from China, its largest creditor, as well as a substantial macroeconomic adjustment program supported by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Zambia is the first comprehensive case involving all creditor classes this year, and neither the Paris Club nor bondholders will restructure debt without appropriate burden-sharing by China.
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AssessmentsSep 30, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Farmers in Bangalore, India, stage an anti-government demonstration to protest against the recent passing of new agricultural reforms on Sept. 28, 2020.
In India, Modi Bets the Farm on Controversial Economic Reforms
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s new agricultural and labor reforms may help accelerate the country’s economic recovery from COVID-19, but the likely near-term financial losses for Indian farmers and unionized workers will risk fueling backlash from both protesters and state legislatures. The Indian parliament passed the reforms in an abbreviated monsoon session that ended Sept. 25. By usurping procedural legislative practices to close debate or refine the proposed agricultural reforms, the BJP was ultimately able to quickly push through its proposed legislation through a less precise voice vote in parliament instead of a typical ballot vote. 
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AssessmentsSep 22, 2020 | 19:33 GMT
A woman wearing a face mask stands at a terrace on top of a building in Fnideq, Morocco, on Aug. 28, 2020.
COVID-19 Forces Morocco to Mull a Risky Election Delay
The economic impact of COVID-19 could force the Moroccan government to delay upcoming elections, which would raise the risk of social unrest and rare public scrutiny on the country’s elected and unelected officials. Morocco is currently scheduled to hold parliamentary and local elections in the summer and fall of 2021. Some Moroccan political parties have pushed for delaying elections in favor of forming a national salvation government that can more deftly handle the country’s pandemic-induced economic crisis, while other parties support holding the ballot on time, arguing that such stressful circumstances require the stability of regular elections. 
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On GeopoliticsSep 7, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Cadets from China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy march in formation before a ceremony at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on Sept. 30, 2019.
China’s Amphibian Dilemma: Straddling Land and Sea Ambitions
China borders the largest number of countries by land, and its navy now boasts the largest number of battle force ships by sea. With the pressures and opportunities of both a continental and maritime power, China faces an amphibian’s dilemma, as the characteristics best suited for life at sea and life at land may not always prove complementary. Traditional continental powers are more prone to autocratic leadership to manage their challenges, while traditional maritime powers lean toward democratic systems and more open markets. China’s attempt to straddle both can intensify sectionalism and exacerbate differences between the interior core that remains continental in outlook, and the coastal areas that become more maritime in outlook.  This challenge is also highlighted in China’s attempts to reshape global norms and standards, which themselves largely represent the maritime world order. The apparent global political and economic dissonance is not merely caused by China seeking change, but
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AssessmentsAug 25, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A vintage map of the Middle East.
What's Driving Muslim Countries to Normalize Their Ties With Israel?
The waning influence of the pan-Islamism and pan-Arabism movements, combined with increasing U.S. pressure, will cause Oman, Bahrain and Morocco to soon join the United Arab Emirates in formalizing ties with Israel, accelerating a longer-term normalization trend that no longer hinges on the formation of a Palestinian state. The allure of Israel's technology and defense capabilities could also compel other Muslim states with covert ties and limited histories of overt conflict with Israel, such as Pakistan, to follow suit. Israel will, in turn, see expanding global economic ties that strengthen its post-pandemic recovery, as well as stronger regional allies that bolster its position against Iran should the upcoming U.S. election yield a less hawkish administration in Washington.
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On GeopoliticsAug 21, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Pedestrians stand on top of a world map at a monument commemorating the Age of Exploration in Lisbon, Portugal.
China, the U.S., and the Geography of the 21st Century
The geographical perspective of the 21st century is just now being formed. And at its heart is a rivalry between China and the United States to succeed Europe’s 500-year centrality in the international system, which will be framed by a shift in global economic activity and trade, new energy resource competition, a weakening Europe and Russia, and a technological battle to control information. The new map of the next century will extend to the ocean floor for resources and subsea cables, to space where low-Earth orbit satellites drive communications, and into the ill-defined domain of cyberspace. 
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AssessmentsAug 17, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Steam and exhaust rise from a chemical company's coking plant in Oberhausen, Germany, on Jan. 6, 2017.
What the EU Green Deal Means For Governments and Companies
The European Union will increase pressure on private and public companies to reduce their carbon emissions in the coming years, and will also make significant funds available to help member states transition to cleaner energy. The actual implementation of the ambitious policies laid out in Brussels' Green Deal, however, will be slow and uneven due to the bloc's current pandemic-induced economic crisis, insufficient funding, internal political divisions, and limited access to the technologies needed to create more eco-friendly European economies. 
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AssessmentsJul 28, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A photo shows one of the shallow water reservoirs in Simferopol, Crimea.
Russia's Quick Fixes Won't Solve Crimea's Water Woes
Russia's ongoing efforts to stretch Crimea's dwindling water supplies will only slightly delay the need to permanently fix the region's insufficient water resources by either funding expensive infrastructure overhauls, or convincing Ukraine to reopen the North Crimean Canal. The availability of fresh water in Crimea has progressively degraded following Russia's annexation in 2014. But with drought conditions worsening through the summer and beyond, the peninsula's dire water scarcity issues are now increasingly threatening industrial and agricultural consumption.
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AssessmentsJul 22, 2020 | 21:37 GMT
A group of people stand outside the Chinese consulate in Houston, Texas, after the United States ordered Beijing to immediately close the office on July 22, 2020.
What the Closure of a Consulate Could Mean for U.S.-China Tensions
Washington's closure of the Chinese consulate in Houston introduces a new conflict point in U.S.-China relations, but the impact will depend on the narrative and justification for the U.S. decision and whether Beijing retaliates proportionately or further escalates tensions. If it becomes apparent that the United States closed the consulate in response to an immediate security threat, it would indicate a continuation of the administration's more measured approach to Chinese threats in recent months. However, if the move is not linked to particularly egregious activity at the consulate, it may indicate that the White House is adopting a more aggressive posture against Beijing ahead of the November election. 
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GuidanceJul 13, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
An evening view of the western half of Hong Kong.
Hong Kong's Dollar Peg Likely Remains Safe From U.S. Sanctions -- For Now
U.S. President Donald Trump's expected signature of the Hong Kong Autonomy Act (HKAA) presages a policy challenge for his administration as it seeks to pressure China without further damaging the U.S.-China trade deal. This, combined with the need to avoid creating additional economic uncertainty ahead of the November election, suggests possible new sanctions will not pose an immediate threat to Hong Kong's currency peg to the U.S. dollar.
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SnapshotsJul 7, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A Drought Lays Bare Morocco’s Vulnerabilities
While declining rainfall is a problem across the Maghreb region of northwest Africa, this year's ongoing spring and summer drought is hitting Morocco's agricultural sector particularly hard. The drought will weaken the strategic objectives of the Moroccan government's agricultural investment plan, which prioritizes support for export-producing large farms over subsistence-producing small farms in order to drum up valuable export revenue. Dampened domestic production will also force Morocco to import more staple crops needed to feed its 36 million citizens. Combined with the loss of crucial agricultural revenue, the added expense of more imports will exacerbate the economic fallout from the COVID-19 crisis, which is already sapping Morocco's tourism revenue.
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