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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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SnapshotsJun 25, 2020 | 18:08 GMT
The U.S.-EU Trade War Is Poised to Intensify
The U.S.-EU trade war continues to brew and could see Brussels and Washington move forward with more tariffs through the rest of the year, even as both sides reckon with the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. On June 24, the U.S. Trade Representative's office published a list for the public comment outlining $4.3 billion worth of European products that could be subject to new tariffs as early as August. This latest escalation is part of its 16-year dispute between Washington and Brussels over government subsidies to the U.S.-based aircraft maker Boeing and its chief European rival, Airbus. Trade negotiations between the United States and European Union have already been virtually non-existent this year, due in part to the pandemic, as well as major disagreements on issues [such as agriculture. Even if they do occur, last-minute trade talks to try to avert the escalation over aircraft subsidies will thus likely fail, as both sides
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AssessmentsJun 23, 2020 | 18:03 GMT
A worker goes down a construction ladder at the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile in Ethiopia on Dec. 26, 2019.
Egypt's Losing Battle on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam
The failure of last week's negotiations over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam means that the initial filling of the $4 billion hydroelectric dam on the Blue Nile will likely occur without an agreement between Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia. Egypt will attempt, and likely fail, to bring international pressure to bear on Ethiopia in order to ensure the giant new dam doesn't affect the flow of the Nile Basin river system, which is Cairo's main source of water. But while Egypt's technical coordination on the project is unavoidable, Cairo's waning influence over North Africa's water distribution will make its overall position on the Nile less secure over time.
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SnapshotsJun 19, 2020 | 18:29 GMT
A Major Cyberattack Further Stokes Australia-China Tensions
Amid a recent uptick in Sino-Australian tensions, China is continuing to raise the price of Australia's sustained support of a U.S.-led international push to investigate Beijing's role in the COVID-19 pandemic and more broadly confront China. On June 19, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that his country had been targeted by a sustained and wide-ranging cyberattack on government institutions, public services and businesses. Unnamed top officials said the Chinese government is the primary suspect. Australia, however, has shown no signs that it intends to back off from its confrontational diplomatic stance, despite China's continued economic threats and retaliatory actions in recent months. On June 11, Morrison said his government would not be intimidated by Beijing's "coercion" tactics, signaling his political resolve to maintain Australia's current scrutiny of Beijing's involvement in the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as Hong Kong's political crisis.  
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On GeopoliticsJun 11, 2020 | 17:44 GMT
A 3D rendering of eastern China and the island of Taiwan lit by city lights from space.
China's Evolving Taiwan Policy: Disrupt, Isolate and Constrain
For China's leadership, the unification of Taiwan is more than a symbol of the final success of the Chinese Communist Party or an emotional appeal to some historic image of a greater China. It is a strategic imperative driven both by Taiwan's strategic location, and by the rising antagonism between the United States and China. Taiwan is the “unsinkable aircraft carrier” off the Chinese coastline, splitting China's near seas, and bridging the arc of islands stretching southwest from Japan with those from the Philippines south through Indonesia. Taiwan is crucial for both any foreign containment strategy, and for China's confidence and security in the East and South China seas -- areas critical to China's national defense, food security and international trade. 
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AssessmentsJun 9, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski, one of the main opposition candidates running in Poland's 2020 presidential election, greets locals and supporters in Wieliczka, Poland, during a campaign event on June 5, 2020. 
Poland After the Presidential Election
Poland’s upcoming presidential election could increase political instability at a time of already mounting economic uncertainty, should a less Euroskeptic opposition candidate defeat President Andrzej Duda and secure the power to veto legislation. Regardless of who wins, in the months ahead the Polish government will need to defend both its economy from further harm due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as its access to EU farming subsidies and cohesion funds in the bloc’s 2021-2027 budget. Over time, growing debt levels and a worsening deficit could damage the government’s popularity and open the door to political change by impeding Warsaw’s ability to expand social welfare benefits.  
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AssessmentsJun 3, 2020 | 17:02 GMT
Chinese flags and American flags are displayed at a business in Beijing.
Amid Rising Hong Kong Tensions, the U.S.-China Trade Deal Hangs by a Thread
Rising bilateral tensions stemming from Beijing's proposed national security legislation for Hong Kong are increasing the risk that the "phase one" trade deal between the United States and China will collapse before the end of 2020. The deal itself may still officially exist, but tit-for-tat escalation on tariffs and trade measures will render it functionally dead. Further retaliation by the United States over the Hong Kong legislation also risks triggering Chinese countermeasures beyond trade policy.
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GuidanceMay 29, 2020 | 22:34 GMT
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks about U.S. relations with China at the White House on May 29, 2020.
U.S. Threats to Overhaul Hong Kong Policy Intensify China Confrontation
U.S. President Donald Trump's May 29 announcements adjusting U.S. policy toward China could derail the phase one U.S.-China trade deal if fully implemented, but they are unlikely to deter Beijing's determination to implement new Hong Kong national security legislation -- and no matter what, Hong Kong protest activity will increase in the coming months.
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AssessmentsMay 13, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
An aerial photo shows villagers sowing highland barley seeds with agricultural machinery in the fields in Lhasa, the capital of China's Tibet Autonomous Region, on April 22, 2020.
COVID-19 Tensions Place Australian Farmers in China's Crosshairs
On May 10, Australian grain producers issued a joint statement warning that China has made a provisional decision to impose anti-dumping and anti-subsidy tariffs on Australian barley imports of up to 80.5 percent, effectively shutting down their exports to China. Sources within the Australian government say the timing of these tariffs is linked to the recent uptick in Chinese tensions over COVID-19, though Prime Minister Scott Morrison has publicly since said he does not believe the two are related. China's economic pressure, however, would have to expand beyond barley and the small group of beef slaughterhouses to compel Australia to reconsider its support of U.S. efforts to counter Beijing's rise. If Beijing threatens more sweeping measures against Australian beef exports, or turns to targeting wool exports, Canberra may be prompted to change its approach. But as things stand, barley producers in Australia have other options.
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SITUATION REPORTMay 8, 2020 | 18:37 GMT
U.S., China: Top Trade Representatives Agree to Move Forward With 'Phase One' Deal
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He agreed to move forward with implementing their “phase one” trade deal following an overnight conference call, the South China Morning Post reported April 7. 
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