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SITUATION REPORTOct 19, 2020 | 14:32 GMT
U.K., EU: London Says Post-Brexit Trade Deal Still Possible
The European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, will hold a video conference call with his British counterpart, David Frost, on Oct. 19 to discuss the state of the EU-U.K. free trade negotiations, the BBC has reported. Senior U.K. Cabinet Minister Michael Gove said on Oct. 18 that the door is "still ajar" for talks over a post-Brexit trade deal if Brussels is willing to make concessions. 
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GuidanceOct 13, 2020 | 20:23 GMT
A promotional board for the annual series of meetings between the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank is seen outside the IMF headquarters in Washington D.C. on Oct. 13, 2020.
What to Watch for During This Week's IMF-World Bank Meetings
Growing debt vulnerabilities in emerging markets and developing countries amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, along with the enduring need to prop up global growth with money from developed countries, will be the primary focus of the virtual meetings between the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank over the next week. Between Oct. 12-22, the two global financial institutions will hold their annual series of joint discussions via video conference amid burgeoning disagreements on extending the Group of 20 (G-20)’s Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI), as well as broadening the plan to include more comprehensive treatment of debt stocks.
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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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SnapshotsOct 9, 2020 | 18:52 GMT
An Indian fighter jet flies over Leh, the joint capital of the union territory of Ladakh, on June 26, 2020.
China Moves to Freeze Its Border Dispute With India Before the Winter Does
China’s recent reassertion of its 1959 border line with India has left little room for a compromise in the two countries’ territorial dispute in Ladakh ahead of the approaching harsh winter, which will enable Beijing to both reinforce its claims in the Himalayan region come spring, as well as test Indian resolve with actions at other areas along the border. In late September, the Chinese Foreign Ministry sent a statement to the Hindustan Times confirming it still recognizes its unilateral 1959 line along the Indian border as the Line of Actual Control (LAC), which was drawn before the two countries’ war in 1962. Military officials from the two sides are set to meet Oct. 12 for the seventh round of Corps Commander talks aimed at resolving the border standoff in the eastern section of Ladakh, but China’s reassertion of the 1959 line makes any resolution difficult before the winter season sets in
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SnapshotsOct 8, 2020 | 19:04 GMT
The United Kingdom’s chief Brexit negotiator, David Frost (center) arrives at the EU headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on Sept. 17, 2020.
Brexit Talks Make Progress as Deadline Looms
Progress between EU and U.K. negotiators on contentious issues such as state aid and fishing rights is increasing the probability of a limited trade agreement by the end of the year. However, London’s ongoing attempts to circumvent certain aspects of the Withdrawal Agreement that it reached with Brussels last year could still thwart such a deal. The European Union is worried that the United Kingdom will use state aid to increase the competitiveness of its companies vis-a-vis their continental rivals, while London has pledged to restrict EU access to its fishing waters. Both issues have been obstacles to a deal since the beginning of trade talks in March, but in recent days there have been signs of potential compromises.
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AssessmentsOct 5, 2020 | 20:23 GMT
A photo illustration shows banknotes of the Vietnamese dong on May 21, 2019.
For Vietnam, Trump’s Re-Election Would Translate to Tariffs
A new U.S. investigation into Vietnam’s potential currency manipulation and undervaluation could result in a limited amount of tariffs being levied against Vietnamese goods, should U.S. President Donald Trump be reelected in November. On Oct. 2, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative announced the launch of the investigation under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, which is the United States’ most powerful tool in enacting tariffs on foreign governments with policies deemed harmful to U.S. commercial interests. If concluded by the Trump administration, the investigation -- which will likely take months and could last into 2021 -- would probably find that Vietnam’s currency, the dong, is undervalued due to government policymaking.
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SnapshotsOct 2, 2020 | 15:46 GMT
Negotiators attend the third meeting of the EU-U.K. Joint Committee under the Withdrawal Agreement in Brussels, Belgium, on Sept. 28, 2020, with the EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier (center) dialing in on video.
A Better Climate in Brexit Talks, but Only Modest Progress
The negotiation environment between the European Union and the United Kingdom is improving, with both sides making moves to buy their negotiators more time. But the lack of significant progress on disputes related to fishing rights, as well as London’s future alignment with EU rules on issues such as state aid to companies, means that a no-deal British exit from the single market in January is still possible. In recent days, London and Brussels have exchanged proposals on both issues, but have not reached a deal. There will not be a free trade agreement unless these issues are resolved. EU and U.K. officials have said that the parties are considering moving to the so-called “tunnel phase” of the negotiations, where technical issues are discussed without issuing updates to the media. If confirmed, this would be a strong sign that an agreement is probable.  
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AssessmentsOct 2, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A picture taken on Nov. 10, 2019, shows an Iranian flag at Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant.
The Limits of Biden’s Proposed Return to Diplomacy With Iran
U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden has expressed he’d be open to quickly re-entering the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) if Iran returns to full compliance. But his predecessor’s hardline policies would probably necessitate expanding the scope of negotiations with Tehran beyond the current deal, leading Iran to adopt an even harder position on its nuclear program. Biden criticized the Trump administration’s hawkish Iran policy and 2018 withdrawal from the nuclear deal in a Sept. 13 opinion piece, in which he wrote that returning to the JCPOA could be the start of broader diplomacy between Tehran and Washington. Simply re-entering the JCPOA, however, would be difficult for both Washington and Tehran, as the current U.S. sanctions architecture is now far more complex than it was when the deal was signed in 2015.
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SnapshotsOct 1, 2020 | 17:06 GMT
French President Emmanuel Macron leaves the European Council building in Brussels, Belgium, on July 20, 2020. Leaders from the 27 EU member states met on July 19 to discuss the bloc’s budget and new COVID-19 recovery package.
Disputes Risk Delaying EU Disbursement of COVID-19 Relief Funds
Ongoing disputes in the European Union over how to implement the bloc’s new 750 billion euro ($881 billion) COVID-19 recovery fund could delay the disbursement of loans and grants to struggling EU economies -- a situation that would be particularly problematic for Southern Europe, where the recessions are deep. The disputes also highlight the extent to which Brussels struggles to quickly react to political and economic crises, which will continue to undermine the European Union’s ability to address internal and external challenges. In July, EU governments agreed to link the disbursement of money from the COVID-19 relief fund to keeping a strong rule of law, but did not establish the mechanism to do it. In late September, Germany presented a proposal to sever funding for countries where corruption or mismanagement in the use of the funds is detected. Other Western European governments, however, believe Berlin’s proposal is too soft, and
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AssessmentsSep 29, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
An illustration shows the flags of Israel and Iran painted on a cracked wall.
For Israel, a New U.S. President Could Mean a Renewed Anti-Iran Push
A victory by U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden in November could prompt Israel to escalate its attacks against Iran in both current and new theaters across the Middle East in order to derail a potential U.S. return to diplomacy with Israel’s regional archnemesis. Before the U.S. election, Israel is unlikely to significantly alter its current strategy of recurrent, opportunistic strikes against Iranian forces in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, since Tehran’s nuclear program is not yet showing signs of the imminent development of a nuclear weapon. Increased attacks against Iran in the coming weeks would also risk jeopardizing the electoral prospects of Israel’s close U.S. ally, President Donald Trump, who is trying to use his reputation as a regional peace broker to bolster his chances of reelection in November. Moreover, Israel’s current “shadow war” with Iran, fought through proxy theaters and covertly within Iran itself, can continue to allow Israel to
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Quarterly ForecastsSep 28, 2020 | 11:00 GMT
2020 Fourth-Quarter Forecast
The last quarter of 2020 will be a waiting game -- waiting for the results of the U.S. election in November, waiting on economic numbers, and waiting to see how the COVID-19 crisis plays out.
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