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AssessmentsNov 4, 2019 | 09:45 GMT
Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo prays during his inauguration for his second term on Oct. 20, 2019, in Jakarta.
Coalition Politics Will Hinder Indonesian Economic Reforms
As Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo begins his second, and final, term in office, his focus has remained the same as in his first: spurring economic growth, development and investment. And, as in his first term, his pursuit of ambitious economic reform will be limited by the entrenched interests among his coalition partners and political allies that will force him to make compromises, making it more difficult to attract outside investment and spur growth.
AssessmentsSep 20, 2019 | 18:39 GMT
An aerial view of harbored shipping cargo.
Southeast Asia Is on the Front Lines of the U.S.-China Trade War
The U.S.-China trade war has recently shown some signs of a truce that could sustain talks. But this has brought little refuge for global markets, given that a snap decision by the White House could swing U.S.-China tensions back into high gear. Because of their proximity to and deep integration with regional supply chains (and with China in particular), Southeast Asian countries are among the best-positioned to benefit from the manufacturers leaving China to escape U.S. tariffs. Indeed, Vietnam has emerged so far as the clear winner on this front, though even it isn't immune to the world's fraught economic outlook. The strengthening U.S. dollar, for one, has roiled Southeast Asian currencies, while declines in global demand have sapped Southeast Asia's vital export revenue. The global headwinds also pose a challenge to the region's political orders built on delivering rising prosperity -- forcing each country to balance benefits with risks to maintain its
AssessmentsSep 6, 2019 | 09:00 GMT
Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister James Marape (left) shakes hands with Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison as their wives look on in Canberra during July.
In Papua New Guinea, Reality Will Dim Any Nationalist Dreams
Papua New Guinea's new prime minister, James Marape, is touting a more nationalist push on resources for his energy- and mineral-rich country and hinting at a rebalance in great power relations, vexing both foreign companies and regional heavyweight Australia. Since taking office in late May, Marape has launched a formal review into a multibillion dollar liquefied natural gas (LNG) project, threatened to seek Chinese help in refinancing the country's $7.9 billion debt and mulled an overhaul of the country's natural resource laws to increase Papua New Guinea's share of revenue. But despite his ambitious intentions, the eager new leader will find it difficult to take any of these efforts too far, because there's only so much the small resource- and aid-dependent Pacific country can push the envelope without jeopardizing its political stability and primary income streams.
On GeopoliticsSep 5, 2019 | 09:15 GMT
A nuclear-powered submarine crew trains in the Murmansk region of Russia.
A Warmer Arctic Makes for Hotter Geopolitics
For decades, the far North has been seen as an area of distant frontiers -- a place of adventure, untapped resources and mythical trade routes. In this, the region is reminiscent of the frontiers pursued in the early eras of exploration. But unlike the fertile Great Plains of North America or the tropical forests of South America, the Arctic's ice-covered, frigid land has minimal agricultural capacity and little to offer in the way of transport links for the small, distant populations around its periphery (and even then, only seasonally). However, the warming climate and technological advancements are quickly changing what's feasible in the region. And this, combined with expanding economic and strategic interests, is bringing heightened attention back to the North Pole among both Arctic and non-Arctic stakeholders alike.
On GeopoliticsAug 1, 2019 | 09:00 GMT
The Yamal, a Russian nuclear-powered icebreaker, clears the way in the Kara Sea.
What Russia Stands to Gain, and Lose, From the Thawing Arctic
Although the Arctic was a front line during the Cold War, the harsh climate and limited transit options also made it a relatively secure frontier in the post-Cold War era. And as a result, Russia's Arctic infrastructure and activity -- particularly in the security realm -- waned considerably as the country's priorities shifted elsewhere. But this has been changing in recent years, as the sea ice that has long barricaded Russia from the rest of the world begins to open up.  Moscow's renewed Arctic push, however, is less about allowing more transit through Arctic waters, but about exploiting mineral and energy reserves that will become more accessible as the climate shifts and technology advances. Upon its return to the Arctic, however, Russia will be forced to maneuver a landscape that has changed drastically since the Cold War -- one where "near-Arctic" China is advancing its own interests, and where the United
SnapshotsNov 2, 2018 | 15:34 GMT
The small archipelago's independence movement is one of many that European governments are contending with, and the upcoming vote will serve as a point of influence for regions such as Catalonia and Corsica.
France: New Caledonia to Vote in an Independence Referendum
Voters in New Caledonia, an archipelago in the Pacific Ocean some 1,200 kilometers east of Australia, will go to the polls on Nov. 4 to decide whether they desire independence from France. With a population of roughly 270,000 people, the islands are heavily dependent on financing from Paris. But they are also home to around 15 percent of the world's reserves of nickel, a metal present in a vast line of products from steel to electronics, and host French naval and air forces. Secessionist groups in Europe, as well as New Caledonia's neighbors, will be watching the vote closely.
AssessmentsAug 27, 2018 | 10:00 GMT
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, left, and an aide walk toward the Senate chamber in the U.S. Capitol on Feb. 12, 2018.
Why the U.S. Will Keep Russian Sanctions on Simmer, Not Boil
The standoff between the United States and Russia shows no signs of abating, and nowhere is the discord more apparent than in Washington's use of sanctions against Moscow. Washington expanded its sanctions against Moscow on Aug. 27 by banning the export to Russia of sensitive national security-related goods, including calibration equipment and gas turbine engines. But hot on the heels of the present sanctions is another bill, the Defending American Security From Kremlin Aggression Act, that could challenge Russia. But the senators might not succeed in passing their bill to the fullest extent, as some of their congressional colleagues have expressed concern that the new sanctions could go too far in punishing the Russian economy -- and even affect the wider world. But regardless of the ultimate degree of U.S. actions, Washington is unlikely to forego sanctions as a weapon in its relations with the Kremlin.
ReflectionsFeb 21, 2018 | 21:32 GMT
Oleg Deripaska, CEO of Russian metals giant RUSAL, speaks during a press conference in Hong Kong on April 12, 2009.
Russia's Business Leaders Prepare For U.S. Sanctions
As Washington increases pressure on the Russian elite, one of Russia's most wealthy oligarchs is stepping down from two of his most prominent positions in a likely bid to save his empire. On Feb. 23, metals tycoon Oleg Deripaska will officially leave his presidential posts at RUSAL, the world's second largest aluminum firm, and En+ Group, a private Russian energy firm; Deripaska's representatives told Russian newspaper Kommersant that he will continue to hold controlling stakes in the two firms. By withdrawing from two of his most important posts, Deripaska is likely attempting to insulate his firms from coming U.S. sanctions, a move that other elites in the country may soon follow.
AssessmentsJan 8, 2018 | 08:00 GMT
As a key component in lithium-ion batteries, cobalt has become an important commodity in the growing electronics and electric vehicle markets.
Cobalt: A Metal Poised to Peak
As the demand for electric vehicles increases over the coming decades, so, too, will the demand -- and the price -- for the raw materials required to produce them. Increased demand for elements such as lithium and cobalt will lead to potential supply bottlenecks over the course of the next several years. And while the media has touted the potential of lithium -- as the eponymous component of lithium-ion batteries -- to be the raw material that powers the gradual transition away from fossil fuel-reliant transportation, it has understated the significance of one element in the equation: cobalt. Lithium-ion batteries require lithium, yes, but they also require something else. Under the constraints of present technology, that something is more often than not cobalt.
AssessmentsNov 6, 2017 | 23:26 GMT
The European Free Trade Association: Norway, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Norway
Trade Profile: The Fate of Europe's Other Trade Bloc Hangs in the Balance
In a world of trade blocs that span entire continents, the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) probably isn't the most prominent organization of its kind. It is, however, one of the oldest in the world, and its small but wealthy members are constantly seeking new trade deals to bolster their export-based economies.
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