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SnapshotsOct 20, 2020 | 17:49 GMT
A satellite image shows Europe at night.
The U.S. Ramps Up Financial Support to Central and Eastern Europe
U.S. financial support for the Three Seas Initiative shows the White House remains committed to its security and economic engagements in Central and Eastern Europe, with an eye on countering China and Russia’s presence in the region. On Oct. 19, the United States announced that it will contribute $300 million to the Three Seas Initiative Investment Fund, which finances cross-border energy, transport and digital infrastructure projects in the regions between the Baltic, Black and Adriatic Seas, raising its capital base to over $1.3 billion. The United States will use cooperation with the Three Seas Initiative to compete with China and Russia for influence in Central and Eastern Europe, as well as promote its foreign policy agenda in the region (which does not always align with that of the European Union). However, internal divisions among Three Seas Initiative countries will limit the effectiveness of such U.S. influence campaigns by weakening the group’s
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PodcastsOct 20, 2020 | 05:00 GMT
Essential Geopolitics: Israel Battles a Second COVID-19 Wave
The world is almost a year into the COVID-19 pandemic. In several countries, including the U.S. and Israel, there’s been an uptick in cases. In this episode of the Essential Geopolitics podcast from Stratfor, a RANE company, Emily Donahue speaks with Middle East and North Africa Analyst Ryan Bohl about Israel's second COVID-19 lockdown and the reaction from its citizens.
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SnapshotsOct 19, 2020 | 20:14 GMT
A man holds new South African banknotes of the South African rand on July 13, 2018, in Pretoria, South Africa.
South Africa’s Economic Reality Will Dim Any Hopes of a Quick Recovery
Domestic political and financial constraints will thwart South Africa’s new economic recovery plan, prolonging the country’s five-year financial crisis while exacerbating its current levels of inequality and poverty. In an Oct. 15 speech to parliament, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa unveiled his government’s Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan, which ambitiously targets an average of 3 percent GDP growth over the next decade -- a level South Africa has not seen since 2011. The plan seeks to meet that goal by implementing structural reforms, boosting infrastructure investment and reducing bureaucratic red tape. Critically, however, the plan does not abandon the government’s strategy of fiscal consolidation over the medium term.
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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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SnapshotsOct 15, 2020 | 21:23 GMT
The U.S. State Department building is seen in Washington D.C. on July 22, 2019.
The White House’s Hong Kong Report Maintains Its Measured Approach
The White House is continuing its cautious and relatively slow-paced approach to Hong Kong, as it tries to avoid disrupting business continuity in the city and ensure the volatile political dynamic doesn’t drive the overall U.S.-China dynamic, including outreach on issues such as trade. On Oct. 14, the U.S. State Department issued its required Hong Kong Autonomy Act report to Congress, listing 10 Chinese and Hong Kong officials found to have materially contributed to eroding the region's autonomy. The report warned that banks that conduct significant transactions with the individuals listed could face U.S. secondary sanctions, including restrictions on U.S. dollar transactions and measures targeting corporate leadership. This sets the stage for a potential increase of U.S. pressure on foreign, Hong Kong and Chinese financial institutions operating in the city. However, the nature of the Oct. 14 report suggests a less escalatory approach, though that could change depending on the
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AssessmentsOct 15, 2020 | 16:08 GMT
A close-up view shows the Alipay logo in Ant Group’s office in Shanghai, China, on Aug. 28, 2020.
The U.S. Sets Its Eyes on Chinese Fintech Companies
The U.S. government will likely increase restrictions on the use of Chinese payment systems in the United States, but any decisions regarding broader action on Chinese data acquisition is unlikely ahead of the U.S. election in November. On Sept. 30, senior Trump administration officials reportedly discussed imposing new restrictions on WeChat Pay and Alipay -- the two payment apps owned by the Chinese fintech giants Tencent and Ant Group, respectively. Some White House officials have advocated for wider restrictions that could affect the use of the payment apps outside the United States as part of the administration’s push to limit China’s overall access to the U.S. market due to national security concerns. But any initial U.S. restrictions will likely be limited to WeChat Pay and Alipay’s specific use in the United States and its access to U.S. technology in order to limit the risk of provoking Chinese retaliation and/or self-inflicted
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PodcastsOct 15, 2020 | 04:45 GMT
Essential Geopolitics: Who Will Win Nagorno-Karabakh?
In this episode of the Essential Geopolitics podcast from Stratfor, a RANE company, Emily Donahue speaks with Sim Tack, senior global analyst for Stratfor about the flare-up in border tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed region of Nagorno Karabakh and what happens next.
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SITUATION REPORTOct 13, 2020 | 20:05 GMT
China: Trade Figures Show Rebound
China's trade growth sped up in September with exports up 9.9 percent year on year and imports up 13.2 percent, according to customs data out Oct. 13, Reuters reported. Year-on-year export growth was the highest since March 2019 and up slightly as compared to August, which saw 9.5 percent growth. 
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SITUATION REPORTOct 13, 2020 | 17:11 GMT
EU: Brussels to Impose Sanctions on Russian and Belarusian Officials
EU foreign affairs ministers agreed to impose sanctions against high-ranking Belarusian authorities including President Alexander Lukashenko due to the government’s crackdown on protesters in the country, Euractiv reported on Oct. 12. The ministers also approved asset freezes and travel bans on Russian people and entities potentially involved in the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. 
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PodcastsOct 13, 2020 | 04:15 GMT
Essential Geopolitics: The Americas at the Crossroads
In this episode of the Essential Geopolitics podcast from Stratfor, a RANE company, a conversation about crossroads. In the next three weeks, the Americas will experience three significant elections: The U.S. presidential election, a referendum to decide whether Chile will draft a new constitution, and a general election in Bolivia to elect a new president and congress.
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AssessmentsOct 12, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A woman wearing a face mask walks past a closed shop in Rome, Italy, on May 18, 2020. The sign on the store window reads "Without government aid, we cannot reopen on May 18. Thousands of employees at risk."
COVID-19’s Uneven Impact on Europe Portends an Equally Uneven Recovery
COVID-19’s uneven economic impact on the European Union portends an equally uneven recovery, as growth in the south will be weaker than in the rest of the Continent due to structural factors. Different policy priorities between harder-hit southern states and their northern and eastern peers will thwart the bloc’s ability to increase financial integration among its 27 members, as well as implement monetary policies for its 19-member currency zone. The risk of social unrest, government collapses and the emergence of anti-establishment movements will also be higher in Southern Europe, where the pandemic has exacerbated countries’ pre-existing economic weaknesses such as high unemployment, deep fiscal deficits and high sovereign debt levels. 
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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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