Americas: Mexico City to face unrest during students’ disappearance second anniversary
Key Risks: civil unrest, traffic disruption, exposure to incidental violence
In Mexico, demonstrations have been scheduled for 26 September in the capital Mexico City to mark the second anniversary of the controversial disappearance of 43 students in Iguala, Guerrero state. Associated unrest could potentially occur in other urban centres across Mexico. President Enrique Pena Nieto’s government is facing growing anti-government sentiment, with thousands taking to the streets on 15 September to demand Nieto’s resignation. The official investigation into the case has been sharply criticised by a panel of independent experts and has fuelled regular protests that have on occasions turned violent. The rallies should be avoided due to the risk of exposure to incidental violence. Road blockades and traffic disruption should be expected.
Asia-Pacific: Vietnam gets serious about state-sector reforms
Sectors: SOEs, banking
Key Risks: non-payment
Vietnam seems to finally be getting serious about reforming its economically damaging state sector. Media reports have emerged that the government is attempting to sell its 44.7 per cent share of the coveted dairy giant Vinamilk. The government’s willingness to divest its valuable stake in Vinamilk is widely considered indicative of its general stance towards the state sector, whose unfettered access to cheap credit, corruption and unchecked inefficiencies have long been a major burden on the country’s economy and banks. The sale is also likely aimed at cutting public debt, which is approaching two-thirds of GDP. Although resistance from conservatives within the ruling Communist Party could still slow progress, expediting the privatisation process would boost Vietnam’s ability to maintain its current world-beating growth levels.
Eurasia: United Russia party dominates parliamentary elections
Key Risks: civil unrest
Russia’s 18 September parliamentary elections returned an outsized victory for the ruling United Russia party, which received more than 10 per cent more votes than most polls had forecast with over 54 per cent of the vote. The vote saw turnout plunge in Moscow and St. Petersburg where many local residents even found claims of a 30 per cent turnout unlikely. The main liberal opposition parties PARNAS and Yabloko are also set to lose state funding after receiving below 3 per cent of the vote. While the Kremlin has long managed the legislature as a rubber-stamp entity, the move will likely effectively completely silence the opposition. As a result, they may attempt to engineer some protests but these are highly unlikely to receive support comparable to those seen in 2011-2012.
Europe: UK – EU tensions spike over Brexit terms
Sectors: financial services, manufacturing, legal
Key Risks: Brexit means Brexit
Tensions have spiked between Britain and other EU members, with Britain threatening to veto plans to begin assembling a EU army and Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico threatening to veto any deal on Brexit that does not guarantee EU citizens rights to remain in the country. Fico also warned negotiations would be ‘very painful’ for the UK. The British government has yet to state what it desires from the expected Brexit negotiations, although an Article 50 notification to leave the EU in Q1 2017 is seen as likely. Nevertheless, and despite some calls for Britain to leave the single market by government ministers, AKE maintains the most likely deal will include some continued free movement in exchange for continued single market access for vital sectors such as finance. Political shocks, however, could still significantly shape the process.
MENA: cessation of hostilities in Syria abruptly ended by coalition mistake
Key Risks: civil unrest, war on land, terrorism in neighbouring countries
The cessation of hostilities (CoH) begun on 12 September has not been renewed after US and other aircraft in the international coalition against Islamic State (IS) bombed Syrian government positions defending Deir ez-Zor airport from an IS offensive on 17 September, killing at least 62. US Central Command said they had been under surveillance for an extended period, and the coalition believed they were IS positions. The incident allowed IS to take the airport from government forces, and was only returned to government control following extensive Russian airstrikes. The incident will delay a multi-coalition offensive against IS in Raqqa. Continued tensions on all sides will also continue to undermine peace negotiations in Syria, as well as the security of neighbours such as Turkey, Iraq, and potentially Jordan.
Sub-Saharan Africa: Nigeria files US$635m claim against Total and AGIP
Sectors: oil and gas
Key Risks: profit warnings, contract frustration, militant attacks, civil unrest
Nigeria’s government filed a claim of US$635m against Total and AGIP for 57m barrels of undeclared crude oil shipped out of the country between 2011 and 2014. The claim followed the discovery of discrepancies between Nigerian export records and import records from ports of entry in the US used by Agip and Total. The hearing is expected to begin next week at the Federal High Court in Lagos. The Nigerian Government is claiming US$490.5m from Total and US$146m from AGIP. There are indications that prosecutors will be filing claims against other multinationals, such as Chevron and Exxon-Mobil. The likelihood of associated contract frustration is low, but cannot be ruled out. Civil unrest and militant attacks in the Niger Delta may increase as a result of the news.