Americas: Chile’s Constituent Assembly rejects major mining overhaul; changes still expected

Sectors: mining
Key Risks: regulatory uncertainty; business risks

In Chile, on 14 May the Constituent Assembly (CA) in charge of drafting a new constitution rejected Article 27 – a key proposal which included provisions granting the state exclusive rights to mine lithium and other metals and making it a majority shareholder in all copper mines. The revamped proposal failed to reach the 103 votes needed to pass. The CA approved Article 25 – which obliges firms to set money aside to repair damages – as well as other proposals including banning mining in glaciers and in protected areas. New CA commissions will take over the approved proposals, which will be incorporated in the new draft charter. The latter is expected to include significant reforms increasing the overall role of the state in the country’s key sectors. The mining sector will continue to face regulatory changes despite the rejection of Article 27.

Asia Pacific: Labor victory in the Australian elections could herald policy change

Sectors: housing; energy
Key Risks: policy uncertainty. regulatory uncertainty

In Australia, where elections will be held on 21 May, the opposition Labor Party holds a comfortable 8 point lead ahead of the ruling Liberal-National Coalition. Other polls indicate that Labor is set to win a nine seat majority in the House of Representatives. With cost of living – and to a lesser extent, climate change – among key election issues, a Labor victory could result in notable policy changes. To ease cost of living concerns, Labor is mulling an increase in the minimum wage and subsidising 40 per cent of home purchases. Labor is also likely to incentivise the uptake of renewable energy and electric vehicles, and further climate-related policies are possible. As China’s security pact with the Solomon Islands is perceived as failing by the Coalition government, Labor may look to emphasise a hawkish tone with China.

Eurasia: South Ossetia to hold referendum on joining Russia

Sectors: all
Key risks: war on land; political stability

In Georgia, on 13 May the de facto leader of Russia-aligned breakaway region of South Ossetia Anatoly Bibilov signed a decree to hold a 17 July referendum on whether to join Russia. The Kremlin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated that Moscow had not taken any ‘legal’ steps but added that Moscow was treating the opinion of South Ossetians ‘with respect,’ indicating it could support the decision should the referendum approve unification. However, it is not certain whether the referendum will take place as Bibilov lost his bid for re-election on 10 April to Alan Gagloev who does not appear to fully back the decision. It remains to be seen whether Russian authorities and Gagloev will express stronger support for the referendum. Nevertheless, should it take place, it is likely to approve the unification, significantly increasing tensions in the region.

Europe: Sweden, Finland set to apply for NATO membership

Sectors: all; defence; energy
Key Risks: policy uncertainty; war on land; trade; energy supply risks

Finland and Sweden are expected to apply for NATO membership in the week beginning 16 May. On 15 May Finish President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin announced that the country’s parliament would approve a formal decision to seek entry into the alliance in the coming days, after which the government would officially submit its application. Meanwhile, Sweden’s ruling Social Democrats reversed their longstanding opposition to NATO membership, paving the way for a parliamentary debate which is also expected to endorse a formal application in the coming days. All existing NATO members must approve of an application for a country to be accepted into the alliance. Although Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has expressed reservations, he is not expected to veto either country’s bid to join. Both countries are now likely to join the alliance.

MENA: Citizens take to polls to vote in the Lebanese parliamentary elections

Sectors: all
Key Risks: political stability

In Lebanon, on 15 May citizens voted in the parliamentary elections, with a 41 per cent voter turnout. In Tripoli, turnout was 3 per cent as Sunni voters boycotted the elections due to political leader Saad al-Hariri distancing from politics. Preliminary results have so far indicated a blow to Hizbullah as the group and its allies have lost seats in the Shi’ah stronghold in the south. Gains have been reported for the anti-Hizbullah Christian party, the Lebanese Forces led by Samir Geagea. Lebanese Forces have taken 20 seats from the pro-Hizbullah Christian party, the Free Patriotic Movement led by President Michel Aoun. At least 11 seats will go to independent MPs, which indicates frustration with the conventional political elite. Results for the 128-seat parliament are yet to be finalised, however, a significant change in the country’s political status quo is unlikely.

Sub-Saharan Africa: Anti-French protests erupt in Chad; Mali set to withdraw from G5 Sahel force

Sectors: all
Key Risks: political violence; terrorism; civil unrest

In Chad, police used tear gas to disperse hundreds of anti-French protesters in the capital N’djamena and other cities on 14 May. The civil society group Wakit Tamma led the protest to denounce France’s support for the Transitional Military Council. Several French-linked businesses were destroyed and some of TotalEnergies’ petrol stations were vandalised whilst protesters torched French flags and a Russian flag was reportedly hoisted. In Mali, the military junta stated it will withdraw from the G5 Sahel force due to a reported lack of progress in security operations and due to the force’s failure to hold recent meetings. The force, which includes troops from Niger, Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Chad, was set up in 2017 to counter the Islamist insurgency across the Sahel region. Insecurity could increase across the region in the absence of a collective counter-terrorism force.