Americas: Colombia’s government and ELN guerrilla increasingly likely to resume peace talks
Sectors: all; oil and gas; electricity
Key Risks: terrorism; insurgency; targeted attacks; kidnapping
In Colombia, on 20 August leftist President Gustavo Petro announced the suspension of arrest warrants and extradition requests for the leftist ELN guerrilla’s negotiators amid renewed efforts to restart peace talks. Petro added that he had authorised the reinstatement of the dialogue protocols, allowing negotiators in Cuba to reconnect with the rest of the ELN. The announcement marked yet another step towards resuming the negotiations a week after Petro’s government officially recognised the legitimacy of the ELN delegation in Havana. The peace talks – first launched by former president Juan Manuel Santos in 2017 – were suspended by Petro’s predecessor Ivan Duque following a deadly attack on a police academy in Bogota in 2019. Several armed criminal groups have expressed their interest in launching similar peace processes with Petro’s administration. Formal negotiations with the ELN are expected to resume in the coming weeks.
Asia Pacific: North Korea’s Kim Jong-un tests new South Korean President Yoon
Key Risks: nuclear war; war on land
In the Korean Peninsula, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and his sister Kim Yo-jong will continue their escalation of rhetoric and sabre-rattling. On 17 August Pyongyang fired two cruise missiles into the sea off its west coast. The launch came as South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol offered to provide phased economic aid to Pyongyang should the latter end the development of nuclear weapons. Yoon made the offer during a speech marking his first 100 days in office. On 19 August Kim Yo-jong rejected Seoul’s proposal, telling Yoon to “shut his mouth”. Inter-Korean relations have worsened amid a stalemate in broader nuclear negotiations between Pyongyang and the US that derailed in 2019. As Seoul and Washington resume their long-suspended joint military exercises between 22 August and 1 September, Pyongyang is likely to make further provocations, potentially including its first nuclear test since September 2017.
Eurasia: Russian extremist propagandist Daria Dugina killed by VBIED near Moscow
Key risks: war on land; political violence; partisan attacks
In Russia, on 20 August Daria Dugina – an extremist propagandist tied to the Eurasianist movement led by her father Alexander Dugin – was killed by an apparent VBIED on a highway just outside of Moscow. Former MP Ilya Ponomarev announced that the ‘National Republican Army’ – a previously unknown underground group – was behind the attack. Despite that, the FSB alleged that a Ukrainian citizen was behind the assassination and some Russian officials have already called for retribution attacks in Ukraine. This came only days before Ukraine’s Independence Day on 24 August, which also marks exactly six months since Moscow launched its full-scale invasion of the country. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that Russia could launch ‘particularly vicious’ attacks in the light of the occasion. An increase in the number of attacks and/or of their intensity ahead and during the anniversary is likely.
Europe: Workers strike at the United Kingdom’s Port of Felixstowe
Sectors: haulage; shipping; retail
Key Risks: supply chain disruption; business risks
In the United Kingdom, on 21 August workers at the Port of Felixstowe – the country’s busiest container port – began a planned eight-day strike amid a dispute over pay. The Unite union stated that around 1,900 of its members were taking part in the walkout, which is the first of its kind at the port in over 30 years. Unite has rejected a 7 per cent pay increase offer and a one-off GBP500 payment from Felixstowe Dock and Railway Company, which operates the port. Around 2,550 people work at the port, handling approximately 48 per cent of the country’s container trade. The strike – expected to end on 29 August – is likely to cause disruption for haulage and shipping companies as well as across supply chains more broadly.
MENA: Turkey’s central bank cuts rates to 13 per cent, seeks to limit rates on commercial loans
Sectors: all; banking
Key Risks: inflation; business and economic risks
In Turkey, on 18 August the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey (CBRT) slashed interest rates by 100 basis points to 13 per cent despite official data showing inflation nearing 80 per cent in July. The move shocked markets, which expected rates to stay at 14 per cent, where they remained for seven sessions. The lira subsequently fell by around 1 per cent to a low of TL18.14 against the US dollar. The cut came as a bid to boost activity amid concerns around slowing growth ahead of elections in 2023. On 20 August the bank announced additional measures to limit rates on commercial loans to better align with the policy rate and facilitate access to credit. The CBRT’s policies will likely stoke inflationary pressures through a credit-fuelled acceleration in domestic demand, putting further pressure on the lira.
Sub-Saharan Africa: Angola to hold general election on 24 August
Sectors: all; oil and gas; renewable energy
Key Risks: political stability; political violence
In Angola, on 24 August millions of registered voters will head to the ballot to vote in the country’s general election. The ruling People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), led by President Joao Lourenco, will face its toughest election to date amid declining electoral support. The MPLA managed to secure only 61 per cent of the vote in the 2017 general election, down from 70 per cent in 2012. Although the official opposition party, the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), has been growing in appeal to youth voters in recent years, the party has failed to mobilise popular support in rural areas and has struggled to present a clear alternative to the MPLA’s policy direction. President Joao Lourenco is expected to narrowly secure his second and final term as per constitutional term limits.