Americas: Unprecedented uncertainty ahead of Argentina’s 19 November presidential runoff
Key Risks: political uncertainty; political instability; policy continuity; governability risks
In Argentina, on 19 November Economy Minister Sergio Massa from the ruling Peronist Union por la Patria coalition will face far-right libertarian Javier Milei in a highly uncertain presidential runoff. Although Massa was widely considered to have performed better in the 12 November final presidential debate, Milei had a slight lead in the final polls. However, on several previous occasions, polls failed to accurately predict election outcomes – including Milei’s shock win in the 13 August presidential primaries and that of Massa in the first round vote on 22 October. Former president Mauricio Macri and opposition centre-right Patricia Bullrich have endorsed Milei since the main opposition coalition came in third on 22 October. High levels of uncertainty will persist until the vote, and whoever secures the presidency will certainly face heightened governability and civil unrest risks amid a deepening economic and financial crisis.
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Asia Pacific: Chinese President Xi to meet US President Biden in highly anticipated meeting
Key Risks: economic risks; trade friction; regional conflict
In the US, on 15 November Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden are expected to meet on the sidelines of the 2023 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in a highly-anticipated meeting amid increased geopolitical and economic tensions between the two major powers. Contentious issues surrounding trade, technology, climate change, the war in Ukraine, the Israel-Gaza war and Taiwan – which remains a member of the international economic organisation – are expected to arise. While major breakthroughs are unlikely, the two leaders will likely discuss re-opening direct military-to-military communications, which were severed by Beijing in the wake of the August 2022 visit by the then-US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan. Despite limited expectations, the meeting is anticipated to allow for a de-escalation of tensions and a restoration of some degree of stability in bilateral relations.
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Eurasia: Russia reportedly set to lift restrictions on diesel and gasoline exports
Sectors: all; energy
Key Risks: energy price volatility; fuel supply shortages
In Russia, on 9 November Reuters reported that fuel producers were informed by the Kremlin to prepare for the lifting of temporary restrictions on diesel and petrol exports imposed by Moscow on 21 September. Several industry sources told the news outlet that the curbs would be lifted in the following week. Moscow imposed a ban on exports to stabilise domestic oil prices and ease fuel shortages following a spike in domestic oil prices. It eased restrictions on 6 October, allowing pipeline exports of diesel but keeping restrictions on gasoline exports in place. The restrictions raised concerns that Moscow was weaponising oil supplies in response to Western sanctions, with crude oil prices reaching nearly US$100 per barrel for the first time in 13 months on 28 September. The government will continue balancing the need to keep domestic prices low while maintaining export revenues.
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Europe: Massive protests break out as PM Sanchez prepares amnesty for Catalan separatists
Key Risks: political stability; civil unrest
In Spain, on 10 November tens of thousands of people led by conservative opposition parties protested nationwide – including in Madrid, Sevilla, Malaga and Valencia – over acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s plan to grant amnesty for Catalan separatists facing legal charges over their failed 2017 independence bid. Sanchez’s Socialist Party (PSOE) included amnesty in a 9 November deal with the pro-independence Catalan Junts party to gain their support in parliament to form a government. On 10 November Sanchez also secured support from the National Basque Party (PNV) and the Canaries’ Coalition, granting him an absolute majority in the lower house of parliament. Sanchez must call a parliamentary vote – that he is expected to win – on his new bid to become PM before 27 November. The amnesty has sparked massive public opposition and civil unrest will likely escalate significantly in the coming weeks.
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MENA: US forces conduct retaliatory airstrikes against Iran-backed groups in Syria
Key risks: regional conflict; war
In Syria, on 12 November US forces carried out airstrikes against two Iran-linked sites – a training facility and a safe house – in al-Mayadin and al-Bukamal districts in Dayr al-Zur province. On 8 November similar airstrikes on a weapons storage facility killed nine suspected Iran-backed militants. The strikes came in response to repeated drone and rocket attacks – at least 53 since 17 October – against US military bases in Syria and Iraq by Iran-backed armed groups. The groups – collectively known as the ‘Islamic Resistance’ – target US military assets due to Washington’s support for Israel in the ongoing Israel-Gaza war. In a bid to deter further attacks, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin warned of additional airstrikes on Iran-linked targets, primarily in Syria. Islamic Resistance attacks are expected to continue and are likely to increase in the event of an escalation of Israeli operations in Gaza.
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Sub-Saharan Africa: Liberia heads to competitive presidential runoff between Weah and Boakai
Key risks: political instability; violent clashes; civil unrest
In Liberia, on 14 November Liberians will vote in a runoff presidential election after none of the candidates secured over 50 per cent of the vote to secure an outright victory in the first round on 10 October. President George Weah of the ruling Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), who secured 43.83 per cent of the vote will be contesting against opposition candidate Joseph Boakai of the main opposition Unity Party, who accrued 43.44 per cent of ballots cast. The election will be fiercely contested and the risk of clashes between political party supporters will remain high in the capital Monrovia. Localised traffic disruptions should be expected. None of the candidates is likely to concede defeat, a situation that will heighten political instability, leading to delays in the formation of a new government.
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