Americas: Controversial referendum over Essequibo region set for 3 December in Venezuela

Sectors: all; oil and gas
Key Risks: external conflict; civil unrest; border tension

In Venezuela, on 3 December President Nicolas Maduro’s government will hold a public referendum over the disputed oil-rich Essequibo region amid recent escalations in a long-standing territorial dispute with neighbouring Guyana. The referendum is reportedly set to contain questions over the creation of a state called ‘Guyana Esequiba’ that would remain under Venezuelan sovereignty. On 14 November Georgetown asked the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to intervene and stop Caracas’s planned vote, calling it an “existential threat” to Guyana’s territorial integrity. Georgetown also claimed that Caracas has “considerably increased its military forces” along the shared border. Although the ICJ has jurisdiction over the dispute, a ruling might take years. Caracas reported that 335 marches – one in each municipality – to support the upcoming referendum were held nationwide on 6 November. The vote will raise already heightened bilateral tensions and civil unrest risks in Guyana.

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Asia Pacific: New Zealand swears in new centre-right government

Sectors: all
Key Risks: policy continuity; political uncertainty; economic risks; regulatory changes

In New Zealand, on 27 November Christopher Luxon was sworn in as Prime Minister – 44 days after the 14 October general election in which his National Party won the most votes but fell short of a governing majority. Following prolonged negotiations, Luxon will lead an unprecedented three-party centre-right coalition government with the libertarian ACT Party and the populist New Zealand First (NZ First) party. The coalition is expected to focus on the economy and cost of living issues, unveiling plans to cut personal income taxes, remove the dual mandate of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ), impose a 6.5 per cent cut to the public service, train 500 more police officers in the next two years and repeal a ban on offshore oil and gas exploration imposed under the previous Labour government. Further policy changes should be expected.

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Eurasia: Russia-Moldova tensions set to further rise as Chisinau aligns to EU sanctions

Sectors: all; energy
Key Risks: political instability

On 25 November Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that Moscow “will not leave unanswered” Moldova’s decision to align with EU’s sanctions against Russia, adding that it saw the move as a hostile step aimed at destroying ties with Moscow. The statement came after Moldovan lawmakers approved aligning the country’s international sanctions regime to four of six EU packages against Russian individuals and entities. 62 deputies of President Maia Sandu’s Party of Action and Solidarity voted in favour of the legislation, while members of the opposition Socialist Party refused to vote. The move marked another escalation in bilateral relations which have rapidly deteriorated during Sandu’s pro-European administration and following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Sandu has repeatedly warned of Moscow’s efforts to destabilise the country. Bilateral tensions will remain high.

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Europe: Polish truckers’ blockade extends to another border crossing with Ukraine

Sectors: all
Key Risks: supply chain disruption; economic and business risks

On the border between Ukraine and Poland, on 27 November Polish truckers began a round-the-clock blockade of the Medyka-Shehyni border crossing, extending the three-week-long blockade that has left thousands of truck drivers stranded at the border. Polish truckers started blocking initially three border crossings on 6 November, claiming that Ukrainian drivers had taken over the EU market after Brussels lifted all entry restrictions on Ukrainian carriers in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The blockades are expected to last until 3 December and 3 January, depending on the border crossing. On 26 November 2,600 trucks were stuck at the border, according to Ukrainian authorities. Tensions will rise at the blocked checkpoints while humanitarian conditions are likely to deteriorate in the coming days as temperatures are expected to remain below zero.

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MENA: Four-day truce in Israel-Gaza war set to expire; extension talks intensify

Sectors: all
Key risks: internal conflict; external conflict; humanitarian emergency

In Gaza, on 27 October the four-day truce between Hamas and Israel entered its final day. The truce was implemented on 24 November, allowing greater access to humanitarian aid to Gaza and the release of 50 Hamas hostages and 150 Palestinians detained in Israeli jails. While the truce was welcomed by the international community, Tel Aviv estimates that military operations in Gaza will continue for at least two months. Nevertheless, talks involving Tel Aviv, Hamas as well as Qatari, Egyptian and US negotiators on an extension of the truce are ongoing. Israeli authorities and Hamas are reportedly open to an extension in exchange for additional hostage and prisoner releases. According to Egyptian security sources, Hamas is seeking another four-day truce while Tel Aviv favours day-by-day extensions. An extension agreement is likely to be concluded in the coming hours.

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SSA: Kenyan Parliament to debate National Dialogue Committee report

Sectors: all
Key risks: political instability; civil unrest

In Kenya, on 26 November the National Dialogue Committee (NADCO) composed of the ruling Kenya Kwanza Alliance and the opposition Azimio la Umoja coalition made public its final report after months of negotiations. The two parties have been engaged in dialogue to resolve the political crisis following the disputed 2022 presidential elections won by William Ruto. Amongst NADCO’s recommendations is the establishment of the office of the Opposition Leader – which would have two deputies – the auditing of the 2022 elections and the expansion of the electoral commission’s leadership. However, the committee failed to agree on a VAT reduction on fuel and on the removal of the housing levy introduced in June. Both Ruto and opposition leader Raila Odinga are yet to comment on the report, which is set to be debated in parliament at a still to be confirmed date.

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