Americas: Arevalo to take office on 14 January despite obstruction attempts in Guatemala

Sectors: all
Key Risks: political instability; sanctions

In Guatemala, on 14 January President-elect Bernardo Arevalo is set to take office, having faced numerous challenges by the Attorney General’s Office to prevent his accession and to ban his Seed Movement party. On 8 December prosecutors requested that a court strip Arevalo of his immunity from prosecution, arguing that there could be enough irregularities to annul the results of the 20 August 2023 presidential runoff vote – which Arevalo won in a landslide. The Organization of American States (OAS) and the EU – which confirmed the vote respected democratic standards – labelled the move as a “coup attempt”. Washington has stated that it would consider applying sector-based sanctions against Guatemala City if democratic processes are not respected. Despite international pressure, further targeted action against Arevalo cannot be ruled out and political instability risks will remain heightened even after/ if he is sworn in.

Click here to access Guatemala’s Global Intake country profile.

Asia Pacific: Taiwan to vote in pivotal elections to decide future relationship with Beijing

Sectors: all
Key Risks: political instability; policy continuity; economic risks; trade friction

In Taiwan, on 13 January voters will head to the polls in pivotal general elections which will decide the future direction of the self-ruling island’s relationship with Beijing. Taipei has accused Beijing of election interference by exerting its economic and military pressure amid a proliferation of suspected Chinese surveillance balloon sightings and threats of additional trade measures. Vice President Lai Ching-te – the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)’s candidate and the race’s frontrunner – has escalated his attacks on Beijing. Meanwhile, acrimonious disputes between New Taipei Mayor Hou Yu-ih of the once-dominant Kuomintang (KMT) and former Taipei mayor Ko Wen-je of the emergent Taiwan’s People’s Party (TPP) – both proponents of greater dialogue with Beijing – threaten to split the opposition vote and increase Lai’s chances of victory. An unprecedented third term for the DPP is likely to continue the deterioration in cross-Strait relations.

Click here to access Taiwan’s Global Intake country profile.

Eurasia: Tensions to increase between Moldova and Transnistria over new import rules

Sectors: all
Key Risks: business and economic risks; EU integration

In Moldova’s breakaway region of Transnistria, on 5 January Vadim Krasnoselsky, Transnistria’s leader, denounced the imposition of import and export duties for the region. Until 1 January – when the new rules came into force – Transnistrian companies were exempt from paying import taxes on goods coming from the EU. The central government claims that the new rules aim to gradually integrate Transnistrian companies into the country’s single economic space and ensure fair competition for all businesses. However, Krasnoselsky accused the government of violating fundamental rights and crushing business, demanding the decision be reconsidered. The imposition could increase tensions between Chisinau and Tiraspol. However, the government in Chisinau is likely to make further similar moves in a bid to integrate Transnistria into the country as a part of efforts to join the EU.

 Click here to access Moldova’s Global Intake country profile.

Europe: German farmers begin week-long nationwide protest over subsidy phaseout plan

Sectors: all; agriculture
Key Risks: civil unrest; transport disruptions; political instability; funding shortages

 In Germany, on 8 January farmers began a week-long nationwide protest over Berlin’s plan to phase out agricultural subsidies. Farmers threatened to block major roads and logistics points until 15 January. The phase out came as part of the coalition government’s attempts to fix its 2024 budget finances after a 15 November ruling by the Federal Constitutional Court sparked a fiscal spending crisis. On 4 January Berlin amended plans to cut fuel tax breaks for farmers following a backlash, proposing a gradual rather than abrupt phase-out. Hours later, protesting farmers attempted to stop Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck from disembarking a ferry in Schluttsiel, prompting concerns over societal radicalisation and increasingly violent unrest in the country. The protests will likely cause major disruptions and fuel tensions within the coalition government over public spending.

Click here to access Germany’s Global Intake country profile.

MENA: Israel Defence Forces to shift military focus away from northern Gaza

Sectors: all
Key risks: internal conflict; political violence; war

In Israel, on 7 January an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesperson signalled a potential shift in military operations in Gaza, ending the bombardment of the northern parts of the enclave and shifting towards more “precise” military operation further south. The spokesperson claimed that the decision came following the total dismantlement of Hamas’s “military framework” and the killing of 8,000 militants in northern Gaza. Although the source stated that Hamas militants remain in the area, they are reportedly “without a framework and commanders”. Airstrikes and clashes between IDF and Hamas militants are expected to continue in the north but will lessen over time. Operations in the centre and south of the Gaza Strip will persist. Furthermore, a buildup of IDF troops along the northern border with Lebanon is highly likely in preparation for a potentially escalating confrontation with Hizbullah.

Click here to access Israel’s Global Intake country profile.

Sub-Saharan Africa: Comoros to vote in crucial presidential elections

Sectors: all
Key risks: political instability; civil unrest

In Comoros, on 14 January voters will head to the polls to elect the country’s next president and local governors. The island nation of 860,000 people last held elections in 2019 when incumbent President Azali Assoumani was declared the winner amid opposition protests which alleged irregularities, including ballot stuffing, intimidation and harassment. On 27 November 2023 the Supreme Court cleared Assoumani to seek a fourth presidential term despite opposition protests and threats to boycott the vote. Assoumani – who first came to power in a coup in 1999 – will face nine opponents. However, he will likely be mostly challenged by Salim Issa, a former interior minister representing the Juwa Party of former president Ahmed Abdallah Sambi. The risk of a disputed election outcome is high, raising the likelihood of post-election violence.

Click here to access Comoros’s Global Intake country profile.