Americas: Risk of arbitration proceedings in Mexico as AMLO’s administration expropriates plant

 Sectors: all; oil and gas
Key Risks: frustration of process; CEND; international arbitration; business risks

In Mexico, on 9 February President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO)’s administration ordered the expropriation of a hydrogen plant – run by French company Air Liquide since 2017 – at the state-owned Miguel Hidalgo refinery by state-owned Pemex in Tula de Allende, Hidalgo state. The government cited risks to motor fuel production, and the need to ensure national “energy sovereignty”. On 29 December 2023 the government decreed the immediate temporary occupation of the hydrogen plant – stating that Pemex would compensate the French firm. However, the recent order omitted any mention of payment. Air Liquide had pledged to supply hydrogen to the oil facility for 20 years under former president Enrique Pena Nieto’s government’s plan to reduce highly-indebted  Pemex’s costs. The expropriation order came as Moody’s downgraded Pemex’s rating from B1 to B3. Resource nationalism and heightened CEND risks will persist. Arbitration proceedings are likely.

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

Asia Pacific: Indonesian Defence Minister Prabowo set to win 14 February presidential election

Sectors: all
Key Risks: political instability; government instability; civil unrest; policy continuity

In Indonesia, on 14 February the country will vote in the world’s largest single-day election across over 800,000 polling stations to elect the president, vice president, members of the national parliament as well as all other lower legislative bodies. Latest polls in the three-way presidential race show Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto inching closer over the 50 per cent needed to avoid a crucial run-off vote in June, further widening his more than 20-point lead over fellow contenders former Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan and former Central Java governor Ganjar Pranowo. While less polarising than previous cycles, the election has been largely dominated by outgoing President Joko Widodo’s enduring popularity and his political dynasty-building, particularly following the controversial selection of his eldest son as Prabowo’s running mate. While Prabowo will likely win the upcoming vote, a run-off cannot be ruled out.

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

Eurasia: Nadezhdin turns to court following ban from Russia’s presidential election

Sectors: all
Key Risks: political instability

In Russia, on 8 February the Central Election Commission (CEC) banned anti-war presidential candidate Boris Nadezhdin from participating in the 15 – 17 March presidential election. CEC claimed it had found “irregularities” in more than 15 per cent of the signatures submitted in Nadezhdin’s support, three times higher than the allowed 5 per cent error rate. On 12 February Nadezhdin announced that he had submitted two legal challenges to the Supreme Court and that he was considering submitting a third one. The Supreme Court is unlikely to rule in Nadezhdin’s favour. Nadezhdin’s exclusion is indicative of increasing government repression, with reports emerging that the Kremlin ordered CEC to ban Nadezhdin after he saw a surge in support across the country. President Vladimir Putin is expected to win the election, which is not expected to meet democratic standards.

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

Europe: EU-wide farmer protests intensify despite concessions from Brussels

Sectors: all; agriculture
Key Risks: civil unrest; blockades; political instability

In Poland, on 9 February farmers resumed blockades at 250 locations nationwide and blocked several border crossings with Ukraine. In Spain, on 10 February farmers clashed with police in Madrid amid the country’s fifth consecutive day of protests. Protests over an influx of cheap Ukrainian grain first erupted across central and eastern Europe in April 2023. Broader protests against EU policies that farmers claim are hurting their industry – including environmental restrictions, the lifting of curbs on Ukrainian imports and a proposed free trade agreement with the South American MERCOSUR bloc – have now spread across most of Europe. Farmers in several countries including Spain and Greece warned their protests would intensify, while farmers in Croatia indicated they would likely join the protests in the coming weeks. Brussels has scaled back its climate targets and pledged to ease environmental regulations to appease the protesters. Further regional unrest is likely.

Click here to access Poland’s Global Intake country profile and here to access Spain’s profile.

MENA: IDF launch southern Gaza offensive despite international concerns

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

In Gaza, on 11 February Israel Defense Forces (IDF) launched a military offensive on Rafah in southern Gaza with heavy bombardment of the densely populated area. The bombing continued overnight on 11-12 February, killing at least 67 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry. Since the start of the Israel-Gaza war on 7 October 2023, around 1.2 million internally displaced Gaza residents have taken refuge in Rafah following Israeli evacuation orders in northern and central Gaza. On 9 February Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu directed Israeli forces to prepare for a military offensive on Rafah, sparking concerns for the safety of the civilian population from the international community, including the US as well as UN agencies which have warned that an IDF operation in Rafah would be a “disaster” for Palestinian civilians. Nevertheless, IDF operations in Rafah are expected to continue in the coming days.

Click here to access Gaza and the West Bank’s Global Intake country profile.

Sub-Saharan Africa: Anti-UN demonstrations likely to persist in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Sectors: all
Key risks: political instability; civil unrest

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, on 10 February UN peacekeeping mission staff and vehicles were attacked in the capital Kinshasa. Protests erupted in Kinshasa against diplomatic missions and some international organisations with angry youths burning several vehicles belonging to some embassies and UN mission MONUSCO. The demonstrators accused the international community of “indifference” in the face of rising insecurity in the eastern provinces. Demonstrations against the UN have risen sharply in the country in recent years, indicating a crisis in confidence among local communities. In September 2023 43 people were killed and 56 others were injured in clashes between protesters and security forces during anti-UN protests. On 11 February the government condemned the acts of violence and announced the launch of an investigation. Further disruptive anti-UN protests are likely in Kinshasa in the coming weeks.

Click here to access the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Global Intake country profile.