Americas: Heightened civil unrest risks amid planned fuel price hikes in Ecuador

Sectors: all; transport
Key Risks: traffic disruption; civil unrest; economic

In Ecuador, on 4 July hundreds of workers, teachers and students protested in the capital Quito after the National Union of Educators, Unitary Workers Front and Federation of University Students of Ecuador called for demonstrations against rising fuel prices due to President Daniel Noboa’s reduction of subsidies. Protesters burned tyres and images of Noboa, but no arrests were made. Similar small-scale protests were previously reported on 2 July in Guayaquil, Guayas province, and Quito. On 18 June the government announced a more-than-10 per cent increase in fuel prices – from US$2.46 to US$2.72 per gallon – as part of IMF conditionality of cutting state subsidies. The measure will likely result in another five per cent fuel price increase starting 11 July, heightening civil unrest and traffic disruption risks in the coming weeks.

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Asia Pacific: Manila and Tokyo sign landmark defence pact amid shared tensions with Beijing

Sectors: defence
Key Risks: accidental conflict; regional conflict

In the Philippines, on 8 July President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. witnessed the signing of a reciprocal access agreement (RAA) between his foreign and defence ministers along with their Japanese counterparts. The RAA would allow greater access of defence equipment and personnel deployment in each other’s territory for combat training and disaster response, making common cause in countering Beijing’s increasing assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific. The agreement marked Tokyo’s first RAA in Asia as it has already inked agreements with Canberra and London and is currently negotiating one with Paris. Meanwhile, Manila has similar agreements with Washington – a treaty ally – and Canberra. The latest agreement came as tensions have flared between Beijing and both Manila and Tokyo in recent weeks over overlapping maritime territorial claims in the South China Sea and Philippine Sea, respectively. Defence cooperation between the allies is expected to be further strengthened.

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Eurasia: NATO leaders to attend Ukraine-focused summit in Washington on 9-11 July

Sectors: all
Key Risks: war;  security cooperation

In the United States, on 9-11 July NATO leaders will meet at the 2024 NATO Summit to discuss security challenges, including Russia’s war in Ukraine. On 5 July NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated that support for Ukraine will be the “most urgent task” and confirmed earlier reports that the alliance – which will celebrate its 75th anniversary – would reaffirm its support to the country and approve military aid worth US$43bln in 2025. Separately, unconfirmed reports emerged that NATO would unveil a “bridge of membership” plan which would include “training coordination, logistics and force development”. There is a heightened risk that Russia will escalate its attacks against civilian infrastructure in Ukraine ahead of and during the summit as indicated by the 8 July strike on a children’s hospital in Kyiv, which killed at least 22 people.

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Europe: Left-wing NFP secures shock election victory over far-right RN in France

Sectors: all
Key Risks: political stability; policy continuity

In France, on 7 July the left-wing National Popular Front (NFP) alliance secured an unexpected victory in the second round snap legislative elections, winning 182 seats in the National Assembly. President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist bloc came second with 168 seats, while Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally (RN) came third with 143 seats. On 10 June the NFP was formed to confront the surging far-right after on 9 June Macron called snap elections following RN’s victory in the 6-9 June European Parliament elections. On 30 June RN secured a historic victory in the first round vote. The left and centre’s tactical withdrawals in the second round enabled the shock defeat of RN. NFP may seek to form a minority government. Alternatively, moderate parties could engage in difficult talks that risk producing a fragile coalition. The risk of political instability and deadlock will remain high.

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MENA: Reformist candidate Masoud Pezeshkian to become new Iranian president

Sectors: all
Key risks: political stability

In Iran, on 6 July reformist candidate Masoud Pezeshkian won the second round of the presidential election with 54.7 per cent of the vote to become the ninth president of the Islamic Republic, defeating hardline candidate Saeed Jalili. Higher voter turnout – at 49.7 per cent, up from 40 per cent in the first round – was a decisive factor in the reformist victory. Pezeshkian’s candidacy was supported by former reformist presidents Mohammad Khatami and Hassan Rouhani, as well as former foreign minister Javad Zarif – a key figure in the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal. Pezeshkian will face major domestic challenges related to economic turmoil and popular discontent with the regime following the 2022 Mahsa Amini protests. On the international stage, Pezeshkian is likely to seek reengagement with the West. However, he will have to contend with a hardline-dominated parliament and the authority of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Click here to access Iran‘s Global Intake country profile.

Sub-Saharan Africa: Trilateral treaty of confederation signed at summit in Niamey

Sectors: all
Key risks: political stability; security; economic

In Niger, on 6 July delegates from Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger signed a treaty of confederation at the Alliance of Sahel States (AES) Summit. Building on previous meetings – held on 8 February and 7 March – the new treaty will create an AES investment and stabilisation fund, share resources in developing strategic economic sectors and establish a monetary union. Talks with the ECOWAS regional bloc broke down on 8 February, with Nigerien junta leader General Abdourahamane Tiani, on 7 July, stating that the people of the AES had boldly rejected ECOWAS and sought to retain their sovereignty. However, the confederation and its commitments will face major challenges as the three countries try to combat an expanding insurgency in the Sahel. Furthermore, logistical and currency issues with the proposed monetary union will pose major economic risks to the three countries in the coming months.

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