Serbia’s EU bid and the Kosovo dialogue

A Serbian police officer guards a mass grave site in the village of Rudnica, 280 kilometers (170 miles) south of Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, April 17, 2014. The mass grave is believed to contain at least 250 bodies of Albanian victims killed during the Kosovo war. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

A Serbian police officer guards a mass grave site in the village of Rudnica, 280 kilometers (170 miles) south of Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, April 17, 2014. The mass grave is believed to contain at least 250 bodies of Albanian victims killed during the Kosovo war. (AP Photographer: Darko Vojinovic)

Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 2, No. 4, April 2014.

By Raquel Montes Torralba

With Serbia seeking to join the European Union (EU), as did Croatia in July 2013, European officials have advanced a pre-condition to be resolution of major disputes with Kosovo. In April 2014, Serbia and Kosovo celebrate the first anniversary of an agreement meant to normalize relations. Positive developments include the March 2014 election of a pro-EU majority in Serbia’s parliament, local elections in North Kosovo held in a generally peaceful manner, as well as progress on technical issues such as border control and police transfer. Nevertheless, the political context for 2014 could be derailed by upcoming general elections in Kosovo, the creation of a Kosovo Army, and establishment of a war crimes court for Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian rebels. More particularly, all these factors could impact the creation of a Community of Serb Municipalities, the keystone of the Serbia-Kosovo Agreement. Continue reading

Financial Inclusion, Mobile Banking, and Remittances in Mexico and the Philippines

Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 2, No. 1, January 2014.

María Elena Labastida Tovar, Ph.D.
Universidad Anáhuac México Norte

Almendra Ortiz de Zárate, MsC.
Universidad Anáhuac México Norte

Lilianne Isabel Pavón, Ph.D.
Universidad Anáhuac México Norte

Priscilla A. Tacujan, Ph.D.
Corr Analytics, Inc.

Abstract

Figure 1.  Annual Economic Growth in Mexico, from 2005 to 2012 (in percentages). Data Source: National Institute of Statistics, Geography and Informatics (INEGI), accessed July 2, 2013, http://www3.inegi.org.mx/sistemas/mexicocifras/.

Figure 1. Annual Economic Growth in Mexico, from 2005 to 2012 (in percentages). Data Source: National Institute of Statistics, Geography and Informatics (INEGI), accessed July 2, 2013, http://www3.inegi.org.mx/sistemas/mexicocifras/.

Remittance senders evaluate the costs and benefits of money transfer services. Two conditions are of paramount interest: low costs and accessibility of use for the sender and receiver. The use of mobile phones (a ubiquitous technology) for sending money, paying for services, and banking is increasingly seen not only as the best option for remittances, but the only one that can fulfill the two conditions above. Due to its ubiquitous nature, access to financial services through mobile phones is growing exponentially, expanding access to more consumers, and readily available to decrease the costs of transferring money globally. This study addresses the use of this ubiquitous technology in two emerging markets: Mexico and the Philippines. It evaluates the impact of the regulatory framework on mobile financial services to provide consumers with greater access to financial services. Continue reading

Shale Gas Race: Political Risk in China, Argentina and Mexico

Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 2, No. 1, January 2014.

Global shale gas basins, top reserve holders. Source: Reuters, Catherine Trevethan.

Global shale gas basins, top reserve holders. Source: Reuters, Catherine Trevethan.

By Igor Faynzilbert, CFA

As the world continues to embrace cleaner and more efficient sources of energy over the next 25 years, natural gas stands to gain a large market share at the expense of less efficient and more pollutant coal and wood. The United States is currently the biggest winner from hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling that allow significantly increased production of shale gas. However, China, Argentina and Mexico are also potential gainers from these new technologies if they manage to overcome political and infrastructure challenges that have considerably slowed development of new gas fields. Continue reading

Election Boycott will Weaken Thailand’s Democrat Party and the PDRC

Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 1, No. 8, December 2013.

By Anders Corr, Ph.D.

Anti-government protesters attend a rally outside Government House on December 9, 2013 in Bangkok, Thailand. Photo credit: Sira Anamwong.

Anti-government protesters attend a rally outside Government House on December 9, 2013 in Bangkok, Thailand. Photo credit: Sira Anamwong.

Thailand’s opposition Democrat Party, as well as the supporting People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) protest movement, will weaken due to strategic missteps of boycotting elections and attempting to block other parties from registering with Thailand’s electoral commission. It should be obvious that elections and elected position are a potent source of influence for both political parties and social movements. Boycotting elections invariably backfires as a strategy because it increases distance between the challenger who wields the strategy, and the electoral source of influence. Election boycotts led to landslide victories for incumbents in Trinidad and Tobago (1971), Jamaica (1983), Burkina Faso (1991), Ghana (1992), Togo (1993), Ethiopia (1994), Mali (1997), Algeria (1999), Gambia (2002), Guinea(2003), Azerbaijan (2003), Iraq (2005) and Venezuela (2005). The incumbent also won the boycotted 3 April 2006 elections in Thailand. These were later invalidated and followed by a coup, resulting in the instability that continues in Thailand today. As in prior boycotts, expect the incumbent political party, in this case Prime Minister Shinawatra’s Pheu Thai, to take advantage of the challenger’s absence to consolidate the Pheu Thai’s parliamentary majority and public image. Expect increased dissatisfaction among the opposition and military, and resulting political instability.1 Continue reading

Rise of Environmental NGOs in China: Official Ambivalence and Contested Messages

Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 1, No. 8, December 2013.

By Ruge Gao

Figure 1. Registered NGOs (Civil Organizations) in China 1988 to 2009. Data source: Xu Ying and Zhao Litao, 2013.

Figure 1. Registered NGOs (Civil Organizations) in China 1988 to 2009. Data source: Xu Ying and Zhao Litao, 2013.

With China’s impressive economic growth over the past few decades has come an environmental cost that reaches from the countryside to the capital.[1]  While some Chinese economists believe the lack of environmental regulation encourages uninhibited growth, the Chinese State Environmental Protection Agency and State Statistics Bureau have produced statistics that indicate that environmental damages have decreased growth by three percent.[2] Triggered most prominently by the 1998 Yangtze River Floods, the number of Chinese environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs) began growing around 2000 and experienced explosive growth within the last decade. According to Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs statistics,[3] in 2008 China had approximately 212,000 social groups, with 5,330 being of the environmental variety. Many Chinese ENGOs are in the public eye, but must simultaneously satisfy international donors and local government officials in order to survive. Continue reading

Political Risk to Investment in Iran: Sanctions, Inflation, Protectionism, War, Bonyads, and the IRGC

Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 1, No. 7, November 2013.

Figure 1: Foreign Investment in Iran and its Neighboring Countries, March 19, 2012-March 19, 2013. Data Source: The Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran News.

Figure 1: Foreign Investment in Iran and its Neighboring Countries, March 19, 2012-March 19, 2013. Data Source: The Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran News.

By Reza Yeganehshakib

Despite a tumultuous recent political history that includes revolution, war and sanctions, relations between Iran and the West are improving and Western investors are increasingly interested. But, Iran’s politics cause sanctions, and the economy suffers from inflation. Protectionist laws are on the books, and in some cases economic crimes are punishable by death. Regardless of warming relations with the West, Iran has in the past reneged on its agreements, and war is still a risk with non-Western bordering countries and regional powers. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has nationalized foreign investments in the recent past, and the politically powerful revolutionary foundations known as Bonyads control large segments of the most lucrative investment sectors. Continue reading

Physical Vulnerability of the Internet

US-East-Coast-Map-of-Submarine-CablesJournal of Political Risk, Vol. 1, No. 7, November 2013.

By Tom Elliott, Ph.D.

On March 27, 2013, while the technology world preoccupied itself with a sophisticated cyberattack on a spam prevention service, a low-tech assault on the Internet was taking place in shallow waters off Alexandria, Egypt. Three men with scuba gear and a fishing boat were arrested while allegedly trying to cut one of the main communications cables that links Europe to the Middle East and Africa.[1] This incident of hacking – in the most literal sense of the word – should remind us that the Internet we all rely upon depends upon physical infrastructure, much of which is easily located and relatively unprotected.

Continue reading

Legal Services Reform in China: Limitations, Policy Perspectives, and Strategies for the Future

Number-Foreign-Law-Firms-in-China-2000-to-2012

Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 1, No. 6, October 2013.

By Julian Yang, Esq.

Précis: Mr. Julian Yang, a practicing lawyer and arbitrator in Beijing, China, describes problems with the Chinese legal system, including bias by courts, corruption, a culture of litigation, and lack of sufficient numbers of lawyers to satisfy market demand. He argues for legal services reform in China, including: 1) allowing foreign lawyers to address Chinese courts, 2) allowing foreign lawyers to practice commercial law, 3) increasing consultation of lawyers in contractual law to avoid litigation, 4) use of arbitration to decrease the quantity of litigation, 5) increasing the rights of Chinese lawyers, such as rights to gather evidence, and 6) increasing the rights of clients, for example the right to freely choose and meet with lawyers without police scrutiny. Mr. Yang argues that these reforms will increase the influence of China abroad, improve legal services in China, and provide a test as to whether greater political reform would be possible without loss of political stability.

Continue reading

Stalemate in Egypt: Expect Years of Insurgency vs. Autocracy

Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 1, No. 6, October 2013.

Map of Egypt. Source: University of Texas.

Map of Egypt. Source: University of Texas.

By Anders Corr, Ph.D.

Egypt is on the verge of being engulfed by a long-term insurgency. After a brief period of democratization following the Arab Spring, the world’s most populous Arab country has returned to a popular military dictatorship. General Sisi will likely lead the country, either as power behind the President, or as President himself. The primary difference between the Egypt of Sisi and the Egypt of the pre-Arab-Spring Mubarak will be a function of the overthrow of the democratic Islamism of President Morsi. A new outraged minority with pro-democracy and pro-Islamist beliefs fielded popular protests, and was repressed with lethal force. A significant minority of that minority will now divert their energy towards terrorism and organized insurgency.

Continue reading

Constitutional Change Needed to Avoid Future US Shutdowns

United-States-Capitol-Building

United States Capitol Building. Artwork by Damian Brandon.

Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 1, No. 6, October 2013

By Anders Corr, Ph.D.

The United States is, and continues to be, a politically stable country. Despite a shutdown of non-essential federal government services that started at midnight on October 1, uniformed military personnel and most federal services, including the postal service, federal courts, and federal prisons, will remain open and functional. The “shut-down” is more accurately described as a temporary defunding of non-essential federal services. A spending bill will pass within the next few weeks, and non-essential government services will return to normal. Nevertheless, the appearance of a shutdown of the United States Government has huge reputation costs both domestically and internationally.

Continue reading