Cuba’s Roller-Coaster Investment Climate — Not for the Faint-Hearted

(AP Photo/Franklin Reyes)

The Cuban government has taken increasingly large steps in recent years toward economic liberalization. In this photo taken April 23, 2010, golfers use a practice area during the Montecristo Cup Golf Tournament in Varadero, Cuba. Cuba issued a pair of surprising free-market decrees on Thursday Aug. 27, 2010, allowing foreign investors to lease government land for up to 99 years, potentially touching off a golf-course building boom, and loosening state controls on commerce to let islanders grow and sell their own fruit and vegetables. (AP Photo/Franklin Reyes)

Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 3, No. 4, April 2015.

By Vito Echevarria 

Attendees of the “Cuba Opportunity Summit” – held on April 1, 2015 by the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania at the NASDAQ Marketsite in New York City – consisted mainly of American companies and entrepreneurs, who are caught up with the gold rush-like fervor over the prospect of finally doing business with Cuba. That island, which has endured a harsh trade embargo imposed by Washington since its takeover by Fidel Castro and his Communist revolution, is perhaps the ultimate frontier market on the planet, since American companies have been forbidden from conducting any trade with that regime for decades.  The one glaring exception has been the opening of food trade, which Bill Clinton allowed before leaving office in 2000. Cuba has since become a multi-million-dollar market for various U.S. agricultural and food products.

Continue reading

Political Risk: Conceptualization, Definition, Categorization, and Methodologies

India Kashmir Elections

Indian paramilitary soldiers stand guard near Sheri Kashmir cricket stadium where Prime Minister Narendra Modi, portrait seen in the backdrop, is expected to address a campaign rally ahead of local elections in Srinagar, India, Monday, Dec. 8, 2014. Separatists called for a strike as authorities imposed a daytime curfew Monday across the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir, barring residents from leaving their homes. Main roads leading into Srinagar were lined with razor wire to contain traffic, and police and paramilitary soldiers were patrolling on foot and in armored vehicles. These and other considerations contribute to high levels of political risk in Kashmir. (AP Photo/Dar Yasin)

Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 3, No. 4, April 2015.

By Vishrut Kansal

Abstract

The paper is aimed at presenting a conceptual analysis of the political risk that impacts investors, project sponsors, creditors, and host government alike. First, an attempt to conceptualize and define political risk is made along with its subsequent categorization into its different types. Then, the methodologies of mitigating and managing political risk are elucidated upon. Lastly, political risk insurance as a mitigating factor of political risk is briefly dwelt upon. While presenting this overview, concerted attempt has been made to identify the practical techniques that investors and host governments may adopt while undertaking decisions involving political risk.

Continue reading

Iran’s New Generation of Oil and Gas Contracts: Historical Mistrust and the Need for Foreign Investment

Iran Qatar Gas

In this Monday, July 19, 2010 file photo, portraits of the late Iranian revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini, right, and supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei adorn a construction site which is part of the South Pars gas field, on the northern coast of the Persian Gulf in Assalouyeh, Iran. Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said his country intends to increase production from a giant joint gas field shared with neighboring Qatar, state TV reported on Sunday, Dec. 1, 2013. The report quoted Rouhani as saying Iran that intends to match Qatar’s production by 2017. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)

Originally published in Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 3, No. 4, April 2015.

Revised version published in Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 4, No. 2, February 2016.

By Reza Yeganehshakib, Ph.D.

Reza Yeganehshakib  holds a Ph.D. in history with a specialization in World and Middle Eastern history at the University of California, Irvine (UCI). He received a B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering from Iran Azad University, and an M.A. in history from UCI, where he serves as a Research Associate at the Samuel Jordan Center for Persian Studies. Dr. Yeganehshakib is a member of the Middle East Studies Association and the International Society for Iranian Studies. He is affiliated with the Persian Language Institute at California State University, Fullerton and was previously affiliated with the National Iranian Oil Company.

Abstract

After nationalizing the oil industry in Iran in 1951, the government passed protectionist laws that restrained foreign ownership of Iran’s oil fields and industries. Since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, these laws have been reinforced to further reflect the anti-Western ideological underpinnings of the revolution. Yet, after the Iran-Iraq War and the beginning of the era of so-called “reconstruction” in 1988, the Iranian government adopted several laws to encourage foreign investment, particularly in the country’s largest industry, oil and gas. These laws, chiefly the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Act (FIPPA), despite having been revised several times, have not been successful in encouraging foreign companies to invest in Iran’s oil and gas industries. As a result, the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran recently announced that it would issue a new generation of oil and gas contracts, Iran Petroleum Contracts (IPC) that are more attractive to foreign investors. This paper investigates possible challenges that Iran’s protectionist laws may pose for these contracts, especially in light of Iran’s prevailing political and religious anti-West/anti-imperialist ideology and Iran’s distrust towards the West after the fall of Mossadegh’s government in 1953. It also studies Iran’s political and legal realities and whether they might provide foreign investors with attractive incentives, such as partial or conditional ownership of the industries, for investment.

Continue reading