Bangladesh’s Economic Rise and the Geo-political Implications

Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 9, No. 7, July 2021

By Tridivesh Singh Maini
Jindal School of International Affairs,OP Jindal Global University, Sonipat

Dhaka, Bangladesh, in November 2007. Md. Ziaul Hoque.

In recent years, Bangladesh has exhibited healthy growth rates and emerged as an engine of South Asian growth. In 2019 for instance, the South Asian nation grew at an impressive 8.4%. The country witnessed a 9% rise in per capita income for the year 2020-2021 (its per capita income was estimated at 2,227 USD, and it surpassed India’s GDP per capita during 2020-2021 which was 1,947 USD).

The World Bank has revised Bangladesh’s GDP growth for 2020-2021, as a result of higher than expected remittance flows (while earlier it had predicted that the South Asian nation’s GDP would grow by 1.7% it has revised estimates to 3.6%). The International Monetary Fund’s forecasts for the South Asian nation’s economic growth are higher. “According to IMF, [the] global economy will grow by 6.0% in real term[s] in 2021 and 4.4% in 2022. Whereas, their forecast for Bangladesh is 5.0% in 2021 and 7.5% in 2022,” said the minister.

Bangladesh’s economic progress has been attributed to a holistic, economic vision with a strong thrust on social service indicators and policies that focus on strengthening the country’s manufacturing sector.

Bangladesh’s increasing importance in South Asia

In addition to its economic rise, Bangladesh is also keen to enhance its overall image in South Asia.

First, Bangladesh is amongst the 40 countries that provided assistance to India in the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. The South Asian nation provided India 10,000 vials of Remdesivir, when the second wave of Covid-19 was at its peak. Apart from Remdesivir, Bangladesh provided PPE kits and zinc, calcium, vitamin C and other tablets.

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Mineral Revenue-Sharing as Peace Dividend: Incentivizing Stakeholders to Support Peace and Stability in Afghanistan

Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 9, No. 6, June 2021

By Priscilla A. Tacujan

Mineral Map of Afghanistan. Source: USGS

Various players have raised the prospect over the years of Afghanistan developing its mineral wealth as a means to stabilize the country, but nobody believes that it could achieve enough security to prevent attacks on infrastructure and mining operations.  However, it is possible that Afghanistan might be able to broker peace and reconciliation through a mineral revenue-sharing scheme[1] that directly distributes mining dividends and profits to the general population as well as extract concessions from the Taliban — an approach that has helped mitigate conflict in some other war-torn areas where revenue-sharing has been part of their peace accords.[2]  A trickle-down incentive structure could incentivize the Afghan people and militant groups to pursue peace and reconciliation if they become vested stakeholders and direct beneficiaries of their country’s natural resources.  While security conditions in Afghanistan’s extractive industries remain a challenge, a review of successful revenue-sharing practices in other countries suggests that a similar practice in Afghanistan may yield long-term gains.

Background: Afghan Minerals and Stakeholders

The Task Force for Business and Stability Operations (TFBSO), commissioned by the Department of Defense (DoD) to study Afghanistan’s extractive industry, has estimated that Afghanistan’s mineral and hydrocarbon deposits could be worth more than $1 trillion, with $908 billion in mineral resources and more than $200 billion in hydrocarbon deposits,[3] while the Afghan government has a more optimistic estimate, at $3 trillion.[4]  The U.S. Geological Survey has also indicated that Afghanistan may hold 60 million tons of copper, 2.2 billion tons of iron ore, 1.4 million tons of rare earth minerals such as lanthanum, cerium, and neodymium, and lodes of aluminum, gold, silver, zinc, mercury, and lithium deposits as large as those found in Bolivia, known for owning the world’s largest lithium reserves[5],[6]  Several assessments conducted by U.S. agencies and international organizations have concluded that these resources have the potential to contribute significantly to Afghanistan’s economy. Continue reading

Schumer’s No-Good, Weak-Kneed, Sold-Out, Sorry Excuse For a China Bill

Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 9, No. 5, May 2021

By Anders Corr, Ph.D.

U.S. Senate Photographic Studio/Jeff McEvoy, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

There’s a dump truck of a China bill coming your direction from Congress, and it’s chock-full of cotton balls. Not a pretty sight. Conservatives and some tough-on-China Democrats are not happy. 

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the symphony conductor driving this cacophonous beast towards a vote in the next few days or weeks, is in bed with big money. Since 2015, he garnered over $14 million from large individual contributors and over $4 million from PACs (including other candidate committees) for his campaigns. Lawyers have given over $1 million, and lobbyists over $600,000. 

Universities spend big on lobbyists, and can have cash-cow satellite campuses in China that they seek to protect. U.S. Education lobbying sometimes reaches over $100 million per year in aggregate. As far back as 2020, companies effectively lobbied against new laws to limit forced Uyghur labor from China in the American supply chains of companies like Nike, Coca Cola, Adidas, Calvin Klein, Costco, H&M, Campbell Soup, Patagonia, and Tommy Hilfiger. 

Boycott the bunch until they get demonstrably out of the slave labor business by publicly donating to Uyghur human rights groups. Some of them might have left Xinjiang by now, but not China. And, they may only have left after they got caught with their pants down. They must do better and prove that they do better, not only in Xinjiang, and China, but everywhere. Continue reading

Chinese Communist Party Cooperation with Gangs and Politicians in Canada: Book Review

Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 9, No. 5, May 2021

By Anders Corr

The book cover of Wilful Blindness, by Sam Cooper.

Wilful Blindness How a Network of Narcos, Tycoons and CCP agents Infiltrated the West, by Sam Cooper, Optimum Publishing International, 2021, $28.95 CAD.

An investigative reporter in Canada, Sam Cooper, is at the tip of the spear, where China injects money, drugs, spies, and underage prostitutes into all of North America. Cooper provides us with a front-row seat of China’s espionage, drug supercartels, support to terrorism, money laundering, and, for a pledge of support to Beijing, campaign donations to the politicians who lurk around China’s United Front groups in Vancouver, Toronto, and Ottawa. Add to that investigations of trafficking in weapons. Heads of state, including Donald Trump and Justin Trudeau, are linked by the author to the nefarious characters from China who are doing this dirty business.

It sounds too crazy to be true.  

But Cooper’s new book, Wilful Blindness, is nonfiction, and based on five years of his investigative reporting on the topic, and confidential sources in Canadian intelligence and police agencies. It vindicates, and brings up to date, a joint Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS) and Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) report that in 1997 made many of the same claims. That report, called “Sidewinder”, was suppressed by Ottawa, which at time was trying to ink new trade deals with Beijing.  Continue reading

Myanmar: A Fight For Democracy Against the February 1 Coup

Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 9, No. 3, March 2021

This article is by an anonymous university student in Myanmar (Burma) who is currently supporting the pro-democracy social movements there against the February 1 coup. Anonymity has been granted to the author due to the threat against his person that might result from a byline.

Pro-democracy protesters in Myanmar (Burma) following the February 1, 2021 coup.

On March 15th, the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect (GCR2P) announced that they moved Myanmar (Burma) to the “Current Crisis” category, as populations here face crimes against humanity perpetrated by military coup leaders, known as the Junta. That followed the  the March 2 announcement by civil society groups of the Myanmar Military as a terrorist group. Their legitimacy and tactics are, in fact, those of terrorists rather than a government, as they have attacked democratically-elected government officials, and shot randomly into people’s homes in an attempt to quell a rising social movement in defense of President U Win Myint, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, other government officials, and civil society leaders. Continue reading