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  • Publication Date: 07-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: The outlook for trade ties between the EU and Mercosur. EU-Mercosur trade negotiations earlier this month gave a vigorous push to commercial negotiations between the two regions. The EU presented a detailed proposal for liberalising EU-Mercosur trade during the next ten years. Trade talks between the EU and Mercosur have now reached a more advanced stage than the talks on the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA).
  • Topic: Economics, Politics
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Publication Date: 07-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: India and Iran have proposed the construction of a natural gas pipeline connection. While the project would be a major engineering achievement, the principal challenge will be gaining Islamabad's consent for it to traverse Pakistani territory. Pakistan's parlous relations with Tehran and Delhi, the latter little improved by last weekend's summit, will make this difficult.
  • Topic: Economics, Energy Policy, Politics
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, South Asia, India, Asia
  • Publication Date: 07-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: Despite the continuing fragility of the economy, prompt policy action and the resilience of the US consumer are likely to prevent a full-blown recession, thereby shaping the probable path of the US economic downturn. Therefore, the risk of negative balance sheets and potential inflationary problems could arise from too rapid a recovery.
  • Topic: Economics, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Publication Date: 07-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: The rotating EU presidency this week passed from the Swedish to the Belgian government. The Belgian presidency faces a considerable test of nerve as it attempts to square its constitutional ambitions for further political integration with the increasing unpredictability of European public opinion. The new public mood of caution towards European integration has resulted in a notable ambivalence on the part of Verhofstadt. While stressing the importance of a completely open debate, Verhofstadt is also using the more closed approach of close consultation between governments and their representatives in preparing keynote proposals for the Laeken European Council, which, in reality, is the only way of reaching solutions.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Caspar Fithin
  • Publication Date: 06-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: Opposition Peronist party governors and trade unions this week broke off institutional dialogue with the federal government over recent economic measures and pending debts. The fourteen governors in question, their minds on mid-term legislative elections, believe that the political cost of supporting the government will be greater than the cost of being seen to scupper its initiatives, and that opposition constitutes a more effective means of pressing their demands. Their decision puts the prospects for Argentina's economic recovery at risk. The Peronist governors' decision to distance themselves from the government both reflects and compounds the weakness of the federal administration. While their new approach to force concessions from the government could ease social problems in the short term, there is a danger that it will do so at the expense of economic recovery and political stability in the longer term.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Political Economy, Politics
  • Political Geography: South America
  • Author: Caspar Fithin
  • Publication Date: 06-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: At the Gothenburg European Council on June 15-16, EU leaders set themselves the objective of starting eastward enlargement by 2004. Small but significant changes in the wording of commitments on enlargement were agreed after intensive diplomacy by the Swedish EU presidency. The EU now has a very tight timetable for concluding negotiations with the front-runner candidates for membership. Although the candidates have made good progress, many political obstacles must be surmounted during the next 18 months, with the Irish referendum result creating further complications. However, the most important negotiations will not be those with the candidates, but those between the member states.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Organization
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Caspar Fithin
  • Publication Date: 06-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: President Mohammed Khatami was re-elected on June 8 by a huge margin. Khatami's supporters are already talking about a renewed campaign for reform under a reorganised cabinet and a reinvigorated Majlis. However, the obstacles to such a programme remain formidable. Khatami is likely to press a little more strongly for reform, especially in the economic field. However, doubts remains that he or his parliamentary colleagues have the means to use the renewed mandate provided by the election to press for radical change. Any change is therefore likely to modest and incremental, though, in the Iranian context, significant.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Caspar Fithin
  • Publication Date: 06-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: The new King of Nepal, Gyanendra Shah, promised an inquiry into the massacre that killed almost the entire royal family on June 1. Given the former king's legacy as adored head of state and symbol of stability, his violent death has created extreme political uncertainty. It has occurred at a time of general political unrest in the form of strikes and demonstrations in the towns and an increasingly violent Maoist insurrection in the countryside. In the short term, violent demonstrations over the unsatisfactory nature of official explanations of how the royal family died will continue. They may do so even after the findings of the independent inquiry into the deaths are announced. A return to calm depends largely on King Gyanendra's ability to govern in the same manner as his murdered brother.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: South Asia, Nepal
  • Author: Caspar Fithin
  • Publication Date: 05-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: Weather derivatives trading is undergoing exponential growth. The current size of the weather derivatives market is 8 billion dollars, and it is expected to grow to at least 300 billion dollars within a few years. The opportunity to reduce exposure to natural risks will be exploited by large corporate groups and, eventually, smaller players too. It is important for the future development of the weather market that players have confidence in their own ability to determine fair prices, and that of the market to deliver these. Such confidence will encourage liquidity in the market from the end-users. However, traditional derivatives exchanges may find it difficult to obtain volume (and hence liquidity) in weather markets.
  • Topic: Economics, Science and Technology
  • Author: Caspar Fithin
  • Publication Date: 05-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: The proposed takeover bids directive may be lost unless the differences between the European Parliament (EP) and the Council of Ministers are resolved by June 6. The ongoing negotiations between the Council and the EP in the conciliation committee may be made more difficult by Germany's recent decision to renege on the Council common position on the directive. The move was received with incomprehension in other EU member states. Germany so far stands alone in its attempt to change the directive. Nevertheless, its decision could give MEPs enough ammunition to avoid a compromise in the conciliation committee, and hence to allow the directive to fail. More importantly, Germany's decision also draws attention to the various level-playing field issues still to be addressed in the area of corporate control through greater harmonisation of company law.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany