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  • Author: Stein Sundstol Eriksen
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Norwegian Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: In 2017–2018, NUPI (the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs) headed a project where political economy analyses were undertaken in eleven of Norway’s partner countries. These analyses were published as eleven separate reports. The reports focused on power relations and political developments in the partner countries, but they also analyzed the nature of governance. After the publication of the World Bank’s Worldwide Governance Indicators for 2019, the MFA approached NUPI and requested that we summarize the findings of this report for Norway’s eleven partner countries and assess these findings in light of the political economy analyses. We were also asked to investigate whether there were any connections between the nature and quality of governance on the one hand, and the nature of social policies and the human rights situation on the other. This report presents the findings of this assessment of the governance scores in the light of the above-mentioned political economy analyses. The report is structured as follows: Firstly, after briefly describing the governance indictors used by the World Bank, we summarize the eleven countries’ scores on the various governance indicators. Secondly, we assess the evolution of governance in the eleven countries, by comparing the scores in the 2019 report with those from 2011. Thirdly, we summarize the findings of the political economy analyses of the eleven countries and discuss how they fit with the governance scores. Finally, we present the eleven countries’ expenditure on social policies, as reported in the ILOs World Social Protection Report, and the human rights situation for the partner countries, and then describe how these findings relate to the governance scores.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Political Economy, Governance, Social Policy
  • Political Geography: Africa, Europe, Norway
  • Author: Gad Levanon, Frank Steemers
  • Publication Date: 07-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Conference Board
  • Abstract: In the first half of 2021, wages grew at the fastest pace in over 20 years. The sudden surge is likely to challenge organizations in recruitment, retention, and compensation strategies in the near term—and over the next decade. Wage growth in the US through 2022 and beyond fits into three distinct phases: 1) strong wage growth in the spring and summer of 2021; 2) moderating wage growth by late 2021 and during 2022; and 3) renewed acceleration of wages in 2023 and beyond, most notably in blue-collar and manual services.
  • Topic: Economics, Labor Issues, Business , Wage Growth
  • Political Geography: United States of America
  • Author: Hannah Foreman
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Timor-Leste is a small democratic country in an increasingly strategic region. Since gaining independence in 2002, Timor-Leste has made remarkable progress as Asia’s youngest democracy, but it has a long way to go in improving its economic and political situation. ASEAN membership for the Timorese is viewed as a way to reconcile economic, security, and geopolitical interests, while carving out a regional identity. Timor-Leste’s push for ASEAN membership started in 2011 and intensified during the latter half of 2019 when Foreign Minister Dionisio Babo Soares visited all ten ASEAN capitals in the summer followed by ASEAN fact finding missions in Dili in the fall. While Timor-Leste’s response to COVID-19 is impressive, the economic toll continues to be severe. Therefore, ASEAN membership is a comparatively lower priority this year, but is still under consideration by members, based on Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s speech during the recent ASEAN Summit.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, Democracy, Geopolitics, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Timor-Leste, Asia-Pacific
  • Author: Prabir De
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: The coronavirus has had a devastating impact on the health and economies of countries in the Bay of Bengal. India, Bangladesh, and Nepal are the region’s most affected countries in terms of COVID-19 cases and deaths, followed by Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. It seems that Bhutan and Thailand, the least affected countries in the region, have successfully escaped the brunt of the pandemic. All these countries implemented strict lockdowns as early as March 2020, and the region’s recovery rates have been relatively high. However, the devastation from the pandemic did not reach its peak until after the lifting of lockdowns. The economic costs of the pandemic have soared and are still climbing. Today, most Bay of Bengal countries are facing a second or third wave of COVID-19 infections. India has been badly hit by a huge second Coronavirus wave, registered daily cases over 400,000 since Aril 2021. The damage being done by these additional waves is more intense than their predecessors. The Bay of Bengal countries are now looking for COVID-19 vaccines. India serves as the region’s primary producer of immunizations. Two Indian pharmaceutical companies have launched vaccines, with five more firms in the race to launch their own treatments. When vaccines are developed in India, they are easier to distribute across the region. In terms of availability, accessibility, and affordability, India’s vaccines are better suited to the needs of the region. In recent months, India has successfully supplied over 18 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to many Bay of Bengal countries, with Thailand being a notable exception. India has also ensured more supply of the vaccines in the neighborhood.
  • Topic: Economics, Health, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Bangladesh, South Asia, India, Nepal, Thailand, Bhutan, Bay of Bengal
  • Author: Paweł Markiewicz
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The U.S. economy is emerging from the recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. To maintain growth and at the same time achieve climate and technology goals, the Biden administration is pushing large socio-economic programmes. To pass them in Congress, the administration will be forced to reach compromises with factions within the Democratic Party. Biden also will need some Republican support. In foreign policy, these programmes aim to strengthen the U.S. position in its rivalry with China, something that also opens greater possibilities for closer cooperation with the EU.
  • Topic: Economics, Politics, COVID-19, Joe Biden
  • Political Geography: China, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Engin Yüksel
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: This report assesses the impact of Turkish-Qatari cooperation between 2002 and 2020 on conflict and geopolitical competition across the Middle East, North Africa, and the Horn of Africa based on close examination of its drivers. The report notes that neither ideological nor economic drivers adequately explain the recent blossoming of Turkish-Qatari relations. Converging political interests and pragmatism offer a more compelling explanation. On the one hand, Turkey aspires to play a regional leadership role and uses its cooperation with Qatar to strengthen its soft power claim to leadership of the Sunni world. On the other hand, Qatar seeks to ensure its territorial and dynastical safety from Saudi Arabia and its allies – the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Bahrain (the Quartet) – by working with Turkey, the recent thaw of the Al-Ula declaration notwithstanding. Turkish-Qatari collaboration is therefore best seen as a pragmatic partnership enabled by compatible geopolitical perspectives, particularly regarding the Muslim Brotherhood.
  • Topic: Economics, International Cooperation, Partnerships, Geopolitics, Conflict, Muslim Brotherhood
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates
  • Author: Jos Meester, Johannes Claes, Claire Elder, Guido Lanfranchi
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: This report explores SME growth and resilience in the fragile Somali context during the COVID-19 pandemic, including its relation to wider political-economic developments. The pandemic has demonstrated how Somali businesses have continued to be resilient and at times even thrive during crisis, but it has also exposed the sizeable vulnerability associated with the Somali territories’ trade, import dependence and financing system. The global COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the supply and trans-shipment of goods. This has created shortages and price fluctuations for Somalia’s import-based economy and hampered the country’s payment system. It has also reduced remittances, buying power, access to finance and tax revenues. Shifts in funding streams have realigned political financing patterns and created price instability as political actors seek new ventures through which to move funds. Although the economic shock brought about by COVID-19 has not structurally changed the Somali political economy, it has exacerbated existing patterns of inequality. The contribution of the private sector to the COVID-19 response has likely supported a range of livelihoods throughout the Somali territories, yet the preferential access to governance and strong competitive position that allowed this also highlights a worrying level of inequality and market concentration, and raises questions regarding government legitimacy. It seems likely that the COVID-induced economic crisis has therefore reinforced rather than destabilised those dynamics that prevent small businesses from competing on an equal footing and fragile situations from developing and stabilising.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Politics, COVID-19, Fragile Markets
  • Political Geography: Africa, Somalia
  • Author: Aldo Ferrari, Eleonora Tafuro Ambrosetti, Maxim Matusevich, Marianne Belenkaya, Andrei Kolesnikov, Alicja Curanović, Alexander Graef, Paola Magri
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI)
  • Abstract: What drives Russia’s foreign policy in Vladimir Putin’s times? Why did the Kremlin decide to annex Crimea, occupy South Ossetia, intervene in Syria, or give its blessing to Nord Stream II? When explaining Russia’s foreign policy, the consolidation of Putin’s autocratic tendencies and his apparent stability despite many economic and political challenges have contributed – at least in the West – to an excessive “Putin-centrism” and the relative neglect of other agents of domestic politics. As a result, many facets of the country’s foreign policy decisions are misunderstood or shrouded under a thin veil of vagueness and secrecy. This Report attempts to fill this gap, exploring the evolving distribution of political and economic power under the surface of Putin’s leadership to assess the influence of different “lobbies” on Russia’s foreign policy. Who decides what in Moscow? The answer, unsurprisingly, is not always “Vladimir Putin”. All of the contributions in the volume underline the complexity of Russia’s decision-making process beneath the surface of a monolithic and increasingly personalistic government.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Economics, Politics, Authoritarianism, Domestic politics
  • Political Geography: Africa, Russia, Eurasia
  • Author: Kaan Sahin, Tyson Barker
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: Technological leadership has become a central dimension of geopolitical power. In this development, the primary front in the emerging tech power rivalry is between the US (United States of America) and China (People’s Republic of China). The European Union (EU) has fallen behind and needs to catch-up. The stakes in this race are high and will have an impact on economic competition, national security and broader values-based notions of political order. This study sheds light on Europe’s approach to technological mastery. This study looks into the progress of the EU and its member states across selected technological fields and their global entanglements with other nations and technology actors.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Science and Technology, European Union, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, United States of America
  • Author: Markus Jaeger
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: Although President Biden has made US foreign policy more predictable, its medium- and long-term direction and concomitant implications for transatlantic relations are less certain. This report presents three scenarios of how US strategy might evolve. They provide insight into how the United States behaves in the spheres of security and international economy under different conditions and why, suggesting ways for the EU and Germany to preemptively mitigate risks and positively influence future policy.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, Grand Strategy, Risk, Transatlantic Relations
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany, North America, United States of America