Drone attacks allegedly by Houthi rebels this past weekend on the Abqaiq facility and the Khurais oil field effectively knocked out five million barrels of processed crude oil from the world market. If this number doesn’t sound impressive, it amounts to about 5% of the world’s energy supply. Although the Iranian-supported Houthi rebels have been targeting Saudi Arabia in retaliation for their participation in the civil war in Yemen, this attack is different. Knocking out this critical facility will potentially cause prices to rise significantly for almost every commodity due to the reduction of global energy supplies. Since energy influences the price of transportation, which in turn influences the price of food and other commodities, this may cause prices of goods and services of all types to rise globally. Recent estimates suggest that the price of oil may rise from $60 to over $100 per barrel. That is an enormous shock that will be felt worldwide.
Trade is complex: US tariffs targeting China could weaken the renminbi, allowing Chinese exporters to maintain profit levels and keep US import costs the same
At 5 am on August 5, the US president sent a message on Twitter accusing China of being a “currency manipulator,” describing this as a “major violation.” US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin followed with an official announcement later that day.
Economic warfare is being fought with an intensity not seen since the period leading up to World War II as countries deploy tariffs, embargoes and economic sanctions to force policy changes or punish their adversaries.
Free trade is coming off second best, and global trade has stalled. There’s been no growth in trade volumes since late 2017, contributing to a slowing world economy.
Following five years of periodic controversies and criticism – some factual, others contrived – President Xi Jinping used the Belt and Road (BRI) Forum in April to set the agenda for the next five years of his hallmark project. At the forum’s second edition, meant to promote a “stronger partnership network,” the Chinese leader pledged to “clean up,” stressed “zero tolerance” to corruption, and emphasized readiness to adopt “internationally acceptable” standards in the bidding process of BRI projects in the future. This language indicates Beijing’s openness to constructive criticism and willingness to objectively tweak some inherent weaknesses in the strategy and implementation mechanisms for the BRI during the 2013-2018 period. It also sets the stage for the start of “BRI 2.0,” where the stress is likely to be on the qualitative, rather than just quantitative, attributes. The following are some analytical pointers on how BRI 2.0 is likely to be different from version 1.0, especially keeping in mind what Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi referred to as a “high-quality” shift from “big freehand” to “fine brushwork” in planning BRI’s future projects.
This fall will mark three years since the Colombian Peace Accord between the government of Juan Manuel Santos and the FARC guerrilla group was ceremoniously signed in Havana, Cuba. It was unique for a variety of reasons: it ended the world’s longest-running civil war, it was signed with the world’s oldest guerrilla group (the FARC), and—what few know—is that it is also the first peace process that explicitly includes economic actors in the truth and accountability mechanisms to help the country transition to peace.