Monthly Global Forecast |February 2020
Politics and Governance
Iowa’s Democratic Caucuses and New Hampshire’s Republican Primary to Hold First Vote in Early February 2020
Caucuses in USA’s mid-western state Iowa and primary elections in New Hampshire are scheduled to be held on February 3rd and February 11th, 2020 respectively. The Iowa Caucuses will be setting the tone for Democratic presidential primaries in rest of US states, as historically several winners of Iowa caucuses have also won the final democratic nomination. On the other hand, New Hampshire’s Republican primary has also picked seven out of nine presidential candidates since 1980. Currently, the US presidential race has 12 democratic and four republican candidates.
US President Trump to Visit India in Late February
President Trump plans to visit India by the end of February 2020. The final date of his visit, however, depends on his impeachment trial in US Senate. The visit is Trump’s first visit to India as US president. While, earlier the president was expected to include Pakistan and Afghanistan in his trip as well, however, on January 23, 2019 Pakistan’s foreign office announced the opposite. The visit will be bringing along economic derivates for India and USA. A Preferential Trade Agreement or Free Trade Agreement is expected to be signed between the countries during the visit.
Aam Aadmi Party Seeks Re-election into Delhi Legislative Assembly
The election to Delhi’s legislative assembly is scheduled to take place on February 2020 to elect its 70 members. The results will be declared on February 11. The main parties in fray are the ruling Aam Aadmi Party which is seeking a re-election, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress which has no MLAs in the state, will be aiming to increase its strength in the Assembly.
FATF’s Plenary Meeting to be Held in February 2020 in Paris
Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Plenary and Working Groups Meeting shall be conducted from 16th to 21st February 2020 at Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development Conference Centre in Paris, France. Pakistan’s designation on the FATF’s grey list will be discussed as a part of the meeting. In January 2020, Pakistan discussed its progress regarding the implementation of 22 action points out of 27 action points suggested by the global watchdog. As suggested by Mansoor Siddiqui, Director General of Financial Monetary Union, Pakistan is hoping to gain the ‘Largely Compliant’ rating on majority actions plan in order to gain more time to get fully compliant rating.
Iranian Parliamentary Election to Take Place on 21 February 2020
Iran’s parliamentary election is scheduled to be conducted on 21st February 2020. Voter turn-out is expected to be low in the upcoming election. Two events: The US-Iran stand-off following the USA’s assassination of General Qasem Soleimani in January 2020 and nation-wide protests against the abrupt rise in oil prices in November 2019 are expected to considerably impact the election turn-out and results. The election is expected to intensify political rivalries across Iranian ruling circles. Parliamentary election shall also indicate the direction of upcoming presidential election scheduled for 2021. The Iranian government is reportedly introducing young and new candidates for 2020 parliamentary election in a bid to increase voter turn-out.
Selection Process for Pakistan’s First Ever Space Mission to Start in February
Pakistan shall embark upon the selection process for choosing the first Pakistani to be sent to space this February. In July 2019, Fawad Chaudhary, Pakistan’s Minister for Science and Technology announced Pakistan’s bid to launch a space mission. The selection process of this mission shall be conducted and supervised by Pakistan Air Force. Initially, 50 pilots will be selected. Twenty five out of these shall be short-listed in the first stage and 10 in the second stage, who will be then given professional training. Out of the selected 10 pilots, one shall be finally selected.
BJP-Government to Respond to Petitions Challenging the Constitutional Validity of Citizenship Amendment Act in February Mid
The Indian Supreme Court has instructed the Central Government of India to respond to a batch of 143 petitions, filed in Indian Supreme Court, latest by four weeks following the hearing held on January 21, 2020. The pleas shall be heard by a Constitution Bench, dedicated to the purpose. The bench consisted of S. A. Bobde – the Chief Justice of India, Justice S. Abdul Nazeer and Justice Sanjiv Khanna. The apex court refused to stay the implementation of Citizenship Amendment Act. The Apex Court’s refusal to strike down the controversial Act is expected to generate another episode of nation-wide anti-state protests.
Conflict in South-Sudan Continues to Escalate: Food Crisis, Fatalities, Migrations Expected to Rise
With no visible signs of de-escalation in Civil war-stricken Sudan, security and social crisis in the country is expected to deepen. Escalation in the conflict started in July 2016. Currently, approximately 1 million South-Sudanese are on the brink of starvation with 100,000 people suffering famine. Around 2 million people are internally displaced in the country and over 2 million people have migrated to neighbouring countries, Uganda and Egypt.
Canada to Establish its First Agricultural Youth Council
Marie-Claude Bibeau, Canada’s Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food has announced the establishment of Canada’s first Agricultural Youth Council. The body shall involve Canada’s youth into the state’s decision-making process from all groups and communities, aged from 18 to 30. The initiative is being taken up to secure Canada’s position of being the agricultural power-house. The council of members shall meet bi-annually to discuss generation gaps and measures that can ensure the strengthening of the country’s agricultural sector.
Libya’s Civil War to Escalate as Nations Fail to Implement Arms Embargo
Civil unrest in Libya is expected to rise in as the countries involved in the civil war, continue to supply weapons to opposing groups. The Berlin Summit, convened in January 2020 concluded the implementation of a complete arms embargo in Libya for the achievement of a political peace process. In 2019, the number of people dying of explosive attacks rose by 131% in the country. With rising tensions and failing arms embargo civilian casualties are expected to rise further. Countries actively involved in Libya’s civil war include: Russia, Egypt, United Arab Emirates and Turkey.
Trade and Economics
New ASEAN Trade Deal to be Signed in 2020
Thailand said that Southeast Asian nations are committed to signing a pact by February 2020 on forging what could become the world’s largest trade bloc, even after new demands by India dealt a blow to the process backed by China. Going into this weekend’s summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Bangkok, there had been hopes of finalising negotiations this year on the 16-nation Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), but the ASEAN chairman’s final statement released on Sunday night said the 10-nation grouping welcomed a “commitment to sign the RCEP Agreement in 2020.” “This will significantly contribute to an open, inclusive and rules-based international trading system and expansion of value chains.”
EU-UK Relations in 2020 and 2021 Post-Brexit
From 11.01pm on 31 January 2020, the UK is no longer a member of the European Union (EU). The enablement legislation for that is the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill 2019-20. It is the bill that will implement the Withdrawal Agreement between the EU and the UK. This is NOT the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement, but the act which implements this international treaty. The bill contains the same conditions as the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement does to the EU (logically, as it implements it) including financial contributions, citizens’ rights, customs arrangements for Northern Ireland and the planned 11-month transition period, as set out in the Withdrawal Agreement. It confirms that there will be an 11-month transition period after 31 January, in which the UK will cease to be an EU member but will continue to follow its rules and contribute to its budget but will not have any representation in the bloc’s institutions. The purpose of the transition period is to give time for the UK and EU to negotiate their future relationship including a trade deal. This period will come to an end on 31 December.
Budget 2020 Likely on February 1, Economic Survey on January 31: Report
Union Budget for 2020-21 may be presented on February 1 and the Economic Survey is likely to be on January 31, Indian Finance Ministry sources said. “Tradition will continue,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prahlad Joshi said when asked about whether the government would continue with the tradition of presenting the budget on the first day of February or will there be any change as the first day of February 2020 is Saturday, a non-working day. Modi Government, in its first term, decided to advance the date of the budget from last working day to first working day. Accordingly, the Union Budget for 2017-18 was presented on February 1, and since then, the tradition has continued. The idea behind starting the budget early in February was to complete the budgetary process by March 31, so that expenditure exercise for 12 months could begin on April 1.
Mini-budget on the Cards
Pakistan’s imports have declined to the tune of $6 billion so far. The economic team has to decide about the course of adjustment through loosening of the fiscal policy or monetary policy, or a combination of both to kick-start the sluggish economy. It possesses a month and a half to make its choice before the International Monetary Fund (IMF) team arrives in the capital in February 2020 to discuss the new economic realities and to finalise the course of correction. Many economists who know the ins and outs of the country’s economy concede that readjustment in policies was around the corner. They suggest adopting well thought out policies. The government seems ready for adjustment in fiscal policy so a mini-budget is on the cards by the end of February 2020 following IMF consultations. With the IMF’s consent, Pakistan revised the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) collection target from Rs5.5 trillion to Rs5.238 trillion. It also agreed under the new structural benchmark condition to take “additional measures” before presenting the budget review in parliament by the end of February.
Asia Trade Summit 2020: Reshaping Trade Patterns
The Economist’s second annual Asia Trade Summit is going to be held on February 27, 2020. It will bring together heads of companies, regional trade negotiators, policymakers, academics and economists for a day of learning and rigorous debate. The event will be focused on solutions and committed to producing outcomes that matter. Through a series of roundtables, onstage debates and panel conversations, the summit will analyse risks and opportunities and look for a pragmatic way forward for those working in—or depending on—the trade industry in Asia. Over the past year, consumers in Japan and the European Union have begun reshaping the benefits of their large bilateral trade deal, creating a new marketplace that encompasses a third of global GDP. The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, which came into effect at the end of 2018, is opening new trade pathways for various Asian countries. India’s GDP expanded by 7.1% in 2018, making it the fastest-growing economy in Asia, and third fastest globally. Other countries in the region, such as Vietnam and Malaysia, are gaining from American firms moving their Chinese operations to avoid tariffs.
Defence and Security
4th Cyber Security Summit in Portugal
A well-known Cyber Security Summit is going to be held from 6 to 7 of February in Lisbon, Portugal. This is 4th annual Cyber Security Summit. It will cover the issues like third party and supply chain in cyber domain. It aims at spreading awareness regarding end to end cyber security implementation practices especially in relation to third parties. Moreover, the focus will be on data control, its management and supply chain keeping in view third party interaction and potential threats to data. The key topics of the summit are end to end cyber security (Assurance), third party risk (management), data protection technologies and compliance, third party security evolution and audit and insider threat risks (mitigation).
International Conference on Nuclear Security
A critically important security conference on the critical issue of nuclear security will be held from 10 to 14 of February 2020. It is going to be organised by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on the topic – Nuclear Security: Sustaining and Strengthening Efforts (ICONS 2020). The venue of the conference is Vienna, Austria. It is most significant conference because of its projection and influence. Its importance can be assessed that previous conference had more than 2,000 participants including 29 intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations, 47 state ministers and 139 member states. The purpose of the conference is to ensure global nuclear security.
Munich Security Conference 2020
The three-day Munich Security Conference is going to be held from 14 to 16 February 2020. It is 56th security conference which has been applauded globally because of its importance. The conference is usually attended by many of the heads of the states, foreign ministers, security experts and notable intellectuals. It covers traditional as well as non-traditional security threats that states, regions and globe are facing or can face. Furthermore, it also focuses on the disruptive technologies and their potential threats. The 56th Munich Security conference will be attended by Angela Merkel and Mike Pence with other important dignitaries.
The Cyber Security Summit 2020
The Cyber Security Summit will be held on 21 February 2020 in Sydney, Australia. The evolving cyber security scenarios in terms cyber-attacks, malwares, cyber-hacking and privacy issues have become an alarming situation for individuals, organisations and even for states. In this backdrop, the said summit on cyber security is of critical importance. The major themes of the summit will be individual security, organisational security and state security in the context of cyber-attacks.
Defence Expo India 2020
India is going to exercise its defence exhibition from 5th to 9th February, 2020. The core objective of this exhibition is to project its military superiority over other countries. Another major aspect of it is the propagation of technological assertiveness in the field of weapons. South Asian region is already the most security prone region and nuclear flash point of the world. In this situation, the power projection behaviour of India is not good for regional peace, stability and security. The timing of this exhibition is of critical importance as the ongoing oppressive situation in Kashmir and adventurous false flag operation under the Modi government raises many questions regarding regional security.
Energy and Enviroment
India-Brazil New Trade Deals to Emphasise Bioenergy
Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro on Sunday joined Prime Minister Narendra Modi to observe India’s Republic Day parade. A day before, both the sides set bilateral trade target of $15 billion by 2022. The leaders acknowledged the importance of bioenergy. This came with pledging to expand India’s preferential trade agreement (PTA) with MERCOSUR – a South American trade bloc. The PTAs include pacts for collaboration in the areas of bio-fuel, oil and gas, science and technology, and agriculture.
European Union to Help Albania in Post-Quake Reconstruction
European Union (EU) is going to hold an international donors’ conference on 17 February 2020. The initiative is focused on the reconstruction in Albania after the catastrophic earth quake of November 2019. The president of the European Commission said that the EU would support its Western European partners and make efforts to generate an international response to the destructions of the earthquake. This support is likely to prioritise helping Albania enhance its crisis management and disaster response mechanisms.
Indian Annual Budget Expected to Facilitate Renewable Energy Industry
As India’s Union Budget is about to be out on 1 February 2020, one of the major sectors that have pinned their hopes on finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman is renewable energy sector. However, an Indian solar energy policy organisation Saur Energy International claims the solar industry does not have high hopes from the finance minister.
Australia Fires Not Likely to End Soon
The Australia bush fires are likely to linger through February as the country’s fire brigades are struggling to counter the blaze. Predictions are that this summer is going to be long and hot. However, the recent cooling down of temperature for some days, eased down the fire, but temperatures are expected to increase coming week with 20 degree Celsius in the coolest parts of the country. The government’s attitude toward the catastrophe that killed 30 people, over a billion animals and destroyed 3,000 homes is not very encouraging.
Climate Crisis is Biggest Threat, Says WEF
World Economic Forum (WEF) deems climate crisis the biggest threat to global stability. This was said as a result of a survey, questioning 750 experts from around the world, published in a report by WEF, days before its sessions went on in Davos in late January 2020. The five biggest long-term threats illustrated in the report were all linked to environment including: extreme weather events, major bio-diversity loss and failure to halt global warming.