Monthly Global Forecast | January 2020
Defence and Security
China, Pakistan to hold joint maritime drill
During the first month of 2020, China and Pakistan will conduct a joint maritime exercise in Pakistan. For the exercise, the Chinese side will send destroyers, frigates, supply ships, and submarine rescue ships. The Chinese Defence Ministry spokesperson has said that the exercise is part of the annual exchange plan between the two countries and has nothing to do with the regional situation and it does not target any third country.
Turkey’s ASELSAN to Open Office in Pakistan
Turkey’s defence giant ASELSAN is preparing to launch offices in Pakistan on January 1 next year. ASELSAN joins Italian defence giant Leonardo as among the foreign original equipment manufacturers to recently launch offices in Pakistan. For ASELSAN, this move is likely a bid to better coordinate its programmes with the Pakistani military as well as promote new products across land, sea and air applications. Pakistan is among ASELSAN’s leading overseas customers. In November 2019, the company secured a $196 million deal to supply subsystems for the Pakistan Navy four MILGEM Jinnah-class corvettes or light frigates.
UAE to host Second Round of Military and Peacekeeping Training Programme for Women
In January, UAE will be hosting the second round of the military and peacekeeping training programme for women at the Khawla bint Al Azwar Military Academy for Women. The upcoming training programme will include participants from the African and Asian regions. The programme aims to prepare female military officers for UN peacekeeping operations and increase the pool of female military officers, create peer-to-peer networks among female military officers to provide support during future deployments, and drive the strategic objectives of UN Security Council resolution 1325, with particular attention to the importance of capacity building and training.
Japan to Launch Electro-Optical IGS Reconnaissance Satellite
Japan’s eight Intelligence Gathering System (IGS) reconnaissance satellite will go into orbit on 27 January 2020. Through IGS satellites, Japan monitors military activities of North Korea, China, and Russia including ballistic missile, nuclear weapons tests and naval activities. These satellites not only provide Tokyo with strategic early warning of North Korean, Chinese, and Russian activities but also serve as a useful defence diplomacy tool for sharing its intelligence with allies such as the United States in return for American intelligence Japan might find otherwise more difficult to obtain.
Vietnam will have the presidency of the UN Security Council
In January, Vietnam will have the presidency of the UN Security Council. In this regard, the Southeast Asian country has planned to host a ministerial-level open debate on “Maintenance of international peace and security: upholding the UN Charter.” Vietnam’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Pham Binh Minh, is expected to chair the meeting, and Secretary-General António Guterres is also expected to brief the council members. Additionally, Vietnam will also convene a briefing on cooperation with regional and sub-regional organisations, with a focus on ASEAN.
Politics and Governance
President Xi plans to skip the upcoming meeting of World Economic Forum
Chinese President Xi Jinping, reportedly plans not to attend the upcoming Annual Meeting of World Economic Forum, scheduled to be held from January 21 to 24 January 2020 at Davos, Switzerland. This attributes to President Xi’s political engagement in China’s New Year celebrations commencing a day after the conclusion of Davos. President Xi’s absence in the meeting scraps off the chances of a summit between him and President Trump, who is expectedly attending the annual meeting. However, in coming months, the two countries are expected to sign the first phase of bilateral trade deal that addresses the US China trade war.
Britain to finally exit from European Union by January end
Under Boris Johnson Administration, United Kingdom would finally be exiting European Union on 31 January 2020, once the Withdrawal Agreement Bill passes its third reading in the parliament. The third reading of the bill will be held after Christmas recess in the second week of January. Following which, the bill shall be ratified across UK and EU parliaments. The bill had passed its second reading with a majority of 124 votes on 19 December 2019. Britain’s exit from EU will follow new legislations in immigration, agricultural and trade related issues which are currently under EU regulation.
Indian Government to Operationalise Detention Centres for Muslim citizens across different states
The government of India has established detention centres for Muslim citizens, which will be operationalised in January 2020. The detention centres are designated to keep illegal Muslim migrants and refugees till their repatriation to home countries. Such centres have already been created in state of Karnataka and Assam. The announcement of operationalisation of detention centres comes after Citizenship Amendment Bill qualified as an act, following the President’s approval. The establishment of Detention Centres has raised concerns among Indian Muslims who fear of being declared as non-citizens following the roll out of National Registry of Citizenship in 2024.
Indian Supreme Court to hear 59 petitions against the Citizenship Amendment Act on 22 January 2020
The Supreme Court of India shall be hearing petitions against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) on 22 January 2020. In total, 59 petitions challenging the constitutional validity of CAA have been filed in the Supreme Court. Amidst fear of refugee and immigrant influx, infuriated citizens hope that CAA be declared constitutionally invalid by the Supreme Court. Back in December 2019, the Indian Supreme Court refused to stay the CAA, after masses took to streets protesting the discriminatory nature of CAA.
Government of Pakistan to initiate 9th Rural Count in January 2020
Pakistan’s 9th Rural Count shall be initiated on 1 January 2020, covering details from 2013 onwards. The count shall be conducted under the supervision of Pakistan Bureau of Statistics. It shall incorporate statistics regarding social and economic facilities available to the inhabitants of rural areas of the country. Prior to the upcoming count, rural counts have been conducted in 1971, 1979, 1983, 1988, 1993, 1998, 2003, and 2008. The count will potentially facilitate agricultural growth in rural areas of the country.
Chile to Hold Referendum on New Constitution
President Sebastian Pinera enacted a law in December which paves way for a public poll in April to determine whether the country needs a new constitution. Citizens will be asked if they think there should be a new constitution and which of the two procedures do they prefer. The options include 1) direct election of citizens to the legislature to make laws or 2) a similar body half composed of legislators. The current Chilean constitution was adopted in 1980 by the military regime of General Augusto Pinochet.
Malaysia to Charge Tax on Digital Services
Malaysia is extending its digital service tax net to the services provided by foreign entities. The move comes with 6% tax levied on supplies from foreign services providers. The implementation will be starting from 1 January 2020. According to the Guide on Digital Services issued by the Royal Malaysian Custom Department, this will be effective on any service provided to any Malaysia consumer from a foreign registered person or company. The said services include any provided and subscribed over the internet. Malaysia’s Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Amiruddin Hamzah has said that the tax Malaysia is charging is one of the lowest rates as compared to that of Russia, Norway, and New Zealand, which stand at 18%, 25%, and 15% respectively. Malaysia’s new policy is said to have mirrored the global policy toward digital services.
West Bengal and Assam vow to Protect Land Rights of Indigenous People
Assam’s Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that the state government promised to plan a law, which would protect the land rights of the state’s indigenous population. India has been ablaze with protests against the infamous Citizenship Amendment Bill, which has now become an approved Citizenship Amendment Act. Most of the immediately threatened chunk of population resides in the north eastern parts of the country including Assam and West Bengal. The proposed law will establish a framework to prevent indigenous peoples from selling lands to the outsiders to avert the threat of a major demographic change. However, the definition of what is indigenous in Assam and West Bengal is still a matter of discussion given that two million people were wiped off the Citizens Register earlier this year.
Workers to Halt Oil Production in France
The General Confederation of Labour (Confédération Générale du Travail, CGT) has voted in favour of shutting down the major oil facility known as Total’s Grandpuits oil refinery. The refinery supplies oil to Paris and the surrounding regions. CGT is over a century old trade union confederation of France, which has been playing a prominent role in the recent protests, sparked in wake of the President Emanuel Macron’s pension reforms. The industrial action by trade unions against the president’s policy has already halted the train service for more than a fortnight now. The protests are increasingly turning violent while the law and order situation in the country lingers with uncertainty.
Spain and Britain Set Dates to Negotiate Gibraltar Next Month
Spain and the United Kingdom are going to hold meeting to negotiate the post-Brexit status of Gibraltar in mid-January next year. The Brexit referendum has further problematised the already problematic historical dispute of an overseas territory between Spain and the UK. With daily cross-border flow of more than 28,000 people, 10,000 Spaniards work as cross border workers in the territory. Furthermore, Gibraltar heavily voted to stay with the European Union, a consent which was swept off by the other regions of UK. Then there are 15,000 European Union (EU) citizens working in Gibraltar. Therefore, the post-Brexit status of the territory is of great concern to EU, Spain, and Gibraltar itself. The British delegation for the talks will include the Government of Gibraltar’s representatives and Spaniard delegation will come with regional and local officials. The committees partaking in the January 14 and 15 meetings in Madrid are formed in line with the four memoranda of understanding signed between the two governments in November 2018.
Energy and Environment
Egypt to begin gas imports from Israel by mid-January 2020
Egypt will begin importing natural gas from Israel by mid-January 2020, Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz told Israel Radio. “[The exports] will begin in the middle of next month and perhaps even earlier,” he said. Israeli gas exports to Egypt will gradually reach seven billion cubic meters. Steinitz said Egyptian Petroleum Minister Tarek El-Molla had spoken to him and congratulated him on signing export permits for the gas. Egyptian company Dolphinus Holdings reached a landmark deal last year with the Israeli companies operating the Israeli fields Leviathan and Tamar.
Ukraine Unbundles Gas System
The Secretariat of the Energy Community has supported certification of the gas transmission system operator of Ukraine. From 1 January 2020, gas transmission activities will be separated from the structure of NJSC Naftogaz of Ukraine. Ukraine will get an independent GTSO which will become counter-party in further transit contracts. After the unbundling (separation), the ISO model will be transformed into OU from 1 January and thus Naftogaz will lose the ownership of the gas transmission system and the state represented by the Ministry of Finance will become its owner.
EnOcean at CES 2020: Energy Harvesting Sensors for Bluetooth IoT Networks
Consumer Electronics Show 2020 in Las Vegas (7-10 January 2020) is the global stage where next-generation innovations are introduced. This is also true for EnOcean, the pioneer in energy harvesting wireless technology. The company will be presenting the latest developments in self-powered Bluetooth sensors for maintenance-free sensing. Show highlight is a new solar-powered multi-sensor, the all-round talent among energy harvesting wireless sensors. The small device integrates five dedicated sensors – all powered by the same solar cell – delivering data via Bluetooth. Thus, EnOcean provides Bluetooth IoT networks with a fully maintenance-free sensing device that delivers information for thousands of application scenarios. The industry innovators Rigado and Prolojik will include the new EnOcean self-powered multi-sensor in their Bluetooth IoT systems from January 2020.
Dutch Supreme Court Upholds Landmark Ruling Demanding Climate Action
The Netherlands’ Supreme Court has upheld a ruling ordering the country’s government to do much more to cut carbon emissions, after a six-year fight for climate justice. The court ruled that the government had explicit duties to protect its citizens’ human rights in the face of climate change and must reduce emissions by at least 25% compared with 1990 levels by the end of 2020. The non-profit Urgenda Foundation, which brought the case, welcomed the “ground-breaking” judgment. The original judgment in 2015 was seen as a landmark in the then nascent field of climate litigation and inspired similar cases across the world from Pakistan to New Zealand.
Linking of Switzerland to the EU Emissions Trading System – Entry into Force on 1 January 2020
On 1 January 2020, Switzerland will become the first country to successfully link its greenhouse gas emissions trading system with the EU emissions trading system (EU ETS). This completes a process which has taken almost 10 years. On 17 December 2010, the Council authorised the European Commission to open negotiations with the Swiss Confederation for this agreement. The formal procedures for the linking have now been completed, and the agreement can enter into force on 1 January 2020. The EU ETS is one of the main tools for the cost-effective reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in particular from energy-intensive industries and power plants.
Trade and Economics
US-China Trade Deal – Phase 1 to be Signed in January 2020
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has affirmatively asserted that the first phase of US-China trade deal is expected to be signed in January 2020. The deal is currently going through a technical and legal scrub. First phase of this deal incorporates structural changes in intellectual property issues, tariff reduction by USA and increased purchases of the US agricultural products in Chinese markets. United States is expected to maintain 25% tariff on Chinese imports worth $250 billion and reduce tariff to 7.5% on imports worth $120 billion. The trade deal seeks to address the on-going US-China trade war that has spanned over two years now.
Pak-China Free Trade Agreement likely to Come into Effect
The National Assembly of Pakistan has been told that phase two of free trade agreement between Pakistan and China was likely to come into effect from January 1, 2020 eliminating duty on Pakistan’s 313 exportable items. Under the agreement, Electronic Data Exchange System would be implemented to curb under invoicing and mis-declaration. The second phase of the free trade agreement was concluded on April 9, 2019 after 11 rounds of rigorous negotiations. A protocol to this effect was signed by both sides during the visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to China on April 28, 2019.
China to Lower Import Tariffs on Over 850 Products
China will lower tariffs on products ranging from frozen pork and avocado to some types of semiconductors next year as Beijing looks to boost imports amid a slowing economy and a trade war with United States. Next year, China will implement temporary import tariffs, which are lower than the most-favoured-nation tariffs, on more than 850 products, the Chinese finance ministry said. That compared with 706 products that were taxed at temporary rates in 2019.
Palestine Seeks Economic Ties with Oman
Prime Minister of Palestine Mohammad Shtayyeh said that a ministerial delegation and representatives of the private sector is going to meet Sultan of Oman in January 2020 to open new avenues for the Palestinian economy and enhance cooperation as part of the strategy of disengaging economically from Israel and focusing on Arab economic depth. The Palestinians’ engagement with Oman comes as their economy continues to face serious challenges.
Vietnam to Increase Minimum Wage
Vietnam will increase the minimum wage by an average of 5.7% in 2020. The government issued decree in this regard which will take effect on January 1, 2020. Additionally, salaries that are paid to employees who have had vocational training must be paid at least 7% higher than the minimum salary level. Businesses cannot reduce overtime, night shift or other hardship allowances that are provided to employees when applying the new minimum salaries as per the labour law.