Investment in Mexico. Mexico’s Business Coordination Council and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce concluded a two-day meeting in Merida, in Mexico’s Yucatan state, to plan a roadmap for investment and development in Yucatan and Central America in an effort to stem migration across Mexico’s southern border. Discussions at the meeting focused on the private sector’s role, though the governments of both countries have been in talks since December over a proposed $10 billion U.S. government investment in development and security efforts in the region. Business leaders also discussed the yet-to-be-ratified U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. On Thursday, Mexico cleared a major hurdle to ratification when Congress approved labor reforms Washington had demanded before it would ratify the deal. Mexico’s Senate is expected to approve the reforms by the end of the month. Mexico and Canada have set removal of U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs as conditions for their ratification of the agreement. So far, however, there are no signs that the U.S. plans to lift the duties.
5G wars. Yesterday, the Trump administration and the Federal Communications Commission announced a new push to roll out 5G networks in the U.S. more quickly. The FCC plans to open new airwaves to carriers and to sell up to 3.4 gigahertz of millimeter-wave spectrum. President Donald Trump and FCC officials made clear that this push is an attempt to stem the progress of Chinese telecommunications firms in developing 5G networks with U.S. allies and to offer an alternative to Chinese technology. The FCC also announced plans to launch the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, which will invest $20 billion to expand broadband connectivity in rural America. The fund, slated for launch later this year, aims to extend service to 4 million households and small businesses.
Saudi Arabia’s involvement in Libya. Saudi Arabia provided tens of millions of dollars to Khalifa Haftar, leader of the Libyan National Army and de facto ruler of eastern Libya, to support his offensive on Tripoli, according to senior Saudi government advisers who spoke to the Wall Street Journal. If true, this would mean yet another foreign power is getting involved in the conflict in Libya. Russia, France and the United States have all maintained a small military presence there, though U.S. forces recently withdrew following Haftar’s move on Tripoli. Saudi Arabia, France and Russia all have provided some degree of support to Haftar, believing that he is the leader most likely to bring stability to the country (although Russia has at times backed both sides in the conflict). France’s support for Haftar effectively places it in opposition to Italy, which supports the internationally recognized government in Tripoli. Despite the backing from some key international players, however, Haftar’s offensive isn’t likely to end any time soon; even as warplanes from eastern Libya have reportedly begun bombing Tripoli, the offensive has met stiff resistance on the ground.
- Mexico’s finance minister announced the government will offer state-owned energy firm Pemex $5.3 billion from its budget stabilization fund to help stabilize the company, whose debt has swelled to $106 billion. Congress will need to approve the measure.
- Both Kenya and Uganda have warned of food shortages as drought continues to stifle food production.
- Russian President Vladimir Putin said military conscription in Russia will gradually become “a thing of the past.”
- A day after Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir was removed from office by the military, the head of Sudan’s Military Council also resigned. Protesters are demanding greater structural change and civilian leadership.
- Israel has carried out another airstrike in Syria, this time near Hama province. Syrian state television reported that Syrian air defenses intercepted several of the Israeli missiles, which it claimed were fired from jets operating in Lebanese airspace.
- France announced the end of a three-week offensive against jihadists in Mali. The offensive involved some 750 French troops and 150 Malian soldiers. One French military doctor was killed in the operation.
- The U.K. Royal Navy’s Type 23 Frigate HMS Montrose arrived in Bahrain on Thursday. The Montrose will be stationed in Bahrain until 2022.
- North Korean state media reported that Kim Jong Un said he was willing to hold a third summit with U.S. President Donald Trump, if the U.S. came to the talks with “the right attitude.”
- In an interview with Radio Free Europe, U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman said the U.S. remains committed to its sanctions on Russia and urged further talks on a resolution to the Ukraine conflict.