Central American immigration by the numbers. Starting in May, Mexican immigration authorities will no longer issue humanitarian and transit visas to Central American immigrants at Mexico’s southern border. Instead, immigrants will need to solicit visas from Mexican consulates in their countries of origin before leaving. The move means to address two immigration-related challenges: the sanitation concerns at southern facilities that are wracked by overpopulation, water shortages and general disrepair, and pressure from the United States to curb migration. The most recent data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection show that U.S. authorities arrested or refused entry to more than 103,000 migrants in March – a 35 percent increase compared to February and more than double compared to March 2018. These figures are expected to rise in May, which tends to have more traffic than other months of the year.
Saudi Aramco makes history. Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia’s state oil company, is planning its first international bond offering. After opening up for offers, Aramco received over $100 billion in orders and, in response, increased the total amount of funds it would raise to $12 billion from $10 billion – meaning the offer was oversubscribed by 8.3 times. The $100 billion order figure set a new record as the largest amount of money in an emerging markets debt raise, rivaling some of the largest bond deals seen even in developed economies. The oversubscription is a sign that there is no shortage of demand for Saudi Aramco’s debt. It’s good news for Saudi Arabia, which is seeking foreign investment to help diversify its economy. That there was so much demand indicates that Aramco, recently revealed to be the most profitable company in the world, may not be as constrained in finding foreign funds as we initially anticipated.
North Korea’s unsurprising policy pivot. As South Korean President Moon Jae-in prepares to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump this week, North Korea’s Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea is slated to hold a meeting today to discuss a potential new orientation. And considering the failure of the Hanoi nuclear summit earlier this year, there’s reason to believe North Korea will now officially change its negotiating position. Pyongyang can’t simply agree to give up its only credible deterrent to the U.S., let alone one it has spent so much time and money on, for the sake of sanctions relief. Yet this is exactly what the U.S. has demanded. No doubt it’ll be high on the list of topics that Moon and Trump will discuss at their meeting.
More S-400s. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey may sign yet another deal with Russia to acquire additional S-400 air defense systems if the U.S. refuses to supply Turkey with its Patriot air defense system. Washington has repeatedly urged Turkey to abandon the deal with Russia, fearing that integrating the S-400 and U.S. F-35 fighter jets into a single military could put the F-35’s sensitive stealth technology in Russian hands. The U.S. has suggested that Turkey purchase U.S.-made missile defense systems instead, but Washington’s most recent offer was contingent on Turkey abandoning its existing S-400 deal with Russia, which Ankara has seemed unwilling to do. On his trip to Moscow, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters that Russia’s delivery of S-400s may begin as soon as July.
Falling Chinese investment in Australia. In 2018, Chinese investment in Australia dropped more than 36 percent year over year to 8.2 billion Australian dollars ($5.8 billion), the lowest level in over a decade, according to a new report from KPMG and the University of Sydney. GPF recently covered a decline in Chinese investment in Australian real estate, and this new report indicates that the decline in investment is much broader, covering investments in resources, energy and infrastructure as well. State-owned enterprises, in particular, saw significant drops. Meanwhile, commodity traders on Tuesday warned that Australia, which accounted for 29 percent of Chinese coal imports last year, is likely to take the hardest hit from a supply glut of coal in China.
- Rebels in Ukraine have agreed to an autonomy plan, according to an interview with Viktor Medvedchuk, an associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Medvedchuk said the plan includes a free economic zone in rebel-held areas, among other vague references to “financial, economic and business activities.”
- According to The Guardian, the European Union has turned down British Prime Minister Theresa May’s request for a short Brexit delay to June 30, saying that the U.K.’s current options are either “the end of December or the end of March 2020.”
- The International Monetary Fund has cut its global growth forecast again – this time from 3.5 percent to 3.3 percent, the lowest rate since 2009. It’s the third time in six months the IMF has lowered its estimates.
- Russia has begun missile defense drills in Crimea using the S-400 air defense system.
- Uzbekistan agreed to join the railway corridor linking China, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Iran, according to reports from Kazakhstan’s national railway company.
- The U.S., U.K. and Norway called upon Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and other members of his government to prepare a “credible plan for political transition.” They also expressed concern over growing instability if protests continue.
- The Japanese Defense Ministry said a Japanese F-35A stealth fighter that disappeared from radar on April 9 is believed to have crashed over the Pacific. This would be the first crash of the new fighter jet.
- Beijing agreed to reopen talks with Brussels on a China-EU investment treaty, with completion targeted by 2020, and to intensify discussions on strengthening international rules on industrial subsidies.
- Chinese home sales rebounded in March, growing 20 percent year over year, after contracting during the first two months of the year.
- A U.N. study found that a no-deal Brexit would benefit the Chinese economy the most, boosting annual Chinese exports to the U.K. by at least $10 billion, or 17 percent of its 2018 exports to the country.
- Ethiopia and Italy have signed a defense memorandum of understanding in Addis Ababa.