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Watch List: June 19, 2018

Kim back in China, closer to a U.S.-China trade war, taking the temperature of Central Asia’s economies

Watch List

|June 22, 2018

The items listed below represent potential emerging issues that our analysts are tracking. These can be long term or short term, but will be updated daily. If an item on our Watch List becomes critical, we will email you a full analysis explaining its significance.

Each Saturday, we will follow up our daily Watch List for each week with our conclusions on these issues.

North Korea, China: Kim Jong Un is in China for the third time in three months, and South Korea confirmed that military exercises with the U.S. planned for August have been suspended. We need a better understanding of the relationship between China and Kim and what China is trying to get out of this situation.

U.S., China: U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened 10 percent tariffs on an additional $200 billion worth of Chinese goods. Up to now, we’ve been restrained in our use of the phrase “trade war” because the total value of the goods involved was so small, but if Trump goes through with this threat and China retaliates, we’ll be getting into significant trade values. What sectors is each side threatening, and how much damage would it do?

Central Asia: A report says the shadow economy in Kyrgyzstan has grown to 60 percent of the total economy. Turkmenistan remains a basket case, with desperate measures to raise capital for the government alongside shortages of food and money. Uzbekistan is flirting with both Turkey and, surprisingly, Saudi Arabia, which is promising investment and which Uzbekistan’s leader spoke of in terms of a “loving relationship.” Kazakhstan is trying to figure out how U.S. sanctions on Russia might affect it. We need a review of the economics of the region. It’s also worth looking into whether Uzbekistan is genuinely trying to assert itself as a major power in the region.

Belarus: Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko removed the deputy head and a regional head of the state security service, citing their advanced age. Meanwhile, a meeting on economics between Russia and Belarus went off without a hitch, while a Belarusian opposition website said ties with Russia were weakening. Is the official reasoning for the security service dismissals legitimate, or was Lukashenko trying to neuter a threat? And which side is correct about the condition of Russia-Belarus relations? 

Uruguay: As leader of the Mercosur trade bloc, Uruguay wants to explore trade relations with China and Eurasian countries such as Russia because the trade deal with the European Union looks to be permanently stalled. How much economic influence does China have in Mercosur? Let’s break down the bilateral relationship between Mercosur countries and China relative to their relations with the U.S. and the EU.

Slovenia, Croatia: Slovenia and Croatia have a dispute brewing about an alleged violation by Croatia of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy. Our focus on the Balkans lately has been on Serbia, Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina. What’s happening on the other side of the Balkans? More important, can we discern anything about EU policy toward the Balkans as a result of this dispute?

U.S., Turkey: Turkish soldiers have begun patrolling Manbij, Syria. The U.S. Senate placed restrictions on the sale of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey. Where do U.S.-Turkey relations stand?

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