DGI Brief - Sep 14, 2016
- By an executive order from President Obama, the US government is lifting decade-long sanctions on Ivory Coast in recognition of its efforts to rebuild the country & its democratic institutions. The civil war in Ivory Coast ended in 2011. Also today, President Obama met with Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel peace laureate, US Congressional Gold Medal recipient, former political prisoner & now Myanmar's State Counselor (de facto leader) & also agreed to lift majority of the sanctions placed on Myanmar since 1989. Why it matters: even though not all economic sanctions on Myanmar are lifted – ex. ban on military trade, trade with North Korea & sanctions on drug-related trade – today’s decisions will greatly improve the economic recovery & growth of both Ivory Coast & Myanmar. Investors, get ready for potentially powerful new markets.
- Pétroleos de Venezuela, the ‘lifeblood’ of VENEZUELA’s crashing economy, is unable to pay its upcoming $7 billion bond debt & is looking to exchange them for bonds maturing in 2020. This plan is reportedly for this year’s October/November payment as well as those of April & November 2017. Why it matters: on one hand it is assuring that Venezuela wants to honor its bond payments, on the other it is a very tough sell. Investors are understandably reluctant given the current political climate – will there be a recall? A revolution? A dictatorship? The political risk insurance must be sky high.
- NORTH KOREA: While the leadership tests nuclear bombs & spends monumental amounts on appearances, its citizens in the North Hamgyong province are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance following widespread devastation caused by severe floods. At least 140,000 people have been identified & aid groups are working tirelessly to deliver food & address the critical need of shelter, access to clean water & health services. Rescuers say they haven’t been able to reach all communities in the affected areas. Why it matters: humanitarians help people, all people, regardless of politics. Critics will be quick to point out that aid often helps brutal regimes abdicate the responsibility they have to their own citizens. What would they suggest as the alternative?
- Lawmakers of TURKMENISTAN, the small desert nation of 5 million, unanimously adopted number of constitutional amendments about the country’s presidency. They removed the 70-year age limit for the president & extended the presidential term in office from 5 to 7 years. These measures will allow the incumbent, President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov (age 59) to seek additional terms, de facto a life-long presidency. Why it matters: although Berdymukhamedov is highly popular – he was re-elected in 2012 for his 2nd term with 97% of the vote! – caution should be exercised about the leadership of any nation. Unlimited terms may sound like a great idea when we love a leader but it can be devastating when the wrong person comes to power. But, congratulations are in order, Mr. President, you clearly have your people’s full trust & support and that is wonderful.
- SYRIA: The UN says none of its humanitarian aid has entered Syria despite the holding ceasefire since Monday because the Syrian government is disagreeable on routes. Sources say the Syrian Foreign Ministry prohibits any aid convoys from entering the rebel-held areas of Aleppo without government coordination, any in particular prohibits any Turkish convoys from entering Syria (citing Turkish statements of its intention to send “materials disguised as humanitarian aid”). Why it matters: Enough Syria, all aid will go under the UN flag & needs to go where needed the most, to the areas you have been besieging & barrel bombing, where you have been targeting hospitals & schools. There are only 5 days left of this ceasefire!
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