Controversy has dogged China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) with Malaysia canceling infrastructure projects worth US$23 billion during the summer because of the exorbitant cost. But while that was the most high-profile case, Beijing is finding that multi-billion-dollar investments are increasingly becoming major election issues in the least expected places. The most recent example was in Sierra Leone, a small West African nation of seven million which has been ravaged by civil war and outbreaks of Ebola. In March, a fiercely fought election revolved largely around a new airport financed by China. The deal was canceled on October 5, as widely expected, after the defeat of the All People’s Congress (APC) and the election of Julius Maada Bio as president. Ahead of the vote, Maada Bio labeled the APC’s position that BRI investment could reinvigorate Sierra Leone as “a sham.” Questions over Maldives’ debts In the Maldives, another election … [Read more...] about Tighter belts and shorter roads plague China’s BRI projects
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Japan is looking strategically isolated in Northeast Asia. While it clings to its alliance with the US, relations with democratic fellow traveler South Korea continue to fray, its concerns about North Korea are being addressed by neither Washington nor Seoul and China continues to cast a long shadow. Tokyo is taking some appropriate steps. At a time when the number of Chinese fighter intercepts conducted by Japanese Air Self Defense Force pilots this past summer rose 20% over the same period in 2017, Japan is set to purchase billions of dollars worth of advanced weapons systems from the US. The dailyReport Must-reads from across Asia - directly to your inbox But the unpredictability of the Donald Trump administration, and its focus on US priorities in the region, is also driving Tokyo to put out feelers to other players in the region and beyond. Moreover, Tokyo is having particular difficulties with what would appear to be its ideal ally: its closest geographic neighbor and fellow … [Read more...] about Japan feeling isolated as Seoul, US and North Korea talk
WASHINGTON/SAN FRANCISCO: The U.S. Federal Reserve, deep into a cycle of rate hikes it hopes to continue into 2020, now faces emerging risks from abroad that could short-circuit its plans.The threats are modest but growing, from the fragile state of some emerging markets seen in the collapse of the Turkish lira to a slowdown in Europe that could make the European Central Bank delay the expected start of its own rate increases.That would leave the Fed stranded as the only major central bank that is tightening policy, and in effect with three levers at once as it raises interest rates, cuts its asset holdings, and does so in a global environment likely to drive the dollar higher and make it harder on U.S. exporters."The geopolitics have been turbulent. The Turkish situation has been significant: the fall in the lira, the devaluation, has been fast, and the speed of that change caught a lot of folks by surprise, us as well," Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic said on Monday in … [Read more...] about Fed’s solo act faces tremors in Turkey and a slower Europe
This month, the Jakarta administration covered an eyesore of a river with a giant nylon net ahead of the 18th Asian Games in August. The Sentiong River, nicknamed the black river by locals, is murky and smelly because, according to a city official, wastewater from houses and a tofu factory is dumped untreated there. The Sentiong River is not the only heavily polluted river in Jakarta. In fact, all 13 rivers in Jakarta and their dozens of tributaries are highly polluted. How polluted? The Jakarta Water Resources Council stated that the rivers in Jakarta could only supply 2.2 percent of the total demand for clean water, all of which came from the Krukut River, as the other rivers were too dirty to process. City workers clean the Sentiong River under a giant nylon net in Central Jakarta on July 21. The city administration covered the river in an attempt to ward off the smell ahead of the 18th Asian Games in August. (Antara/Rivan Awal Lingga) In addition to the more visible solid trash … [Read more...] about What makes Jakarta’s rivers ugly and smelly?
A new International Monetary Fund research paper predicts “massive” investment inflows into the Central Asia-Caucusus (CCA) from China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) over the next decade, while citing a long list of banking and capital market, fiscal and monetary policy, and trade and business environment changes needed to handle the influx. External sovereign bond performance from the eight countries surveyed, including Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Georgia and Tajikistan, was sluggish in the first half as investors soured on illiquid frontier market plays with higher global interest rates, and recognized the area’s continued currency, commodity, remittance and debt shocks. The IMF noted strides since 2014 in economic diversification and integration, exchange rate flexibility and private sector-led growth, but called for greater tariff and non-tariff “opening up” beyond World Trade Organization membership and capital account liberalization. It urged … [Read more...] about Cash infusion for Central Asia-Caucusus region