Here's a rundown of some significant strategic risk events that might have been missed by those lucky enough to leave their desks over the last couple of weeks:
The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) came into effect
Seven Pacific-bordering countries have ratified the trade deal, with another four to come. The trade deal, repurposed from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) scuppered by the US, provides relief for countries whose trade flows have been disrupted by US-driven protectionist measures. Japan is also scheduled to enact its Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the EU next month.
Qatar officially withdrew from the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)
The move didn't immediately impact oil markets, but further entrenched Qatar’s diplomatic rift with Saudi Arabia. This rift is upending the regional balance of power, as allies across MENA and East Africa scramble to take sides or play the nations against each other.
Bangladesh and the Democratic Republic of Congo held chaotic elections
Both are still developing situations, but appear to have delivered incumbent victories. Each contest took place in a fragile security situation and was marred by political violence and alleged vote rigging by the government.
Sudan's government cracked down on anti-government protests
The end of some US sanctions did not relieve the crippling cost of living pressures last year, and over a dozen protesters angry with tripled bread prices were reportedly killed by security forces. If the situation continues to deteriorate, this could strain Sudan's commitment of troops to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.
Jair Bolsonaro became president of Brazil
The president immediately issued temporary executive orders to underline his ultra-conservative priorities. The shift of oversight of indigenous land to the agriculture ministry signalled an intent to open the Amazon rainforest for farming, in a blow for climate change mitigation efforts.
India's culture wars ratcheted up
The southern Indian state of Kerela was shut down by women protesting their ban from the Hindu Sabarimala shrine, enforced in defiance of a Supreme Court decision. Violent counter-protests and general strikes by Hindu groups and members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spread to cities and towns across the state, further inflaming tensions ahead of general elections this year.
Guyana's government fell
The President, David Granger, announced new elections in the coming months. His cancer diagnosis and frequent medical leave prompted parliament's successful vote of no confidence. Upcoming elections will further slow the establishment of regulatory frameworks for offshore oil production, which is scheduled to begin in 2020.
Axco's Global Risk Intelligence and Data (GRID) team will continue to monitor these situations as they play out through 2019.