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POLITICAL RISK REPORT / Andrea Izco, Elena López-Doriga and Lucía Sáez
Download the document [pdf. 1MB].
The purpose of this political risk report is to analyze how stable the political, economic, and social conditions of South Korea are to determine the best approach to invest in this country.
Firstly, regarding the Economic Outlook, the GDP is expected to increase 3.6% in 2021 and 2.8% in 2022 and the government has devoted to get out of the crisis through the Korean-New Deal. Concerning heavy industry, manufacturing, and AI and technology, South Korea is taking action to become a potential leader. In terms of energy, the country's high dependence on energy imports because of its scarcity of natural resources motivates them to move towards renewable energies as well as to maintain its energy security.
Secondly, in relation to South Korea's Social Outlook, the country has shown great social cohesion after the COVID-19 crisis with responsible action by the population. The birth rate is expected to remain very low, but still, the need for immigrants has not been an easy response as nationals feel a certain threat. Regarding religion, the notion of democracy is what brings South Korea closer to the Western World, not too much the notion of Christianity, but even having a democratic system, many Confucian values still remain. It is safe to say that even though Koreans are likely to become less institutionally committed, the decline on religion will be minimal and regarding social stability, there will not be social confrontations between the different groups.
Thirdly, in the Political Outlook we see how South Korea's democracy faces issues concerning the powerful executive connected to a crony capitalism system in which Chaebols have been related to political scandals in the last administrations. However, in the short-term, the government will focus on resolving partner-economic issues rather than taking system reforms, as a new form of populism is emerging claiming for solutions for inequalities and damage caused by modernity. Despite of the little economic progress carried out by the current administration under President Moon, it is likely that his party will win again the next presidential elections in 2022 thanks to the well management of the COVID-19 crisis.
Finally, the Inter-Korean question can be concluded by saying North Korea is not willing to open up and instead takes minimal reforms. Despite of the struggles caused by the crisis and the commitment to dialogue from South Korea under the so-called Sunshine Policy, little progress has been achieved.
STRATEGIC ANALYSIS REPORT / Marina Díaz, Lucía Montón and Paula Mostajo
South Korea is considered to have a middle power status, not only in the North-East Asian region but internationally. In this sense, this paper aimed to provide a comprehensive understanding of the stance South Korea might take regarding key international, regional, peninsular and domestic issues in ten years time.
In the international sphere, this paper has focused on the US-ROK stating the plausibility of a further enhancement, in view of the new Biden's Administration's need to reduce the breach created by former President Trump.
Regarding the regional sphere, the present report addresses South Korea's relations with China, in economic matters; Japan, alliance-wise, and Russia, in relation with energy. These bilateral engagements are clearly impacted by South Korea's proximity to the United States, the country's historical memory and North Korea's willingness to be part of a trilateral understanding, respectively.
Second to last, the peninsular approach of the script assesses the development of inter-Korean relations in views of the two incompatible ideologies and approaches coming from the North and the South of the peninsula and presents the maintenance of the current status has the most plausible scenario.
To end up, there is an allusion to domestic concerns as they play an important role in South Korea's development capabilities. In this section the paper discusses the country's SARS-CoV-2 disease successful management and assess why export possibilities might not be taken for granted, the big South Korean concerns on the ever-worsening demographic situation and, lastly, the country's satisfactorily progression towards renewable energy sources.
STRATEGIC ANALYSIS REPORT / Corey J. Hubbard and Paula Mora Brito
Intense military pressures on South Korea have been present for half a century, with the country being at the centre of numerous regional conflicts. The government's technique for addressing external security threats differs depending on its nature, varying from assuming the position of great foreign powers to implementing its independent policy. The Republic of Korea's reliance on foreign assistance for defence and protection shows no signs of ending, especially concerning North Korea. The incitement of Kim Jong Un's government risks hostility in the region.
The country is under growing domestic pressures to find solutions for a rapidly ageing population and record low birthrates, one of the world's weakest. Failure to do so compromises South Korea's status as a growing power in East Asia, one of the four Asian Tigers, and risks leading the country to economic stagnation. Suppose the South Korean government does not find a way to make immigration more palatable to the Korean people. In that case, it is unlikely that South Korea will avoid a significant population decline.
Well-established antagonism with Japan could worsen as Japanese nationalist policies conflict with the South Korean government's goals. However, the recent signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership opens up several possible developments in Korean-Japanese relations, extending from an unlikely reset in their bilateral ties to an equally unlikely economic confrontation. The Liancourt Rocks dispute also stands to be influenced by recent events, which may incline South Korea to turn to foreign mediation on the issue.
South Korean relations with the United States are evolving, with the Biden Administration recently inking a new cost-sharing deal with the South Korean Government to cover the expenses of American troops stationed on the Peninsula. Nevertheless, China's growing influence threatens to overturn the established order in the region, and a rapprochement of South Korea to China may take place over the coming decades.
The future security of South Korea is directly tied to developments on the Korean Peninsula. Suppose relations with the North Korean Regime significantly improve, which most expect to be unlikely in the near future. In that case, reunification may result, but North Korea's nuclear weapons development could destabilise the region too. Scenarios relating to these events vary from an unlikely reunification to an equally unlikely nuclear war.
South Korea's attempts at navigating the growingly tense feud between the United States and China may force the country to choose a side in the conflict, which will have severe ramifications for its security architecture.
STRATEGIC ANALYSIS REPORT / María G. Fajardo, Marcelina Kropiwnicka and Matilde Romito
The Korean Peninsula is central to the political, economic and military policies of several actors in the East Asia region. Due to its geographical location, the peninsula has seen the involvement of major powers throughout history, like the United States, China, Russia and Japan. Currently, the peninsula is a contested territory between the U.S. and China. The latter is the only country capable of challenging American interests and uses its economic power to increase its sphere of influence in the region.
The DPRK has built and maintained capabilities to target areas as far as U.S. soil. The North has always represented one of the biggest challenges for South Korea and its security guarantor, the U.S. President Biden will nevertheless sway for establishing a network line for Kim to potentially cross and instead, new sanctions could be expected despite their lack of effectiveness.
For the U.S. to maintain its dominant role in the East Asia region, deter North Korea, and keep China in check, it must reaffirm its military and economic alliances which entered into a period of uncertainty during the Trump administration. Currently, China is South Korea's principal trading partner and is openly evading international sanctions imposed on North Korea being its principal trading partner as well.
The prosperous South Korea will remain neutral in many aspects related to China, yet if put in a situation where it has to choose between the U.S. and China, it will incline towards the former, which remains its security guarantor. When it comes to Russia, its role in the Korean conflict is now secondary but over the years, Russia has used the U.S.-China battle to increase relations with the latter. In the case of Japan, a close U.S. ally, a shift in relations with the ROK is unlikely to happen any time soon since their political issues have evolved into legal ones. This will remain detrimental to the U.S' New East China Sea policy which requires cooperation between U.S. allies.
Diplomacy, openness and potential reunification in the peninsula depend on external actors. Neither reunification nor openness are likely to take place in the short term due to Kim's personality and the preference of external actors to maintain the status quo. A reunification led under peaceful terms would be most desirable and would ultimately lead to an even larger economic powerhouse in the region. For the U.S, this pathway would be most beneficial if a reunified Korea would align with the U.S. This would be detrimental, however, to China's geopolitical interests in the region. Russia could come out as being the greatest benefactor from a peaceful reunification. Lastly, Japan could continue to feel threatened by a reunified Korea, which is united by hatred over a colonial past under Japanese savage rule.
Image of the world map produced by the John Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.
report SRA 2021 / presentation
The pandemic caused by the Covid-19 virus has had a major impact on the entire world and especially on American nations: three of the four countries with the most deaths - the United States, Brazil and Mexico, with more than one million deaths - are in the Western Hemisphere. Latin America has been the area most affected by the disease, in proportion to its population, and with the worst economic consequences. This status has meant, in terms of security, a special regional vulnerability to external powers and internal mafias.
If two years ago we launched this report of American Regional Security (ARS) stating that geopolitics had returned to the continent, due to the growing interest of China and Russia in the area of traditional US influence, it can now be said that these two extra-hemispheric powers have taken advantage of the health emergency to deploy a "diplomacy of vaccines" and consolidate their influence, while the US prepares its own flow of neighbouring financial aid , on the verge of concluding the inoculation of its population.
In this context, significant episodes occurred during 2020. China's food security demands have reinforced the presence of Chinese fishing fleets in the vicinity of the waters of several South American countries, whose fishing grounds are threatened by illegal fishing practices and alleged encroachment on their exclusive economic zones. This has led to some collective security movement and increased engagement with the US Southern Command.
On the other hand, organised crime has also taken advantage of the pandemic status , relying on the distraction of the authorities in another subject of efforts. In the last year, Paraguay has emerged as a major hub for cocaine outflows from the interior of the continent, while at the same time consolidating its position as South America's main producer of marijuana, at a time when this crop is emerging as a legal business opportunity in new countries. For their part, Guatemala and Honduras are consolidating their 'trials' in coca cultivation, making a leap - scarcely quantitative, but certainly qualitative - in the world of drug trafficking. The positive news is that the peace process and the confinements of the pandemic have reduced homicides in Colombia to historic lows.
[Michael J. Seth, A Concise History of Modern Korea. From the Late Nineteenth Century to the Present (Plymouth, UK: Rowman & Littlefield, 2019), Volume 2, 356 pages]
REVIEW / Jimena Villacorta
Normally, when thinking about the Korean Peninsula, we emphasize on the divided region it is now, and how the Korean War (1950-1053) had a great impact on the two independent territories we have today, North and South Korea. We forget that it once was a culturally and ethnically homogenous nation, that because of its law, couldn't even trade with outsiders until the Treaty of Kanghwa in 1876 which marked a turning point in Korean history as it ended isolation and allowed the Japanese insertion in the territory which had great effects on its economic and political order.
Michael J. Seth narrates the fascinating history of Korea from the end of the 19th century to the present. In this edition he updates his previous work, originally published ten years before, and he presents it as a "volume 2", because his latest years of research have produced a "volume 1", entitled A Concise History of Premodern Korea, which follows Korea's history from Antiquity through the nineteenth century.
From falling under Japanese imperialism and expansionism to its division after the Second World War, this book explores the economic, political and social issues that modern Korea has faced in the last decades. The author provides its readers a great resource for those seeking a general, yet detailed, history of this currently divided nation in eight chapters. The first two chapters focus on what happened before the Korean War and on how neighbors and other actors. Russia had great influence in the region until its defeat in the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905). Consequently, Korea became a colony of Japan until the Allied Forces victory during the Second World War. Japanese rule is described as harsh and detrimental for Koreans as they intended to force their own culture and system in the territory. Although, in despite of its aggressiveness, the Japanese contributed to Korea's industrialization. Countries like China and the United States were also major players. From 1885 to 1894, China had a strong presence in the peninsula as the Chinese didn't want other powers to take over the territory.
The rest of the book emphasizes on the war and the consequences it had, tracing the different course both countries took becoming contrasting societies with different political and economic systems. The reason for the great differences between the two Koreas is the difference in governments and influences they had after the war, a war that stopped because of a ceasefire, as to date they haven't signed a peace treaty. Even if South Korea was under Syngman Rhee's authoritarian and corrupt regime tight after the Korean War, it soon became democratized and the country began to quickly advance in matter of technology and human development leaving North Korea out in the open under a totalitarian dictatorship lead by Kim Jong-un. However, after the separation of the two zones, Kim II-sung was the founder of the North in 1948 and his family dynasty has ruled the country since then. During this period, South Korea has had six republics, one revolution, two coups d'état, the transition to democratic elections and nineteen presidencies. In terms of economics, they went from having a very similar GDP at the beginning of the 1970s to very different outcomes. While South Korea has progressed rapidly, becoming one of the world's leading industrial producers, North Korea became stagnant due to its rigid state system. South Korea also has a high level of technological infrastructure. Moreover, North Korea became a nuclear power, which has been in its diary since the division. But as he explores the technical differences of both states, the author fails to elaborate in historical debates and controversies regarding both regions, but he emphasizes on the fact that after sixty years of division, there are still no signs or reunification.
Without a doubt, it is interesting to learn about Korea's past colonial occupation and its division, but what I believe is the most captivating is to understand how North Korea and South Korea have evolved as two independent very different states because of the uniqueness and complexity of its history, while still sharing a strong sense of nationalism. As the author says, "No modern nation ever developed a more isolated and totalitarian society than North Korea, nor such an all-embracing family cult. No society moved more swiftly from extreme poverty to prosperity and from authoritarianism to democracy than South Korea".
GLOBAL AFFAIRS JOURNAL #3 / January 2021
The balloon rotates some Degrees further to the West.
There was a time when the world's strategic axis was in Europe. With the incorporation of the New World into the global order, the axis shifted for a long time to the Atlantic, between Europe and America. The consolidation of the primacy of the United States made it the pivot of the world. With development of the Asian tigers, the specific weight of the planet shifted towards the Pacific, between America and Asia. Afterwards, the initial concept of Asia-Pacific gradually lost the sense of space between two coasts to eventually refer only to the shore where China is located, as it has grown as a superpower and has focused general attention. We are now witnessing another progression in the rotation of the globe, again some Degrees further west. Asia-Pacific gives way to the idea of Indo-Pacific by bringing India into the equation. And it is possible that in the future, as Eurasia becomes more compact and Africa becomes more involved in international decision-making, the way to look at the world map will be to have the Indian Ocean in the middle, as a global Mediterranean.
Today, in any case, we are ushering in the Indo-Pacific moment. It is a new world order in which China no longer occupies the centre where it aspired to be: the ground has begun to shift before it can fully settle. Beijing's own strategic haste has triggered the mobilisation of the Asian environment, which is partly supported by India which, due to its demographic size and economic potential, can serve as a lever for China's continental counterweight. Global Affairs Journal addresses in this issue the articulation of this counterweight, which revolves around the initiatives of a Free and Open Indo-Pacific and the so-called Quad, whose vertexes are Japan, India, Australia and the United States, with implications for ASEAN as well.
Juan Luis López Aranguren [Introduction].
Professor of International Office, University of Zaragoza
p. 6-11 [PDF version].
Researcher at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, India
p. 12-17 [PDF version].
Director from high school of International Politics, Universidad Francisco de Vitoria
p. 18-27 [PDF version].
Carmen Tirado Robles
Coordinator of the group of research Japan, University of Zaragoza
p. 28-35 [PDF version].
Director of the Department of International programs of study , Universidad Loyola Andalucía
p. 36-43 [PDF version].
J. L. López Aranguren, S. Sánchez Tapia
E. J. Blasco, A. Puigrefagut
p. 44-46 [PDF version].
Regional security in the Americas has been the focus of concern over the past year in Venezuela. We also review Russia and Spain's arms sales to the region, Latin America's presence in peacekeeping missions, drugs in Peru and Bolivia, and homicides in Mexico and Brazil.
▲ Igor Sechin, director Rosneft executive, and Nicolás Maduro, in August 2019 [Miraflores Palace].
report SRA 2020 / summary executive[PDF version].
Throughout 2019, Latin America had several hotspots of tension - violent street protests against economic measures in Quito, Santiago de Chile and Bogotá, and against political decisions in La Paz and Santa Cruz, for example - but as these conflicts subsided (in some cases, only temporarily), the constant problem of Venezuela as the epicentre of insecurity in the region re-emerged.
With Central American migration to the United States reduced to a minimum by the Trump administration's restrictive measures, it has been Venezuelan migrants who have continued to fill the roadsides of South America, moving from one country to another, and now number more than five million refugees. The difficulties that this population increase entails for the host countries led several of them to increase their pressure on the government of Nicolás Maduro, approving in the OAS the activation of the Inter-American Reciprocal Treaty of attendance (TIAR). But that did not push Maduro out of power, nor did the assumption in January 2019 by Juan Guaidó of the position as president-in-charge of Venezuela (recognised by more than fifty countries), the failed coup a few months later or the alleged invasion of Operation Gideon in May 2020.
While Maduro may appear stabilised, the geopolitical backdrop has been shifting. The year 2019 saw Rosneft gain a foothold in Venezuela as an arm of the Kremlin, once China had stepped back as a credit provider. The risk of not recovering everything it had borrowed meant that Russia acted through Rosneft, benefiting from trading up to 80 per cent of the country's oil. However, US sanctions finally forced the departure of the Russian energy company, so that in early 2020 Maduro had no other major extra-hemispheric partner to turn to than Iran. The Islamic republic, itself subject to a second sanctions regime, thus returned to the close relationship it had maintained with Venezuela in the first period of international punishment, cultivated by the Chávez-Ahmadinejad tandem.
This Iranian presence is closely watched by the United States (coinciding with a deployment of the Southern Command in the Caribbean), which is always alert to any boost that Hezbollah - an Iranian proxy - might receive in the region. In fact, 2019 marked an important leap in the disposition of Latin American countries against this organisation, with several of them classifying it as a terrorist organisation for the first time. Argentina, Paraguay, Colombia and Honduras approved such a declaration, following the 25th anniversary in July of the AMIA bombing attributed to Hezbollah. Brazil and Guatemala pledged to do so shortly. Several of these countries have drawn up lists of terrorist organisations, which allows them to pool their strategies.
The destabilisation of the region by status in Venezuela has a clear manifestation in the reception and promotion of Colombian guerrillas in that country. issue In August, former FARC leader Iván Márquez and some other former leaders announced, presumably from Venezuelan territory, their return to arms. Both this dissident core of the FARC and the ELN had begun to consolidate at the end of the year as Colombian-Venezuelan groups, with operations not only in the Venezuelan border area, but also in the interior of the country. Both groups together have some 1,700 troops in Venezuela, of which almost 600 are Venezuelan recruits, thus constituting another shock force at Maduro's service.
Russia's exit from Venezuela comes at a time when Moscow is apparently less active in Latin America. This is certainly the case in the field of arms sales. Russia, which had become a major exporter of military equipment to the region, has seen its sales decline in recent years. While during the golden decade of the commodity boom several countries spent part of their significant revenues on arms purchases (which also coincided with the spread of the Bolivarian tide, better linked to Moscow), the collapse in commodity prices and some governmental changes have meant that in the 2015-2019 period Latin America is the destination of only 0.8 per cent of Russia's total arms exports. The United States has regained its position as the largest seller to the rest of the continent.
Spain occupies a prominent position in the arms market, as the seventh largest exporter in the world. However, it lags behind in the preferences of Latin American countries, to which it sells less defence materiel than it would be entitled to in terms of the overall volume of trade it maintains with them. Nevertheless, the level of sales increased in 2019, after a year of particularly low figures. In the last five years, Spain has sold 3.6% of its global arms exports to Latin America; in that period, its main customers were Mexico, Ecuador, Brazil, Peru and Colombia.
Better military equipment might suggest greater participation in UN peacekeeping missions, perhaps as a way of keeping an army active in a context of a lack of regional deployments. However, of the total of 82,480 troops in the fourteen UN peacekeeping missions at the beginning of 2020, 2,473 came from Latin American countries, which represents only 3 per cent of the total contingent. Moreover, almost half of staff was contributed by one country, Uruguay (45.5% of regional troops). Another small country, El Salvador (12%), is the next most committed to missions, while large countries are under-represented, notably Mexico.
In terms of public safety, 2019 brought the good news of a reduction in homicides in Brazil, which fell by 19.2% compared to the previous year, in contrast to what happened in Mexico, where they rose by 2.5%. If in his first year as president, Jair Bolsonaro scored an important achievement, thanks to the management of the super security minister Sérgio Moro (a success tarnished by the increase in accidental deaths in police operations), in his first year Andrés Manuel López Obrador failed to fulfil one of his main electoral promises and was unable to break the upward trend in homicides that has invariably occurred annually throughout the terms of office of his two predecessors.
In terms of the fight against drug trafficking, 2019 saw two particularly positive developments. On the one hand, coca crops were eradicated for the first time in the VRAEM, Peru's largest production area. Given its difficult accessibility and the presence of Shining Path strongholds, the area had previously been excluded from the operations of subject. On the other hand, the change of presidency in Bolivia meant, according to the US, a greater commitment by the new authorities to combat illicit coca cultivation and interdict drug shipments coming from Peru. In recent years Bolivia has become the major cocaine distributor in the southern half of South America, connecting Peruvian and Bolivian production with the markets of Argentina and especially Brazil, and with its export ports to Europe.
Venezuelans leaving the country to look for a livelihood in a place of refuge [UNHCR UNHCR].
report SRA 2020 / presentation
The Covid-19 pandemic has radically altered security assumptions around the world. The emergence of the coronavirus moved from China to Europe, then to the United States and then to the rest of the Western Hemisphere. Already economically handicapped by its dependence on commodity exports since the beginning of the Chinese slowdown, Latin America suffered from the successive restrictions in the different geographical areas, and finally also entered a crisis of production and consumption and a health and labour catastrophe. The region is expected to be one of the hardest hit, with effects also in the field of security.
This annual report , however, focuses on American regional security in 2019. Although in some respects it includes events from the beginning of 2020, and therefore some early effects of the pandemic, the impact of the pandemic on issues such as regional geopolitics, state budgetary difficulties, organised crime and citizen security can be found at report next year.
To the extent that other security developments in 2019 have been somewhat transitory in recent months, Venezuela has remained the main focus of regional insecurity over the past year. At report we analyse Iran's return to the Caribbean country, after first China and then Russia preferred not to see their own economic interests harmed; we also note the consolidation of the ELN and part of the ex-FARC as binational Colombian-Venezuelan groups.
In addition, we highlight the progress made in the first time that Hezbollah has been designated by several countries as a terrorist organisation, group , and we provide figures on the drop in Russian arms sales to Latin America and the relative lack of marketing in the region of the defence material produced by Spain. We also quantify the contribution of Latin American troops to UN peacekeeping missions, as well as Bolsonaro's success and AMLO's failure in the evolution of homicides in Brazil and Mexico. In terms of drug trafficking, 2019 saw the first coca crop eradication operation in the VRAEM, the most complicated area of Peru in the fight against drugs.
▲ Artistic image of a Pakistani Rupee [Pixabay].
COUNTRY RISK REPORT / M. J. Moya, I. Maspons, A. V. Acosta
The government of Prime Minister (PM), Imran Khan, was slowly moving towards economic, social, and political improvements, but all these efforts might be hampered by the recent outbreak of the COVID-19 virus since the government must temporarily shift its focus and resources to keeping its population safe. Additionally, high logistical, legal, and security challenges still generate an uncompetitive operating environment and thus, an unattractive market for foreign investment in Pakistan.
Firstly, in relation to the country's economic outlook, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was expected to gradually recover around 5% in the upcoming years. However, according to latest estimates, this growth will suffer a negative impact and fall to around 2%, straining the country's most recent recorded improvements. On the other hand, in the medium to long-term, Pakistan will benefit from the success of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is a strategic economic project aiming to improve infrastructure capacity in the country. Pakistan is also facing an energy crisis along with a growing demand from a booming population that hinder a proper economic progress.
Secondly, Pakistan's political future will be shaped by Khan's ability to transform his short-term policies into long-term strategies. However, in order to achieve this, the government must tackle the root causes of political instability in Pakistan, such as long-lasting corruption, the constant military influence in decision-making processes, the historical discussion among secularism and Islamism, and the new challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, PM Khan's progressive reforms could represent the beginning towards a "Naya Pakistan" ("New Pakistan").
Thirdly, Pakistan's social stability is contextualized within a high risk of terrorist attacks due to its internal security gaps. The ethnic dilemma among the provinces along with the government's violent oppression of insurgencies will continue to impede development and social cohesion within the country. This will further aggravate in light of a current shortage of resources and the impacts of climate change.
In addition, in terms of Pakistan's security outlook, the country is expected to tackle terrorist financing and money laundering networks in order to avoid being blacklisted by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). Nonetheless, due to a porous border with Afghanistan, Pakistan faces drug trafficking challenges that further destabilize national security. Finally, the turbulent Indo-Pakistani relation is the most significant conflict for the South Asian country. The disputed region of Jammu and Kashmir, a possible nuclear confrontation, and the increase of nationalist movements along the Punjab region, hamper regional and international peace.