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Archive for the ‘Eurasia’ Category

The Future of Driving in Developing Countries

July 17, 2014 Comments off

The Future of Driving in Developing Countries
Source: RAND Corporation

The level of automobility, defined as travel in personal vehicles, is often seen as a function of income: The higher a country’s per capita income, the greater the amount of driving. However, levels of automobility vary quite substantially between countries even at similar levels of economic development. This suggests that countries follow different mobility paths. The research detailed in this report sought to answer three questions: What are the factors besides economic development that affect automobility? What is their influence on automobility? What will happen to automobility in developing countries if they progress along similar paths as developed countries? To answer these questions, the authors developed a methodology to identify these factors, model their impact on developed countries, and forecast automobility (as defined by per capita vehicle-kilometers traveled [VKT]) in four developing countries. This methodology draws on quantitative analysis of historical automobility development in four country case studies (the United States, Australia, Germany, and Japan) that represent very different levels of per capita automobility, in combination with data derived from an expert-based qualitative approach. The authors used the latter to assess how these experiences may affect the future of automobility in the BRIC countries: Brazil, Russia, India, and China. According to this analysis, automobility levels in the four BRIC countries will fall between those of the United States (which has the highest per capita VKT level of the four case studies) and Japan (which has the lowest). Brazil is forecasted to have the highest per capita VKT and India the lowest.

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Turkey: Macroeconomic stability and structural reform key to strong and inclusive growth, OECD says

July 12, 2014 Comments off

Turkey: Macroeconomic stability and structural reform key to strong and inclusive growth, OECD says
Source: OECD

Turkey’s economy will grow stronger in the coming years, but remains overly dependent on domestic consumption funded by foreign finance, according to the latest OECD Economic Survey of Turkey. Turkey should rebalance growth through monetary and financial policies that keep inflation, exchange rates and credit levels on sustainable paths, the OECD said.

The Survey notes that Turkey’s short-term economic outlook has improved: buoyed by the projected global recovery, growth is set to pick up over the coming two years. Turkey’s longer-term prospects, however, hinge on the authorities’ ability to achieve disinflation and preserve the credibility of public finances, while implementing structural reforms that boost productivity and competitiveness across the economy.

A better overall regulatory framework is essential if the business sector is to remain a driver of strong and inclusive growth. Structural change in the business sector would strengthen competitiveness, exports, employment, income and savings, help rebalance domestic and external demand, and move the economy toward an externally sustainable path.

Turkey should strive to make its product and labour market regulations more growth-friendly while continuing to reduce regulatory obligations related to company size.

Leveraging Private Capital and Political Action in the Fight Against Corruption

June 11, 2014 Comments off

Leveraging Private Capital and Political Action in the Fight Against Corruption
Source: Brookings Institution

The collapse of a corruption-ridden government in Ukraine, Russia and Turkey’s attempts to curb social media drives to expose alleged bribery, and ongoing public sector reform initiatives in Central and Eastern Europe all serve to highlight the salience of the World Forum on Governance (WFG) in today’s geopolitical landscape. In April 2014, anti-corruption experts from around the globe convened for the third WFG in Prague to share experiences and exchange best practices for leveraging private capital and political action in the fight against corruption. Delegates represented a diverse blend of investors, scholars, government officials, civil society actors, private sector representatives, and members of traditional and new media.

The 2014 WFG built upon the Ten Principles established in the Prague Declaration on Governance and Anti-Corruption, revisited policy areas detailed in the 2012 Conference Report, and developed new initiatives to advance integrity in the public and private sectors.

Breakout sessions explored a broad scope of governance issues within three streams—public policy, capital, and media and civil society—and reviewed action items from previous convenings…

Global Economic Outlook Q2 2014

May 20, 2014 Comments off

Global Economic Outlook Q2 2014
Source: Deloitte

The second quarter edition of the Global Economic Outlook offers timely insights from Deloitte Research economists about the Eurozone, China, the United States, Japan, India, Russia, Brazil, and the United Kingdom. In addition, this issue’s special topic considers the revival in international trade and the resurgence of bilateralism.

CRS — Ukraine: Current Issues and U.S. Policy (updated)

May 12, 2014 Comments off

Ukraine: Current Issues and U.S. Policy (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

After a failed effort to violently disperse pro-European Union protests, the government of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych collapsed on February 21, 2014. The Ukrainian parliament approved a new pro-reform, pro-Western government on February 27. New presidential elections are scheduled for May 25. Russia has condemned the new government in Kyiv as illegitimate and responded by sending troops to seize Ukraine’s Crimea region. Ignoring international condemnation, Russian annexed Crimea on March 18. In April and May 2014, armed men seized government buildings in several cities in eastern Ukraine, mainly in the Donbas region. U.S. and Ukrainian officials charge that Russian intelligence officers in Ukraine are coordinating the unrest. U.S. officials have expressed concern that Russia’s efforts to destabilize eastern Ukraine may be the prelude to an invasion by an estimated 40,000 Russian troops on Ukraine’s borders.

CRS — NATO: Response to the Crisis in Ukraine and Security Concerns in Central and Eastern Europe

May 1, 2014 Comments off

NATO: Response to the Crisis in Ukraine and Security Concerns in Central and Eastern Europe (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Russia’s recent military incursions into Ukraine and its annexation of Crimea have caused observers and policy makers on both sides of the Atlantic, including Members of Congress, to reassess the security situation in Europe and the role of the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in upholding European security. The security concerns of NATO’s Central and Eastern European member states and non-NATO member states such as Moldova and Ukraine are of particular concern.

Russia: Education Sector Report 2014

April 30, 2014 Comments off

Russia: Education Sector Report 2014 (PDF)
Source: U.S. Commercial Service

Over the past several years, the U.S. has clearly underperformed in the Russian market as schools attempt to recruit students to study in the U.S., but we believe there is significant opportunity for growth. Demand for international secondary, university, and English-language educational services is growing in Russia due to a variety of factors, including general economic growth, the rise of a more affluent middle and upper class, interest in establishing educational and professional ties in the U.S. economy, and a general increase in travel between Russia and the U.S. U.S. educational institutions are in a good position to take advantage of this market due to the excellent reputation of U.S. education in Russia, and an established infrastructure for promoting U.S. education. These trends have advantages for secondary schools, colleges and universities, and English-language schools.

The market does pose challenges for U.S. educational institutions, including the high relative cost of a U.S. education compared to European and Australian competitors. A major advantage for UK schools, a leading provider of international education services to Russians, is its relative geographic proximity to Russia. Some parents are reluctant to send their children to study in the U.S., which may be considered very far. A growing number of direct flights between Russian and U.S. cities are helping to alleviate this problem, but it will always be a challenge that needs to be overcome. An additional challenge, but one that has been reduced in significance lately due to educational efforts by the Commercial Service and Consular Section, is the perception among some Russians, especially those living outside Moscow, that the U.S. visa application process is complicated with a very low approval rate.

Country Analysis Brief: Turkey

April 23, 2014 Comments off

Country Analysis Brief: Turkey
Source: Energy Information Administration

Over the past three years, Turkey has experienced some of the fastest growth in energy demand of countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Unlike a number of other OECD countries in Europe, Turkey’s economy has avoided the prolonged stagnation that has characterized much of the continent for the past few years. The country’s energy use is still relatively low, although it is increasing at a fast pace. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), energy use will continue to grow at an annual growth rate of around 4.5% from 2015 to 2030, approximately doubling over the next decade. The IEA expects electricity demand growth to increase at an even faster pace.

Meeting this level of growth will require significant investment in the energy sector, much of which will come from the private sector. Although Turkey is planning large investments in natural gas and electricity infrastructure, the government seeks to reduce the country’s dependence on imported natural gas by diversifying its energy mix.

Offshore Oil and Gas Governance in the Arctic: A Leadership Role for the U.S.

April 15, 2014 Comments off

Offshore Oil and Gas Governance in the Arctic: A Leadership Role for the U.S.
Source: Brookings Institution

The Arctic is changing and increasingly drawing the world’s interest, with the potential for vast reserves of offshore oil and gas constituting arguably the most attractive, yet challenging prospect in the region.

As the U.S. prepares to assume chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2015, this policy brief is designed to inform the legislative and executive branches of the U.S. Government of the current state of oil and gas governance in the Arctic, and to address the following questions:

  • How can the U.S. elevate the Arctic region as a priority national interest?
  • How can the U.S. lead in strengthening offshore oil and gas governance in the Arctic?

Emerging Arctic Explored in New CFR InfoGuide

April 14, 2014 Comments off

Emerging Arctic Explored in New CFR InfoGuide
Source: Council on Foreign Relations

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) has released a new interactive guide examining the economic opportunities and environmental risks emerging in the Arctic. Climate change, technological advances, and a growing demand for natural resources are driving a new era of development in the Arctic region. Many experts assert that Arctic summers could be free of sea ice in a matter of decades, opening the region up to hundreds of billions of dollars in investment, most notably in energy production and shipping.

CRS — Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress (updated)

April 8, 2014 Comments off

Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via University of North Texas Digital Library)

The diminishment of Arctic sea ice has led to increased human activities in the Arctic, and has heightened interest in, and concerns about, the region’s future. The United States, by virtue of Alaska, is an Arctic country and has substantial interests in the region. On May 10, 2013, the Obama Administration released a national strategy document for the Arctic region. On January 30, 2014, the Obama Administration released an implementation plan for this strategy.

Record low extents of Arctic sea ice over the past decade have focused scientific and policy attention on links to global climate change and projected ice-free seasons in the Arctic within decades. These changes have potential consequences for weather in the United States, access to mineral and biological resources in the Arctic, the economies and cultures of peoples in the region, and national security.

CRS — Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations (updated)

April 7, 2014 Comments off

Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. State Department Foreign Press Center)

Several Turkish domestic and foreign policy issues have significant relevance for U.S. interests, and Congress plays an active role in shaping and overseeing U.S. relations with Turkey. This report provides background information on Turkey and discusses possible policy options for Members of Congress and the Obama Administration. U.S. relations with Turkey—a longtime North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) ally—have evolved over time. Turkey’s economic dynamism and geopolitical importance have increased its influence regionally and globally. Although Turkey still depends on the United States and other NATO allies for political and strategic support, its increased economic and military self-reliance since the Cold War allows Turkey relatively greater opportunity for an assertive role in foreign policy. Greater Turkish independence of action and continuing political transformation appear to have been mutually reinforcing—with both led for more than a decade by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP). However, it remains unclear how Turkey might reconcile majoritarian views favoring Turkish nationalism and Sunni Muslim values with secular governance and protection of individual freedoms and minority rights, including with regard to Turkey’s Kurdish citizens.

Does Secular Education Impact Religiosity, Electoral Participation and the Propensity to Vote for Islamic Parties? Evidence from an Education Reform in a Muslim Country

April 6, 2014 Comments off

Does Secular Education Impact Religiosity, Electoral Participation and the Propensity to Vote for Islamic Parties? Evidence from an Education Reform in a Muslim Country (PDF)
Source: Institute for the Study of Labor

Using a unique survey of adults in Turkey, we find that an increase in educational attainment, due to an exogenous secular education reform, decreases women’s propensity to identify themselves as religious, lowers their tendency to wear a religious head cover (head scarf, turban or burka) and increases the tendency for modernity. Education reduces women’s propensity to vote for Islamic parties. There is no statistically significant impact of education on men’s religiosity or their tendency to vote for Islamic parties and education does not influence the propensity to cast a vote in national elections for men or women. The impact of education on religiosity and voting preference is not working through migration, residential location or labor force participation.

CRS — Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations (updated)

March 31, 2014 Comments off

Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Several Turkish domestic and foreign policy issues have significant relevance for U.S. interests, and Congress plays an active role in shaping and overseeing U.S. relations with Turkey. This report provides background information on Turkey and discusses possible policy options for Members of Congress and the Obama Administration. U.S. relations with Turkey—a longtime North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) ally—have evolved over time. Turkey’s economic dynamism and geopolitical importance have increased its influence regionally and globally. Although Turkey still depends on the United States and other NATO allies for political and strategic support, its increased economic and military self-reliance since the Cold War allows Turkey relatively greater opportunity for an assertive role in foreign policy. Greater Turkish independence of action and continuing political transformation appear to have been mutually reinforcing—with both led for more than a decade by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP). However, it remains unclear how Turkey might reconcile majoritarian views favoring Turkish nationalism and Sunni Muslim values with secular governance and protection of individual freedoms and minority rights, including with regard to Turkey’s Kurdish citizens.

AU — The G20: a quick guide

March 26, 2014 Comments off

The G20: a quick guide
Source: Parliamentary Library of Australia

This is a quick guide to basic information about the G20, as well as links to useful summary resources. The G20 background section includes the G20’s history, its members, the hosting system and G20 meeting processes, as well as a brief discussion of selected policy areas. Material on Australia and the G20 includes Australia’s involvement in the G20, Australia’s G20 goals for 2014 and speeches and press releases on the G20. A short list of links provides access to more resources on the G20.

CRS — Russian Political, Economic, and Security Issues and U.S. Interests (updated)

March 12, 2014 Comments off

Russian Political, Economic, and Security Issues and U.S. Interests (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. State Department Foreign Press Center)

Russia made uneven progress in democratization during the 1990s, but this limited progress was reversed after Vladimir Putin rose to power in 1999-2000, according to many observers. During this period, the State Duma (lower legislative chamber) became dominated by governmentapproved parties, gubernatorial elections were abolished, and the government consolidated ownership or control over major media and industries, including the energy sector. The Putin government showed low regard for the rule of law and human rights in suppressing insurgency in the North Caucasus, according to critics. Dmitry Medvedev, Putin’s longtime protégé, was elected president in 2008; President Medvedev immediately designated Putin as prime minister and continued Putin’s policies. In August 2008, the Medvedev-Putin “tandem” directed military operations against Georgia and recognized the independence of Georgia’s separatist South Ossetia and Abkhazia, actions condemned by most of the international community. In late 2011, Putin announced that he would return to the presidency and Medvedev would become prime minister. This announcement, and flawed Duma elections at the end of the year, spurred popular protests, which the government addressed by launching a few reforms and holding pro-Putin rallies. In March 2012, Putin was (re)elected president by a wide margin. The day after Putin’s inauguration in May 2012, the legislature confirmed Medvedev as prime minister. Since then, Putin has tightened restrictions on freedom of assembly and other human rights.

Backgrounder: Ukraine in Crisis

March 10, 2014 Comments off

Backgrounder: >Ukraine in Crisis
Source: Council on Foreign Relations

Ukraine’s most prolonged and deadly crisis since its post-Soviet independence began as a protest against the government dropping plans to forge closer trade ties with the European Union and has since spurred a global standoff between Russia and Western powers. The crisis stems from more than twenty years of weak governance, a lopsided economy dominated by oligarchs, heavy reliance on Russia, and sharp differences between Ukraine’s linguistically, religiously, and ethnically distinct eastern and western halves. After the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovich in Feburary 2014, Russian moves to take control of the Crimean Peninsula signaled Moscow’s intent to retain its sphere of influence and raised serious questions about the ability of the state’s new leaders to provide stability and a path to meaningful reforms.

CRS — Russian Political, Economic, and Security Issues and U.S. Interests

March 7, 2014 Comments off

Russian Political, Economic, and Security Issues and U.S. Interests (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Russia made uneven progress in democratization during the 1990s, but this limited progress was reversed after Vladimir Putin rose to power in 1999-2000, according to many observers. During this period, the State Duma (lower legislative chamber) became dominated by governmentapproved parties, gubernatorial elections were abolished, and the government consolidated ownership or control over major media and industries, including the energy sector. The Putin government showed low regard for the rule of law and human rights in suppressing insurgency in the North Caucasus, according to critics. Dmitry Medvedev, Putin’s longtime protégé, was elected president in 2008; President Medvedev immediately designated Putin as prime minister and continued Putin’s policies. In August 2008, the Medvedev-Putin “tandem” directed military operations against Georgia and recognized the independence of Georgia’s separatist South Ossetia and Abkhazia, actions condemned by most of the international community. In late 2011, Putin announced that he would return to the presidency and Medvedev would become prime minister. This announcement, and flawed Duma elections at the end of the year, spurred popular protests, which the government addressed by launching a few reforms and holding pro-Putin rallies. In March 2012, Putin was (re)elected president by a wide margin. The day after Putin’s inauguration in May 2012, the legislature confirmed Medvedev as prime minister. Since then, Putin has tightened restrictions on freedom of assembly and other human rights.\

CRS — Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia: Political Developments and Implications for U.S. Interests

March 3, 2014 Comments off

Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia: Political Developments and Implications for U.S. Interests (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The United States recognized the independence of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia when the former Soviet Union broke up at the end of 1991. The United States has fostered these states’ ties with the West in part to end their dependence on Russia for trade, security, and other relations. The United States has pursued close ties with Armenia to encourage its democratization and because of concerns by Armenian Americans and others over its fate. Close ties with Georgia have evolved from U.S. contacts with its pro-Western leadership. Successive Administrations have supported U.S. private investment in Azerbaijan’s energy sector as a means of increasing the diversity of world energy suppliers. The United States has been active in diplomatic efforts to resolve regional conflicts in the region. As part of U.S. global counter-terrorism efforts, the U.S. military in 2002 began providing equipment and training for Georgia’s military and security forces. Troops from all three regional states have participated in stabilization efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq. The regional states also have granted transit privileges for U.S. military personnel and equipment bound to and from Afghanistan.

Global gas markets: The North American factor

February 28, 2014 Comments off

Global gas markets: The North American factor
Source: McKinsey & Companies

Cost curves, which array blocks of supply according to their expense, can clarify the dynamics of supply in commodity industries. They are particularly useful when multiple new sources compete to serve a finite market. Such a situation exists today for liquefied natural gas (LNG). Exporters from North America—now among the world’s low-cost gas producers, given recent advances in recovering shale gas—aim to export LNG in competition mostly with projects in Africa, Australia, and Russia.

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