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⏱️ Around the world in sixty seconds
🇱🇰 Sri Lanka: President Wickremesinghe has called on parliament to devolve more powers to provincial councils to support reconciliation between minority Tamil and majority Sinhalese communities. The country emerged from a decades-long civil war in 2009.
🇷🇴 Romania: The defence ministry has cancelled a 2019 agreement to build four warships with France’s Naval Group, reportedly because the parties couldn’t agree on costs. The ships were a centrepiece of Romania’s expanded defence spending plans.
🇹🇼 Taiwan: TSMC, Taiwan’s semiconductor giant, announced on Tuesday (8 August) it’ll build its first European factory in Germany. Berlin will reportedly contribute $5.5B in subsidies towards the $11B plant, which will produce 40,000 chips a month.
🇪🇨 Ecuador: Outgoing President Guillermo Lasso has appointed a new prisons director to respond to growing violence among inmates. The new director is the agency’s sixth since Lasso took office two years ago.
🇪🇹 Ethiopia: The World Food Programme (WFP) will resume food aid deliveries to the region of Tigray after a five-month pause. WFP suspended aid to the region (where more than 80% of people require assistance) in March due to alleged widespread misuse.
🌴 Amazon | Deforestation
The Amazon Summit is back after 14 years
The eight Amazon nations (Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela) signed the Belem Declaration this week to protect the Amazon, during their first Amazon Summit in 14 years.
The Amazon is huge - it’s 87% the size of the contiguous United States. Deforestation has already claimed about 17% of it - the size of France. And lately it’s been losing an area roughly the size of Jamaica each year.
The main deforestation driver is agriculture (cattle / soy), enabled by:
🤷 A lack of government presence across much of the ecosystem
🤨 Limited cooperation in the region after years of low trust
👨🌾 A general urgency to generate local jobs and development, and
🥩 Huge global demand for goods produced on Amazon land.
So there were high hopes for this Summit (particularly with Brazil’s new president as host), but the results look pretty mixed:
Instead, the nations signed the 10,000-word Belem Declaration (the summit took place in the Brazilian city of Belem). It pledges more work on issues like law enforcement and indigenous rights, and leaves each country to set their own deforestation goals.
Intrigue's take: These kinds of international summits are hard (we’ve done them!). But this outcome exposes a couple of divisions, both within the Amazon region, and between the region and the broader world.
Regionally, the division partly looks like this: if Brazil (home to two thirds of the Amazon) has already built a lucrative industry with Amazon land, why can’t we?
And globally, it looks a bit like this: if the Amazon is significant for the whole world, why are we and our economies left to shoulder this burden alone?
So the most promising ideas ahead will probably be the ones that best address these two divisions.
Also worth noting:
📰 How newspapers covered…
The Chinese economy entering deflation
“China’s consumer prices fall for the first time in 2 years, as fears of deflation grow”
🇭🇰 Hong Kong | Geopolitics
Russian firms are taking their court battles to Hong Kong
Russian firms are using Hong Kong courts to settle legal disputes after sanctions limited their access to Western courts, according to Nikkei Asia.
Russian companies have traditionally settled their international disputes in London, which hosts one of the most reputable arbitration courts in the world (alongside others in Singapore, Hong Kong, Paris and Geneva).
But war-related Western sanctions mean the UK is now largely off-limits for Russian firms and executives. So Hong Kong offers a couple of advantages:
⚖️ It still has the benefit of a reputable legal system based on British common law, but
🇨🇳 Hong Kong (a special administrative region of China) doesn’t enforce relevant sanctions, meaning Russian interests can do business there without fear.
Intrigue’s take: Hong Kong says lending the legitimacy of its legal system to Russian interests is a natural extension of that system’s neutrality. But legitimacy flows both ways, so it’ll be interesting to see whether increased involvement by sanctioned Russian interests dents the system’s legitimacy in the eyes of the world.
Also worth noting:
The US has asked Hong Kong to help curb sanctioned US tech exports that have reportedly been reaching Russia via Hong Kong.
The Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre is governed by a council with lawyers and business figures from around the world.
Hong Kong’s top appeals court includes senior judges from Australia, the UK, Canada, and elsewhere.
➕ Extra Intrigue
What we’re reading about global manufacturing.
🗳️ Poll time!
What do you think is the most pressing policy to protect the Amazon?
🏁 Flag of the day
When asked ‘what colours do you want in your flag?’, Seychelles answered ‘yes’. The five-coloured fan design was adopted in 1996 to represent a dynamic new country moving into the future. Pretty, pretty, pretty good.
Intrigue rating: 9/10
Yesterday’s poll: Should governments tax banking sector windfalls?
🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 👍 Yes, it's only fair (71%)
🟨🟨⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ 👎 No, it messes with the whole system (25%)
⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ ✍️ Other (write in!) (4%)
Your two cents:
👍 H.M: “If banks can depend on bailouts in hard times, it's only fair that they pay extra in good times.”
✍️ K.P.M: “A more equitable solution may be to encourage limits on profits with the resulting "savings" shared with customers (rates) and shareholders. This keeps government hands off the money.”
👎 S.B: “You can’t change the rules in the middle of the game.”