The Structural Implications of Belt-and-Road Arbitration: China’s Legal Gamble across Eurasia

The Belt-and-Road Initiative is a grand vision about connectivity, infrastructure, trade and unimpeded FDI flows. It is a path to China’s largest export market – the European Union – which does not only propose to ‘transit’ Eurasia (and coastal East Africa), but to radically transform it along. And, thus, mere construction and outpours of capital do not suffice for such an ambitious project. The scale and depth of the Belt-and-Road Initiative require a substantial ‘investment’ in establishing a common normative nexus. For connectivity to actually exist as a functional feature of the project, it must also – on the long-term – take the shape of legal harmonization. Read more ...

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At the Edge of Europe: Stabilizing the Balkans through Geoeconomic Regionalism

Just like a century ago – and throughout their entire history – the Balkans remain a zone of structural instability. In this respect, the demise of the Cold War confrontation (and rhetorics) did not bring along the advent of a stable, rule-based environment. Therefore, although the Balkan area is an essentially coherent cultural sub-space, while still being radically diverse, the relations of its constituent states have been marked by a confuse set of bilateral – and adversarial – interactions. Read more ...

Chinese-Serbian Economic Cooperation: Sudden Wealth and a Game of Musical Chairs

Chinese investments in Serbia provide an interesting political and economic setting. From the Serbian perspective, a rising global power is offering formidable resources for development. These are coupled with sufficient geographical (and perhaps geopolitical) distance so as to appear merely and genuinely ‘business-oriented’. In a seemingly intensifying game of ‘musical chairs’ between strategic orientations of Serbia towards the EU/US and/or Russia, the Chinese offerings might indeed seem like an escapist dream. Yet, as recent events tend to show, the geopolitical distance is shrinking fast and China is likely to introduce its own chair into the game at one point. What remains to be seen is whether it will be too hot for Serbia to sit on when the time comes. Read more ...

Not Just a Bridgehead: EU’s (Possible) Vision for Taiwan

From a geoeconomic perspective, Taiwan represents a hot spot that unites the flows of goods and capital from near mainland China, from the South-East Asian cauldron, as well as a bridgehead for Western transoceanic commerce and investment. Not truly an island (in the sense of isolation), but a focal meeting point between two seas and an (open) ocean, Taiwan strategically lies in one of the best positions in opening up the Asian markets to larger influxes of EU-based products and capital. Read more ...

A (Legally) Turbulent Affair: The Textile Industry in Uzbekistan

When thinking where to invest next, Uzbekistan would not necessarily rank first among your options. Nonetheless, a constant high cotton production, low-wage workforce, a relative proximity to the largest  markets, combined with a (seemingly) supportive state agricultural policy and incentives for investors made Uzbekistan’s textile industry an attractive business venue. However, as always, there is another side of the coin. This Mercantile Digest analyzes the challenges (legal and political) of Uzbekistan’s textile industry, while also offering advice for investors in order to prepare themselves in such a delicate economic environment. Read more ...