Recommendation: Left Behind? Reassessing the Balkan Quest for EU Integration

At the fringes of the European Union, but entirely engulfed by it, the Balkan countries have set upon their quest for integration ever since the late ‘90s. In their lasting interaction, the partners have engaged in an often inconsistent negotiation framework that moved from the idea of ‘sharing everything but institutions’ to a more cautious approach, dominated by (im)patience and mutual demands that did not generate any tangible outcome. Read more ...

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China’s Offering in the Western Balkans

China’s role in the contemporary international order has exponentially grown over the past decade and has culminated with president Xi’s announcement of the ‘millennium project’: One Belt One Road (or the Belt and Road Initiative).  Considering that no country is currently offering such an ambitious endeavor to the world in the near future, China has underlined its leading position in the global agora. And a key role in the revitalization of the ancient Silk Road was put forward for the Western Balkan countries. Read more ...

Five Economic Highlights of the 2017 BRICS Summit Xiamen Declaration

The annual BRICS Summit bringing together the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa has been concluded in the Chinese seaside city of Xiamen with the issuance of the Xiamen Declaration, which summarizes the points of consensus reached by the BRICS countries in various fields of their cooperation. While BRICS annual summit declarations are traditionally lengthy documents covering a wide range of subjects, present note highlights five specific issues of economic cooperation, which bear a unique imprint of the BRICS “partnership without alliance” and are expected shape the BRICS economic cooperation during its “second golden decade”. 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 ...

Why Australia doesn’t face sovereign risk in the gas markets

Shortages of gas in the Australian market have led to calls for the government to impose restrictions on gas exports. Energy industry executives have responded by saying that market interventions would create a “sovereign risk”, deterring foreign investors and buyers of Australian gas. But this doesn’t apply to Australia for a number of geographic and geopolitical reasons. Read more ...

Core-Peripheries Relation Preserved despite EU Integration

A quarter of century after the transformation processes began in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and over ten years after the largest enlargement of the EU, the division between core and peripheries has deepened. Compared to the 1990 period and to parallel developments in Western Europe show that while development in the East did happen, the gap between the ‘rich’ West and the ‘poor’ East and South remained. Read more ...

The Abe Doctrine’s Future in a Challenging Security Environment

The “Abe Doctrine,” set out in a speech by the Japanese Prime Minister on January 18, 2013, is indeed revolutionary since it revisits Japan’s role in international affairs and means to reassert the country’s position as a regional great power.  Yet, it may set in motion forces inside and outside of the country with considerable geopolitical and economic implications. The challenges that this strategic doctrine faces today are clearly visible in the context of the nuclear proliferation crisis in Asia. 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 ...

The European Union’s Perennial Turkish Dilemma

Given their geopolitical position and economic interdependence, in all likelihood, Turkey and the European Union (still) have much to offer each other. Going back from the establishment of the modern republic on the ruins of the former Ottoman Empire, throughout the long Cold War years, and then in the post-9/11 era, Turkey’s officially stated position in the liberal world order has been that of an aspiring Western power and European partner, with Islamic characteristics. Read more ...