LatamPolitik, Biotech, US, China, Semiconductors, Dominican Republic, Haiti, more Brexit, and the Week in Review

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LatamPolitik, Biotech, US, China, Semiconductors, Dominican Republic, Haiti, more Brexit, and the Week in Review

Hello friends of Perch! It has been a crazy week in the world, and our weekly round-up is longer than normal as a result. Even still, we tried to keep it short and pithy and as always, we hope you enjoy.

One exciting announcement before we get on with the show. Perch has teamed up with Visual Politik, a Spanish/English YouTube channel with millions of viewers, to start a newsletter called “LatamPolitik.”

The concept behind the newsletter is pretty simple. Latin America is a hugely important component of international affairs, and yet there is no one out there analyzing geopolitical developments from Latin America’s point of view.

Indeed, to the extent that the region features in English-speaking media, the stories are always basically the same: drug cartels running wild, commodities going boom or bust, or yet another story about how Pablo Escobar’s hippos are taking over.

(If only we had a giant space laser to nip that problem in the bud…but we digress.)

So we decided to stop complaining about the dearth of good analysis available on Latin America and instead start doing something about it. If the region interests you, or if you have always wanted a bit more Perch in your life but a full-on consulting arrangement was overkill for your needs, consider signing up for LatamPolitik.

You can find out more or sign up by clicking here. And, perhaps coolest of all, you can choose to read in either English or Spanish. ¡Asombrosa! Indeed, for just $5 bucks a month, you’ll get three weekly updates on the most important geopolitical developments in Latin America. (And don’t worry, we’ll keep you abreast of the latest hippo updates too.)

¡Hasta luego! And for the love of all that is good and holy, keep wearing your masks when you’re out and about. Just because American politicians want to distract you from their incompetence doesn’t mean we should be breathing in each other’s faces just yet. Don’t be a jerk! ¡Salud y pesetas!

The biotech age? Yale University and GlaxoSmithKline filed a patent application at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for a saRNA vaccine to treat infections and diseases caused by parasitic protozoans like Plasmodium (which causes Malaria) and parasitic helminths (like tapeworms).

What it means: Wouldn’t it be a pleasant silver lining to the COVID-19 pandemic if one of its indirect side consequences was the development of a preventive treatment for malaria, a disease that afflicted 229 million people in 2019? Unlike diseases like tuberculosis, cholera, or plague, which are exacerbated/caused by poor hygiene or living conditions, malaria’s extent and severity are determined at least in part by climate and ecology. That’s important because it makes malaria a cause of poverty rather than a symptom of poverty/bad governance. Case in point: Five countries were responsible for over half of the world’s malaria cases in 2019: Nigeria (27%), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (12%), Uganda (5%), Mozambique (4%), and Niger (3%), none of which are about to win the good governance Olympics. Sub-Saharan Africa is already set to be one of the fastest growing regions of the world in the coming decades; eliminate malaria, and you are essentially super-charging that process.

Hardening hearts in the U.S. and China.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken: “The challenge posed by China is different.  China is the only country with the economic, diplomatic, military, and technological power to seriously challenge the stable and open international system.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping: “The biggest source of chaos in the world today and the biggest threat to China’s development and security is the United States.”

What it means: The U.S. and China are on a collision course and there aren’t many potential off-ramps in the future. Note: this doesn’t mean conflict is imminent or will even happen soon. Germany and the UK traded with each other a lot in the 1890s and 1900s even as both sides knew the other was a strategic rival. In the long-term, however, the top echelons of both the U.S. and Chinese political establishments are increasingly viewing each other as enemies. That is not a recipe for anything good – and since these are the two most important economies in the world, the ramifications will be felt throughout the world.

Geopolitics of semiconductors. The EU wants to become self-sufficient in producing advanced semiconductors by 2030, with an aim toward producing at least 20 percent of semiconductors by value and establishing a new semiconductor foundry in Europe.

What it means: This is a theme we’ve been writing about for as long as we’ve been a company. We even came up with a pithy name for it: Geopolitics 4.0. The recession of globalization is not simply or even primarily a trade or security phenomenon. Technology is driving a Fourth Industrial Revolution, but as with every previous industrial revolution, the very advances that change the economy become a focal point of geopolitical competition. Sovereignty, self-reliance, ideology, secure supply chains – these will be the focus of spheres of power and influence that are increasingly separate from each other as this competition spills out into the open.

More walls. Dominican Republic President Luis Abinader announced that Santo Domingo will build a “double perimeter fence” along the 376-kilometer border between the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

What it means: The Dominican Republic and Haiti have always had a complicated relationship. As part of the settlement that ended the Nine Years’ War (largely a European struggle fought from 1688-1697), Spain ceded the western third of Hispaniola – the island these two nations share – to France. The western third became Haiti. The eastern two-thirds became the Dominican Republic. At first, Haiti was the far richer colony due largely to sugar, and after declaring independence from France, Haiti even conquered the whole island at one point. The Dominican Republic subsequently declared (and fought for) its own independence in 1844. Since then, the Dominican Republic has done relatively well for itself – and Haiti has become the poorest country in the Western hemisphere.

All the same reasons the U.S. and the Soviet Union almost went to nuclear war over Cuba – and all the same reasons the U.S. invaded Grenada in 1983 – make the Western Caribbean islands more geopolitical today than they’ve been since 1991.

Brexit. The United Kingdom unilaterally extended a grace period on border checks on a range of products on trade between Northern Ireland and Great Britain until October 1st. European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič accused the UK government of breaching the Protocol on Northern Ireland and the good faith obligation under the Withdrawal Agreement and said the “disappointing” move undermined trust between the two sides. The European parliament announced it was postponing setting a date for ratification of the Brexit trade deal indefinitely. The Loyalist Communities Council in Northern Ireland, which represents three loyalist paramilitary groups, sent a letter to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson withdrawing from the Good Friday Agreement due to the “imposition of the Protocol on Northern Ireland.”

What it means: Bad news for EU-UK relations. The worst-case scenario for Brexit has always been a reboot of The Troubles, and paramilitary groups pulling out of the Good Friday Agreement make those fears uncomfortable more real. It is also bad news for the future of the UK. For the sake of future unity, the UK really needs to turn the page on Brexit and move forward. The longer this goes on, the angrier the millions of Scottish and Welsh voters who wanted to remain in the EU will become.

Honorable mention

Don’t forget to listen to our podcast!

A restaurant in Turkey has started serving salmon fish döner kebab. Is nothing sacred anymore?

Turkmenistan dictator Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov declared a state holiday in honor of the alabai shepherd dog.

Violence in Myanmar is increasing as anti-regime protests continue in cities throughout the country.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen traveled to Israel to seek a deal with Israel to coordinate COVID-19 vaccine research and production.

The United States agreed to suspend retaliatory tariffs on the United Kingdom tied to the ongoing Airbus-Boeing trade dispute trade for four months.

The upper house of Mexico’s parliament, the Senate, approved Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s Electricity Industry Law by a margin of 68-58.

El Salvadorian President Nayib Bukele new political party, Nuevas Ideas, won a dominant majority in El Salvador’s legislative elections.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and Bosnian Defense Minister Sifet Podzic signed a military financial cooperation agreement.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro announced he is reducing government taxes on diesel and cooking gas to zero for a period of two months. To make up for the drop in government revenue, Bolsonaro also announced increased taxes on banks, credit unions, and foreign exchange brokers for the remainder of the year.

Egypt and Sudan signed a military cooperation agreement. Egypt’s Army Chief of Staff described the level of military cooperation with Sudan as “unprecedented.”