The East China Sea territorial dispute between China and Japan figured prominently in various geopolitical risk forecasts for 2014, and with good reason. Neither side shows any sign of standing down, and with every new military deployment near the contested area comes an increased risk of a small-scale military incident spiraling into war.
According to the best laid plans of several world governments, January 22nd will see the UN-brokered “Geneva II” talks attempt the near impossible task of negotiating an end to the brutal conflict in Syria, which has killed over 130,000 people so far and displaced millions. Or, alternatively, the talks might be over before they even begin, boycotted by a major party or doomed to fail by immovable and hostile negotiating positions. Either way, Geneva II’s prospects for success are presently wallowing in the gray area between ‘slim’ and ‘none.’
After years of declining output, Mexico’s energy industry looks like it will be turning a corner in 2014. Legislation was passed in December to end the monopoly long enjoyed by Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) and open the industry up to much-needed foreign investment. After the energy bill is ratified by a majority of Mexico’s states (it is expected to pass without a problem), the first licenses for foreign energy companies will be issued in late 2014.