US HOLDS SPECIAL ELECTIONS
The US states of Georgia and South Carolina will hold two special elections to replace Republican representatives who have been chosen to serve in President Trump’s cabinet.
Democrat Jon Ossof is running against Republican Karen Handel in Georgia’s 6th congressional district to replace Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price, while Democrat Archie Parnell is squaring off against Republican Ralph Norman in South Carolina’s 5th congressional district.
Special elections are the first tests for the anti-Trump “resistance” which has organised in opposition to the president and his agenda. So far, the movement has failed to win vacant Republican seats in Kansas and Montana.
While South Carolina’s 5th congressional district is considered to be too staunchly conservative for an upset, Georgia’s 6th is expected to be more closely contested. Tom Price swept the state by 25 points last November, but Trump carried only 50% of votes in the district.
Democrats have poured over $20 million into the race, hoping for an upset in the traditionally Republican district to energise their base and send a strong anti-Trump signal.
Delve deeper: US special elections: Republican cracks begin to show
MSCI TO INCLUDE CHINA’S TOP STOCKS
June 20 may signal good fortune for China’s economy. MSCI, an American investment research firm, will announce whether to include 169 of China’s A-Share stocks in its emerging market index.
As China’s economy expands, MSCI inclusion could lead to increased economic diversification and global influence. China has been rejected three times in the past due to foreign firms’ exclusion from trading and severe capital controls. Beijing’s new cybersecurity law further complicates matters, as foreigners’ data rights are left unclear.
Entry into the emerging market index predicts trillions in investment; long-term, China could become the index’s biggest player. Of the 169 companies, financials and industrials are the most prevalent, along with increased presence of consumer staples and real estate.
Inclusion may overall bring a more robust economy. Still, whether China will pass the openness test remains unanswered.
PEACE AT LAST?
FARC TO COMPLETE DISARMAMENT
Today is the deadline for the rebel organisation FARC to hand in the last 40% of its weaponry and fulfil the terms of a peace deal it negotiated with the Columbian government last year.
Conflict between FARC and the Columbian government lasted for more than 50 years, making it the world’s longest-running. Although a peace deal was voted down in a referendum last year, a modified version passed congress. Under the terms of the peace agreement, most FARC fighters would receive amnesty while the organisation becomes a legitimate political party.
However, FARC only met its deadline for handing in the first 60% by Friday, 3 days later than planned. The group hopes to make the final deadline on schedule, but logistical difficulties in transporting the weapons persist. If FARC is unable to deliver the weapons on time, it could threaten to destabilise the fragile peace process.
Delve deeper: The Colombia-FARC deal
The corruption trial of former Brazilian President Lula da Silva will come to a close. Even if cleared, Lula faces several other similar cases. If charged in any criminal case, the former president will be barred from running for office again—a blow to Brazil’s leftists.
The UN Security Council is expected to approve a new Libya envoy: former Lebanese Culture Minister Ghassan Salame. In an unusual development, the initial candidate—former Palestinian PM Salam Fayyad—was rejected by the United States, which wields veto power in the Security Council. The Council must vote unanimously today to confirm Salame.
Shale oil and gas will be all the rage as scientists, engineers and geologists descend on Amsterdam to discuss the risks and opportunities of this ‘unconventional hydrocarbon’. While the development of large shale fields has taken the US by storm over the past decade, Europe has been far more cautious, with many states banning shale wells. Nonetheless, with an estimated 639 trillion cubic feet of shale gas reserves—enough to power the continent for more than three decades—the prospect of the shale revolution traversing the Atlantic is a tantalising one (although Russia wouldn’t agree).
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian will arrive in Moscow for talks with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov. While the two don’t see eye-to-eye on Ukraine or Syria, they will find common ground on counter-terrorism issues, which have plagued both countries in recent years.
Also in Moscow will be embattled Brazilian President Michel Temer, who’s expected to hold talks with Vladimir Putin. Ahead of his visit, Temer labelled Russia “a power nobody can do without” and highlighted opportunities for Russian investors in Brazil.