Council on Foreign Relations – Daily News Brief Jan. 3, 2023

Top of the Agenda

IMF Director Warns One-Third of World Could Face Recession This Year

For most of the global economy, 2023 will be “tougher than the year we leave behind,” International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said in a CBS interview. She said the economies of the United States, China, and the European Union (EU) are all slowing down. While Georgieva said the United States “may avoid a recession,” the Wall Street Journal found that more than two-thirds of economists at twenty-three large financial institutions are projecting a U.S. recession this year. Georgieva also said that the war in Ukraine and COVID-19 will continue to strain the economies of the EU and China, respectively. She added that countries should work to secure their supply chains but warned that dividing the global economy into U.S. and Chinese blocs could “chop $1.5 trillion” from global gross domestic product (GDP) each year. 

“Changes in the nature of globalization, widespread labor shortages, and the imperatives of climate change have created supply difficulties and put already-challenged growth models under even more stress,” Mohamed A. El-Erian of the Queens’ College at Cambridge University writes for Foreign Affairs.
“The danger [in U.S. moves to decouple from China] is that such actions go beyond sensible precautions, such as shoring up security in critical supply chains and policing cyberspace, and move into beggar-thy-neighbor protectionism. The world has seen that movie before—and does not need a re-run,” CFR’s Edward Alden writes for Foreign Policy.
 This Backgrounder unpacks the contentious U.S.-China trade relationship.
Pacific Rim

Philippines’ Marcos Jr. Begins State Visit to China. During Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s first trip to China as president, he is set to “renew” the Philippines’ participation in China’s Belt and Road Initiative and sign a deal (Nikkei) to avoid escalating tensions in the South China Sea, a Philippine foreign ministry official said. 

China/Brussels:  The EU offered China free COVID-19 vaccines, but Beijing said it does not need them, the Financial Times reported.
South and Central Asia

Pakistan Orders Shopping Markets to Close Early to Save Energy. Authorities ordered markets to close (ANI) by 8:30 p.m. as part of efforts to conserve energy amid an economic crisis. 

India: The country’s Supreme Court upheld a 2016 measure (AP) that banned high-value bills. The measure had rendered 86 percent of India’s currency invalid.
Middle East and North Africa

Syria Reports Israeli Missile Strike at Damascus Airport. The strike wounded two military personnel (WSJ) and briefly took the capital’s airport out of commission, Syria’s transportation ministry said. Israel did not comment, though it rarely addresses individual air strikes in Syria. 

Israel/Palestinian territories: Days after Israel’s new government took office, its ultranationalist foreign minister became the first high-level Israeli official in years (NYT) to visit Jerusalem’s holy site. The Palestinian foreign ministry said the visit to the site, long a flash point for Israeli-Palestinian tensions, was “an unprecedented provocation.” For Foreign Affairs, Aluf Benn explains why Israel’s new government is the country’s farthest right in history.
Sub-Saharan Africa.

Malawi Keeps Schools Closed Amid Cholera Outbreak. Two cities will delay the reopening of schools (BBC) after the Christmas holiday amid a cholera surge that has killed 595 people.

South Africa: The death toll from a Christmas Eve gas truck explosion near Johannesburg has risen to thirty-four people (AP), officials said.

Ukrainian Strike Kills Dozens of Russian Fighters. Moscow said the strike killed sixty-three troops (NPR) in a Russia-occupied suburb east of Donetsk, Ukraine, while Kyiv said the death toll could be in the hundreds. A special episode of The World Next Week podcast discusses why Russia’s war in Ukraine is one of the stories to watch in 2023.  

Norway: A record 79.3 percent of all cars sold in Norway in 2022 were electric (Reuters), an industry federation said. The country has the world’s most electric vehicle drivers per capita.

Brazil’s Lula Tightens Gun Permissions, Amazon Mining. Following his inauguration as Brazil’s president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva revoked decrees (FT) that made it easier to buy guns and allowed for small-scale gold mining in the Amazon Rainforest. This In Brief looks at what Lula’s third term means for Brazil.

Mexico: The country’s Supreme Court elected Norma Lucía Piña Hernández (Al Jazeera) as the first woman to lead the judicial body. She has clashed with President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on energy policy. 
United States

House Speakership Remains Uncertain Hours Before Vote. Ahead of the vote to choose the House of Representatives’ next speaker, front-runner Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) appeared to lack the votes (NYT) to secure the position. 
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