This month’s coverage in the Americas will include a revised report on Bolivia, where President Evo Morales continues to send strong signals that he wants to stand for another term at elections required by October 2019. Morales is constitutionally barred from seeking re-election, and a proposal to eliminate the presidential term limit was rejected by voters at a referendum held in February 2016. However, Morales has the option of staging another plebiscite and hoping for a different result, or he could circumvent the term limit by turning over the reins of government to his vice president at least six months before the scheduled end of his current term. In any case, Morales can be expected to govern in the manner of a leader who needs to remain popular. Our report will examine how that imperative has influenced his government’s policy strategy in the past, and what that means for the regime’s investment and trade strategy in the period up to the next elections and beyond.

Looking at the Middle East and North Africa, PRS will issue a report on Libya, where efforts to bring an end to a political crisis that has resulted in the establishment of rival governments in Tripoli and Tobruk have been complicated by Russia’s decision to provide support to Gen. Khalifa Haftar, a renegade military commander who has no obvious allegiance to either side, but could greatly influence which of the competing factions eventually emerges on top. The report will assess the prospects for creating a unified governance structure, noting in particular the implications of Russia’s expanded role among the international powers attempting to influence the shape of the post-Qaddafi political system, which is still to be determined more than five years after the toppling of the autocratic leader’s regime. The analysis will include an examination of the risks and opportunities for investors under current conditions, and how the balance between the two could shift under various possible departures from the status quo going forward.

Our coverage of sub-Saharan Africa leads on Nigeria, the continent’s largest economy, as we investigate how the country is coping with depressed oil prices, and also a president whose health remains circumspect with rumors still circulating of a mystery illness that required medical treatment. Our report looks at how the government is attempting to reform the economy, the challenges this poses, including its impact on party politics, and how exchange rate management is developing with impact on trade and investment. We look at the risks of militant activity in the Niger Delta and how it affects the oil industry, and the success or otherwise of the fight against Boko Haram in the north. We also analyze the country’s borrowing for infrastructure development, and assess debt sustainability in the context of prospective macroeconomic performance, focusing on key indicators, including GDP growth, inflation, the fiscal and current-account balances, and ultimately Nigeria’s ability to maintain payments.

Angola‘s President José Eduardo dos Santos has confirmed he would not be standing as the top candidate for the ruling People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) at the legislative elections on August 23. Dos Santos’ decision to step aside after 38 years at the helm of the Angolan state has put an end to months of intense speculation over his political future. Dos Santos has affirmed that the transition process will be spearheaded by Defense Minister João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço, who will stand as the MPLA’s candidate for president.

The MPLA is widely expected to sweep the legislative elections given its decades-long grip on state institutions, meaning that Lourenço is certain set to be elected president by the next parliamentary majority. A close ally of dos Santos with impeccable party credentials and good links with the top military brass, Lourenço is considered a safe pair of hands who can steer the transition process without destabilizing the regime. Dos Santos remains the head of the MPLA and will continue to wield significant political influence in the country.

Lourenço’s election may please investors looking for continuing executive stability, but the process of economic diversification away from oil will remain uneven at best. The incoming government faces a tough task of controlling consumer price inflation and stabilizing foreign reserves. Lower oil revenues have put a squeeze on state coffers, bringing economic growth to a standstill in 2016. The recovery in oil prices and an uptick in oil and gas production will push growth to a projected 1.3% in 2017, alleviating some of the pressure on budget and current account deficits.

In Western Europe, this month, we turn our attention to Italy, where there is still huge uncertainty attached to the parliamentary elections that must be held by the spring of 2018. With Beppe Grillo’s populist Five Star Movement vying with the Democratic Party for first place in the latest opinion polls, we attempt to trace out possible political scenarios facing investors and what they mean for Italy’s future in the euro zone. We look at how the return of Matteo Renzi as leader of the PD will affect the contest following his resignation as prime minister in December following a defeat for his constitutional reform referendum, and how voting under the present rules will also influence the outcome. Our report goes on to analyze the present government’s predicament, as Italy endures another year of sub-par GDP growth and high unemployment, raising the risk of strike action and social problems, and an unsustainable debt burden topping 132.6% of GDP with national airline Alitalia now on the brink of collapse.

These are just a few of the countries PRS will cover in May, which will also see the release of new reports on Algeria, Hungary, Malaysia, and Saudi Arabia, as well as updates on Botswana, Ireland, Jamaica, and Singapore.

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