With the eurozone election season having so far progressed in a market-friendly manner and upcoming German federal elections in September posing minimal risks to stability, the potential for snap general elections in Italy may be going under investors' radar as a source of future volatility.
Having included a broader range of trade data into our forecasts - which affected our view of key MEA IT markets from an Industry Rewards perspective - we now factor the latest year-end 2016 macroeconomic data into our Risk/Reward Index (RRI). This has affected several countries, to varying degrees, but the overall IT score is only slightly improved as weaker industry forecasts for Nigeria and Ghana weigh heavily on the analysis.
Various countries along the Belt and Road will benefit significantly from the vast amounts of investment and infrastructure associated with China's ambitious plan. Although not all of the benefits will be felt immediately, as a majority of the projects will take several years to realise, it is clear that countries such as Pakistan, Laos and Russia will be benefit significantly. Importantly, countries not officially on the B&R list will also benefit from rising Chinese investment globally.
Independent candidate Emmanuel Macron will face far-right candidate Marine Le Pen in the second round of the French presidential election. We believe that Macron will win the presidency in the runoff, as his views resonate well across a wide spectrum of voters, while support from the political establishment increase his chances of winning further.
The new automotive trade agreement between Colombia and Argentina will help Colombian vehicle production grow strongly over our full forecast period to 2021. For Argentinean producers the most important gains from the agreement will be the opportunity to diversify exports away from Brazil.
The Central & Eastern Europe region contains some of the most attractive markets from an alcohol consumption per capita standpoint, with well-established traditions and culture centred around local beer brewing. Many of the states in the region are members of the EU and have score well in the Risks category, making it a safe investment destination. Given that consumption is already high, this however limits growth opportunities over the short-term,. The Non-EU markets are poised for faster growth, but also contain much riskier business environments, with the alcohol industry subject to political pressure in Russia and Turkey, for example.
Alibaba's acquisition of Lazada's online payment service HelloPay Group confirms our view that the Chinese giant would spur consolidation in the e-commerce and MFS sectors in Southeast Asia in 2017. Its strategy of gaining control of both the online marketplace as well as the payment service provides strengthens its position and will make it more difficult for Amazon once it enters the region.
Johnson & Johnson's pharmaceutical business continues to dominate the firm's income statements; however, first quarter results for 2017 have highlighted the increasing challenges it will face in the key US market, particularly the increased loss of market share of blockbuster Remicade. The firm will be reliant on increased product launches and greater patient uptake to bolster revenue growth, while the acquisition of Actelion will provide a tailwind to revenues once completed.