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Marsh JLT Specialty has published a mid-year update to its Political Risk Map 2020, providing risk ratings for 197 countries across nine perils from January to July 2020. All 197 countries rated experienced an increase in their risk scores between January and July 2020 compared to 30 percent in the same period in 2019. Of those that increased in score, the magnitude of the changes were also much greater in 2020. In 2019, 97 percent of increases were small (0.1-0.4), compared to 7 percent  in 2020. Further, 40 percent of score increases have risen between 1.0 and 1.4 so far this year.

According to the report, the COVID-19 pandemic’s economic and social impacts are driving significant shifts in global political risk — introducing new dynamics and accelerating existing geopolitical megatrends, such as trade protectionism and the transition to a multipolar world order.

The deepening Sino-American rivalry has accelerated since the onset of COVID-19. Cooperation between China and the US on the pandemic has been weak, and tensions have risen over Hong Kong SAR, Taiwan, and the South China Sea. The report says that tech firms will be increasingly caught in the crossfire, while countries find themselves under geopolitical pressure to choose sides.

International focus on COVID-19 may also be masking simmering tensions between Iran and the US. Relations between the two countries remain weak, following the January 2020 US drone strike that killed a leading Iranian general.

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