The forecast of political risk for every country in the world.
RiskMap ratings: the risers and fallers for 2022
Close observers of RiskMap over the years have been able to track the periodic rise and fall of the ratings for countries or regions important to their companies. Perhaps you’ve also used RiskMap for a bit of holiday planning – you wouldn’t be the first.
RiskMap 2022 brings a wide range of changes to our ratings. As you read them, bear in mind that these are forecasts for the year, not a country’s rating on the day RiskMap is published.
Some of the changes are more obvious, others might surprise you. All of them will get you to challenge your assumptions about risk in the coming year. And that’s what RiskMap is all about.
The list below is not exhaustive, but touches on some of the more prominent risers and fallers around the world.
With the exception of MENA, where we had no ratings changes for political risk in 2022, ratings elsewhere fluctuated widely.
In Eastern Europe, Bulgaria’s political risk rating rose to HIGH, from MEDIUM. This comes in acknowledgement of a highly fragmented political landscape and an unstable coalition we expect to form early in 2022. That coalition will be beset by political infighting and increase the risk of a vote of no confidence in the coming year.
Latin America shows contrasting pairs in Colombia, where political risk rose to MEDIUM from LOW, and Peru, which dropped to MEDIUM from HIGH.
- In Colombia, we anticipate a left-wing president will win the May, 2022 election, which will trigger a destabilising combination of deteriorating policy-making and declining business confidence.
- Though political risk in Peru drops, it’s not necessarily for an encouraging reason. We think a left-wing government there simply lacks the legislative support to enact laws that might threaten the private sector.
On the African continent, some of the pressure has come out of our rating for political risk in Burundi – down from EXTREME to HIGH.
In Asia, the temperature of political risk for 2022 is down in Thailand, which moves to MEDIUM from HIGH. The regime’s degree of persistent instability is unlikely to significantly or frequently disrupt business operations. Snap elections could take place in 2022, any transition is unlikely to be seriously challenged or to trigger widespread violence.
The United Kingdom in 2022 moves to LOW from MEDIUM political risks in 2022, thanks primarily to the Conservative Party’s overwhelming parliamentary majority, which should allow it to legislate without too much distraction.
The evolution of security risk from 2021 to 2022 is perhaps the most surprising one. You have to look hard for meaningful movers and shakers.
It will come as no surprise that Afghanistan has moved to EXTREME, from HIGH. There is little to say here that is not already covered elsewhere in RiskMap. The Taliban, a sanctioned terrorist organisation, is in control. Or maybe it isn’t, which is one of the elements of volatility in that country for the coming year. The risk is very high that Afghanistan becomes a safe haven for terrorists with ambitions within its border and beyond.
The security situation in Ethiopia, a country that showed so much promise in RiskMaps past, has worsened. There, we have changed our rating to HIGH from MEDIUM, amid an ongoing and expanding conflict between the federal government and armed opposition groups allied to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
The other big mover in Africa is Congo, where we have lowered, to HIGH from EXTREME, security risk for areas within 200 km of the Central African Republic and the border with South Sudan. The same goes for the northern half of Tanganyika and South Kivu.
We’ve made some adjustments, downward, in security risk in the northern half of Nigeria’s Adamawa State and in Yobe States. Operational risk in Nigeria remains unchanged from the previous year.
Security risk in Biobío, Arauco, Malleco and Cautín provinces in Chile moves up to MEDIUM from LOW.
Other than an increase in the security risk rating in Afghanistan, Myanmar is Asia’s only other mover. This is where our rating rises to HIGH from MEDIUM. This revision comes amid persistent political violence between civilian resistance groups and the Tatmadaw, following the early 2021 military coup. These confrontations have diverted state capabilities and resources from dealing with community policing, raising the risk of general disorder and increased crime across the country.
Reflecting the calmer protest situation in Belarus, we change our security risk rating there to MEDIUM from HIGH. This change reflects our view that Belarus’ most turbulent days – for 2022, at least – may be behind it. Alexander Lukashenka’s tenure is proving more durable than opposition politicians may have expected.
There were no changes to our security risk ratings for the Middle East and North Africa for 2022.
Terrorism riskNigeria’s Borno state is broken out for an EXTREME rating for terrorism risk. Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) appears to be focusing on consolidating its position in the Lake Chad region and seems more interested in targeting Borno state capital Maiduguri, rather than expanding further south. This also explains our reduction in the threat in the southern part of Adamawa state.
Similarly, the other Boko Haram faction, JAS, has been severely weakened following clashes with ISWAP in 2021; only a small group remains around the lake itself. It has limited capacity to operate this far south in Nigeria.
Peru’s terrorism risk rating in the VRAEM region drops to MEDIUM from HIGH, reflecting the Sendero Luminoso’s limited capabilities to carry out sophisticated attacks against soft and hard targets, including business, personnel, and assets.
The terrorism risk rating in Pakistan’s former tribal areas moves to EXTREME from HIGH, to account for the return of Taliban fighters from Afghanistan, the formation of new militant alliances, and a noticeable increase of attacks against security forces stationed in former FATA.
In 2021, Islamist militant attacks have escalated in three distinct areas of Burkina Faso:
- The northern Sahel region – the epicenter of the militancy – where militant groups carry out frequent large-scale attacks against security forces and civilians. There, our terrorist rating moves to HIGH from MEDIUM.
- The Eastern regions, where militant groups have consolidated their influence and are currently threatening import-export routes to Niger – Benin, and Togo. There, our rating moves to EXTREME from HIGH.
- In the southwest, where small militant cells have gained military capability posing a security threat along the border with Cote d’Ivoire. There our rating remains at HIGH.
There were no changes to the terrorism ratings in Europe or MENA.
Iran sees its cyber risk rating rise from HIGH to EXTREME. This reflects Iran’s poor international relations since the collapse of the nuclear agreement, a persistently high extent of domestic surveillance, as well as a growing threat from disruptive state-sponsored and activist attacks targeting Iran’s critical national infrastructure.
Myanmar’s cyber risk rating has risen from MEDIUM to HIGH due to ongoing political instability following the military coup on 1 February 2021. The new rating reflects a shift of state resources into increased domestic surveillance, a decline in the operating environment for foreign businesses and an increase in activist attacks targeting the country.
Spain goes from MEDIUM to HIGH to reflect the growing threat to business posed by organised ransomware groups and a high rate of cybercriminal operations aimed at financial fraud we detected on deep web and dark web venues.
Belarus cyber risk rises from MEDIUM to HIGH due to ongoing domestic political instability and Belarus’s growing isolation from the West. The new risk rating also reflects an increase in highly organised domestic cyber activist attacks.
Ukraine cyber risk lowers from EXTREME to HIGH. This reflects a slowdown in such attacks over the past year, as well as a continued de-escalation of tensions in eastern Ukraine.
Operational riskReflecting changes in both political and security risk, operational risk has risen to EXTREME, from HIGH in Burkina Faso. To reflect the growing risk of in–transit attacks for business operators reliant on regional ports, we have made several risk rating changes. To provide the most accurate outlook for 2022, these changes were made on the provincial level. The most notable changes concern areas where militants have carried out sophisticated IED attacks on military, civilians, or logistical convoys.
- In the eastern regions: Komandjari, Kompienga, Tapoa, Gourma provinces have been moved to EXTREME, from HIGH for security and terrorism risks.
- In the southwest: Comoe province has been moved from MEDIUM to HIGH.
- We also changed our risk ratings to reflect the spillover of violence from the Sahel region to the periphery of Northern, Western and Central regions of Burkina Faso.
- Cross border militancy is also major security threat, so areas within 100kms of the Malian border in the Nord, Boucle de Mouhoun, and Haut-Bassins regions have been upgraded from MEDIUM to HIGH.
The key takeaway here is that in 2022, the “safe zone” at the heart of the country – MEDIUM on the map – will be surrounded by three militant frontlines.
Operational risk is down to HIGH from EXTREME in Eritrea, up to EXTREME from HIGH in Mali, and in Ethiopia to HIGH from MEDIUM.
By and large, Europe will be an easier place to do business in 2022. At the beginning of the pandemic and for RiskMap 2021, we raised operational risks across a number of countries in Europe, in anticipation of the disruption COVID-19 would bring. The pandemic is still very much with us, including in key countries in Europe. We do not, however, expect it to trigger the same level of disruption that it did in 2020 and 2021.
Operational risk falls to MEDIUM from HIGH in Turkey; to LOW from MEDIUM in Slovenia and Spain; and to MEDIUM from HIGH in Kazakhstan in the CIS. Greece, too, will be a bit easier in operational risk – our rating there falls to MEDUM from HIGH.
In the Middle East and North Africa, focus on Saudi Arabia, where operational risk falls to MEDIUM from HIGH, thanks to a successful vaccination programme that keeps pandemic-related disruption in check. In Qatar, operational risk plummets two ratings, from HIGH to LOW, bypassing MEDIUM, much for the same reason as its neighbour on the peninsula. The UAE goes down a notch in operational risk, to MEDIUM from HIGH.