COVID-19 Likely a Geopolitical Game Changer in Asia: Aon 2020 Risk Maps

HONG KONG (6 August 2020)Aon plc (NYSE: AON), a leading global professional services firm providing a broad range of risk, retirement and health solutions, has published its 2020 Risk Maps report, which finds that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic will likely transform the geopolitical landscape. Extraordinary public health measures and a precipitous drop in global trade will continue to exert significant pressure on economies and governments and will reshape long-standing geopolitical norms.
Aon developed the 2020 Risk Maps in partnership with The Risk Advisory Group and Continuum Economics, which examine political risk, terrorism and political violence globally. Aon’s Risk Maps are designed to help firms better understand and navigate evolving exposures created by these uniquely challenging risks.
In today’s complex geopolitical and economic environment, the maps enable clients to identify and track the different sources and degrees of risk, assisting businesses in planning and protecting assets, contracts and loans that could be adversely affected. This year’s report includes a special analysis of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on these themes and the risks they present.
The socioeconomic implications of the COVID-19 pandemic are likely to be profound. Countries that rely heavily on tourism or retail, or where there is a higher human toll from the pandemic, will face greater potential for civil unrest and government-focused protest – a risk that was already elevated prior to the pandemic. Aon’s report finds three in five developed economies face the potential of strikes, riots and civil unrest in 2020 – and it seems the COVID-19 pandemic will deepen those concerns.
Rapidly Evolving Risks in Asia
In Hong Kong, political unrest has caused widespread physical damage to property and business. Most big companies typically have comprehensive coverage that includes cover for strikes, riots, and other civil commotion (SRCC). But many of these policies have specific language that excludes loss or damage due to political unrest, which is commonly referred to as the terrorism exclusion clause. With the new Hong Kong security law potentially broadening the activities that could be considered as acts of terrorism, the scope of the terrorism exclusion clause may now extend considerably. The SRCC, therefore, has the potential to become the number one peril faced by businesses in Hong Kong, causing more of a risk than the more standard threats such as fire, flood or typhoon.
Julian Taylor, head of Crisis Management, Asia, Aon said, “To address these rapidly evolving risks, we are seeing businesses turn to the terrorism and political violence insurance market for tailored solutions. These standalone policies can cover not only the property damage elements of the risk but also business interruption, and not only financial loss arising from direct physical loss or damage but also as a result of contingent risks, such as denial of access or loss of attraction. Boards, CFOs and risk managers need to work closely with brokers and insurers to move forward with confidence and certainty in this volatile market.”
As before, companies will continue to widely implement temperature screening. One-third of the respondents have either implemented or have considered implementing a formal COVID-19 assessment programme for staff, while one-third would prefer health assessment surveys.
Steve Taylor, head of Credit Solutions, Asia, Aon said, “Political volatility is increasing, driven by a number of themes, including the socioeconomic and political reactions to the COVID-19 pandemic. We expect political risk insurance to play an increasingly important role for investors, lenders and corporations, underpinning strategy and financing as well as mitigating currency risk, expropriation, political violence and sovereign non-payment risk.”
Additional key findings from the report include:
Civil Unrest, Terrorism and Political Violence
  • Economic stagnation and frustration over a range of political, social and environmental trends are the primary drivers of heightened unrest in traditionally stable economies.
  • Environmentalism is becoming an increasingly prominent cause of civil unrest.
  • Extreme right-wing attacks are increasing and multinational businesses, particularly within the technology, banking and media sectors, are targets.
Political Risks
  • Governments are increasingly resorting to measures that regulate market transactions. Emerging market governments have responded to rising populism by erecting barriers to trade and investment.
  • Emerging market investors face significant headwinds linked to government expropriation, which is undermining contract certainty and eroding investor confidence.
  • Political interference in emerging markets is now taking increasingly indirect forms, such as tax pressure, export restrictions, more stringent regulatory requirements, contract reviews and a general increase in government involvement in specific sectors of the economy.
Economic Risks
  • The speed of individual emerging market (EM) recoveries following the COVID-19 pandemic will likely depend on a state’s ability to control the health crisis itself, the economic conditions before the COVID-19 pandemic and how much fiscal and monetary policy stimulus is administered.
  • Significant monetary and fiscal policies are needed to limit the pandemic’s fallout on EM economies, though they will not fully offset it. Aggressive policy easing will unlikely be enough to avert a fall in global growth by 1.3% in 2020.
  • Global trade, labour and capital flows are severely challenged, as economic nationalism has become a widespread response to COVID-19.
More information about Aon’s 2020 Risk Maps is available here.

About Aon
Aon plc (NYSE:AON) Aon is a leading global professional services firm providing a broad range of risk, retirement and health solutions. Our 50,000 colleagues in 120 countries empower results for clients by using proprietary data and analytics to deliver insights that reduce volatility and improve performance.
Aon has five specific global solution lines: Commercial Risk Solutions, Reinsurance Solutions, Retirement Solutions, Health Solutions and Data & Analytic Services.
For further information on our capabilities and to learn how we empower results for clients, please visit https://www.aon.com/apac
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About The Risk Advisory Group
The Aon Terrorism and Political Violence map represents detailed empirical- and intelligence-based assessments on terrorism threats and political violence risks.The map has been produced in conjunction with The Risk Advisory Group since 2007. The Risk Advisory Group is a leading, independent global risk management consultancy that helps businesses grow whilst protecting their people, their assets and their brands. By providing facts, intelligence and analysis, The Risk Advisory Group helps its clients negotiate complex and uncertain environments to choose the right opportunities, in the right markets, with the right partners. For more information, please visit www.riskadvisory.com.
About Continuum Economics
Continuum Economics (formerly Roubini Global Economics) is the international market-leading service for independent economic research powered by 4Cast and Roubini Global Economics. With its growing user base of 10,000 clients and a reputation for incisive analysis on every aspect of the market, it provides research that spans short-term market signals and long-term strategic themes. This approach uncovers opportunities and risks before they come to the attention of markets, helping our clients make more informed decisions.
Continuum Economics works with clients in a series of different ways, from macro strategy subscription products to bespoke work, multi-client conference calls, direct access to analysts and the licensing of its systematic country risk analysis tool. For further information on Continuum Economics, please visit continuumeconomics.com.
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