An annual study conducted by Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm Control Risks Group (CRG) reported that continued political uncertainty in many countries, compounded by instability in key emerging markets and the continued threats posed by terrorism and crime, have made international business more challenging than ever.
The group found in its 12th annual ‘RiskMap’ survey that the foremost security threat for 2004 would continue to be Islamic extremist terrorists. Major attacks witnessed in the region demonstrate that the Middle East is now as prone to attack by terrorists as South East Asia and East Africa, the survey found.
Iraq will continue to remain insecure, the group said, and there is also a persistent threat of anti-Western terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia and Yemen. There will be a latent threat in countries including Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan and the smaller Gulf States. The underlying threats to long-term stability and security come from political repression, economic stagnation and rapid demographic growth.
The threat of Islamic terrorism remains in Western Europe, particularly for high profile European cities. The involvement of two British Islamic extremists in a suicide- bombing mission in Israel this past March indicates that there are militant extremists among the citizens of western European countries which fuels assessments that a suicide bomb attack could occur at some point, the group said.
On this side of the Atlantic, CRG believes most Latin American countries' economies will under perform in 2004, with common crime remaining a significant business risk in the urban areas of Brazil, Central America and on the larger Caribbean islands such as Jamaica and Trinidad.
Overall, however, it’s the opinion of CRG CEO Andreas Carleton-Smith that U.S. foreign policy initiatives will be the single most important factor affecting the global risk factors next year. “Terrorism as a global phenomenon will continue to threaten Western interests and business operations,” he said. “Businesses can respond by constantly reviewing security contingency planning, particularly in high risk countries like Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Algeria and Brazil.”