Over two-thirds of surveyed companies suffered a political risk loss

Political risk levels have increased, according to Willis Towers Watson

Annandale, Virginia, UNITED STATES

ARLINGTON, Va., Dec. 05, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- A political risk report by Willis Towers Watson (NASDAQ: WLTW), a leading global advisory, broking and solutions company, found that 61% of 41 global corporations surveyed believe political risk levels increased in 2019. Disruption of international trade was considered the most significant risk in the majority of regions.

Fifty-eight percent of respondents in Europe and 70% in Asia Pacific cited trade sanctions as a concern for their operations, whereas for Russia and The Commonwealth of Independent States, the figure was 77%. A trade war involving China, the threat of Brexit and sanctions against Russia, Iran and Venezuela were reported as concerns by respondents.

Concerns about political violence were the highest in Africa (74%) and the Middle East (71%), with respondents reporting that new technologies such as drone strikes could exacerbate such risks.

2019 also saw an increase in the proportion of companies reporting that they had experienced political risk losses (68%), according to the research. Fifty-four percent of respondents had experienced a loss due to political violence, compared to 48% in 2018. Forty-six percent reported losses due to trade sanctions or import/export embargoes in 2019, compared to 40% in 2018. Thirty-two percent of companies with revenues exceeding $1 billion reported previous experience of a catastrophic (more than $250 million) political risk loss.

Types of political risk losses experienced   
Political violence or forced abandonment54%48% 
Currency transfer restrictions or inconvertibility50%58% 
Trade sanctions or import/export embargo46%40% 
Expropriation or creeping expropriation29%25% 
Sovereign non-payment7%18% 

Note: Companies experiencing political risk loss: in 2018 n = 14, 2019 n = 28

“It is clear from our survey that political risk continues to increase and related financial losses are on the rise,” said Paul Davidson, chair, Financial Solutions, Willis Towers Watson. “Corporations now face a strategic choice: to either maintain their global business models while accepting, mitigating or transferring the political risks associated with them, or attempt to realign themselves with the emerging shape of a new and apparently more nationalist global landscape.”

The vast majority of respondents (71%) stated that emphasis on political risk management at their company had increased since 2018, and nearly 40% felt they were facing more pressure from investors regarding political risk management. The survey found that recent developments, such as the China-U.S. rivalry and the sanctions that have arisen as a result, have made political risk more tangible.

As in previous years, the study included in-depth follow-up interviews with a panel of survey participants. The panel’s top risks of concern included “U.S.-China strategic competition,” “Middle East regional stability,” and an “environmental, social and governance shock.” This latter risk had not appeared among the top 10 in 2018, but panelists indicated that rising tensions between business and society were increasingly leading to political risk events.

About Willis Towers Watson

Willis Towers Watson (NASDAQ: WLTW) is a leading global advisory, broking and solutions company that helps clients around the world turn risk into a path for growth. With roots dating to 1828, Willis Towers Watson has 45,000 employees serving more than 140 countries and markets. We design and deliver solutions that manage risk, optimize benefits, cultivate talent, and expand the power of capital to protect and strengthen institutions and individuals. Our unique perspective allows us to see the critical intersections between talent, assets and ideas — the dynamic formula that drives business performance. Together, we unlock potential. Learn more at willistowerswatson.com.

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