The European Business Council for Africa

UNCTAD estimates show a 5% drop in world trade in the third quarter of 2020 compared to 2019, an improvement from the 19% decline in the second quarter but insufficient to pull trade out of the red.

Global trade recorded a 5% drop in the third quarter of 2020 compared with the same period last year, according UNCTAD’s new Global Trade Update published on 21 October.

This marks an improvement on the 19% year-on-year plunge recorded in the second quarter, and UNCTAD expects the frail recovery to continue in the fourth quarter, with a preliminary forecast of -3% compared with the last quarter of 2019.

Depending on how the COVID-19 pandemic evolves in the winter months, the UN trade and development body expects the value of global trade to contract by 7% to 9% with respect to 2019.

“The uncertain course of the pandemic will continue aggravating trade prospects in the coming months,” UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi said. […]

A group of European ministers and the EC’s commissioner for international partnerships call for measures to foster long-term resilience in the global economy and environment

The world is facing an unprecedented crisis. In just a few months, the Covid-19 pandemic has swept across the world, bringing human tragedy and causing an economic shock of historic proportions. While it poses a tremendous challenge to our economies and societies, the Covid crisis also gives us an opportunity to work towards a future that is more fair, equal and green.

This week, the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund are holding their annual meetings. We will discuss our efforts to fight poverty and hunger, support socioeconomic recovery and respond to the emerging debt crisis. “Business as usual” is not an option. It is imperative that the World Bank’s development financing of $160bn for the coming year is directed towards a sustainable and inclusive future. This is the time to strengthen our economies in line with the sustainable development goals and the Paris climate agreement. […]

The WTO launched a new publication to answer commonly raised questions about trade and the environment at a virtual event on 16 October. “Short Answers to Big Questions on the WTO and the Environment” explores trade’s impact on the planet, the policies that governments enact to protect it and the role of the WTO regarding environmental issues.

"Environmental issues are woven into the history of the multilateral trading system. But the role of trade and the WTO on the environment is complex, and as a result, it is not always well understood," Deputy Director-General Alan Wolff said at the event. "The short answers to the big questions that we are launching today serve as signposts that can guide us on the road towards a WTO that works better for people, the planet and prosperity in the 21st century." […]

The WTO has posted a list of economic support measures adopted by WTO members in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The list is available on the WTO’s dedicated COVID-19 web page.

The list contains support measures communicated by members and observers to the WTO Secretariat as of 6 October through the WTO's Trade Monitoring exercise. It is an informal situation report and an attempt to provide transparency with respect to support measures taken in the context of the COVID-19 crisis. It does not pass judgment on or question the right of WTO members to take such actions. The measures in the list are not categorized and no assessment of their potential relation to trade is made. […]

A growing number of poor countries, some already in humanitarian crisis, will soon have to choose between servicing their lenders or helping their most vulnerable citizens, as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund are warning that the tools to deal with a looming debt crisis aren’t up to the job.

Low-income nations were due to pay at least $40 billion to banks and bondholders this year, and plans to pause some of those interest payments – let alone cancel any of the principal – are patchy and “too shallow”, according to the World Bank.

Meanwhile, the UN’s flagship $10.19 billion appeal to raise emergency funds to help the poorest countries respond to the coronavirus pandemic and its humanitarian fallout is stuck at around $2.8 billion. […]

Donors and government agencies are failing to achieve anything like the successes promised at the start of the fight against corruption. This could be because they find it impossible to change the way they work, despite repeated failures. Their self-imposed lack of flexibility means that they may, in fact, be grasping at the shadows of corruption, not the real thing.

Written by
Phil Mason OBE — 
Former senior anti-corruption specialist in DFID from 2000 until March 2019. He is now an independent adviser.

I was once told, ‘after a dive to the depths, the best remedy is to go to the mountaintop’. Having completed my U4 series of ten reflections on lessons learned from my 20-year journey leading the UK Department for International Development’s (DFID) anti-corruption efforts, I asked myself: have I learned anything further from all this?

One thing that is clear with corruption: it’s not a case of being more the wiser the more you know. Knowing more seems just to make the problem a whole lot harder. At the start of the U4 series, I knew I wasn’t going to be providing many answers. The DFIDs of this world seem just as baffled now as they were two decades ago. If I have been able to refine the questions a little better, I count that as a plus. And perhaps I’ve been able to offer some glimpses of how a more promising way forward might look.[…]

  • A full access package includes WHO policy guidance on the use of antigen-based rapid diagnostic tests, manufacturer volume guarantees for low and middle-income countries, catalytic funding to assist governments to deploy the tests and an initial US$50 million procurement fund
  • Several rapid, point-of-care antigen tests are being assessed by WHO for Emergency Use Listing (EUL)
  • Agreements between the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and test manufacturers Abbott and SD Biosensor make available innovative tests priced at a maximum of US$5 for low- and middle-income countries (LMICs)
  • The Global Fund commits an initial US$50 million to enable countries to purchase the new tests, with the first orders expected to be placed this week
  • Expedited market introduction of these tests in multiple LMICs is being supported through the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), Unitaid, FIND, CHAI, and their partners
  • This is the latest move from the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator to develop, procure and distribute critical new tools to fight the pandemic; new tests are urgently needed to meet the huge unmet needs for testing worldwide […]

In a recorded video message to the un General Assembly on September 22nd, China’s leader, Xi Jinping, made a surprise announcement. He said that as well as aiming to halt the rise of its carbon emissions by 2030—much the same goal as five years ago—China would strive for “carbon neutrality” by 2060. In climate-change jargon, this means achieving a balance between carbon emissions and carbon reduction both technological and natural, such as planting trees. For China to succeed, it must descend from its emissions peak far more rapidly than any other major economy has either succeeded in doing, or has pledged to do. It will be a huge challenge. [...]

Forecasts can haunt their authors, especially when they appear in headlines or book titles. Most pundits play it safe, giving “a number or a date, but not both”, as an old sage once advised. Thomas Orlik of Bloomberg is more courageous. His latest book, “China: The Bubble That Never Pops”, provides an unusually even-handed account of China’s economic resilience that is both closely observed and analytically interesting. But its title offers up quite a hostage to fortune. “Never”, after all, spans a lot of dates [...]

Is China still a “systemic rival” for the EU? It depends who you ask. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen left no doubt that she supports the designation at her news conference following the recent EU-China summit. But top EU diplomat Josep Borrell has sent conflicting signals on the matter, calling the label “controversial.” Lately he has begun pointing out that Beijing is not a “systematic rival,” when no one ever said it was. While France’s Emmanuel Macron has used the term “rival" in relation to China, Germany’s Angela Merkel has never done so in public. Last year, according to German officials, she complained that the term was beginning to define the relationship with China and urged diplomats to put the focus back on areas of partnership with Beijing. Since then, the tone used by officials in Berlin when talking about China has softened. As one told me: “We do not oppose the use of systemic rival. But this term did not come from us and we don’t view it as binding.”