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tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News

Country focus

Bleak outlook for retail sector in 2021 as consumer spending remains subdued (Fin24)

South African retail sales fell more than expected in November, despite deeper Black Friday discounts and month-long promotions, as sales of other items like jewellery and clothes contracted. The latest data points to lingering weakness in the South African economy from the coronavirus pandemic with consumers still feeling the pressure financially, confounding retailers’ efforts to lift profits and reward shareholders through dividends. It also hampers President Cyril Ramaphosa’s efforts to boost growth when South Africa’s already overblown budget has been hamstrung by the virus.

Statement of the Monetary Policy Committee (SARB)

In the third quarter of 2020, the South African economy grew by 66.1% quarter on quarter, seasonally adjusted and annualised, compared to the Bank’s expected 50.3% growth. The growth rate for the full year is now expected to be -7.1%, compared to the contraction of 8.0% expected at the time of the November meeting. However, our projection for the 4th quarter of 2020 is expected to be lower than previously forecast. And while lockdown restrictions currently in place are considerably less restrictive than in 2020, we expect growth in the first quarter of 2021 to remain muted. Despite very robust terms of trade and stronger exports, getting back to pre-pandemic output levels will take time. Sharply lower public and private investment last year and continued weakness in 2021 will weigh on growth prospects. GDP is now expected to grow by 3.6% in 2021 and by 2.4% in 2022.2 GDP growth of 2.5% is expected in 2023. Overall, risks to the domestic growth outlook are assessed to be balanced. Global growth, vaccine distribution, a low cost of capital and high commodity prices are supportive of growth. However, new waves of the Covid-19 virus are likely to periodically weigh on economic activity both globally and locally. In addition, constraints to the domestic supply of energy, weak investment and uncertainty about vaccine rollout remain serious downside risks to domestic growth.

As South Africa veers from NDP jobs and poverty goals ‘course corrections’ proposed (Engineering News)

With the National Development Plan’s (NDP’s) goals of achieving full employment and eliminating poverty by 2030 already out of reach ahead of the onset of the deadly Covid-19 pandemic, which has since obliterated the plan’s objectives entirely, the outgoing National Planning Commission (NPC) has outlined recommendations for a “course correction” in a 170-page analysis. The document, titled a ‘Review of Economic Progress towards Vision 2030’, was first published in December and was formally canvassed with stakeholders during a well-attended webinar on Thursday.

Tax Justice SA outlines 5-point plan to stub out illicit cigarette trade (The Citizen)

Tax Justice South Africa (TJSA) has outlined a five-point plan to address the country’s illicit cigarette trade. TJSA said the plan came after its investigation which blew the lid on how the trade of illicit cigarettes had “taken over South Africa’s mainstream market”, resulting in “criminals looting billions of rands needed to save lives and rebuild our nation”. The investigation revealed that shops throughout the country were selling cigarettes that evade due taxes.

Address by Dr Naledi Pandor, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, on the occasion of the Chatham House London Virtual Engagement, 20 January 2020 (DIRCO)

Following the end of our term on the Security Council, South Africa will continue its commitment to multilateralism and work in other multilateral forums, including the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission and other bodies of the United Nations, to pursue these goals. We remain committed to a rules-based order characterised by inclusion and equity. There is a lot of ground lost in multilateralism in the past four years and we need to rebuild trust and co-operation. The six key priorities for South Africa’s Chairship of the Union had to be set aside due to COVID-19. President Ramaphosa led the development of Africa’s response to the pandemic and ensured African collaboration in this important battle.

The COVID initiatives have led to a unified Africa. One of the outcomes of the meeting, was the creation of the COVID-19 African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT), in support of the Africa Vaccine Strategy. This was an effort to be responsive to the suspicion that the call for vaccines to be a global public good would not be respected by the richest countries of the world. President Ramaphosa and the AU are working hard to security vaccines for Africa.

Before I conclude, permit me to speak on developments related to the African Continental Free Trade Area, one of the flagship projects of Africa’s blueprint for development, Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want. With the decision to start trading under the AfCFTA on 1 January 2021, Africa signalled her determination to increase manufacturing and industrial capacity to trade in goods and products, produced in Africa. But much work still needs to be done to achieve this vision.

Kenya: Trade, Conservation Top Agenda as President Kenyatta Hosts UK’s Dominic Raab (AllAfrica.com)

President Uhuru Kenyatta Wednesday at State House, Nairobi met visiting United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Affairs Dominic Raab who paid him a courtesy call. The President and the Secretary of State discussed a wide array of subjects key among them the strengthening Kenya-UK commercial ties following the trade deal signed late last year between the two countries. On the Kenya-UK trade agreement, President Kenyatta thanked the UK saying the pact would help create employment for Kenyan youth and improve the country’s economic performance. The President urged UK investors to take advantage of the trade deal and Kenya’s stable business environment to increase their investments in the country and boost trade between the two nations.

Kenya makes U-turn on Uganda sugar, to import 90,000 tonnes (Daily Monitor)

Kenya will this year import 90,000 tonnes of sugar from Uganda and source at least 160,000 tonnes from other countries after exhausting its Comesa import quota for 2020. This is after Uganda, through the Uganda Manufacturers Association, told Kenya that it has enough sugar both for domestic and export markets and denied importing sugar from outside the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa). Kenya has been importing 350,000 tonnes from within EAC and Comesa due to a widened deficit in its local market.

Uganda’s tea attracts lowest price among EAC states (Daily Monitor)

Uganda’s tea continues to attract the lowest price compared to other East African member states that sell the commodity through the Mombasa Auction. According to data from the Mombasa Auction, Uganda’s tea sold lower than that of Kenya, Rwanda and Burundi. Tea export receipts, according to data from Bank of Uganda, have also slightly declined by 4 per cent.

Leaning into sustainable development in Tanzania (ITC News)

Women traders at the newly renovated Sofya market in Kasulu now hope for a bright future for their children. The construction of sheds and display facilities for products will enable approximately 1120 women and youth to sell their fruits and vegetables in suitable conditions.

Around 200 entrepreneurs dealing with gems and precious stones will be able to secure deals in the security of the newly renovated Mineral and Gems Exchange Centre in Kigoma Town. In partnership with the Small Industries Development Organization, efforts to establish a competitive palm oil value chain will help secure sustainable livelihood opportunities for 300 women smallholders associated with palm oil production. The digital app will help create stronger market linkages and access to market intelligence for 60 lead farmers, extension officers, agricultural advisors and government representatives.

How Rwanda could benefit from US rejoining of Paris Agreement (The New Times)

Environmental experts in Rwanda have said that developing countries including Rwanda could get more financial support to mitigate climate change and adapt to its effects following the declaration by the new US President Joe Biden to rejoin Paris Climate Agreement. In 2017, United States President Donald Trump announced that the U.S. would cease all participation in the agreement.

A letter to the United Nations signed by Mr. Biden on Wednesday formally starts the 30-day process of bringing the United States back into the accord. Environmentalists who talked to The New Times said the move by the US to rejoin the agreement has multiple benefits for the whole world especially developing nations including Rwanda that are most vulnerable to climate change effects. “First, rejoining the Paris Agreement means Biden will set up pledges to reduce such emissions. This is a benefit because least developed countries like Rwanda are more vulnerable to climate change effects yet they emit less emissions,” Vuningoma Faustin, the coordinator of Rwanda Climate Change and Development Network (RCCDN) said.

Experts list ways to tackle Nigeria’s economic woes (The Guardian Nigeria)

Financial experts and other economic stakeholders have stressed the need for the government to create policies and implementation strategies to tackle the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic while providing an enabling environment for investments to thrive. These, according to them, would enable Nigeria to snap out of recession and improve the standard of living for the citizens. Stakeholders, who gathered at the Franco-Nigerian Chamber of Commerce and Industry virtual event, tagged: “Key macroeconomic themes expected to shape the Nigerian 2021 economy,” explored opportunities embedded in the Finance Act, delayed passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), the 2021 budget, and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). Fiscal Policy Partner and West Africa Tax Leader, PwC, Taiwo Oyedele, said despite an inflation rate of 14.89 per cent in 2020, unemployment at 27 per cent, the pandemic, economic lockdown, recession, and poverty among other challenges, Nigeria ended the year as the largest economy with $443billion, and 26th globally according to International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Nigeria emerges as Africa’s primary export hub for ivory, pangolin scales (Mongabay.com)

“Nigeria is well connected with other countries in the region, but also has good transportation networks with Asian markets as well,” said Shruti Suresh, senior wildlife campaigner with the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA). “Combine that with a toxic combination of weak law enforcement and corruption, not only in Nigeria, but more broadly in the region, and what we’re stuck with now is that Nigeria has become the world’s largest hub for export of ivory and pangolin scales leaving African shores for Asian markets.”

“As you’re seeing more enforcement in East Africa – and there is a heavy focus over there at this point on enforcement and stepping up controls at ports along with anti-poaching work – I think the shift is natural to go to locations where you’re seeing less enforcement,” said Julia Viollaz, wildlife crime research officer at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The EIA report points to corruption among port officials as one of the reasons why Nigeria is such an attractive destination for smugglers. In 2019, Nigeria was ranked at 146 out of 180 countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index. Shipping agents were said to be charging premiums per ton for illegal wildlife product exports, paying higher-ranking officials up the chain along with others involved in inspection and border control measures.

Egypt, Turkey compete for influence in Ghana (Al-Monitor)

Egypt seeks to extend its influence on the continent of Africa, notably in Ghana, as Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi confirmed his country’s keenness to strengthen relations and cooperation with the West African country during a Jan. 5 meeting with Annan Kato, the special envoy of Ghana’s president. Egypt and Ghana enjoy strong economic and trade relations. The latest statistics by the Egyptian Commercial Representation Office in Accra showed that the volume of trade exchange between the two countries jumped to $108.3 million in 2018, from $70.1 million in 2017, which is a 54.5% increase. According to the State Information Service, Ghana is the fourth market in Africa to receive Egyptian exports after Kenya, Nigeria and Ethiopia.


News from Africa and Africa’s international trade relations

Foresight Africa 2021: Top Priorities for the Continent in 2021 (Brookings Institution)

On January 27, AGI will host a Foresight Africa launch featuring a high-level panel of leading Africa experts to offer insights on regional trends along with recommendations for national governments, regional organizations, multilateral institutions, the private sector, and civil society actors as they forge ahead in 2021. With this and every iteration of Foresight Africa, we aim to capture the top priorities for the region in the coming year, offering recommendations for African and global stakeholders for creating and supporting a strong, sustainable, and successful Africa. In doing so, we hope that Foresight Africa 2021 will promote a dialogue on the key issues influencing development policy and practice in Africa during the upcoming year. Such ideas will ultimately provide sound strategies for sustaining and expanding the benefits of economic growth to all people of Africa in the years ahead.

Private sector key to AfCFTA success and Africa’s recovery from COVID-19 (UNECA)

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) can help drive the continent’s economic recovery from the deadly coronavirus pandemic and spur transformation, says Economic Commission for Africa’s (ECA) Regional Integration and Trade Division Director, Stephen Karingi. In remarks during the 6th PIDA Week, the ECA Director said given that Africa does not have the fiscal space for trillion-dollar stimulus packages as it attempts to ‘build forward better’ from the impact of COVID-19, the AfCFTA, driven by the private sector, was going to be key in unlocking Africa’s potential. He stressed that Africa will have to look for innovative alternatives to push its recovery efforts. Quality infrastructure development was crucial too if the AfCFTA is to spur economic growth on the continent.

Africa trade pact gets $1bn to offset revenue losses (Moneyweb)

The African Export-Import Bank has mobilised $1 billion for an adjustment facility to offset revenue losses for countries that lower cross-border tariffs as part of an Africa-wide free-trade area, according to the zone’s most senior official. “We will be able to go to global capital markets and we will be able to go to development finance institutions to mobilise more resources, but at the moment, it is a fund of a facility of $1 billion,” Wamkele Mene, secretary-general of the African Continental Free Trade Area said in an interview Thursday.

Forget Brexit, AfCFTA is the big deal (The Southern Times)

By creating a shared market between 54 countries, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will change the face of African trade, and has the potential to accelerate the economic development of the continent – here’s how. Firstly, the free trade area can expedite intra-Africa trade by building on the progress made by eight existing regional economic communities (RECs), such as the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Secondly, boosting intra-Africa trade will both inspire and require more investment into transport, and other supportive infrastructure such as energy, water and telecommunications to allow Africa to reap greater economic benefits within the continent.

Finally, by reinforcing continental trade and capacity, the AfCFTA can also help unlock greater international opportunities. Investments in infrastructure and the creation of more supportive business environments will spur entrepreneurs to increase productivity, and step up trade within Africa, and around the world.

Platform to give SMEs a boost in intra-Africa trade (IPPMEDIA)

The Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) app will enable the SMEs to sell and buy goods via a cashless and contactless platform under the low duty regime that satisfies the “know-your-customer” requirements at banks and financial institutions. AfCFTA trade promotion and programmes director Francis Mangeni said SMEs admitted onto the app will be issued with a mark of identity.

The Kenya Association of Manufacturers asserts that overlapping membership to regional trade blocs, underdeveloped transport infrastructure (road, rail and air), unfamiliar or different customs and trade procedures and weak value chains also hurt AfCFTA’s dreams. Intra-Africa trade remains low at 15 per cent compared to Europe’s 68 per cent, North America’s 37 per cent and Latin America’s 20 per cent, solely blamed on “national” interests by member States keen on safeguarding their own industries, trade barriers and poor transport and telecommunication connectivity. Africa is banking on technology to turn AfCFTA aspirations into a reality.

Africa’s long wait for the Covid-19 vaccine (BBC News)

Africa will have to wait “weeks if not months” before receiving Covid-19 vaccines approved by the World Health Organization, according to various officials working towards getting doses for the continent. Close to 900 million doses have been secured so far through various initiatives, enough to inoculate about 30% of the continent’s 1.3 billion people this year. Hoarding by wealthy nations, funding shortfalls, regulations and cold chain requirements have slowed the process of rolling out the vaccines. “The world is on the brink of a catastrophic moral failure and the price will be paid with lives and livelihoods in the poorest countries,” warned WHO head Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus.

The role of technology in unlocking trade value in East Africa (IT-Oline)

The latest data – and the region’s continued focus on transforming its key industries, sectors and infrastructure through technology – is giving me hope that the economic outlook is brightening. Trade in East Africa has already picked up: according to the Brookings Institute, after an initial drop in trade in Kenya during the early months of the pandemic, by July domestic exports were already 12.7% higher compared to the year before.

The World Bank estimates that trade measures that cut red tape, simplify customs procedures and make it easier for local businesses to integrate into global supply chains could drive $292-billion of the expected $450-billion in income gains from the agreement. For countries and ports of trade that have updated their infrastructure through investments into new technology, these income gains will be easier to realise. The Mombasa Port, East Africa’s largest and oldest sea port, is still the main conduit for global sea trade in the region, but a new port in Lamu will further expand the region’s trade capability. The new port will form part of a transport corridor that will connect Kenya to South Sudan and Ethiopia and greatly assist with boosting regional trade.

African tech startups raise over $700 million in 2020 despite pandemic (Nairametrics)

Nigerian owned businesses and businesses operating in Nigeria recorded over 106 corporate deals valued at over $4.3 billion (N1.63 trillion) in 2020. This is according to data compiled by Nairalytics the research arm of Nairametrics between January and December 2020 all at different stages of completion. Nigeria’s investment climate was precarious in 2020 as the global economy spluttered due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Nigeria’s GDP contracted by 3.62% (year-on-year) in real terms in the third quarter of 2020 after enduring a 6.1% contraction in the previous quarter, a development that was also attributed to the sustained shocks emanated from the continued spread of the virus as well as weak global oil prices.

Comesa Floats €800million to Support Regional Digital Payments (KT Press)

The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Business Council has proposed a new digital financial inclusion program that will have to be adopted by member countries to kick start affordable, accessible and timely digital payment systems in the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the region. The proposed “Digital Integrated Common Payment for MSMEs” was tabled at a virtual consultative meeting held in Kigali city this January 20, 2021 to kick start the region’s validation of its policy and framework that will be submitted to respective member states. The move will be piloted in nine countries including: Rwanda, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Egypt Ethiopia and Mauritius.

ECOWAS Council of Ministers adopt M&E policy (GhanaWeb)

The ECOWAS Council of Ministers has adopted a draft Policy document for robust Monitoring and Evaluation of the impact of projects and programmes implemented in Member States. The draft policy document titled; “ECOWAS Monitoring and Evaluation Policy”, was recommended by the ECOWAS Council of Ministers for approval by the ECOWAS Heads of Government at a virtual Ministerial meeting organised in Accra on January 20th, 2021. Prof. Gyan-Baffour said the principles of the regional integration agenda of the ECOWAS, based on solidarity, complementarity and subsidiarity must be uphold. He said, the adoption of this policy document, signified the importance of Monitoring and Evaluation in the sub-region’s development trajectory. Madam Finda Koroma, Vice President of the ECOWAS Commission, said the draft Policy was a response to the clarion call from Member States for more visible and more impactful projects.

“The draft Policy will allow the ECOWAS Commission to adopt a policy framework that will guide, among other things, the effective implementation of ECOWAS Vision 2050 to effectively fulfil the aspirations of the community citizens,” she said. Additionally she explained that the ECOWAS Vision 2050 document, once in place, would firm up the aspirations and developmental priorities of West African citizens over the next 30 years while consolidating the gains made by ECOWAS in the implementation of programmes and projects identified under the ECOWAS Vision 2020 document.

Africa: How Biden Can ‘Build Back Better’ U.S. Africa Policy (AllAfrica)

The direction that President Joe Biden will give to the U.S.-Africa relationship will be highly scrutinized as he brings America’s diplomacy back to the global stage. Democracy and the economy are the two fundamental areas of cooperation that he can use to rebuild ties. Africa rises or falls with the quality of institutions such as electoral commissions charged with the responsibility to arrange free and fair elections whose legitimacy is accepted. Since the continent opened up to multi-party systems in the 90s, institutions charged with the responsibility of entrenching democracy through such elections have been at the center of chaos and civil conflicts.

Opening of India Africa Trade Council in India (Business Standard)

The India Africa Trade Council was inaugurated by the Additional Secretary (Africa) Ambassador Nagma Mallick (IFS) Ministry of External Affairs, Govt. of India and the Ambassador of Ethiopia in India Dr Tizita Mulugeta Yimam. There is a huge interest in India as Africa is an emerging region having a great scope for multilateral business opportunities. India Africa Trade council will open 13 Trade offices in Major Metro cities of India to facilitate Indian Businessmen wanting to do Trade in African countries. These offices are expected to work directly with embassies in Delhi and bring opportunities to places like Hyderabad, Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad.

“Africa will be at the top of our priorities as per the Prime Minister’s Vision, through the council we will continue to intensify and deepen our engagement with Africa which will be sustained and regular. Our development partnerships will be guided by Africa’s priorities. and we will build as much local capacity and create as many local opportunities as possible. We will bring the South Indian market closer and make it easier and more attractive to trade with Africa. We will support our Industries to collaborate with African companies,” said the President of the Indian Economic Trade Organization (IETO) Dr Asif Iqbal during the Inauguration.


Global economy

Here are 12 trade tasks to prioritize in 2021 (World Economic Forum)

The next director-general of the World Trade Organization faces Herculean challenges. Hercules succeeded at his tasks in the end by trying new tactics, so perhaps fresh approaches should be tried for trade too. The World Economic Forum’s trade community has thoughts on 12 almost impossible tasks to tackle in 2021 Dealing with Brexit has shown how difficult and important it is to get trade paperwork and systems understood and working properly. The same holds true worldwide, not least in poorer nations. A committed global push on trade facilitation, building on the WTO agreement in force since 2017, would spark more economic growth than eliminating all the tariffs in the world. Trade facilitation is also critical for vaccine delivery. Digital trade and e-commerce have been a lifesaver through the pandemic. Yet we have to find a way to give access to more people, confidently share data abroad and connect e-payment systems across borders. The WTO e-commerce negotiations should be finalized, while more advanced options exist in the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement, to help consumers and budding entrepreneurs navigate digital borders.

Fears around shortages of food and medical supplies gripped societies in 2020. Export restrictions were brought in and local production advocated. Rather than slide into protectionism, the case should be made for supply chain resilience through diversity of supply, coupled with improved transparency into the production and stocks of critical goods. New TradeTech can help manage supply chain visibility and risk.

A helpful response to the COVID-triggered economic downturn has been government involvement in their economies, through subsidies, procurement, publicly owned businesses and other means. But if maintained too long, some of these could have harmful cross-border spill-overs and delay recovery. The time is ripe for a global conversation about best-practices for industrial policy and sustainable recovery. Ending harmful fisheries subsidies would be one way to start.

Readying future trade agreements for future crisis and pandemic (UNCTAD)

Policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic have heavily disrupted trade and supply chains, with many countries putting in place ad hoc trade-restrictive measures, seemingly without any concern about their effect on trading partners – at least during the early stages of the crisis. While such reactions to an unexpected global pandemic are understandable, they are certainly not optimal. They have highlighted the limitations of existing trade agreements, including over 184 regional trade agreements signed by economies in Asia and the Pacific, as well as the multilateral trade rules, in providing guidance on how to respond to emergency or crisis situations in a least trade-restrictive fashion. Against this backdrop, in an effort to accelerate recovery from this crisis and better prepare for the future, UNCTAD together with The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the World Trade Organization (WTO), other UN regional commissions, as well as CUTS and other partners, launched a global initiative on model provisions for trade in times of crisis and pandemic in regional and other trade agreements in May 2020.

How the COVID-19 crisis and the recovery are shaping the global economy (McKinsey)

Businesses have spent much of the past nine months scrambling to adapt to extraordinary circumstances. While the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic is not yet won, with a vaccine in sight, there is at least a faint light at the end of the tunnel – along with the hope that another train isn’t heading our way. 2021 will be the year of transition. Barring any unexpected catastrophes, individuals, businesses, and society can start to look forward to shaping their futures rather than just grinding through the present. The next normal is going to be different. It will not mean going back to the conditions that prevailed in 2019. Indeed, just as the terms “prewar” and “postwar” are commonly used to describe the 20th century, generations to come will likely discuss the pre-COVID-19 and post-COVID-19 eras.

Group of members issue joint pledge on humanitarian food purchases (WTO)

A group of nearly 80 WTO members issued a joint statement on 21 January pledging not to impose export restrictions on foodstuffs purchased by the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) for humanitarian aid. “We recognize the critical humanitarian support provided by the World Food Programme, made more urgent in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and other crises,” the group said in their statement, available here. “We therefore commit to not impose export prohibitions or restrictions on foodstuffs purchased for non-commercial humanitarian purposes by the World Food Programme.”

Inside Covax: The global plan to share COVID vaccines (Eyewitness News)

The Covax programme, bolstered by the new US presidency on Thursday, aims to secure enough COVID-19 vaccines this year for the most vulnerable 20% in every country, rich or poor. Top US government scientist Anthony Fauci told the World Health Organization (WHO) that the United States intends to join Covax, the globally pooled coronavirus vaccine procurement and equitable distribution effort. The move should give the facility a much-needed powerful impetus - amid fears that rich countries are undermining the project by cutting their own direct deals with manufacturers.

Since December, dozens of the world’s wealthiest countries have begun vaccination campaigns in a bid to halt the coronavirus pandemic. As members of the Covax facility, the poorest nations are hoping to see their very first doses arrive in February. In Covax, funding is covered for the 92 lower- and lower-middle income economies involved, while for richer countries, it operates as a back-up insurance policy. Aimed at pooling the risk and rewards, Covax has struck agreements with manufacturers for two billion vaccine doses, and has secured options on a further billion.

Combined Vaccine Manufacturing capacity to hit 6.8 billion doses in 2021 (Nairametrics)

The United States President Joe Biden has issued an executive order on Thursday that makes it mandatory for international air travellers to quarantine upon arrival in the US. Similarly, the executive order also includes a directive that all interstate travellers in the US will be expected to wear a face mask. This travel order applies to airports and planes, trains, ferries, intercity buses and public transportation, but grants them the ability to issue exemptions.

Supply Chains Decarbonization Offers Game-Changing Opportunity for Companies to Fight Climate Change (WEF)

The commitment to tackling climate change is accelerating in all sectors of society, with net-zero pledges from companies, cities, states, and regions doubling in the past year. Decarbonizing supply chains is a major opportunity for companies to put these commitments into practice. New research published today by the World Economic Forum and Boston Consulting Group (BCG) shows how tackling supply chain emissions can be a game changer in the global fight against climate change. Net-Zero Challenge: The Supply Chain Opportunity analyzes the top eight global supply chains that account for more than 50% of global greenhouse gas emissions and finds that end-to-end decarbonization of these supply chains would add as little as 1% to 4% to end-consumer costs in the medium term.

China fails to meet US trade deal target in 2020 amid pandemic (American Journal of Transportation)

China failed to meet its 2020 trade deal targets with the U.S. in a year marked by pandemic-related disruptions and an increasingly tense relationship with the Trump administration. By the end of December, China had purchased about 58.1% of the $172 billion worth of goods it pledged to buy last year under the “phase one” agreement with Washington, according to Bloomberg calculations based on data from the country’s customs agency. It bought 60.4% of targeted manufactured products and 64.4% of agricultural goods, but lagged behind on energy, importing just 39% of the target.

Under the agreement signed in January last year, China promised to buy an additional $200 billion of U.S. goods and services over the 2017 level by the end of 2021. As the pact enters its second year, all eyes are on whether a new U.S. administration under President Joe Biden will try to renegotiate the deal.